Review: Reverb Mini Quad Frame

In this article we will review and build the Reverb FPV Frame from ImpulseRC, and compare it to the popular Alien mini quad frame. The Reverb is a racing drone frame designed for Freestyle with top mounted battery, and it’s available in both 5″ and 6″ versions.

You can buy Reverb directly from ImpulseRC in Australia or FlyingMachines.de in Europe. Frame reviewed by Artur Banach, edited by Oscar.

Frame Overview

The Reverb frame comes as a kit with lots of optional parts you can choose when checking out.

In our reviewed Reverb kit, it contains:

  • 4 x 5″ arms (4mm thick)
  • Reverb body (2mm and 1.5mm bottom plates, 1.5mm top plate & 2mm camera plates)
  • Foam pad for mounting LiPo, antenna tubes and mounts,
  • Files for carbon fibre edges
  • Gunmetal steel hardware including standoffs
  • Red PDB, XT-60 pigtail and two different PDB-FC connectors, one is designed for KISS FC
  • GoPro Session mount 3D-printed in TPU  with 30 degree tilt

The frame carbon fibre doesn’t come chamfered, and you have to do that yourself if that’s what you prefer. Tools are provided in the kit (2 files), and here is our tutorial on how to file carbon fibre edges in a mini quad frame.

One very interesting feature of the Reverb is the split bottom plates – the front and back are 2 separate plates joined in the centre.

The front bottom plate sits lower than the back bottom plate, and it uses longer standoffs (30mm) to create more space for installing the FPV camera. The plate is also thicker at 2mm I guess that’s because the front usually takes more impact in a crash.

The back bottom plate sits higher than the front plate and it’s using 24.5mm standoffs, the thinkness is 1.5mm.

The arms are sandwiched between those two plates by two screws and press-nuts.

The power distribution board is not a structural element here like it was in the Alien, and it’s attached to the 1.5mm bottom plate with only double sided tape.

The Reverb PDB is simple and plain – there is no current sensor or any other electronics components on it. It has solder pads for power inputs, ESC signal and ground, ESC telemetry and connector header for connecting to a flight controller.

Another interesting feature about the Reverb is the odd number of standoff’s used. There is a single standoff right in the middle that is located between your FPV camera and flight controller.

Camera mount fits any standard size FPV cameras such as the Swift or Arrow. Because it’s designed for FPV Freestyle I guess, camera tilt angle allowed is only up to 45 degree and the slot in the camera mount is a bit short.

The Reverb provides some really cool accessories for mounting your RX antennas – 3D printed mounts that can be attached to the standoffs and plastic tubes.

The optional TPU 3D printed GoPro Session mount can be installed on the Reverb using screws that goes into the 3 standoffs at the front.

 

Frame assembly is not difficult, but I had to follow the manual very carefully because of the double bottom plate design and I didn’t want to mess it up.

The arms and overall frame structure are extremely stiff, it feels every stiffer than the Alien.

  • Bare frame weight – 122.5g
  • Frame weight with antenna tubes and With GoPro Session mount 147g

Just like any other frames from ImpulseRC, they always provide non-slippery foam pads for mounting the LiPo battery. It’s cut specifically for the Reverb’s top plate.

Alien vs. Reverb

ImpulseRC are best known for the Alien frame – possibly one of the most popular freestyle frames for mini quads. Make sure to check out our review of the Alien frame.

Is Reverb the “Alien V2”?

Perhaps because of the similarities between the Reverb and Alien, some assumed the Reverb was an upgraded or revised version of the Alien. But according to ImpulseRC, the Reverb is not created to replace the Alien, and they are meant to be two different frames.

These frames do share some design aspects and features, but I personally had very different experience when building them. The Reverb is a more compact frame than the Alien and that really change the flight characteristics and building experience too.

If you are on the fence about the two frames, make sure to check out both of our build logs and flight videos to make a better decision.

Physical differences between the Alien and Reverb

Here is a summary of differences between the two frames:

Reverb Alien
Motor Layout Width is shorter, length is longer, closer to being square Motor layouts are slightly wider and shorter
Dimension Length: 145mm; Width: 175mm; Motor to motor: 225mm Length: 135mm; Width: 180mm; Motor to motor: 225mm
PDB Not a structural part of the frame A structural part of the frame
Bottom Plate Bottom plate split into two Single bottom plate
Standoffs 8 (four 24.5mm, three 30mm) 7 (35mm)
Weight 122g 145g
Price About $90 About $120

Direct comparison of motors arms configuration with 5″ Alien:

Building the Reverb!

I am using the following parts for this build:

I started the build by configuring BLHeli-32 ESC’s. Unfortunately FC pass-through is not supported by KISS FC V2 yet. So in order to program these ESC’s (to flash latest firmware and change motor direction), I had to connect them to an Arduino board and use the BLHeliSuite_32 program. You can also just solder these BLHeli_32 ESC to a Betaflight FC and use FC Passthrough.

All soldering pads on the PDB were pre-tinned first, then I installed the motors and soldered the ESCs to the PDB.

Further Reading: Learn how to do soldering properly

 

Next I added the XT60 pigtail and a 25V 470uf capacitor to help reduce those voltage spikes and noise created by the ESC’s and motors.

Further Reading: Why add extra capacitor in a mini quad?

I then soldered the cables for the FPV camera and VTX. Because there is no OSD in the KISS FC, I will be getting voltage monitoring from my RunCam’s OSD pin which is connected to the positive power pad on the PDB.

Before installing the KISS FC V2 to the frame, I installed the wire harness provided with the PDB. It is important not to connect the wrong wires to avoid serious damage to your FC!

 

I soldered the crossfire RX to the FC and finally installed the FC in the frame. I have also soldered the Smart Audio on my VTX to the TLM pad on the KISS FC so I can change VTX settings from my Taranis transmitter.

Further Reading: How to setup VTX Control?

To install the Unify Pro VTX I have to put another heatshrink with antenna wire coming out of the socket side of PCB board. This way can minimize the chance of pulling on the U.FL connector.

I salvage the FC protective plate that came with the Matek F405 AIO FC and attached my Unify Pro on it with double sided tape. The protective plate then sits on top of the FC.

Video antenna was attached to the Reverb’s top plate using zip ties. The FPV Camera is also mounted with some 30 degree of tilt angle.

 

That was it. The Reverb is completed.

Photos of the complete build

Flight video

Great things about Reverb

  • Good quality of carbon fibre
  • Well thought out design with attention to detail
  • Very stiff frame – one of the stiffest of frames I’ve built
  • Compact and lower profile design
  • The flight controller is closer to the line of the props which makes tuning easier
  • PDB is not a part of the frame structure and doesn’t have to be used in the frame
  • Clean solution for mounting radio receiver antennas
  • Attractive price

Things to improve

  • Would be nice to include landing pads and lipo straps with the kit
  • Maybe provide chamfered edges as a service or option?

Conclusion

ImpulseRC doesn’t released new frames often and they take their time to work on new products to make sure they work. The Reverb is another great design with high level of attention to details. It is more suitable for current components than Alien and given it’s price it is a very solid freestyle frame option IMO.

7 thoughts on “Review: Reverb Mini Quad Frame

  1. Carl-Ulrich Stoltz

    Using you own PDB/FC combo, like the Hobbywing XRotor Micro 40A AIO you have a problem with metal corners touching the metal screws of the bottom plate that hold the stack. You can only avoid this while using plastic standoffs on top off the screws by strictly restricting yourself to a 2 level stack and put the VTX or receiver somewhere else. There is limited space! If you choose to use a Matek build PDB+FC+VTX you have 3 levels. This could be not so funny for some builders. I wish they would offer a constructional solution to this “contact” issue.
    The design feature with the antennas is nice to look at, however, it places the antennas in a lower top position with regard to overlooking the frame and battery on top. This may contribute to the “lower antenna” receiving lower signal strength. I had range limitations, while another quad with traditionally upward antennas and the same radio/reciever combination did not face that problem in the same terrain. I will return to the “classic antenna mounts” using cable ties on the top of the frame.
    All this annoyed me, because I did not expect this coming from the Alien

    Other than that I can fully support your positive impressions.

    Reply
  2. Adolph

    I will stick with an the Alien until they release and integrated PDB with OSD for KISS like the Mr. Steele PDB. Also, the unusual stand-off length will be annoying when you need to replace them.

    Reply
  3. Viksa

    Hi. Does the pdb have a 5 v output for a fc? Or do i have to solder the power wires that comes with the package from pdb to lipo input on a fc that has pdb and osd included?

    Reply
    1. Viksa

      Ehh have to answer myself😊 i thought the pdb was a part of the frame. But if i use a fc that needs power from pdb…does reverb pdb have a 5v output?

      Reply
      1. Artur

        You answer was in the review :) As you can see on the photos – there are only power pads and there is no regulators. You need to use external one to provide 5V to FC should you need one.

    2. Oscar Post author

      As mentioned, it doesn’t have any electronic components on it, it’s a bare piece of silicon with copper traces. So.. no 5V output

      Reply
  4. Frank Sarfino

    Great review Oscar. I use the same Spedix gs35A esc’s with all of my kiss builds and they work great and I get all the telemetry back to kiss as well.

    Reply

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