Review: TBS PowerCube Elite Bundle

The TBS PowerCube Elite Bundle comes with a flight controller, video transmitter and a power distribution board. The combo is designed to connect and setup effortlessly together in a compact package.

You can buy TBS PowerCube Elite Bundle from: http://bit.ly/2yh0Krf. This review is written by Artur Banach.

What’re included in the bundle?

The PowerCube Elite bundle contains the following boards:

  • TBS PowerCube FPVision – Unify Pro VTX with built-in OSD
  • TBS PowerCube External ESC Board
  • TBS PowerCube Colibri Race V2 FC

These boards can be stacked together, as well as with the TBS BulletProof 25A ESC’s as well.

 

Next let’s go through the features and spec of each board.

TBS PowerCube FPVision

The PowerCube FPVision combines several features into one single 36x36mm size board:

  • A 25mW-800mW Unify Pro HV VTX
  • Core Pro OSD
  • Built-in current sensor of up to 163A continuous current rating, 250A burst, supports 2S to 6S LiPo input (Your XT60 connector should be soldered here, and power can be passed down to the FC and ESC through the metal standoff’s)
  • Built-in Buzzer
  • Dual camera ports, both equipped with filtered power and selectable 5V/12V (allows you to connect 2 separate cameras and you can select one of them in the OSD menu). This is useful for wings and planes with rear and front cameras, not so useful quad quadcopters i guess
  • By connecting the “OSD pin” on the camera to the FPVison, it allows you to change FPV camera settings via the TBS OSD (tested on HS1177)

In the package we can find many useful accessories and spares:

  • TBS PowerCube FPVision
  • Plastic base plate for protection and insulation
  • BST cable
  • RP-SMA and SMA to U.FL Pigtail
  • XT60 Pigtail
  • Various spare wires for the VTX and FPV cameras
  • LED pigtail

The FPVision is a compact board packed with features. You can solder your XT60 on this board and it allows current sensing, all other boards stacked below would be powered through the brass standoffs (two diagonal standoffs carry positive and negative). This is one of the biggest advantages to the TBS PowerCube, it saves space and wiring.

On the board we can also find a Micro USB port, two Molex Picoblade sockets for the cameras, a BST 5 pin socket (TBS’s own communication port), a buzzer, a button for changing VTX settings and there is also U.FL socket that connects to a RP-SMA or SMA pigtail.

TBS PowerCube External ESC Board

This “External ESC board” is basically an PDB that has solder pads for ESC’s power and signals. It gets power from the FPVision via the metal standoffs.

This board can be stacked directly on top of the FPVision. The four through-holes at the front of the board are the ESC signals, which can be connected to the Colibri FC with header pins.

TBS PowerCube Colibri Race V2 Flight Controller

The Colibri V2 is an F3 Flight controller, made specifically for pairing with the FPVision but it can also be used as a standalone FC.

Specification of the Colibri Race V2

  • 36x36mm and weighs at 5g
  • STM32 F3 Processor
  • MPU6000 SPI Gyro
  • Supports external GPS with Compass module
  • Dedicated connector for the FPVision

Colibri Race V2 Pin-out

Note: The GPS/Mag/Alt port at the back of the board is not for the TBS GPS module, it’s for any other 3rd party modules like the UBLOX M8N for example. The TBS GPS module should be connected via the BST port on the FPVision because it actually bypass the flight controller and communicate with the OSD directly.

It is recommended to update Betaflight firmware using TBS AGENT software (A standalone program developed by TBS, it can be downloaded from TBS’s website and it’s currently only available on Windows).

Assembly, Installation and Build Tips

PowerCube Elite Bundle comes as separate boards and require user installation

Starting with the FPVision as the bottom of the stack. The plastic base plate is needed here as it provides insulation since the power is transferred through the standoffs. Colibri is going to sit on top of the stack and it’s secured with M3 nuts. The whole combo with SMA pigtail weighs at around 23g and the height of the stack is only around 10mm!

I didn’t solder the XT60 pigtail directly to the FPVision, because it’s already soldered on my Alien PDB. Instead, the FPVision gets power from one of the AUX pads on Alien PDB.

When choosing spacers/standoffs for the TBS combo, remember it only takes 2-3mm long threads. I am using nylon standoffs because I can easily trim it to the length required.

For this build I am also using the TBS GPS/Mag module (you need to buy that separately). With this module you can get some really interesting flight data like speed, altitude, direction from home and distance as well as GPS coordinates. Please be aware that the TBS GPS module does not connect to the Flight Controller but the FPVision board.

The PDB is connected with the Colibri FC by header pins for the ESC signals. You can also connect them with wires, whichever way is easier for you.

I soldered the header pins to PDB first, removed the plastic spacer, then installed Colibri on top and soldered the pins on the board, finally trim the header pins as short as possible with a cutter. If you don’t connect the 4 pins, your motors will not spin as they are not getting any signals :)

Here is how the ESC’s look like when they are soldered to the PDB.

I am using TBS Crossfire Micro V2 RX and connected it to the UART 2 on the FC using a supplied cable. It’s as easy as “plug and play”. You can also do direct solder to the pads above the connector if you wish.

FPV Camera can be connected to one of the ports on the FPVision. However the pin order of the cable does not match my FPV camera and I had to swap the wires around. It’s important to check yours before connecting to avoid damage to the camera.

To prevent the U.FL plug touching the “negative” standoff I put heatshrink tube on the VTX antenna wire in that location.

The TBS GPS/Mag module is plugged into the BST port on FPV Vision. The TBS GPS module is exclusive to the TBS and cannot be used on a different FC at the moment.

To show RSSI from the Crossfire Micro V2 receiver, we also need to connect it to the BST connector on the FPVision board. But the problem is the port is already occupied by  the GPS module.

The good news is we can connect both components to the same BST port in parallel! All we need is a splitter. I didn’t have one at the time so I made it myself.

(The Crossfire Micro RX is connected to Colibri’s UART (for the channels), and FPVision’s BST (for the RSSI) at the same time.)

The FPVision and PDB board can be paired with any other FC’s that can be powered directly from Lipo Voltage. In such case you can simply solder wires between the FC power and nearby standoff’s.

TBS OSD

The TBS OSD is provided by Core Pro on the FPV Vision. I find it very simple to configure and set up.

To enter the OSD, move the throttle stick down-left for 4 seconds, a countdown will start and inform you about entering the OSD menu.

During the initial config, you’ll be prompted to perform an RC Calibration (sticks). Procedure is explained in detail in the manual.

You can choose what items to display but unfortunately, you cannot change the TBS OSD layout  (move things around) like you can in Betaflight OSD at this stage.

Screenshot below shows a configured OSD without RSSI data because RX is not connected to BST port  (see data at bottom right).

And in this one, I successfully connected the RX to the BST port using a splitter (only required if you are using TBS GPS as well), RSSI data is displayed correctly now.

Using this OSD we can also change PID, Rates and VTX settings (pretty much like Betaflight OSD and MinimOSD), and FPV Camera settings as well!

Great things about the PowerCube Elite Bundle

  • Ease of use. It is pretty much a “plug and play” solution
  • Compact and clever design, it makes a very clean build
  • The combo comes with “more than enough” wires and adpaters to cover most setups out there
  • The FPVision is an Unify Pro VTX with 25-800mw switchable power, one of the best video transmitters currently on the market
  • The Colibri Flight Controller has good pin layout
  • I love the stackable design and the metal standoff’s that handles power transfer – less wiring and soldering makes easier and cleaner build
  • Fantastic OSD system, very powerful and easy to use; integrated very well with the GPS module; too bad the layout cannot be changed though

Cons / things to improve

  • The Bundle is priced pretty high
  • The PDB board is designed to be located higher than other typical PDB’s; this means longer ESC wires are required
  • I don’t like the location of U.FL connector on the FPVision – a bit too close to “negative” metal standoff, and very often it gets in the way of the power wires and standoff when facing to the rear
  • I wish they provide vibration damping standoffs or bobbins. Those are very popular to mini quad pilots nowadays, and a pretty standard accessory in many flight controllers
  • The configurator software – TBS Agent is not available in Mac OS and Linux

2 thoughts on “Review: TBS PowerCube Elite Bundle

  1. Russ

    Do you have to wire the RunCam to the FPVision separately to access the camera OSD? I know there is an OSC pin on the back of the cameras, but I don’t understand where it has to attach to the FPVision layer to allow us to change the camera settings in the OSD.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Race8FPV

    Hi,
    thanks for this Article! I use the FPVIsion Stack in all my Quads for a couple of month already, and it really works well. One Quad has the Elite Bundle with 4 DYS Aria ESCs (Turtle Mode and ESC-Buzzer enabled), the 2nd one with the 2in1 ESCs (two PCBs with double-ESCs), and the 3rd one has the old 4 single ESCs. Even Current hungry setups (T-Motor F60 with 6″ Props” run smooth and without problems.
    I would love to use the FPVision in my Race wing, but iNav just doesn’t make sense with it – big pity. You would need two GPS units, a serial one for iNav, and a I2C/BST one for the OSD. I hope, TBS will fix this.
    There is a Wing Layer for FPVision, but it’s a replacement (!) for the colibri. Both doesn’t work, and for the ones who needs Return-to-Launch function, it’s not a solution.

    Reply

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