JXD 509W FPV Camera Quadcopter Review
The world of quadcopter design is not known for having a lot of respect for the design intellectual property of other companies. This is why there are so many drones out there that look more than a bit like DJI Phantoms.
In the case of the JXD 509W (sold under the “Amosting” brand here), the design definitely riffs on the high-end Yuneec Q500. It’s just impossible to miss, but of course the 509W is a much less expensive device and only a 250 class (diagonal of 227mm) drone.
Still, don’t be hasty to write it off as a cheap knockoff. Although the 509W is definitely “toy-grade”, it’s at the more advanced end of the spectrum, knocking on the door of some more professional features and providing an interesting and affordable intermediate step to your first thousand dollar drone.
Although the 509W resembles the Q500, it certainly paints a much more menacing picture, especially since it is black from top to bottom. Even the blades are all black, so you have to rely on that distinct nose to help you figure out your orientation.
It has some dark blue LEDs and white ones in the rear, mounted on the bottoms of the motors. This will be pretty helpful in night flying situations.
Overall I like the look of the 509. It looks a bit like a flying gun.
Bang for Your Buck
For a sub-$100 drone the 509W is pretty decently specified. It weighs 140g, or about five ounces, and has four 9mm motors. It also has a 600mAh battery, which provides 5 to 8 minutes of flight time from a 60 to 90 minute charge.
The package includes the drone itself, the aforementioned battery, radio, prop guards, extra props, a smartphone holder for FPV, and a USB charger.
We Have the Technology
One feature that’s pretty unheard of at this price point is the air pressure sensor that allows for altitude hold. This means that you can actually get more stable pictures than other toy-grade camera drones make possible.
Apart from this, it also now has the more and more commonplace headless mode and one button return functions. The ubiquitous auto-flipping shenanigans are also present and correct.
Of course the real party piece for a drone at this price point is the ability to use your smartphone as an FPV screen and a way to control the pictures you take. Unfortunately, the feed is via WiFi, which means inevitable lag, rendering it a pretty bad idea to fly using FPV alone.
The documentation says that there is no SD card slot or SD card, so I assume that the WiFi stream is recorded on the phone itself. This is OK I guess, but you can expect video to be glitchy, as any signal loss will also be recorded.
Still, the footage taken by the 509W is without a doubt at the top of the pile for toy-grade quadcopters; because it is so stable you can get some decent shots – good enough for personal use or for fun uploads to Youtube.
Thanks to the altitude hold feature of the 509W, the throttle stick is configured a little differently than usual. It is designed to automatically center at 50%, which activates the altitude lock. To raise or lower the altitude simply push up or down on the throttle and let it center back to 50% when you’re happy with the height.
There are three control rates and, according to people who have flow the 509W, its stability is notable. Although it has an auto flip function it seems the makers have decided to have the drone automatically gain about 2 feet of altitude before flipping. I guess this is to prevent the common situation where pilots underestimate how much the drone will drop when flipping. The downside is that there better not be anything (like a tree branch) in that space. Still, you shouldn’t be flipping in confined spaces anyway, so it isn’t an issue.
You don’t actually have to use the included radio transmitter to control the drone – the “Exploration UFO” smartphone app also has on-screen controls that you can use. But really, you don’t want to do that with anything other than a mostly autonomous GPS drone – which this is not.
Pulling the Trigger
The JXD 509W is a very interesting package. Sure, it has the typical WiFi lag issues and it really should have onboard SD card recording, but it’s an attractive and well-built drone with features that really should price it higher.
If your aspiration is to move up to multi-thousand dollar drones at some point in the future, then the 509W may be right up your alley.