Review: Diatone GT 2017 Racing Drone | Mini Quad

The Diatone GT 2017 is a brilliant ARTF (almost ready to fly) racing drone. The build is very solid with top performance components with a minimalist and robust design, making it a great racing machine for beginners and advanced racers alike.

Diatone created the GT200 last year and it was a great success. The “GT 2017” we are reviewing today is the third generation of the GT series they are about to release. They are kind enough to send us a sample to try out.

However, given it is a test sample, there are some problems I encountered during testing which I will explain in detail in this review. I’ve reported these issues to Diatone and hopefully they can be fixed in the production units.

If you are new to FPV and Racing drones, make sure to check out my beginners’ guide to get into mini quad.

The GT 2017 is available at Banggood, or Diatone.HK.

This is not a RTF mini quad

Please note that the GT2017 is not a RTF (ready to fly) mini quad. It’s a pre-built quadcopter, but you will still need to purchase a radio receiver (RX) of your choice, install it and bind it to your TX.

I will explain how I setup mine with a Frsky XSR and Taranis in this post. Check out this article for a list of available Frsky RX.

What’s in the box

The GT 2017 mini quad comes with:

  • The quad
  • 5 spare screws for each kind
  • Spare spacers and FC soft mounting rubber rings
  • A bunch of spare wires, and cables for your RX
  • Buzzer

(The content might be different in the final product)

Diatone GT 2017 Specification

  • Retails price $280
  • FC: Fury F3 (MPU6000-SPI, 16MB flash, 5V/1.5A BEC)
  • ESC: 302XD 30A ESC (Sunnysky R30 ESC’s  Rebrand)
  • Motor: Sunnysky Edge 2306 2450KV
  • Propellers: Gemfan Flash 5152 triblades
  • FPV Camera: HS1177
  • VTX: Diatone SP2
  • VTX Antenna: Aomway 4-lobe with protective case (RHCP)

I really like the simple, low profile design that nicely combines aluminium and carbon fibre. The frame is an uni-body, stretch-X design. (learn about mini quad frame)

The arms and bottom plate has a thickness of 5.2mm which is the thickest I have ever seen in a mini quad frame.

However the camera does stick out of the frame and nothing is protecting the lens. That’s my main concern when it comes to crashing.

 

The quad weighs in at 389g – with props, antenna but without RX and battery.

Closer Look at the GT 2017

FC USB port can be accessed easily on the side. The flight controller is an AIO board with PDB integrated, so the stack only has 2 boards, the FC and the SP2 VTX.

You can easily change channels and power of the VTX by pressing the button on the VTX which is just behind the FC.

The battery holder wraps around a metal (aluminium) bottom plate, and I thought that’s a really cool and simple design. But I wish they could stick some sort of “anti-slippery” material there to prevent the battery from sliding.

The ESC is held in place by zip ties and protected by a dedicated aluminium case to protect the ESC from physical damage such as prop strikes.

Similar to the Edge Racing 2306 motors I reviewed previously, but these motors on the GT2017 are made to their own specifications with beautiful silver winding.

One special thing about the motors is the “MVS” system – motor vibration suppression system. The arm is sandwiched by 2 rubber sheets and it seems to be a legit approach to reduce vibration caused by the motors. I believe Diatone is the first to come up with this clever technique as I’ve never seen this elsewhere.

Other ways of soft mounting your motors.

However, regardless the effectiveness, there are some downsides with this system:

  • For soft mounting motors to be effective, the screws cannot be tightened too much. And Diatone should be using loctite glue on the motor screws (which they didn’t)
  • This system involves longer screws, washers, 2 rubber sheets and a metal plate, that adds about 20-30g extra weight compares to just using 2-3 shorter screws each motor

The next cool thing is the frame cage, it can be lifted up!

You only need to loosen 4 screws and the top of the cage can open up. This makes quad setup, repair, access internal electronics a lot easier.

A closer look at the flight controller which comes with Betaflight 3.1.6. At the moment the firmware can only be downloaded from Diatone’s website. Hopefully this will be made available in the firmware flasher dropdown list from 3.2.

The FC is soft mounted as well.

VTX antenna connector is SMA.

 

Setting up Diatone GT 2017

To setup the GT2017, you first need to familiarize yourself with this FC pinout diagram. In my case, all that was needed connecting were the radio receiver, and the buzzer.

Connecting RX

I am using Frsky XSR RX, and it turns out to be an easy job without any soldering. However you do need to swap the wires around in the JST connectors.

Since this is a F3 flight controller, and all the UART’s have hardware inverters, there is no need to get the uninverted smart port signals. Just connect Smart Port to any spare UART.

Once connected the cables, I mounted the RX on top of the FC with double sided foam tape, and put a zip tie around it.

With the RX antennas, I used the good old heatshrink/cable tie trick and mounted them on the arms horizontally.

Connecting Buzzer

Diatone didn’t install the buzzer for some reason, and cut the wires on the buzzer pins (the 2 on the left). It wasn’t an easy job to get these pins out of the connector.

Zip tie to the rescue again :) tied it to the zip tie on the RX.

Setup Betaflight

  • Setup Telemetry, SBUS
  • Setup modes (Arm, Airmode, Buzzer)
  • Setup Betaflight OSD
  • Adjust the PID and rate to my liking
  • Calibrate current sensor

Check ESC settings

  • ESC’s come with BLHeli_S 16.6 firmware
  • Double check ESC settings make sure they match
  • You do not need to calibrate your ESC’s if you are Running DShot

XT60 wires

I was a bit surprised to see the XT60 pigtail was not secured to the frame, and it was just hanging from the FC. It just didn’t look very safe to me as it could be pulling the solder joints on the FC in a crash.

I tied them to the frame with zip-ties to relieve the stress off the solder pads. Make sure to leave a bit of slack in the wires so it doesn’t affect FC soft-mounting too much.

Edit: I checked with Diatone and they will be using this XT60 wire clamp/holder in the production units.

First flight and some issues

In my first flight I had a couple of issues.

  • Motor/ESC get hot – at first i thought it was the aggressive props, but after trying lighter props, and played with PID, filter and FC firmware didn’t help – might be the fact that it doesn’t have a filtering caps at the power
  • RX signal jitters – I tried different RX and it was giving me the same issue

It’s probably a faulty FC that I have. Anyway I am working closely with Diatone trying to revolve this issue. I will report back when I make progress. (Update, problem solved, it was just a bad FC)

Replaced FC and RX signal jitter Fixed!

So I replaced the flight controller (Fury F3) last night, and the RX problem is gone! While we are here, I’ve taken some close up pictures of the FC.

The way the ESC wires are soldered to the FC is quite unusual from what we normally do. The wires go through the holes on the FC, and they are soldered to the board from the top as shown in the following picture.

The advantage of this way is space saving, while the pads are so close together, the solder won’t overflow to the next pad easily. Removing the wires are also quite easy, I just heat up the top and pull the wires out from the bottom. But it requires some practice :) One drawback though is before you solder the ESC back on the FC, you need to clean the solder off the pads to expose the holes.

Adding a low ESR capacitor on the Diatone GT 2017

When testing the quad, I found there was some lines in the FPV feed whenever I played with throttle. Also the motor and ESC comes down very warm, which could also be related to electrical noise getting into the Gyro.

I decided to add a low ESR 1000uF capacitor to the power pads which could be the solution to both of these problems. Here are the benefits of adding low ESR capacitor to the power.

The Diatone GT2017 is quite a tight build, but I managed to cram the cap in there on top of the RX/FC, secured in place with a zip tie :) I’ve also recommended to Diatone to include a cap in their future builds.

My Betaflight Settings, PID and Rates

  • Updated – 1st Aug 2017
  • Firmware: BF 3.1.7 Fury F3
  • I will only list what I have changed here, everything else is default

Looptime and Gyro update rate: I am running 8K Gyro rate and 4K looptime. I could do 8K/8K, but CPU load would reach 30-35% which I don’t feel comfortable with. And really I couldn’t tell the difference when running 4K or 8K so I settled at 4K :)

General performance settings (should be safe for everyone)

set acc_hardware = NONE
set motor_pwm_protocol = DSHOT600

Advance performance settings. It might not be safe for every build, use this at your own risk. If you do decide to use it, see here for warning and instructions

set d_lowpass_type = PT1
set gyro_notch1_hz = 0
set gyro_notch2_hz = 0

My PID and rates with DAL 5040×3 Props (I choose this prop because I find them to be a good balance between efficiency and speed)

set p_pitch = 54
set i_pitch = 44
set d_pitch = 30
set p_roll = 56
set i_roll = 48
set d_roll = 36
set p_yaw = 75
set i_yaw = 47
#-------------------
set rc_rate = 76
set rc_rate_yaw = 79
set rc_expo = 1
set rc_yaw_expo = 1
set thr_mid = 45
set thr_expo = 7
set roll_srate = 79
set pitch_srate = 79
set yaw_srate = 81

My personal settings for flight characteristics

set setpoint_relax_ratio = 45
set d_setpoint_weight = 135
set anti_gravity_gain = 4.000
set deadband = 4 
set yaw_deadband = 4

Thoughts so far (30th Jul 017)

After a few more flights, I finally tuned it to fly the way I want. This quad simply rocks both in terms of speed, stability and durability. Here is the first DVR footage from the drone.

The camera might seem a bit exposed, but it hasn’t been a problem in a dozens of crashes I’ve had with trees and the ground.

The motors are in medium KV and has lots of torque, enables them to handle a wide range of propellers sizes such as 5040×3, 5045×3, 5050×3 or 5050×2 etc without destroying your battery. Motors and ESC do get a bit warm, but within acceptable level.

While I am very happy with the quad overall, I am not particularly happy with the camera’s WDR (wide dynamic range). But the HS1177 does have lower latency than other cameras so hardcore racers might actually prefer it.

At this stage I really recommend this quad. Top notch performance, easy to setup, and it’s just tough as nail.

17 thoughts on “Review: Diatone GT 2017 Racing Drone | Mini Quad

  1. James

    Was just bout to put on the cap, first one, and I never saw people do much to protect the exposed leads, thank you, will shrink wrap them, any other tips with low caps?

    Reply
  2. Oni

    Hello, I am a newbie, I have bought the same quad and same XSR … But Im stuck in betaflight, to recognize my receiver…
    What is the option to choose for the Serial Rx?
    I dont understand how to work betaflight.. Can you show me your very first option in betaflight?

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Google “how to enable SBUS in Betaflight”. Should be the same for all SBUS receivers including XSR.

      Reply
      1. Oni

        I have resolving it, That was a problem of choice, between uar port.
        After somes reconizing problem (thanks impulserc driver software), I can use betaflight.
        When I save and reboot, I have a failure message, do you have met it? “unrecoverable failure of serial connection”
        Another question, to be sure, I want to sold a cap like you do, you sold the low ESR directly to the + and gnd ON the XT60 wire’s directly?

      2. Oscar Post author

        For your problem, try uninstalling the driver complete and try again. If you can try it on a different computer and see what happens.
        Yes the Capacitor can be soldered directly to the power (XT60)

  3. Ryan

    I designed a little GT2 Helmet for the 2016 high side plate (frame kits) version. It gives really good camera protection, and I have a “freestyle” version that has a 40 degree session ramp.
    I have GT2017 standard X and stretch X frame kits coming Monday and will be designing helmets for them as well.
    You can check out the 2016 model at innov83d.com

    Reply
  4. Tomppy

    Hi, concerning the caméra, i have the crusader gt2, same frame montage, and despite many more or less hard crashes the camera never take a beat.
    I really enjoy this hight quality bulding

    Reply
  5. mark

    On your RC Receiver comparison chart I noticed one is running 3.2 and one is running 3.17. Was there a variable change there, like some RC Smoothing code? Did you see any receiver glitches in a log where the RC command was opposite gyro?

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      That’s just to show what the problem is. In actual flights, the RX jitter was so bad it felt like I was having failsafe kicking in every 3 seconds.
      Tried 2 other RX on this FC, same issue.
      The same RX works flawlessly on another FC.

      Reply
  6. Marwin

    Did you try playing with the filter? Put set dterm_lowpass_type = BIQUAD and test if the motors get less warm.

    But at the other-side, Motors may get warm, As long as you dont burn your fingers your save.

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Yes i have. After building 20+ quads, I think I know the difference between hot and warm :) and it’s hot :)
      it’s probably just a bad FC i have, we will see.

      Reply
  7. Steve Bellamy

    Been flying the early tester version for a few months and have had solid performance. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts once diatone resolves the issues you experienced.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you Robot? *

I only check blog comments once or twice a week, if you want a quick reply you can post your question on this forum IntoFPV.com... You might get a faster response from me there (multirotor related only).