The Emax Hawk Apex is one of the very few “bind n fly” models that comes with HDZero video transmitter. It’s an extremely light weight 5″ FPV drone that supports up to 6S LiPo battery designed for racing.
Where to Buy?
There are two motor options, 2400KV (4S) and 1600KV (6S), and you can choose ExpressLRS receiver or no receiver. I am reviewing the 6S version with ELRS receiver.
It does not come with batteries, get them here:
You can also get some spare propellers here (the original 5030 props are not available at the time of publishing, but the iFlight 5030×3 are good alternatives):
It comes with the following items in the box:
- 1x Hawk Apex 5″ FPV Racing RC Drone
- 6x Avia 5030 TRIBLADE propeller
- 1 bag of screws
- Wheelbase: 210mm
- Motor: EMAX ECOII 2004 Motor KV2400(4S)/ KV1600(6S)
- Propeller: Avia 5030 TRIBLADE propeller
- Weight (excluding battery): 183g
- Vtx & Camera: HDZero Whoop + Runcam Nano HDZero
- Vtx antenna: Emax Nano Antenna UFL
- Receiver: PNP/ Emax ELRS 2.4GHz Receiver
- FC: STM32F722 + 4 IN 1 25A ESC
- Size: L*W*H=175*175*30mm
183g185g without battery, 290g with 6S 550mAh
Closer Look at the Emax Hawk Apex
There are only two boards in the FC stack, the top board is the HDZero VTX, Whoop VTX to be specific. The bottom board is an F7 flight controller with 25A BLHeli_S ESC integrated. No onboard flash memory for blackbox. Not sure if it’s a bug or I just have a bad unit, I have to connect battery first before USB cable, otherwise the FC goes into DFU mode. Also USB doesn’t power the RX and I need to plug in the battery first to bind/test receiver.
The HDZero Whoop VTX doesn’t support SmartAudio, but you can still change power, channel and other VTX settings in the VTX menu using your radio sticks, practically it’s just like SmartAudio.
The Hawk Apex is designed for racing and not really long range, so 200mW is plenty. In fact I was testing it at 25mW and I can fly around within 200-300 meters around trees without any problems.
The FPV camera is Runcam Nano for HDZero which is a fantastic camera for the system. Image quality is great as you can see in my flight test. Not quite as good as DJI but still way better than analogue, not to mention latency is better and more consistent than DJI which is more important for racing.
Motors are 2004 1600KV, arguably a bit small for 5″, especially racing. But this quad is meant to be a light weight FPV racing drone so that might be okay. I will talk more about flight performance later on.
The arms are 2.5mm thick carbon fibre, the frame is overall very stiff and strong, very little flex when trying to bend the arms with my hands. And I had 10+ crashes in one day, it held up really well. Since it’s so low weight, not a single propeller even broke.
I wish the battery pads were more sticky, they are a bit slippery and the battery can slide out in crashes and get ejected sometimes.
How to setup
The Emax Hawk Apex comes with Betaflight version: 4.3.0 (Jun 14 2022), board target is EMAXF7. You can find the default CLI dump here.
Here’re what I did to set it up for first flight:
- USB doesn’t power RX, need to connect battery first then usb, otherwise it goes into DFU mode
- setup switches for arm, beeper and flip over after crash
- bind ELRS RX (comes with V2 ExpressLRS firmware)
- change channel map to default (AETR)
- It’s using the Whoop VTX (not Whoop Lite), so SmartAudio is not supported. to change VTX settings, use VTX menu
- setup OSD (esp. you should enable Warnings)
FPV Camera is a bit loose even though the screws are tightened all the way, sometimes crashing can change the tilt angle. By default the motors run “props in”, but I’d prefer to have “props out” on this quad, which is less likely to get stuck when crash into gate/branches.
I get about 5-6 mins flight time on 6S 550mah (fast flying) which is really efficient!
Hovers at 18% throttle, this drone is pretty powerful! However, as mentioned the motors are quite small for a 5″ quad, although it’s very light weight, they lack the torque to spin 5″ triblade props, they can’t quite change RPM fast enough and sustain high RPM. That leads to slower responsiveness (less snappy in the corners) and lower top speed in punch-outs.
When I flew a typical 5″ freestyle quad back to back (6S, 2207 1800KV motors), the performance difference was obvious to me, it was more responsive, less floaty and just overall faster than the Hawk Apex even though my freestyle quad is more than twice the weight.
But the Hawk Apex really shines when it comes to durability because it’s so light. Subconsciously I feel more confident and want to fly faster knowing it can take some beating. It’s also more silent than a typical 5″ FPV drone if noise is something you care about. Currently there’re not that many BNF 5-inch quads on the market that offers HDZero, so that’s another advantage if this is the FPV system you prefer to run for racing.