WL-TOYS WL-V929 "beetle" is the first popular so called toy grade multi-rotor/quadcopter to capture the market before other rival comes in a year after. Dub the "Beetle" or most commonly known as "Ladybird" because of its dotty bug shell. Small, light (63gram) and extremely affordable below USD$40 (2012) for anyone to fly both indoor and outdoor of their homes. Very popular in 2012 before other cloned version and rival toy quad started to swamped the market. Flew well in slight wind stabilized using on-board standard 3x Axis gyro keep the bug leveled. Comes in BNF and RTF package and at the time of writing the spare parts are still abundant via on-line dealer.
Quite few FPV builder realised the potential of this mini size platform and some are in doubt or reluctant to indulge because a "toy grade" wouldn't last its durability nor able fill in the role of serious multi-rotor FPV task. Most 'Out of the box' thinker manage to convert it through building discussion RCGROUPS.com forum manage to pull this one off and successfully flown in a manner where it is impossible feat for a small toy quad to achieve, more to follow that include i'm one of them joining the crowds.
The reason why V929 is the most popular choice for 'serious' FPV it is because of several factor:
- It could bind with TURNIGY 9X (TGY9X) radio transmitter protocol (RF9X-V2 module) for extended radio signal range between 1~2km. The quad also able to bind with FLYSKY (TH9X/TH9X-B) of the same model but the GFSK protocol supplied along with the removable module have shorter range of 600m almost half than (TGY9X)
- It has longer run-time among all quads in its current category between 10~12 minutes of run-time on 500mah 1s forward cruise flight provided full FPV flying weight is 70 gram and below. The geared spur turning the props reduce the motor load, uses less power and reduce direct damages to the motor.
- Frame is extremely lightweight mixed with plastic and carbon fiber rods. Highly customizable without flashy looks.
- When replaced with GWS 5443 props DD it could handle heavy wind equivalent to the performance of 450~550 size quad of same weather condition.
- Extremely durable, because it was build as a "toy grade" to handle the harsh torture from kids.
Building into FPV platform can be challenging and daunting task but the rewards are paramount, the fun i accumulate flying it is paramount.
Model specification & setup
Airframe type: multi-rotor / quadcopter
Model name variant: WL-V929 Beetle
Material build: Plastic + carbon
Rotor to rotor: 160mm
Stock airframe weight: 63gram
Full FPV flying weight (without secondary HD cam): 65gram (updated: 22/9/2014)
Full FPV flying weight (with secondary HD cam): 78 gram (updated: 22/9/2014)
Flight control board: 3x axis gyro stabilization + integrated radio receiver TURNIGY 9X protocol compatible
ESC: Integrated brushed FET
Motor: 4x core-less motor
Propellers: GWS 2x5443/2x5443R + geared
Radio receiver: Integrated
Radio receiver antenna: Stock
Battery: 1x 500mah 1s 15c ~ 600mah 1s 35c
My DIY FPV specification
Camera: 1s 520TVL CMOS nano 90 deg. lens (outdoor)/1s 520TVL CMOS 1/3 130 deg. lens (indoor)
Secondary camera: 808 #16 V2 lite
Camera pan/tilt mechanism: Not applicable
Flight Control board: -
Video transmitter: Boscam 5.8ghz nano
Video antenna: DIY tuned CL antenna
Battery: 150mah 1s
Its not difficult to install FPV hardware into this little bug. Just remove all that not necessary needed to keep overall "super lightweight", keep the wires short and thin and solder with little blob to the connection. The FPV hardware are extremely basic: just a nano camera and nano size video transmitter (1.2/2.4/5.8ghz) powered from separate single micro lipo pack 150mah 1s. A good build will give you a perfect total flying weight of below 70 gram. If you're planning to do some aerial video/photography a totally naked/stripped 808 #16 V2 HD key-chain can be stick under the belly with total flying weight of 78 gram. You'll need to be creative to custom made a soft landing gear to handle rough landing. Some thin looped zip ties under the gear cage will do the job to spring dampen any harsh landings. If you intend to use GWS 5443 propellers make sure you properly balance it per-blade tips using small thin sticky tape bit by bits until the vibration from the camera is at minimal to avoid shakiness during HD recording. Stock V929 blades seldom have problem with vibration but the blades doesn't handle well with high outdoor winds. For beginners flight its best to fit camera with 120 to 150 degree interchangeable lenses which commonly available for 1/3 mini sized 520TVL CMOS cam for better wide angle viewing when maneuver among obstacles such as trees and corridors, but the drawback is weight. Once progress you've improve flight skills you can downgrade to "nano" size camera 520TVL 90 degree lens which offer improve weight and increase performance and flight-time of V929 with discounted ability of wide angle viewing. Most mini/nano cameras comes with internally build microphone and extra audio wire with it but i highly recommends you remove it permanently as to significantly reduce the weight, any experience FPV pilot on quad will tell you that audio on multi-rotor isn't making much benefit at all since its al constant "buzz" sounds regardless high or low. Same goes to 808 #16 HD camera or and small mini HD camera, remove the bulky USB plug permanently is its run from dedicated memory card (Micro SD), before you do it make sure you satisfied all the firmware setting inside the HD camera because after the weight removal you will never ever able to plug and reconfigure again. Most HD camera have audio option but best to disable and remove the microphone to reduce the weight and improve battery lifespan during the flight.
Stock V929 radio antenna default pointed downwards. Depends on your flying style and what's mounted under V929 the radio antenna placement is critical to the radio range performance. My antenna is manually de-solder and re-solder to point it upwards to avoid interference from bell mounted HD camera (808) and also thick wall of lipo battery. This allow me to have a great L.O.S horizontal range parallel to my radio controller antenna position. However the signal will deteriorate if the quad flew directly above or beyond 80 degree from r/c pilot position upwards because of null radio zone or L.O.S issues from the V929 boards and frame itself.
FPV building level difficulty/rating: Medium (6/10)
FPV equipment setup grade: Basic
Building hours required: 5 hours
Skill required: Soldering
Critical issues during installation: Micro/fine soldering
Required additional mods/must do improvement: Propellers balancing if use GWS 5443 DD due to vibration during video recording.
FPV flight characteristic and performance
Basically if you know how to fly a 4ch toy helicopter then flying a V929 is a walk in the park. The color of the propellers will aide your flying orientation for VLOS flight view/standing point of view. Stock stiff stubby propellers works great indoor flight and vibration-less video recording, but on outdoor highly recommended to use GWS 5443 HD/DD style propellers for heavy windy flying. Because the motor are core-less brushed motor between every flight make sure you give a quad a 5 minutes break before starting another flight to allow the motor can cool and reduce wear & tear of the brush contact inside the can. If care taken the motor will lasts for 2 years worth of casual flight or more.
The V929 handles well at max 150m altitude and get wobble beyond that due to wind and also L.O.S placement of antenna will affect the radio signal responsiveness to rotor reaction time. For example if the antenna located vertical below board belly side you'd probably can go higher but vice versa if the antenna is above the board because of obstructed L.O.S. Antenna above the board placement suited best for low/close to ground proximity flight which is what my quad are setup for. Stock V929 board have antenna pointed downwards, but mine are manually placed upwards since i like to fly ground level a lot.
Minimum level of flight experience required/flight-hours: Beginner(5 hour)
Nature of platform handling experience/skill required: Helicopter
Self leveling capability in thumbs-off stick situation: No (50/50)
Take-off & landing difficulty: Easy
Hand launch: Yes
Max speed: 30~km/h
Min speed before stall: Not applicable
FPV flight/radius: 600m ~ 1km max (given above FPV spec/setup)
Max altitude: 150m ~ ***m
Bail-out/fail safe recovery altitude limit: 10m
FPV safe distance range for testing: 500~600m (Open field)
High angle of attack (AOA) tolerance limit before stall: Not applicable
Ground "STOL" (Short Take Off and Landing) capability/thrust%: Not applicable
Altitude climbing power/thrust%/AOA angle: Not applicable
360 degree turning radius clearance/holding pattern: Not applicable
360 barrel roll/loop acro flight: Not applicable
Control expo - aileron: 45% (low to high)
Control expo - elevator: 45% (low to high)
Control expo - rudder: 45% (low to high)
Control end point - aileron: 75% (low to high)
Control end point - elevator: 75% (low to high)
Control end point - rudder: 90% (low to high)
Flight time: 9~12 min
Ground spotter visibility (LOS): 40~60m
I can't see any harm it can done for a small twiggy flying plastic weight between 69~83gram platform. The weak torqued core-less barely able to slice a grass or leaves. Hardly or nor able to cause any damages or serious injury both fall or high speed crash. I did flew high speed, fall from high altitude and hit my parked car, not even a scratch on my wind shield or not even a dent on my body works. This is a great fun platform and definitely rated "TOY GRADE" safety for sure.
Pros and Cons
Here are list of pros and cons about this platform. Some of this are needed to take seriously if you are going deep into long term FPV ambition
- V929 fly silent like a Ninja. Seriously. Smaller models like V939, Hubsan X4, brushless 450 size DJI, 330 size and other in the market are louder like grass cutter attracted to much public attention. This one is Stealth Ninja in a pocket.
- Extremely agile and maneuverable because 3x axis gyro stabilization are very "loosely" controlled unlike rigid 6x axis gyro stabilization.
- With GWS 5443 props it flew flawlessly under various windy condition. I flew a brushless Q450 size on APM and when compare with V929 flight performance its a Park flyer winner. Stock props work great only indoors
- For a small platform, flying at 150m max altitude and travel between 1~2km is incredible.
- The only mini/micro toy quad at affordable range that could bind with high performance PRO level radio transmitter such as TGY9x TURNIGY 9X/TH9x FLYSKY 9X for extra optimum control and range.
- Extremely durable and longer lifespan on gear driven core-less motor.
- Less risky flying around the public and less inertial impact damages.
- Portable, compact and easy for travelling packing.
- Cheaper and more spare parts available from china on-line market. Bunch of clones spawned with compatible matching parts to fit in.
- Hmmm..can't find any, didn't experience any, not even felt any threats either.
- Doesn't level itself and hold perfect altitude.
- Oh yes, if it crashed on the grass even on simple backyard grasses good luck find it. Its took me hours to located it because the platform so thin and small barely visible even the actual spot is only 5 meters away from where i stands. You need to trigger the throttle to find its location. Have the propellers colored in fluorescent orange or white for easy detection.
Current status & flight history
Yes it still very active and going strong. By mid 2014 my FPV V929 builds spawn in numbers of 4x unit of full FPV spec with different flight roles. Even after building handful of these quad still its cheaper, extremely satisfying and full of fun no matter where i fly. Unfortunately by 2014 the original Rev .2 flight controller board for V929 in the market is rarely available as separate parts, the FC board size is bigger and slightly heavier rectangular size to accommodate lighting plugs than the first batch simple shaped in small square shaped. I manage to keep some FC in spare before its extinction because i knew it potential is highly praise in FPV world for able to bind with TGY9X/TH9X-B. Most of my fleet already achieve its maximum flight time and performance after lengthy stage by stage work to reduce it weight and simplified its FPV circuitry. Even after running for 1 year the 4x core-less brush motor haven't show sign of wear off and able to fly smoothly just like the first day it flew. The toy size and grade also allow me to fly in the public giving me more access to flying space without any risking injury or property damage. Joe public seems to be happy and does attract positive curious attention too. V929 does have social attractiveness and being excellent drone demonstration in the public.
Lifespan operation: 1 year
Maintenance priority check: None
Constant critical issue: None
Maintenance cost per-lifespan: None
Flight hours accumulated per-lifespan: 192 hours (updated on 12 Apr 2014)
Best L.O.S distance record: 1.5 km
Est. distance covered per-lifespan: 2,072km (Odo) (updated on 12 Apr 2014)
Best height record: ~***m
Best flight time record per-session: 12min (550mah 1s)
Activity status: Active
- All of my V929 flying weight airframe have been been dractically reduce to 65 gram for stock FPV flight and 78 gram for 808 #16 V2 HD equipped FPV flight. This made possible by removing 30% chunks of solid support plastics from all corners of the V929 main frame, rotor spur gear case, shaft and etc . Also radio receiver antenna replaced with lighter and thin wire made for 2.4ghz.
- Lifting power and current consumption drastically improve after the weight reduction mods.
- Acquired 7th V929 model for FPV conversion. Total of 7x V929 FPV fleet.
Its fun, all i can say its heaps of fun FPV flying in such a small package. You can fly FPV anytime, anywhere, less risk and its up to your imagination where you want to start your adventure within the radius of 0~1km limited by your battery flight time and your radio frequency propagation. Going between 1~2km can be challenging but its all depends how dependable the quality of your FPV build eg: DIY tuned CL antenna for your video transmitter and your radio diversity. Most average R/C and FPV user didn't realize the huge benefit and the fun factor having a simple and yet durable platform such as V929 can help improve flying skills and at the same time reduce the amount of cost and risk for their hobby. Having a small airframe and toy size is a plus benefit flying around the public space such as around the park, water front, at home or at your workplace without all the "drone" phobia critics among the public. The spare parts support inside online market are widely available in re-branded platform such as Hobby King Q-bot, UDI, SYMA and other china mass manufactured package but the only differences is it doesn't have the same bind-able and simplified board such as what V929 have. Lipo battery are also widely available in the market, suit best between 500~600mah 1s, its probably most common standard size and capacity lipo you can find anywhere at general R/C hobby toy store which normally use buy toy 4ch to 6ch mini heli or generic toy quad for less than USD$4. The portability factor is the best reason why its great quad to bring along if you're on the move.
Here are some of my video and gallery related to the above topics:
Here I've listed some raw material, hardware and stuff where you can start building your own FPV platform. The list contain the above hardware and also include some compatible ones which you can pickup what suits best for your need and your budget. So come dig around and start your tech flying ambition:
- Platform/Airframe/Combo package:
- Integrated board/Flight controller:
- Proppellers and necessities:
- Video transmitter:
- Camera and secondary HD recording camera:
- Video receiver/Ground station/FPV pilot gear:
If you don't know where to begin with i recommend you to start reading some guides, wikis and building tips from popular online resources as listed below. You might find me hanging around some popular R/C and FPV forum below.
Related topic or hardware build dependency
Below are related topic that are dependent on this flight platform operation, you might need to have a look at to get a complete idea how things FPV works.