Here’s a quick introduction to Cinewhoops – a type of small drone with prop guards which delivers stunning videos. I will explain how to select components to build your own and a few tips getting it fly nicely!
Table of Content
- What’s a cinewhoop?
- Pre-built Cinewhoops
- FC + ESC
- FPV Setup
- Radio System
- HD Camera
- FAQ & Tips
What’s a Cinewhoop?
A typical Cinewhoop is a 3″ micro quad with ducts that is powerful enough to carry a GoPro camera. Cinewhoops are great tool for capturing cinematic footage. They are slow but stable, and can fly around people and properties relatively safely. With the built-in stabilization from the latest GoPro (or using 3rd party software), you can get some pretty amazing silky smooth footage.
Flying a cinewhoop is quite different from a 5″ freestyle FPV drone, the power to weight ratio is way lower, and you will be cruising at 40-50% throttle (or higher), that doesn’t leave you much room for correction. And you will be spending some time to learn how to control it smoothly and maintaining a stable altitude.
Update Jun 2020: I recently built a smaller class cinewhoop with “Naked GoPro”.
But you will be surprised how much fun and easy it is to capture such amazing and cinematic footage, being really close to your subject. The result is almost impossible to achieve from a 5″ quad.
Here are some great videos taken by cinewhoops:
Too lazy to build a cinewhoop yourself? Not sure what components to choose? You can just buy a pre-built model off the shelf! Some of these are BNF (bind and fly) which means they even include the radio receiver.
Another advantage of BNF is community support. You can get advice on how to use and tune it, or simply copy settings from another pilot who also fly the exact same model.
Here is a list of popular BNF cinewhoops on the market:
Holybro Kopis CineWhoop
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2FrFsM8
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2MXq9yD
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/36EG1yd
Banggood Donut – Not strictly an BNF kit, you will have to build it yourself, but it’s a good value bundle that includes most of the components
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/37KmAEd
Reptile Cloud – similar to the Donut, with a slightly bigger frame that allows you to run 3.4 inch props
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2QO9lvn
Decided to build your own? First, pick a frame you like :)
CineWhoop frames are like bigger Tiny Whoops, the props are entirely protected by plastic ducts, so the chance of cutting anything with spinning props is extremely low.
A couple of things that might affect your purchase decision: ease to build and maintain, and duct performance.
The ducts not only have to be strong against crashes, they will certainly have a negative effect on thrust, so manufacturers always try to come up with a design that maximizes performance.
When it comes to duct material, these are usually 3D printed. The best material in my opinion is PETG, it’s tough and stiff. Some use PLA or ABS with good result but PLA is not known to be super strong, I guess it depends more on the actual design and print settings. TPU is not a popular material either, although it’s very tough, it is flexible and can jam your props in crashes.
The popular cine frames are:
Shendrones Squirt V2
The Shendrones Squirt V2 is currently getting a lot of attention on social media. There are more 3D printed designs and accessories available when there are more people using it.
The Bumblebee seems to be a relatively complicated frame to work with, for example you have to take both the front ducts off just to tighten the camera, probably not the greatest frame to build and maintain.
The Diatone Taycan below is better in that regard, but is also heavier. The difference is not that big of a deal though, considering how heavy these cinewhoops are anyway.
- Diatone: http://bit.ly/2N4Y5K1
Holybro Kopis Cinewhoop
Ethix CineRat (TBS: http://bit.ly/37LdUNA)
The CineRat is developed by Mr Steele (I think?) and it’s taking quite a different approach from the rest of the cinewhoops listed in this article. Some might even disagree with calling it a “cinewhoop” because of the prop guards.
Shendrones Nutmeg (http://bit.ly/2usAxs0)
One of the smallest cine frames – runs 2″ props instead of 3″ ! But that also means power/efficiency would be worse with this setup due to the smaller disk area. Unless size is extremely important to you, I’d probably get the 3″ frames.
FC & ESC Options for CineWhoop
Most Cinewhoop frames support 20×20 stack, and it’s considerably lighter than 30.5×30.5 stacks, so that’s what I would use. If you want to use 6S batteries, or if that’s something you plan to do in the future, make sure the stack supports the higher voltage.
Generally speaking, 25A-30A ESC should be adequate, but double check your motor/prop combo from online thrust testing.
Here are some popular FC and 4in1 ESC options:
Mamba F722 Mini FC & 30A ESC ($80)
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZZxcMB
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/2YZ9oax
- RDQ: http://bit.ly/35vA6tJ
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2LsAUdr
Mamba F405 Mini FC & 25A ESC ($42)
Rush Tank Mini Stack (F7 FC + 30A ESC + VTX)
Aikon F7 Mini FC
AK32PIN 35A 20×20 ESC (6S)
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/303Mf8i
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/2sXOL3z
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/2N3Xlod
- RDQ: http://bit.ly/2DNOoLL
Talon F7 Fusion FC
Talon Gigawatt V2 35A 20×20 ESC
Holybro Kakute F7 Mini & Tekko32 F3 45A ESC
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/300pWQT
- RDQ: http://bit.ly/2rZhvIK
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/2upVl3f
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MZ3hPx
For the 3″ props in a CineWhoop and the heavy payload (a GoPro!), we should be looking at 14XX and 15XX sized motors. The numbers indicate stator size, the bigger the stator, the more torque a motor can generate. If you are new to motors you should check out this tutorial.
You can use bigger motors, but the extra weight might outweigh the benefits, as we want to try and keep the overall weight low.
Motor KV will mostly depend on your battery choice (i.e. cell count), most people run 4S on their cinewhoops. 6S gives you smaller voltage sag but since we are normally pretty gentle with the sticks (not doing acro moves), this might or might not be an advantage over 4S on a cinewhoop. You can find out other benefits of 6S in this article.
- 3S – 3800KV, 4000KV
- 4S – 3300KV, 3600KV, 3800kv, 4000KV
- 5S – 3000KV
- 6S – 2500KV, 2700KV, 2800KV
Popular 14XX Motors
BrotherHobby T1 1407
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/36xTHuH
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2QS0WHa
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/36xY353
- RDQ: http://bit.ly/2SYP2Oi
T-Motor F20II 1408
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/2QxGz3i
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/2T2K5UW
- RDQ: http://bit.ly/35zgPHK
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2QvmNp0
If you don’t know what to choose, try BrotherHobby T1 which I’ve tried and had good experience with.
Popular 15XX Motors
Brotherhobby Avenger 1507
- RDQ: http://bit.ly/2s3hZOd
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/2QVGiWx
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/2FtP6Oo
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2Fq3Rl4
RCInPower GTS-V2 1507
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/35wWV0b
If you don’t know what to choose, I’d recommend the XING 1507.
Props are relatively inexpensive, test a bunch of them on your particular setup is the only way to find out which prop is best for you. There are a few things to look for when testing:
- Efficiency, how does it affect your flight time
- Noise level, the quieter the less annoying it is to people
- Power, how much thrust it can produce, how much throttle to stay hover and how responsive throttle is
HQ Duct 3 (1.9g)
Gemfan 75mm Ducted props
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QuIBkt
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2Qww3sP
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/2FspTUv
- RDQ: http://bit.ly/2QUnKGj
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/35D4Qcw
HQ 3x4x3 V1S
Selecting batteries for a CineWhoop is quite different from selecting one for a freestyle drone.
You don’t need a huge battery, but big enough to last your shot. It doesn’t have to have extremely high C rating and expensive, since you aren’t doing much acrobatics or racing.
A lighter battery would give you better agility, but might also feel floaty and makes throttle harder to control. For 4S, 850mAh, 1050mAh and 1300mAh are the popular capacities.
Make sure the battery has the matching connector to your drone – i.e. XT30 or XT60!
- RDQ: http://bit.ly/2QXzAzg
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/2s1YO7h
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QxZCKx
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2Fvs0Xo
If you have the DJI Digital FPV system, then go for it. A lot of these cine frames are designed to fit the DJI air unit. But you will be fine using analog for FPV as well.
Most people with a cinewhoop fly both indoor and outdoor, through obstacles and challenging lighting conditions, having an FPV camera with good wide dynamic range really helps.
You can pick up any camera you want and here are our FPV camera recommendations. But in my opinion, the Runcam Micro Eagle is the best out there in terms of dynamic range.
You can get the Micro Eagle from:
- Banggood https://goo.gl/mDFLCr
- Amazon https://amzn.to/2kWT37q
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/2QycUab
- RDQ: http://bit.ly/37Off6B
As for VTX, it should be small and light weight, 200mW is probably enough for the most part. But it should also have lower power options such as 25mW, which is probably better for flying inside concrete structures where you will get multipath interference. And it would be a bonus if it’s capable of high output power in case you are flying outside, far away from yourself. It would also help when you fly behind trees and thin walls.
To give you some ideas, here are some good options:
TBS Pro32 HV
Rush Tank Ultimate
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/36Vq3PG
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/36MKOx4 ($10 off until 31st Dec 2019)
- GetFPV: http://bit.ly/2PH1dgL
As for Antennas, see my antenna recommendations.
900MHz long range systems such as Crossfire, are preferred since you are carrying an expensive GoPro :) If not, 2.4GHz should work just fine. Generally speaking, cinewhoops can’t go too far given the slow speed and short flight time, using 900MHz is mostly for the reliability when flying behind obstacles.
HD Camera Options for Cinewhoop
It would be pointless to have a cinewhoop without a proper HD camera like the GoPro.
There are lighter, smaller quads that can carry split-style HD cameras, such as the 4K Tarsier. But honestly these cameras are just not that good compared to the GoPro in terms of image quality. Not to mention you now have stabilization in your GoPro footage!
The GoPro 7 (https://amzn.to/2T44PLJ) has a stabilization feature built-in, called Hypersmooth. The footage is stabilized during recording, so there is no extra cost, and no extra rendering to do. I find it pretty impressive when I tested it. But it’s not 100% “FPV compatible”, as it sometimes does weird stuff when doing extreme maneuver. The 7 isn’t fully working in Reelsteady either as far as I know, that’s why some people prefer to use an older GoPro with Reelsteady.
Then there is the newer GoPro Hero 8 (https://amzn.to/306Dk60), which has even better stabilization with Hypersmooth 2.0, and the image quality is also superior to the 7. This is probably the go-to camera currently if you want the best possible image quality.
There are other HD camera options too, such as the Insta360 ONE (https://amzn.to/2s2ZLMF), and the latest Insta360 ONE R.
Some people simply use the DJI digital system for recording HD footage, but the footage is not stabilized.
FAQ & Tips
What Camera Angles?
The general consensus is 10 to 15 degrees for the FPV camera, and slightly higher degree for the GoPro because of the wider FOV.
What flight mode for CineWhoop?
I use both Angle modes and Acro modes depending on where I’m flying and how tight the area is.
But 95% of the times I use Acro mode, because it’s just smoother, with Angle mode you have to “fight the self level” constantly. It’s actually not that much harder flying acro indoor, you just transfer your normal skills over with a reduced camera angle.
I reduce the angle strength to 20 so that it doesn’t fight me as hard when I do use angle mode.
What are your rates?
set thr_mid = 50 set thr_expo = 0 set roll_rc_rate = 80 set pitch_rc_rate = 80 set yaw_rc_rate = 80 set roll_expo = 0 set pitch_expo = 0 set yaw_expo = 0 set roll_srate = 83 set pitch_srate = 83 set yaw_srate = 80 save
What’s the weight of a cinewhoop?
For a 3″ cinewhoop carrying a GoPro, it typically weighs around 400g – 500g including a 4S 850mah battery and GoPro 7.
- Jan 2020 – article created