FlyWoo Hexplorer Review – Serious Long Range 4″ drone with a twist

FlyWoo Hexplorer with LiIon battery

The FlyWoo Hexplorer comes in two versions, analog and HD one for the users with DJI goggles.

So why the FlyWoo Hexplorer and not the Explorer?
My idea behind this purchase was that two more motors although drawing more power from the battery, will also enable me to lift more weight, so the Hexplorer will have more agile flight performance than the Explorer with the same Li-Ion battery while having almost the same flight time. Few combinations that I have had on my mind are using bigger Li-Ion batteries like 21700 maybe. I’m not planning on using a full GoPro since I have other drones for that task.

The other aspect is the “must-have it because it is not ordinary” factor 😉
I have flown hexacopters during the years that I’m into this hobby, from DIY ones to DJI S600 and S900 and I’m well aware of the flight performance, although having 6 motors on DJI really worked as a feature that could save your drone in case one of the motors or propellers fail, but unfortunately that feature is not available in Betaflight.

 

Box contents

Here is a photo of the box contents:

FlyWoo Hexplorer box contents

I love to see when a manufacturer provides you with such an extended package in contrast to the ones that send you just the drone and nothing else.
Here is a list of the items that are included:

  • The drone
  • Battery strap
  • 3 sets of propellers (transparent, gray, and blue)
  • Antenna tubes for regular receivers
  • Tpu mount for T shape antennas
  • Set of stickers
  • VTX antenna
  • A small gift wrench
  • Little part for securing the VTX antenna
  • Set of screws

 

Components

The analog version of the FlyWoo Hexplorer comes with the following components:

  • F411 hex nano stack 16×16
  • Hm600 600mw VTX
  • M8N mini GPS v2.0
  • Dave_C & Nin 1404 V2 2750kv motors
  • Caddx Ant camera
  • Flywoo Finder v1.0
  • Gemfan 4024 props
  • Atomic 5.8 G antenna LHCP

The frame design is similar to the one of the FlyWoo Explorer, the arms are rearranged to accommodate one more pair of motors, with added braces between the front and middle and middle and back arms that stiffen the frame additionally.

The motors are the same as the ones used on the FlyWoo Explorer 4S 1404 V2 2750Kv

FlyWoo NIN 1404 II motor 2750Kv

The stack consists of the first-ever mass-produced 13A 6 in 1 ESC, the flight controller is based on an F4 processor that can handle six motors.

FlyWoo Hexplorer stack

The Goku Hm600 Vtx is stated as a 600mW and I was able to reach 1.8km before the video signal started glitching. I have yet to do some more tests with a helical antenna on my goggles to determine the maximum distance that I could reach with the current setup.

The analog version comes with the Caddx Ant camera.
Here is a DVR from the Caddx Ant camera:

The quality of the video feed is average and I have no bigger complaints except several near-miss situations with ghost branches and the cropped 16:9 aspect ratio.

The Hexplorer is intended for long-range, and it is important to have a bigger field of view and better visibility in regards to the ghost branches so that’s why I have replaced the Caddx Ant with Foxeer Micro Predator v4.

Foxeer Pradator V4 on Hexplorer

The GPS unit is Goku branded M8N module, same as on the Explorer the wires on the analog version aren’t shielded and I have already seen fellow pilots getting faster startup times by just putting the wires in a heat shrink tube. I have shielded the ones on my Hexplorer with an aluminum foil and the time that it takes to acquire 5-6 sats enough for home coordinates recording varies from 3-6 minutes.

One interesting thing regarding the GPS is that by default it is set up to use the NMEA protocol with no assistance. I have tested it if it works with UBLOX and it did, so I have switched it to UBLOX, enabled auto baud, auto setup, Galileo and set the ground assistance to Europe.

Shielding the GPS cable on the FlyWoo Hexplorer

Although FlyWoo advertises the Hexplorer as a drone that could carry a full GoPro all Hexplorer versions come with a pre-soldered connector for powering the new Insta SMO camera.
I have ordered the Insta SMO camera at the same time as the Hexplorer, but I’m still waiting for it to be restocked.

FlyWoo Hexplorer Insta SMO connector

Same as on the Explorer, the Hexplorer comes with Gemfan 4024 props that are well balanced and provide extended flight times in combination with the 1404 2750Kv motors.

There is a finder beeper below the GPS module that is very helpful for finding your model in case it crashes somewhere and the battery is disconnected. It is powered by a small battery and it starts beeping a minute after the battery is disconnected. The battery lasts for about 5 hours.
To stop it you should press on the microswitch that is on the opposite side of the led light.

FlyWoo model finder

As a side note, the FlyWoo Hexplorer HD version also comes with a SpeedyBee BlueTooth module which enables you to change Betaflight settings on the go by using your phone.

 

Flight Performance

Out of the box, the FlyWoo Hexplorer flies great, It is locked in and very stable. There was a slight bobbling when flying in windy weather which I have fixed by slightly adjusting the PIDs.

I have specifically flown the Hexplorer only with the NCR18650B Li-Ion battery pack that has max 7A output and it flew great. Compared to a normal 5” freestyle drone, the throttle was a bit sluggish and the hover throttle was around 40%. If you are planning to use the Hexplorer as a long-range cruising drone,  the throttle performance will not be an issue.

The regular cruising speed is around 50km/h
While testing I have managed to fly 25 minutes of active flying with a 30-gram Runcam Split 2 camera in 3D printed case and I was able to cover around 15km.

 

 

Final Remarks

Over the years I have learned that sticking to certain proven equipment parts enables you to have reliability and enable you to truly enjoy flying. So for final touches on the Hexplorer I have already ordered RushTank mini to replace the Goku Vtx, also a True RC singularity VTX antenna that provides excellent long-range coverage and I have already replaced the Caddx Ant camera with a Foxeer Predator V4 that has a 4:3 aspect ratio and far better visibility in various conditions.

One other thing that I would like to try is putting together a 4S 4200mAh 21700 molicel P42A pack. The weight for a 4S pack would probably be around 280 grams, compared to the NCR18650B pack which is around 200 grams. And if I fly without the Runcam Split camera or replace it with something like Caddx Turtle or the new Caddx Peanut, that would mean only 50-60 grams more weight, but this is something that would have to wait until I receive the molicel batteries.

Having this long flight time was a perfect opportunity for me to test the ExplressLRS link that I have recently installed on my FrSky R9M 2018 module and I have reached 1.87km before the video link started to glitch so I had to return and head back home. I have yet to make some more tests with 7 turn helical antenna on my goggles to determine the maximal distance that I will be able to reach.

 

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