Review: Flywoo Explorer LR – Awesome 4″ Long Range BNF Drone

by Oscar
Published: Last Updated on

The Flywoo Explorer LR is a pre-built, light weight, 4″ FPV drone designed for long range FPV flying. Including battery it weighs under 250g, and with a bigger Li-Ion battery it can reach a maximum flight time of nearly 30 minutes! Covering a distance of around 20Km.

Where to Buy

Update (Nov 2020): There are now more micro long range options, check out my round up comparison.

DJI Version:

Analogue Version:

They also offer analogue version with Runcam Nano2 camera if you have not yet bought the DJI FPV goggles.

Buy Spare props (4025×2, you can also use 4024, the difference is minimal)

Buy 4S 650mAh LiPo Battery

Specs and Features

The following data are from my own testing:

  • The whole drone weighs under 250g including 4S 650mAh LiPo (242g to be exact)
  • Up to 8 minutes of flight time with 4S 650mAh (cruising), 12 minutes with 1000mAh, 28 minutes with 4S 18650 Li-Ion battery (Flywoo claims 38mins, maybe they are using a better battery pack, I will re-test this when I get it from them)
  • GPS and rescue mode are set up right out of the box (only needs small changes)
  • Comes with self-powered buzzer (it beeps even when battery is ejected)

Specifications:

  • Goku F411 FC + BLHeli_S 13A 4in1 ESC stack (16x16mm)
  • Caddx Vista (DJI FPV System)
  • Flywoo NIN 1404 v2 2750KV Motors
  • Gemfan 4024 two-blade propellers
  • Crossfire Nano Receiver
  • Goku GM8 Mini GPS Module
  • Flywoo Drone Finder V1.0
  • Flywoo Atomic 5.8GHz Antenna
  • Weight: 163g without battery

Side by side comparison between the Flywoo Explorer LR 4″ (left) and the Holybro Kopis Mini 3″ (right).

Close Look at the Flywoo Explorer LR

The Explorer LR is a collaboration between Flywoo and Dave_C FPV who is the original creator of this micro long range concept! According to Flywoo they spent several months developing this quad and I have to agree – they’ve done a fantastic job!

The frame is a “deadcat” style, the good thing about it is you don’t get any props in the camera’s view.

The Crossfire receiver antenna is mounted under the frame at the front. The tips of the antenna are quite close to the arms, perhaps it could have been mounted a bit further away from carbon fibre. But so far in my testing I haven’t had any issues, and the radio definitely out-ranges my video signal (Crossfire 250mW, Vista 1200mW).

The Flywoo Explorer LR is the first BNF (bind and fly) model I reviewed that comes with GPS pre–installed, GPS and rescue mode are already setup in Betaflight. I wouldn’t call a quad “long range” if it doesn’t have GPS :) And the Flywoo Explorer qualifies!

The motors are NIN 1404 V2 2750KV – quite a small motor for 4″ props, but with the light weight Gemfan 4024 two-blade props, this is the magic combo! Such an efficient setup.

Camera angle is adjustable by loosening the M2 screws on the sides.

I love the design of the TPU mount for the GPS and Buzzer, this ensures the GPS receiver is always facing straight up and getting the best possible signal during flying.

The GPS Module is Flywoo’s own branded GM8 Mini V1.0, you can get it here: https://oscarliang.com/product-5ujn, it works brilliantly. The size and specs look identical to the BN180, apart from the connector pins which are reversed.

The buzzer is the Flywoo Drone Finder V1.0, which has its own battery. If the main battery is ejected in a crash (or goes flat), the buzzer will start beeping to help you find it.

I tested the volume and it’s around 90dB at 20cm distance.

It also has an bright LED that flashes as it beeps, useful for night searches.

The built-in battery in the buzzer is charged through the 5V (when you have the drone battery plugged in), at full charge it can beep for 4 to 5 hours according to Flywoo.

Just like any self-powered buzzers, it will start beeping when you land and unplug the battery, you have to hold down the button for 3 seconds to stop it. (it’s kind of annoying at first but you will get used to it)

The FC/ESC and Caddx Vista are mounted in two separate stacks, the weight are evenly distributed through the frame, and there’s still room for airflow to cool down the electronics.

The 16x16mm FC/ESC stack is absolutely tiny compared to the 30x30mm stack we use on 5″.

The 4in1 ESC’s are rated for only 13A, this is considered pretty low for even a 3″ not to mention a 4″. But I have been pushing this quad to its absolute maximum and it’s holding up well so far. I guess they’ve chosen the smallest FC/ESC stack for weight saving, considering the motor and props combo is very low power, this should do.

The Vista antenna connector holder wasn’t installed properly, Flywoo told me it wasn’t a quality control issue, they just couldn’t get it to fit properly due to the slightly bigger U.FL connector used in their antenna. They reassured me that this shouldn’t be a problem and the antenna shouldn’t come loose.

Anyway, I won’t be able to verify their claim, because I have to change out the antenna. For some reason they sent me an RHCP antenna, while all DJI FPV gears use LHCP.

You shouldn’t mix RHCP and LHCP because it will result in massive signal loss. Be consistent. What’s RHCP and LHCP?

With the LHCP antenna I replaced, the antenna connector holder fits perfectly. This is the Speedybee antenna. in theory you should be able to use any 5.8GHz antennas for the DJI FPV system, since it’s also on 5.8GHz.

How to Setup

Betaflight was more or less already configured for me including PID and filters, I didn’t have to change much. However, I strongly recommend double checking your GPS setup, testing rescue mode over and over again before using it as your failsafe.

If you are new to GPS and Rescue mode, here is my tutorial.

Here’s my CLI dump after setting up: https://intofpv.com/t-cli-dump-from-flywoo-explorer-lr

My Rates

My PID

My Filters

Rescue mode settings

Conclusion

I’ve been flying the Explorer LR a little over a week now, I must say I am impressed! It’s a lot of fun, signal is solid on both Crossfire and DJI FPV system, I can go places that I never dreamed possible with analogue. With such light weight, it has great efficiency and long flight time, just what I have always wanted in a long range model.

Flywoo did a good job with the tuning, PID and filters they sent me are great. I did make a few small changes and now the quad flies ON RAIL! Video is jello-free on a calm day, in strong wind it might get some small shakes here and there, but that’s just the way it is with all light weight drones without image stabilization.

If you want to stay under the 250g limit, you have to use 4S 650mAh, I was getting about 8 mins of flight time so it’s not bad at all!

But for the ultimate flight time, you should give 4S 18650 Li-Ion battery a try, I am getting nearly 28minutes of cruising at 50km/h, it’s ridiculous. (that’s about 23km distance – 14 miles)

When it comes to acrobatics, it’s not what it’s designed for, but still it’s doable. I do feel like I am constantly hitting the limit of the motors when doing extreme maneuvers.

The motors are quite small and don’t have a lot of torque for 4″ props. For example prop wash is more noticeable and very hard to avoid, and yaw movement isn’t as responsive and crisp as larger motors. You have to remember, this quad is meant to be light weight and efficient, once you have bigger motors you lose both of these things, so we have to make sacrifice somewhere.

Love this quad! Recommend!

Get the Explorer from: https://oscarliang.com/product-ia95

Spare props (4025×2)

4S 650mAh LiPo Battery

Pros

  • Flies very stable out of the box
  • Very efficient motor and prop combo – long flight time
  • Good quality GPS receiver, very good signal, I normally get a fix within a minute or two
  • Rescue mode works out of the box, i only needed to tweak a couple of parameters for my flying field
  • GPS can be powered by USB – it helps searching for satellites before flight without powering the whole quad and VTX

Cons

  • no current sensor – it’s very important for long range. Voltage is useful but it can be unreliable sometimes. With current sensor you know exactly how much fuel is left and if you have enough to make your way back
  • Vista antenna is RHCP and antenna connector holder wasn’t installed properly – hope they fix this in production

Carrying GoPro

I designed these mounts for the Explorer to carry a “naked GoPro” with the BetaFPV GoPro Lite Case (V2). Personally I prefer the fixed angle mount (15 degree) as it’s much lighter. But if you want flexibility, the adjustable angle mount is great :)

STL Files available here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4589570

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70 comments

Fabio 12th April 2021 - 7:43 pm

Hey oscar, thanks for that throughout review!

I was wondering why your cli dump has 5 motors mapped?

Need the dump urgently bc i resetted my quad by accident..
Thanks, Fabio

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Oscar 12th April 2021 - 11:55 pm

The 5th motor was already there out of the box, I didn’t notice and didn’t change it. I don’t think it really matters.

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Jacobo 7th April 2021 - 8:10 pm

Hi again , thank you for answering!
Yes I like the looks of the Lr explorer and Flywoo offers a RTF explorer with the 3800kv and the more powerful stack from factory at the same price than the Chimera so it is also out of the box configuration and identical price.
So maybe the better looks (in my opinion) and the propellers out of sight vs the x-shaped body of the Chimera could be a reason? Also bear in mind that the chimera is runing or at least it was runing until last week the nebula not the nebula Pro.

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Jacobo 7th April 2021 - 1:50 pm

Hi hello, Oscar
Thank you for your web and content to support drones and fpv.
I m wondering how would you consider an lr explorer with a 35Amp stack and 1404 3800kv motors. Flywoo is considering this. Of course efficiency would be reduced vs freestyle etc..
Do you believe a kopis Mini would already do similarly or the cat shape and the 4 inch propellers would be better for freestyle,?

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Oscar 7th April 2021 - 6:46 pm

I don’t know why you would want to do that? I mean the Explorer is designed for long range, so why would you want to go through all the trouble changing everything so it does freestyle slightly better, while there are other machines that are designed for freestyle, and it does it much better out of the box? For example the iFlight Chimera.

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Andrew 20th January 2021 - 1:43 pm

Oscar – did you ever flash the ESC and set up RPM filtering? I’m wondering if there’s a reason the ESC is running 16.7 and not 16.73, and if there’s a valid reason against using RPM filtering on this quad. Thoughts?

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Oscar 7th February 2021 - 8:44 pm

I guess they just want to play safe and avoid extra work/cost to update those ESC’s.
I tested this quad with the original firmware just to see how it performs. You could however flash 16.73 if you want.

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Bas 11th December 2020 - 6:44 pm

HOW can you replace a 5.8 antenna when it’s mounted with a tpu printed part??

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Dylan 10th December 2020 - 8:26 am

Are you able to fit the naked GoPro and a Li-ion battery pack on simultaneously? Seems like it might be a tight fit if possible?.. Thanks

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Mario 8th December 2020 - 11:58 pm

Hi Oscar, could you please tell me if the frame its compatible with 20x20mm stacks?

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Oscar 10th January 2021 - 12:25 am

No, the frame only supports 16×16 stacks.

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F.P. 22nd November 2020 - 9:26 pm

Current versions of the FC even have a barometer.

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Oscar 9th January 2021 - 10:25 pm

Yea they put in a new FC I’ve been told.

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Randal Williams 18th November 2020 - 3:06 am

Setting the current meter number to 270 give me a reading about 4% more than what my Hota D6 Pro charger states going back into the battery to bring it to full charge. I can fly 2km in distance while using 208mAh from a GNB 4S 850mAh battery. That gives me a safe cruising range of 7km.

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Joshua Young 14th November 2020 - 4:35 pm

CLI Dump link isnt valid

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Jiri Jirus 6th November 2020 - 7:01 am

mine has current sensor

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Maxim-Carl Legault 26th October 2020 - 9:08 pm

Hello Oscar,
Are your pids for betaflight 4.2 or 4.11?

Thank you!

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zsolt sindely 26th October 2020 - 11:39 am

Hy Oscar! I’ve got a question. How you powered up the Vista unit? Cuz the Vista takes from 2s the 6s voltage. And the fc got only 5v pads. I thinking about, just soldering direct on the esc power lead. I’ve got a lr4 whit out Vista, cuz a shipping was quicker. Have a nice day

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F.P. 19th October 2020 - 6:14 pm

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Explorer LR seems to have a current sensor now. I got the quad this week, and Onboard ADC is selectable and seems to work just fine (just have to calibrate it).

To me, this thing is just perfect. It can fly for an outrageous amount of time, which opens up so many more possibilities. I live in the mountains and this thing can climb to almost any peak (haven’t flown in strong winds yet). Just wow!

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Tom M 19th October 2020 - 5:00 pm

Hi!
This is my first fpv drone and it’s so much fun. It was actually quieter than I expected too.
I eventually hit a tree and broke a winding one of the motors. I really want to keep it as stock as possible, but Flywoo is out of the NIN 1404 v2 2750kv motors (and every other store I Googled). Do you have a good suggestion for a replacement motor for this quad?

Thank you

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Christian 17th October 2020 - 11:09 am

Dear Oscar,
please adapt the review with the findings of the faulty OSD, everyone one the flywoo facebook group is talking about.
As they choose to wire the gps to the only UART available, the caddx vista is wired via softserial converted pads. Therfore there is glitching and freezing of the osd at every flight – when you use betaflight 4.2.
On betaflight 4.1.1 it does work flawless.

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Axel Radd 16th October 2020 - 1:56 pm

37 minutes is possible on 18650 3s 3000 mah (sony vtc6 probably) at 37/40 km/h max.

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Doug Haacke 15th October 2020 - 6:16 am

Great review, Oscar! Where do you recommend connecting the yellow record wire from a naked GoPro to the FC? Could unused LED pad Bev remapped? Thanks in advance!

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Oscar 8th January 2021 - 10:49 pm

Don’t connect it, it’s a hit and miss. Just use the button on the camera to start/stop recording.

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Kim 10th October 2020 - 3:11 pm

Has anyone been able to find/download a manual for this little beast, i have been looking and even the FLYWOO site is a hot mess and doesn’t have a direct link to the quad manual. If someone has gotten one please point us in the direction or share with us please!

Thanks

Happy Flying

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Phillip Jennings 9th October 2020 - 6:37 pm

Hi Oscar yep for the GPS rescue to work 3 things number of satellites distance from home and discent distance i think it was the discent distance was set too high it works now! but I was thinking of running inav because flywoo has a firmware for the explorer lr and thought it had to have a barometer and compass unless the explorer has a compass built in and no need for a barometer? What do you think? Thanks for your time!

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Oscar 8th January 2021 - 10:21 pm

No, compass is not used in Betaflight GPS rescue mode, and barometer is optional as far as i know.

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Dan 6th October 2020 - 9:10 pm

Thanks for the great in-depth review, very helpful.
I just got the version without the Vista and not sure how to connect it.
Comes with two bundles of cables
One labelled: GND, 5V,TX1, RX1, SBUS. These obviously connect directly to the Vista.
The other one labelled: GND, 5V, RX11, TX11, Where do these go?
Help appreciated

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Nic 5th October 2020 - 12:56 am

Thanks Oscar for the note on the mount you designed. Stripping the 8 down to the midframe lets you keep the folding mounts that interface with typical GoPro stuff. 44g with the front glass and BEC onboard.

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Hayward 1st October 2020 - 6:17 am

Are the included struts any good? I don’t see anyone using them

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Oscar 8th January 2021 - 4:20 pm

They definitely make it harder to break, but I don’t intend to crash with this quad so i am not using them (extra weight = less flight time). I fly high altitude with this quad also so if I do crash i don’t think the struts would save it from breaking anyway.

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Cameron 30th September 2020 - 6:40 pm

Hey Oscar, will the stl adjustable base work with the standard ista360 go adjustable mount? I know this is a long range, long flight time drone but I like to use the insta360 a lot for flying.

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Phil J 29th September 2020 - 1:00 am

Hi Oscar I have the flywoo explorer xl caddx combo I was wondering if I’m out to low for gps rescue to work i set the settings exactly as you did here in your write up i went out about 500ft 10ft off the ground and engaged gps rescue via switch the quad turned toward me moved forward about 10ft and then dropped

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Oscar 29th September 2020 - 11:13 pm

You are probably too close to HOME (launch location) when activating Rescue mode. You should check out my GPS rescue tutorial linked in the review on how to set this up properly

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Hurcan 27th September 2020 - 7:23 pm

Hi Oscar
I am trying to find a spare pad just for start stopping the gopro through the controller.

Do you have any suggestions on that? Im using the sbus(rx1) for the receiver so my rx1 inverted and tx1 is not being used but trying to reconfigure the tx1 with pinio setup for gopro start stop was a fail for me :(

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Denis 26th September 2020 - 7:04 pm

What a fantastic review. I bought an explorer while it is still in stock.
I have a problem with OSD, my DJI googles always show a permanent « 14 sats » count (default number from beta flight I guess) but never real sat number. Do you have a tip ?

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Jason Rice 26th September 2020 - 1:22 am

Hi Oscar

Brilliant review just what I was looking for thank you. May I ask can we use your PIDS and Rates on the analogue version even though the weight is different.

Kind regards
Jason

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Oscar 29th September 2020 - 11:06 pm

It should work fine :) they are not too different.

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Harry T Murphy 15th September 2020 - 10:51 am

Another Great article. This looks like one of the best ready to fly BNF quads on the market today for a sub 250 gram Long Range. Thanks.

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Nic 9th September 2020 - 5:21 pm

On the adjustable angle mount you designed, is the base the standard GoPro mount? My Explorer is in the mail and I’m planning on putting my naked GoPro 8 on it (I kept the folding leg mount portion). Thanks!

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Oscar 29th September 2020 - 10:26 pm

GoPro 8 is probably too heavy for this quad. And no, it’s not standard, just something I threw together randomly to fit M5 hardware.

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Luis 7th September 2020 - 7:25 pm

Hi Oscar, thank you for reviews. I about to hit buy on this thing but I live in a windy area. With a Naked Gopro on this, will it be suitable for footage? On average about 15mph winds with gusts of upto 20mph. What do you think? Last thing I want to do is either lose it on a mountain due to fighting the wind or not able to fly it because of too much wind and it not being able to handle it. Thank you

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pascal BENNEJEAN 5th September 2020 - 11:37 am

Bonjour ,
superbe critique et photos concernant l’EXPLORER que je vais commander .
Pour en revenir aux batteries lipos , qu’elle capacité mah maxi je peux prendre sans risquer de cramer le quad .
Merci et bonne continuation c’est très professionnel !!!
pascal

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Javier 4th September 2020 - 11:49 pm

Hi. I have seen in one video that arms thickness is 1,5mm. I understand it is to save weight. Is it true? Isn’t it a little weak and easy to break?

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Oscar 29th September 2020 - 10:17 pm

the arms are 3mm thick

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Thomas 4th September 2020 - 10:17 am

Does the Caddx Vista support Betaflight OSD out of the box? Or does that have to be wired up separately?

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Oscar 4th September 2020 - 6:05 pm

Yes it does, you have to connect it to a spare UART on the FC (TX and RX pins)

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Joseph Donnelly 28th August 2020 - 9:39 pm

Thank you for the thorough review,
Would there be a significant range issue using the DJI fpv controller vs the TBS Crossfire Nano Reciever??

Thanks..

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Oscar 4th September 2020 - 4:09 pm

DJI FPV is 5.8GHz, Crossfire is 900MHz, lower frequency at the same power will have better range and penetration.

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Phil 23rd August 2020 - 9:26 pm

Did you have to do anything different in betaflight settings using li ion pack?

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Oscar 4th September 2020 - 3:36 pm

I didn’t for the test, but i think it would make sense to setup a throttle scaling like 70-80% maybe.

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Myke Pinker 23rd August 2020 - 8:56 pm

Hi Oscar..Yet again thanks for the informative and honest review…going to get one now…cheers

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Paul Twenter 23rd August 2020 - 12:41 am

Since the flight controller only has two UARTs how are they wiring up the caddx vista the GPS and the TBS crossfire since all of those use TX and RX which would mean three UARTs

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Oscar 4th September 2020 - 3:33 pm

DJI is connected via softserial.

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xxrexxmyxx 20th August 2020 - 11:21 pm

Hi,

Why do you link to 4025 props as the original props are 4024? Is it a mistake?
I just bought an Explorer and ZOHD LionPack 4S 3500mAh ready to go (Sanyo NCR18650GA). Just have to put XT30 on it and it’s ok!
Best regards,

Rx

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Oscar 4th September 2020 - 3:28 pm

Because 4025 is more widely available, and the difference between 4024 and 4025 is very small.

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MD 20th August 2020 - 1:17 pm

Wind sensitivity…

Discovered this BNF after the thingverse from Dave. Having the 3s version. No tuning yet but so far it suffers stability in windy areas and propwash is very present. (comparing to iFlight DC3 3 blade prop)

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Carlos gonzalez 18th August 2020 - 6:01 pm

Thank you for the review and your great content and I hope you can answer the following question, for a beginner analog user with a limited budget and interested on having a long range drone, which set up would you recommend, the explorer LR with the runcam nano 2 (and buy an insta360 go) or the explorer with the tarsier 4k (but without an action camera)?

Thank you

Greetings from Colombia

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Oscar 4th September 2020 - 3:01 pm

Personally, I’d get the Nano 2 over the Tarsier. HD footage without video stabilization is very hard to watch, and not worth the extra cost.
If you want HD footage, look into “naked GoPro”, this is what I am planning to use on the Explorer.

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Lênio Frihling 17th August 2020 - 4:22 am

Thank you for your amazing work in blog format Oscar Liang.
Please, if you allow me, I would like to ask a question.
Until I saw your post on the FLYWOO EXPLORER I was determined to buy the HGLRC SECTOR 132.
I understand that they are kwads for different purposes, but I still ask, which one did you like the most? which has better flight? more strength? more agility?

Your opinion is very important to me, as it will be decisive for my purchase.

Thank you

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Oscar 17th August 2020 - 7:43 pm

Depends on what kind of flight you plan to have.
For freestyle and acro, the Sector132 is better, it’s also stronger against crashes. But you need to change out the TPU mount for the camera for something sturdier to get rid of jello.
The Explorer is strictly designed for long range.

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Daniel Cushing 16th August 2020 - 5:22 am

Thanks for a great review, it would also be interesting to see a video of your BetaF changes / setup.
Thanks again

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Oscar 17th August 2020 - 7:39 pm

I posted a few screenshots hope that helps.

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Utkarsh Verma 15th August 2020 - 3:39 pm

Really nice to have more than 20 minutes of flight, can you please share the mah rating of the Li ion cells

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Tom Warlow 15th August 2020 - 2:35 pm

Great review, it would be interesting to see if this could cover more ground on a charge than a Mavic mini, although I believe that is 2s Li ion. Similar size props though.

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Daniel G. 15th August 2020 - 9:06 am

Thank you for the thorough review :) Would be cool if you could please post your betaflight-dump, because it’s not on the Flywoo page.

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Oscar 17th August 2020 - 7:37 pm

i don’t have the original CLI dump, only this one where i changed quite a few things: https://intofpv.com/t-cli-dump-from-flywoo-explorer-lr

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john walter robertson 15th August 2020 - 6:26 am

Hello
I really enjoyed your videos on this new machine.
I did watch several others before I got to yours and
I’m pretty sure that they had battery voltage in their goggles.
NURK was calling out voltage as he was flying and got 18 minutes
but killed his 4s 1050.
Are you sure about this not having voltage sensor?
Again I enjoyed this page and have been a fan of yours for years.
Keep it up.
Walter

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Oscar 15th August 2020 - 7:32 am

it has voltage sensor, not current sensor.

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