Review: Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Toothpick Micro Quad

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Toothpick Micro Quad

There has been a lot of fuss about the Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle micro quad, so I got myself one and try to find out what’s special about it.

See my other reviews of “toothpick” style micro quad.

Where to Buy Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle?

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Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle comes with the following accessories:

  • Carry case
  • Two 1S LiHV LiPo batteries (4.35V)
  • USB Battery Charger
  • Two sets of Emax Avan 2.5″ 3-blade propellers
  • Spare screws, standoff, rubber grommets and nuts (M2)
  • Manual
  • Sticker

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Toothpick Micro Quad Accessories

Specifications

Emax has taken the same electronic components from the TinyHawk-S whoop and put in this toothpick style micro quad. Additionally they added a 16V 100uF capacitor to handle voltage spikes, and the motors are now directly soldered to the ESC instead of going through the connectors.

  • F4 AIO FC with built-in 5A 4in1 ESC and Frsky receiver
  • 25mW VTX (37 channels) with SmartAudio (VTX Control)
  • TH-1103 7000KV motors running 2.5″ props
  • Supports 2S LiPo
  • Weight without battery 46g 53g

The product description on their page just makes me laugh, so much marketing cr*p :D

“… unique power system… dual battery connector for increased power & flight time… aerospace grade carbon fiber frame…”

Anyway, in Emax’s words, let’s take a look at this “ultimate micro outdoor racing drone”.

Closer Look at the TinyHawk Freestyle

Frame

The carbon fiber frame has a 115mm wheel base with white printing, supports 2.5″ props. It has a very stiff unibody design with 2mm thick arms, and appears to be durable.

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Toothpick Micro Quad Camera

They managed to lower the frame profile by using their own tiny little board camera, so they can put the battery on top of the frame, and move the centre of mass closer to the propellers.

This might have affected flight characteristics as often discussed in the FPV community, but honestly I can hardly tell a difference in this case, maybe due to the small scale. In fact it’s probably not such a good idea putting battery on top on these micro quads, because the battery lead is more likely to get caught in spinning propellers.

No battery pad on the top plate, so I’d recommend putting some on (anti-slip, rubbery material).

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Toothpick Micro Quad Side

Batteries and Connectors

So here is the “unique power system” Emax keeps mentioning :) They are using two PH2.0 battery connectors instead of a single XT30. Not that unique really, many other micro quads do this, but the XT30 connector is more popular.

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Dual Battery Connector

There are pros and cons to this “dual-connector power system”.

It allows you to connect two 1S batteries to the quad, instead of using a single 2S battery. Their previous TinyHawk-S uses 1S battery, so people upgrading from it probably already have a bunch of those laying around. They can continue to use their 1S batteries on this new model.

PH2.0 connectors are known to impact performance, but it doesn’t seem to be that bad with Tinyhawk Freestyle. Upon closer inspection I realized these PH2.0 have “solid pins” which have lower resistance than the more common “open pin” PH2.0 connectors. Lower resistance = less voltage sag.

However with this power system, you should use two identical 1S batteries so you don’t accidentally over-discharge one of them.

Personally I would replace it with an XT30, because I have enough 2S LiPo, and it’s annoying to handle two batteries instead of just one every flight.

It even comes with an 1S battery charger that you can plug into a power bank or computer, which is really cool.

FC and ESC

The Tinyhawk Freestyle has an “AIO” flight controller (all in one) – FC, ESC and receiver are all built into one single board.

The motors are directly soldered on the FC and not using connector.

However, just like the Crazybee F4 Pro boards, or any other built-in SPI receivers on these “whoop style” FC, range is always an issue. I get about 150 meters of range from this quad, slightly better than the Sailfly and RedDevil thanks to the extended RX antenna.

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle FC ESC VTX Board

Motors and Props

This isn’t the fastest toothpick micro quad, because of the above average weight (79g with batteries), and those 1103 motors are 7000KV which is pretty modest for 2S. But they do make a very efficient cruiser setup. Many people recommended HQ Micro 65mm bi-blade props, because they give you around 6 to 7 mins of flight time. But I think the stock Emax Avon props perform really good too, slightly less flight time but more grips in the air.

However these motors have an unusual mounting pattern (3 holes in 8mm diameter), you can’t use them on other frames, and the Tinyhawk frame also won’t take motors from another brand.

The included Emax Avan 2.5″ triblade props are some of the best triblade props for light weight micro quads, unfortunately not the best choice on this quad. They perform okay in the lower half of throttle, but perhaps too heavy for higher throttle on these tiny motors.

I think 65mm twin blade props are a much better option. They are push on props and don’t require any screws, making it a lot easier to change out props as well.

VTX and Camera

Both FPV camera and VTX performance are mediocre, but I can’t really complain at this price point.

The FPV camera is an tiny NTSC camera. Image quality is not as good as other nano cameras but is flyable. It rests on a rubber grommet to help reduce shakes and improve durability in crashes. The cut-out on the top plate allows you to increase camera tilt angle by moving the camera back.

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle FPV Camera

Another thing that hinders range is the the VTX which can only output 25mW, which is okay for indoor flying, but doesn’t really cut it for an outdoor quad. I wish they could up the output power to 200mW in the future.

Emax made some effort in the VTX antenna placement – it sticks out from the side so it doesn’t get blocked by the frame and stays away from propellers. Good job there!

Manual

The instruction manual is very detail and well written. Good job Emax.

What’s Not So Good about this Model

I am very picky about products, although I’d recommend this model, there are things they could have done better in my opinion.

The quad doesn’t fit inside the carry case with props on, do you know much work it is to remove and install those props with bolts on, Emax?

The double 1S battery connectors are annoying – between every flight you have to remove two batteries, and plug in two batteries. Those “solid pin” connectors are really tight, very hard to unplug sometimes. They really should have provided users the option to choose between “dual PH2.0 connectors” and “XT30”.

Range is slightly better than the Saifly, but still not ideal. Constant signal warning from the Taranis ruins the fun a bit. You can however connect an external XM+ receiver to the FC for more range, that will give you up to 1Km of freedom.

The next biggest disappointment would be the FPV setup. I mean, it’s flyable, but with a better FPV setup it will bring this quad to another level. Many people are upgrading theirs to a Runcam Nano camera and Eachine Nano VTX, why not just use some better components in the first place? I am sure people are ready to pay the extra :)

Lastly, most of the parts are not standard (camera, VTX, motors, FC/ESC), so upgrading/swapping components might be proven a bit more tricky.

Conclusion

I would recommend this to those who own an Emax TinyHawk, this is an excellent upgrade and you would be able to use the same batteries on the Freestyle too.

For those who don’t, this might not be the best ultra-light micro quad, but it’s still a very cost effective one. If I must compare it to another quad, it would be the Happymodel Sailfly, both are good budget options, with very similar hardware and capability.

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The Sailfly can run both 2S and 3S, with those higher KV motors it will definitely outperform the TinyHawk Freestyle in terms of speed. The TinyHawk on the other hand is slower, but that also means you are less likely to break it, not to mention the frame is stronger.

Flight performance is much better than I expected given the above average weight, with flight time over 5-6 minutes. It has completely different flight characteristics than the original Tinyhawk-S: a ton more power, no prop wash, and it’s much more nimble.

If you don’t mind the “bad things” we mentioned above, it’s a good model that I would recommend.

How to Setup

There are two UART’s, UART1 is not used, UART2 is for SmartAudio. If you have an external serial radio receiver, you can connect it to UART1.

FC is loaded with Betaflight 4.0.4 (Jul 2019 release), firmware target is MATEKF411RX. I don’t see the need to update Betaflight as it might mess up your setting.

First thing to do is to bind the receiver to your radio.

Bind button can be accessed from the bottom of the FC, but i found it’s much easier to just enter bind_rx_spi in Betaflight CLI. It’s already set to D8 mode (Frsky_D in receiver setting) so no change is needed.

The RX antenna is loose out of the box, you should mount it with heatshrink and zip tie to avoid prop strike, like this in the below image works well.

Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle RX antenna mount

You might also want to unlock the VTX so you can access all the channels. Out of the box it’s locked to 25 channels, if you select the “locked” channels, the VTX will simply do nothing and you will be looking at a black screen.

To unlock the VTX, hold down the button on the VTX, then plug in the battery, and continue to hold the button for 5 seconds.

And you might want to change “Arm Angle” in the Configuration tab to 180 (default 50), so if you get stuck in a tree, you can still arm the quad and shake it out.

Change rate. Setup modes for arming and beeper. Finally, setup OSD screen.

That’s it! Have fun flying!

10 thoughts on “Review: Emax Tinyhawk Freestyle Toothpick Micro Quad

  1. Stian Jensen

    I have by accident put the drone in the wrong reciever mode and the drone just flashes and the light on it is red and it wont connect to the sofrware 🤐 is it any reset button on it so i can connect it to betaflight again?

    Reply
  2. Jordan

    I have to say, after doing back to back comparisons of the HQ 65mm bi props and the included tri props, I cant see the advantage of the bi blades. Under full throttle acceleration I can hear and feel the blades flexing and giving out and under heavy cornering at high speed I can tell that I have a ton less control when compared to the avan tri blade props. I find it funny that everywhere I look, everyone says that the HQ props are the best and my experience is the total opposite. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and your reasoning for that choice of prop. Thank you for the awesome review!!!!

    Reply
  3. Orvo

    Hi Oscar, in your article you recommend the Eachine Nano VTX. That one only takes 5V and you have to power it from the 5V pad on the flight controller. This WILL FRY your FC after some time. So DO NOT power your VTX from the 5V pad on the FC, instead use a High Voltage VTX that can take LiPo power directly.

    Reply
  4. Harry Murphy

    In my opinion, the EMAX Tinyhawk Freestyle is an excellent quad to transition from the 1S “tiny whoop” and brushed toothpick quads up to the next level. I had been researching and looking to make this move for some time and checking out the BNF brushless offerings, however, I just wasn’t finding the right fit for me; to buy or build; what is out there and what would it cost me. From my research, you can’t buy the parts and build it for the price. Having a lot of 1S batteries and being able to use them on this quad is a plus for me and deferrers the cost of buying 2S batteries and a balance charger. Overall, just the right quad and a cost effective value. After checking it out, I decided to buy the EMAX Tinyhawk Freestyle as my transition machine. I have been well pleased with the product. It may not be the fastest, but the performance is well beyond what I have been used to. The video is better than what is on most of my tiny whoop quads. I have added an anti-slip battery mat and a light weight plastic holder to keep the battery connector from getting into the props. Although it would be nice if the quad fit in the case with the props on, it fits in my transmitter case.

    Reply
  5. Protonus

    IMHO this is a quad without a reason/market. If you’re even considering this, you should get the GEPRC Phantom instead, which has a full separated stack, can run on 2S or 3S, has a 200 mW VTX, uses full size r/c receivers, has a fullsize buzzer, takes standard nano cams (can upgrade to Runcam Racer Nano or Nano 2), uses 4 bolt motors, etc. I think it’s all around better than this just on specs alone. If performance is your largest concern than the Larva-X makes more sense too. Just not sure what the niche this one is trying to fill is.

    Reply

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