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Spedix S250 Quadcopter BNF CC3D Version
A tough, quick platform for 250 FPV racing
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 10-20-2015
After many of my RC friends slipped into the FPV (first person view) racing morass I began berating them with every mini-quad-related geek-ism I could think of. After resisting the urge to join the obvious fun for a few weeks I made a secret trip to Anderson RC (Thomasville, NC) and bought my Spedix S250 Quadcopter. Then at my secret flying site (back yard) I made the initial flights and worked on getting the Spedix S250 Quadcopter, my new FPV gear and myself more or less flying together.
My Spedix S250 Quadcopter came fully assembled with the following components. A Spedix S250 frame, CC3D flight controller, four SunnySky X2204S 2300kv motors (2xCW and 2xCCW), four Spedix round 12A ESC's flashed with SimonK program (2x green LED and 2x red LED), four 5 inch propellers, one Spedix power distribution board and one DSM2 compatible satellite receiver. You have to provide a DSM2 compatible transmitter for this kit. I couldn’t get the original satellite receiver to bind but replaced it with a Spektrum satellite I had in the shop and that bound to the radio first try.
Aside from the radio and batteries this Spedix S250 Quadcopter really is ready to fly. I even skipped going over the nuts and bolts as I normally do to be sure everything was actually tight. Then when one of the motors tried falling off in flight I tightened everything up as I should have the first time around and the Spedix S250 Quadcopter flew way better.
One word about the motors. They are designated CW (clockwise) and CCW (counter clockwise) which refers to the threading for the bullet nuts that retain the props, not the rotation of the motors. The different threading is used so that the nuts try to tighten when the motor spins rather than loosen. This helps a ton when you tag something with a prop. With the wrong thread direction a simple prop strike can result in the retaining nut heading for parts unknown.
With the Spedix S250 Quadcopter in hand I cruised my favorite web-based dealers and found a Fat Shark Dominator V2 goggle, Fat Shark camera and related boards and antennas that were soon inbound to my shop. The only bit of economy in this deal rests in being able to use my Spektrum DX9 Black Edition transmitter and a pile of 3 cell, 2200mAh LiPo’s I had left over from my foamy plane aberration to fly the Spedix S250 Quadcopter. It also can fly on 4 cell LiPo’s if you want an extra bit of violence in the air.
The Spedix S250 Quadcopter is also offered with a KK2 controller that is reputedly easier to set up than the more capable CC3D controller. The CC3D version is recommended for experienced pilots because of the complexity of the setup but that kind of warning doesn’t stop many RC’ers. Plus that warning is a little overstated as the basic setup to get the quad flying is rather simple because of wizards in the OpenPilot GCS (ground control station) software (free from openpilot.org) used to configure the CC3D equipped Spedix S250 Quadcopter.
A word of caution regarding the software. There are lots of links to what used to be helpful Wiki pages that at this writing (10-20-2015) do not work. I have read that there was some sort of falling out amongst the people behind the OpenPilot software which resulted in the Spedix-related Wiki help pages collapsing. Also, there are at least two versions of the OpenPilot software, one that works with the CC3D controllers and one that doesn’t. Just read the info surrounding these programs on the downloads page to get the right one.
You want to get used to Google searches, watching videos and generally looking high and low for info on the Spedix S250 Quadcopter beyond the sales hype which just about everybody is happy to lay on you. In lieu of the now typical poorly-written instructions the folks at Spedix decided to drop the pretense and just skip instructions altogether.
The folks at BuddyRC do have a link on their site to a RCGroups page where they show basic construction of this type of kit. Those initial pages are also helpful for us BNF folks when you need to take the Spedix S250 Quadcopter apart to fix or modify it. Get used to chasing links down because at this writing that Spedix S250 Quadcopter thread on RCGroups is up to 150-some pages with roughly 2400 replies. I was also discovered a few YouTube videos that while nicely made become dated quickly in the fast-paced world of quads. I will add some of the better links I have found in the Resources list at the end of this review.
BuddyRC has a video that walks you through just binding your radio to the Spedix S250 Quadcopter. Even this usually simple task is done differently with the CC3D flight control board. The video does a good job of walking you through binding.
After going through the Wizards you can use the same software to tweak the setup to better fit your flying style and capabilities. I spent quite a bit of time getting used to the Spedix S250 Quadcopter and flying it through the FPV equipment and so far have found little that I need to change to improve the Spedix S250 Quadcopter flight characteristics at this point.
The most important and easiest change was to shim the rear legs up by about 1/16” during the leveling routine in the OpenPilot GCS software. This simply forces the Spedix S250 Quadcopter to move forward rather than try to hover or worse back up when you try to level it. Since I really have no need for simple hovering this forward influence just makes it easier for me to stay out of trouble.
Once I became familiar with the OpenPilot GCS software and its wizards, the Spedix S250 Quadcopter has been very easy to fly. I am not trying aerobatics or all out racing yet but I have been able to fly around easily without the FPV gear. Through the FPV equipment I am still struggling some as it just takes time to get used to that view. If you are hoping for some sort of software trickery to make FPV flying a no brainer you will likely be disappointed. However, if you are willing to put some time into practicing to get the feel of FPV flight the Spedix S250 Quadcopter is lots of fun.
Part of the learning process in my yard includes crashes, some of which were rather violent. My wife has a planter in the yard that has four curved iron rods that support the top piece. I managed to get a glimpse of that just before my Spedix S250 Quadcopter went through it. I expected major damage judging by the awful sound but all I found was all four propellers were dead and the transmitter antenna had been sheared off. The Spedix S250 Quadcopter itself was fully intact. I have also had “at speed” encounters with trees, bushes and the ground, all more than once and the Spedix S250 Quadcopter has yet to need a new part. For me, the durability of this quad is truly impressive.
I am not foolish enough to think this total lack of damage will go on forever but was happy to find that BuddyRC has most of the pieces in stock and their prices are surprisingly low. Most are cheap enough that as I need parts I will by more than one to build a supply in my field bag for future repairs.
Overall speed of the Spedix S250 Quadcopter seems impressive to me through my admittedly rookie perception. I think top speed is not as important as many of us think when it comes to racing. Like many forms of racing you can probably do better overall by slowing down somewhat. I have seen friends hit PVC pipe “gates” hard enough to break the gates or send their quad flat-spinning away from the scene totally out of control. I will fly the Spedix S250 Quadcopter as is for the time being and worry about more speed later if it becomes necessary. There are battery and lots of prop choices available to tweak the performance when my skill level makes that a smart thing to do.
I spent quite a bit of time looking at 250 size quads that are capable of supporting FPV racing. While I have seen cheaper quads I am not aware of any that give me more bang for my bucks than the Spedix S250 Quadcopter does. With a street price of $179.95 (10-20-2015) for the Bind N’ Fly, CC3D version the Spedix S250 Quadcopter is a very good value. The durability and low price for replacement parts makes this an even better choice.
I’d love to see the OpenPilot GCS software get straightened out in terms of the Wiki page support but it does make setting the Spedix S250 Quadcopter up for simple flight easy as it is right now. From there we are going to have to do some searching of the forums to get more involved in tweaking the Spedix S250 Quadcopter to wring more speed or agility out of it. Should note that as it comes from the base setup the Spedix S250 Quadcopter is super agile in rate mode, a mode the rank beginner wants to avoid for a while. I tried rate mode in my yard, did what I think was two flips and the Spedix S250 Quadcopter was well into a pine tree. It all happened so fast I am not positive on everything it did. I will stay away from rate mode for a while and you should consider a little restraint as well, at least initially. The Spedix S250 Quadcopter will totally fake you out if you tell it to.
I will be reviewing the FPV gear I am using so watch for those reviews in the near future.
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