Review: DarwinFPV BabyApe II (V2) 3.5-inch Freestyle BNF FPV Drone

by Oscar
Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone

Introducing the DarwinFPV BabyApe II: a lightweight, powerhouse 3.5″ FPV drone for freestyle flying. Weighing less than 250g including battery, it avoids many regulations, while its upgraded features outshine the original Baby Ape. Its budget-friendly, available in 4S and 6S, analog and digital configurations, making it an appealing option for both FPV drone newcomers and experienced pilots seeking high performance without breaking the bank. In this review we will take a look at it’s pros and cons and see how it flies.

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Where to Buy?

Get your Darwin Baby Ape 2 from these vendors:

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Unbox Accessories Parts

Here’s what you’ll find in the box when you get your hands on one:

  • BabyApe II Freestyle FPV Drone
  • One set of HQProp T3.5x2x3GR-PC propellers (2 clockwise and 2 counter-clockwise)
  • Two 10x170mm battery Velcro straps
  • Two spare 10mm thick EVA shock pads
  • A bag of spare screws for mounting props
  • Stickers
  • User manual
  • Some zip ties

Please note, the 3D printed mount for HD camera is not included in the package.

Get some spare propellers here:


Low Profile

The BabyApe II from DarwinFPV is considerably smaller and lighter than a typical 5-inch freestyle FPV drone, attracting less attention when flying in small parks.

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Size Compare 5inch

One of the cheapest FPV Drone?

While most of its rivals hover around the $200 to $250 mark, the BabyApe 2 comes in under $140 for the base model. This makes it an incredibly attractive option for anyone seeking value. The original BabyApe was praised for its solid performance and value proposition, and its successor carries on this legacy. With a “ready to fly” design that slashes initial setup time, and the added flexibility of choosing between an analog or DJI digital version (Runcam Link + Wasp camera), it gets even better. Plus, you have the option to include batteries and a receiver.

Power Upgrade

In the world of 3.5″ BNF drones, 1404 motors are pretty standard. But the BabyApe II doesn’t settle for the standard. It brings 1504 motors to the table, offering more power and faster response times.

User Friendly Design

The BabyApe II has thoughtful design features that make it user-friendly, especially for beginners. You’ll find a conveniently placed battery lead, a beeper, and additional LED lights. These are features that you might not even expect on pricier models. For instance, the buzzer and bright LEDs are extremely helpful when you need to locate the drone after a crash in tall grass.

Analog and Digital

Even if you’ve moved on from analog, the BabyApe II has got you covered with a digital version that incorporates DJI Vista (Runcam Link). So, you don’t have to miss out on this affordable FPV drone.

6S Support

The BabyApe II is among the rare 3.5-inch drones that support 6S. This is another feature that sets it apart from the crowd. What’re the benefits of 6S over 4S you might wonder? Check out this post.


The BabyApe II offers both 4S and 6S versions. For this review, I’m checking out the 6S version. The main difference between the two lies in the motors – the 4S uses 3600KV motors while the 6S uses 2300KV ones.

  • Wheelbase: 156mm
  • Flight Control: F411 MPU6500 AT7456E
    • Available Ports: 1x SBUS (RX1 reverse), 2x Uarts (1,2), 2x Softserial, 1x I2C, 1x RGB, 1x Buzzer, 1x USER (A15), 1x USB
  • ESC: Bluejay 48KHz 3-6S 30A
  • Camera and VTX:
    • Analog Version: DarwinFPV “Cement” fully waterproof camera + 600mW Analog VTX
    • Digital Version: RUNCAM LINK VTX + Wasp Camera
  • Motor:
    • 4S version: 1504-3600KV
    • 6S version: 1504-2300KV
  • Propeller: HQProp T3.5x2x3GR-PC
  • Recommended Battery:
    • 4S 650mAh-850mAh
    • 6S 500mAh-650mAh
  • Size: 126mm x 150mm x 50mm
  • Weight (6S analog version without battery): 141g
  • Weight (6S analog version with 6S 550mAh battery): 244g

A Close Look at the Darwin BabyApe II

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Front Unbox

The BabyApe II, priced at a modest $140, might not have the best quality components, but surpasses expectations when it comes to design and build quality.

Boasting features you’d usually associate with more expensive models, it includes a ‘waterproof’ FPV camera, a bright LED, a buzzer, and even an external ELRS receiver. Surprisingly, it also comes with an 30A ESC running on BlueJay firmware, which supports up to 6S. These features have been packed into this drone by making compromises elsewhere, like opting for an unconventional FC with the less popular MPU6500 gyro.

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Side

The frame design of the BabyApe II has caught my attention. The XT30 battery lead that comes out from the front, ensures it doesn’t get in the way of the propellers. It’s also sufficiently long to facilitate easy connection to a variety of batteries without any stretching. However, the wire gauge seems a bit on the smaller side, it’s not labelled but I think it’s possibly 20AWG? Adding to the thoughtful design is a textured rubber battery mat on the top plate.

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Xt30 Lead Holder Mount

The 6S setup utilizes unique-looking 1504 2300KV motors, which appear to be exclusive to DarwinFPV’s drone. They are paired with HQ Prop T3.5x2x3 propellers, and the recommended battery is a 6S 500mAh-650mAh. Although the motors don’t have many openings, which raises some concerns about cooling.

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Motor Propeller

Adding a touch of cool factor, the arms feature bright LED ‘motor wires’ that light up when the motors spin. The front and rear LEDs come in different colors (white front, orange rear), helping you judge the drone’s orientation when flying line of sight.

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Motor Wire Soldering

Weighing in at under 250g with a battery, the BabyApe II strikes a fine balance between being lightweight and sturdy. Its low-profile design contributes to easy maneuverability, making it a pleasure to fly.

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Bottom

Camera and Video Performance

The camera on the BabyApe II appears to be a different one from its predecessor. The field of view (FOV) is wider in the new version, but it’s still not as wide as I’d like, which could be a downside for some users.

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Camera Mount Front

When it comes to image quality, it’s fairly average. The dynamic range struggles with bright conditions, and the image quality tends to be a bit too soft for my taste, especially for objects that are far away. However, it’s good enough for regular flying.

There’s an important consideration here: the camera has a 16:9 aspect ratio. Make sure your goggles can support this, or else the image will appear squashed, distorting the view and making it challenging to judge distances, particularly during acrobatics.

By default, the camera angle is fairly conservative, so you may want to adjust it to your preference. I had it a bit too low in my testing, so most of the times when I fly fast, all I could see was the ground.

The Video Transmitter (VTX) sort of works, although there seem to be some issues with channel selection. When selecting a channel in Betaflight OSD menu, the VTX tends to land on the wrong frequency. For instance, selecting R4 takes you to R2, and choosing R7 leads you to R6. This is puzzling, especially as the VTX table appears to be correct. To find the channel, I rely on the scan feature in my Video Receiver (VRX) module.

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Receiver Vtx

While this isn’t much of a problem if you don’t switch channels frequently and only fly solo, it could pose challenges when flying with others.

Further reading: which is the best channel for FPV flying? 

On a positive note, the range is pretty good. I managed to fly 600 meters away (in line of sight) without any breakup, crystal clear video. Given the relatively simple and low performance antenna, I believe you could potentially achieve a range of 1km or more with this quad.

Flight Performance

I must say, the flight performance of the BabyApe II genuinely exceeded my expectations.

On my initial day of testing, I had my laptop handy, ready to give PID a fine tune. But to my surprise, the stock tune performed exceptionally well, it didn’t really need adjustments.

This quad has a lot of power and feels incredibly punchy, to the point where I had to pay extra attention to throttle management. It handles windy condition well I was flying in 18MPH wind in the video. You might see a wobble here and there but it was mostly stable throughout the whole flight, and I believe the 6S power is another significant contributor to this. While it’s not the quietest quad, it’s certainly less noisy than a 5″, making it more suitable for smaller parks where you want to keep a low profile.

The BabyApe II is incredibly nimble and great for acrobatics. While it doesn’t possess the same ‘fling-ability’ as a 5″ drone due to its lighter weight and slightly less power, it’s still a whole lot of fun to fly around.

DarwinFPV claims a flight time of around 13 minutes with their recommended battery. However, my tests suggest a more realistic flight time of around 6 to 7 minutes with a 6S 550mAh battery. So, it doesn’t seem to be quite as efficient as DarwinFPV claims.

I’ve found that a 6S 550mAh battery works well with this quad. With this, I managed to squeeze out around 8 minutes of flight time during some relaxed cruising. However, if you decide to throw in some throttle punches, flips, and rolls, the battery drains quickly, reducing the flight time to 5-6 minutes during aggressive flying.

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone 6s Lipo Battery

I also tried a 6S 1050mAh battery, but the drone struggled a bit with the heavier weight, making the experience less enjoyable. It’s clear that the BabyApe II prefers a lighter battery for optimal performance.

Crash Durability

Throughout my testing, the drone endured several hard crashes, the BabyApe II held up well, with no significant damage. There are a few bent propellers, but I just bent them back in shape and ready to fly again, didn’t even impact flight performance. This suggests that the BabyApe II tolerates vibrations and prop noise quite well.

More importantly, the lower cost of this model has made me less scared about crashes. I felt more at ease pushing the limits during flight, knowing that potential damages wouldn’t be as costly.

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Rear Antenna Mount

One potential weak spot to keep an eye on is the receiver antenna. It’s at risk of being damaged by the propellers, so it’s best to retract it slightly to prevent it from sticking out too much.

Final Thoughts

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone

Despite some shortcomings, such as the buggy VTX, exposed RX antenna, and 16:9 FPV camera – the DarwinFPV BabyApe V2 remains a strong contender in its class.

It’s hard to dismiss the BabyApe, especially considering its impressive performance and a mere $140 price tag. This drone is a great choice for both beginners and those on a tight budget. The BabyApe comes well-tuned and ready to fly out of the box. Plus, it provides a platform for you to incrementally upgrade its components and make it a better drone over time. (The first things I want to swap out are the VTX, antennas and FPV camera).

Get your BabyApe 2 from these vendors:

Unfortunately DarwinFPV does not offer 6S batteries in their bundles, only 4S, so you’d have to get your own. Get some 6S 550mAh, this is what I’d recommend to use with this quad:

Get some spare propellers here:

How to Setup

Here’s the included manual:

Darwinfpv Babyape Ii V2 3.5 Inch Freestyle Bnf Fpv Drone Manual Instruction

The DarwinFPV Baby Ape V2 comes pre-loaded with Betaflight firmware BF4.3.2. Although it’s an older version, it’s well-tuned right out of the box, so you might want to reconsider before updating the firmware as this would require re-tuning the drone. The stock CLI dump can be found here.

The drone’s ESC comes with the Bluejay firmware, and RPM filter is enabled by default in Betaflight.

It’s equipped with an ExpressLRS receiver, with Firmware Rev. ver.unknown (8d3388), and the device target is BetaFPV Nano 2.4GHz. Not sure what firmware version it has but the receiver works with ELRS V3 right out of the box, so there’s no need to update it either.

How to bind ELRS receiver:

Before your first flight, there are a few things you should do in Betaflight:

  1. Load the ELRS 500Hz Preset in the preset tab.
  2. Set up your preferred modes in the modes tab.
  3. Customize your On-Screen Display (OSD) in the OSD tab.
  4. Apply your own rates.

After these setup steps, you should be ready for your first flight. Happy flying!

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Max Math 4th July 2024 - 9:41 pm

I Just got my Ape. All the switches work but the VTX won´t change output power on switch even after altering the VTX table in CLI. Pit mode and Power low Disarm does not work. VTX still gets hot unarmed with lipo connected.

VTXadmin on my Boxer does not seem to work either. I already checked the smart audio cable, it is connected to FC.
Any Ideas?
Thanks for all the Help!

Oscar 8th July 2024 - 4:27 pm

I didn’t get the VTX channel/power selection to work either, it’s very buggy.

Fritz 28th January 2024 - 3:35 am

This VTX is perplexing… I would like to be able to change channels and especially power via smartaudio, has this been addressed w/ FW or anything?

GODFORBID 8th September 2023 - 10:51 am

Hello again, sorry for boring you again, but i’m quite new and i don’t know who to ask, i recived my babyape 2 elrs and i’m having problems with radio (using a tx16s internal elrs), binding was easy and fast but in betaflight in the receiver tab all the switches do not register a change, while roll, pitch, yawn and throttle yes (i can also see the model moving in betaflight using the radio)
not beeing able to use switches, i can’t arm the drone, i can’t switch between flight modes. If I type “status” in the CLI at the end says “BADRX” is it a faulty rx? is there something i can do or check?
the radio works with mobula8 elrs.
if you have some spare time can u please help me? i’m going mad and the monkey is still on the ground :(

Oscar 10th September 2023 - 1:13 pm

The fact that the gimbals are working in the receiver tab, suggest the receiver is working fine, and it’s bound to the radio correctly.
I think it could be your radio “MIXES” configuration. I have a guide explaining how to setup MIXES, switches and Betaflight Modes here:

Let me know if you still have issues.

GODFORBID 13th September 2023 - 4:12 pm

yes, i create a new model and forgot to setup switches, i told you i was “new” in the hobby and made a stupid error! :)
thank you very much for your time

Darron 29th July 2023 - 3:28 pm

Where do you get this 3d printed camera mount that didn’t come in the box? Is there a STL somewhere?

godforbid 5th September 2023 - 8:27 am

i’m also interested , i’m not able to design this on my own but i would like to use a thumb camera on this quad, I have not found STL on the web.
thank you for your answer

GODFORBID 7th September 2023 - 2:27 pm

here you can find the camera mount and other STLs fo the babyape II

Dragos 11th June 2023 - 8:48 pm

Which would you recommend between this and the HM Crux35?
For reference, I’m a beginner that is now dealing with a simulator and a Mobula7.

Or do you have any other recommendation? I feel like a 3.5 drone is the perfect next step.

Stephan 9th June 2023 - 8:58 pm

Sounds like there’s no spare uart for adding a GPS. The promised long flight times made me think about using it for long range cruising!

Irek 9th June 2023 - 6:28 am

How hard is to convert it to hdzero ?

Oscar 9th June 2023 - 11:07 am

I haven’t tried it, but it doesn’t look too difficult. There are mounting holes at the back for the VTX, and the camera mount supports micro size cam. There’re two UARTs, one for RX, the other one for for the VTX OSD. You will need to use softserial to turn another pad for smartaudio though, for example the S5 pad.