I picked up the Eachine E011 from Banggood a few weeks ago as I wanted a quad that I could literally fly anywhere for a laugh. The eachine E011 really delivers for that purpose. If you’re here, you’re either considering buying one or you’re looking to get more out of the one you’ve already got.
I will be updating this “review”/tutorial as I have time with my experiences as I’ve added an FPV camera, switched flight controllers to Beecore v2 with betaflight, and the various modifications I’ve performed to get the most out of the E011.
The eachine E011 is an incredibly fun toy. It’s very well put together, it’s nearly crash proof, it’s literally harmless (you could run it into anything at full throttle and it’s just going to bounce off), and it’s CHEAP. The last two are probably the things that attract me to it the most. I enjoy being able to fly the E011 without much stress about where it happens to end up. I have no concerns at all about flying this around people or indoors. The CHEAP part is great because you can get the whole kit for around $15. With a camera, it’s about $30-40, and with an upgraded flight controller it’s either $30-40 (in the case of silverware) or perhaps $50ish with beecore or similar. Basically, you can afford to lose it or break it and you won’t cry about it at all.
I started out flying the E011 mostly line of sight. I wasn’t sure about FPV as while I’ve flown DJI drones a lot for work and very much appreciated the ability to see what the drone sees, I just didn’t think I’d get into it on a micro (nano?) quad. Well, I was wrong. After a few days of ripping around line of sight, the FPV bug bit.
Line of Sight Mods
For line of sight flying, I mostly just stripped off the canopy and of course the “lego” guy. I also clipped off two of the battery compartment “straps” (0.1 grams), I probably won’t do that again even though it doesn’t seem to make any difference on way or the other.
You CAN save about 0.1 grams on the stock batteries (including the 45C versions) as well as the Crazeponey HV packs that I picked up by simply removing the stickers. 0.1 grams isn’t a lot, but it is indeed measurable at this scale of craft.
I attempted to remove the motor plugs as I reasoned that I wouldn’t replace the motors if they went out, I’d just replace the whole quad (cost wise, that makes more sense). I should have checked the connections better as I simply smoked the FETs (which are the brushed motor equivalent of ESCs) when I fired it up. If you’re careful though, on the stock flight controller you could save about half a gram by removing those plugs if you so desired.
However, a better battery is a HUGE upgrade even on the E011.
HV Battery Upgrade
“High voltage” LiPo batteries have kind of a funny name if you as me as we’re only talking about a small increase in voltage (about 0.15v). However, that’s pretty substantial with these little 1S quads. The benefit is 3 fold. One is that you have higher power density, which in my I’m not an engineer understanding simply means that you’ve got more watt hours of power available per gram. That means that the mAH rating of the battery can be lower and still get a similar flight time, both because there’s more “power” in the battery per gram, and because the battery is likely to be lighter as well. Which brings us to weight. I bought some 205 mAH crazeponey HV batteries and they are over a gram lighter than the eachine “upgrade” 45C 260mAH battery, and about 2 grams lighter than the actual stock battery.
Finally, your last benefit is going to be in punch out power, especially the first 30 seconds or so. You’ve got lighter weight, but you’ve also got a little more voltage available to spin the props. Those first several seconds are going to be even stronger than a fresh pack normally is. After that it’s about the same as a standard pack. However, at least in the case of the crazeponey batteries I got, they seem to be a little punchier throughout the pack than the supposedly 45C batteries from eachine. YMMV, but it does seem that the HV packs are much stronger throughout the flight.
I recommend picking up some of the foam battery trays that are made for the E010 (and will also fit the E011) and trim the back of your battery compartment. It’ll likely be the lightest and most reliable way to affix the HV battery packs to the E011 frame.
Adding a Camera for FPV
It seems there are a number of FPV cameras available and they all have slightly different features. For the most part, they’re all the same as best I can tell. Some handle low/high light situations better than others, and some are more efficient than others with power.
I got a Wolfwhoop W05 and I shouldn’t have. It’s a great camera and transmitter and it works very well. However, now that I’ve been playing with Betaflight and Beecore v2, I wish I would have gotten the W07 or any other AIO camera that supports OSD out of the box. OSD support isn’t anything special on these AIO cameras. You just need to be able to take the video output from the camera and put it through the Flight Controller and then back into the transmitter. The Flight Controller simply adds the On Screen text to the incoming video signal and then sends it back out.
You CAN modify the W05, or any AIO or similar for OSD. I’m just not a big fan of doing tiny soldering and cuts to make it work :). So, if you even THINK you might move onto OSD which is mostly going to be good for knowing when you need to bring your quad back to land while flying FPV, you should get an OSD camera to start with to save yourself time and hassle. Epecially because the OSD version of the Wolfwhoop camera anyway, costs the same.
On both the stock flight controller and the beecore controller, I soldered to the main power leads. It’s very trivial work if you’ve ever soldered before.
Both flight controllers have a 5V “port” on them that you could use as well, but I’ve read mixed results using that particular source so I stuck with the main power lead.
I set my FPV camera to 5.8 ghz “exactly” as that’s what the length of the antenna seems to be optimized for.
On the Wolfwhoop, you’ll just long press or short press on the only button on the AIO camera to select a channel. There is a sheet in the box that details how to determine the frequency based on that. If you’re experiencing bad FPV reception, it’s likely because you haven’t chosen the EXACT frequency in both your AIO and your FPV goggles. I found that out the hard way.
To MOUNT the FPV camera, I’d recommend strongly against gluing the camera or rubber banding it to the top. Crash resistance is a good feature of these “tiny whoop rip-off” quads.
To mount mine, I used the E013’s canopy that I purchased off bangood. I am also interested in testing out this BetaFPV canopy and possibly doing the “mullet mod” or simply using a BetaFPV camera that is already setup for the mullet mod.
The E013 canopy fits the E011 perfectly. I did need two screws which were not included but I had from the flight controller I smoked (mentioned earlier). If you’re going to buy the Beecore V2 flight controller, it comes with screws that will secure the board and the canopy for you. The screws that come with the Beecore v2 are also slightly lighter than the stock screws, as a side note.
I did have to enlarge the antenna opening a bit to fit the Wolfwhoop’s antenna through. This “mod” was especially needed because I added a bit of heatshrink at the connection point of the antenna and the Wolfwhoop’s camera board.
The hole for the channel selection on the canopy is in the exact right place for the Wolfwhoop, which makes adjusting that easy when needed.
Installation is pretty self explanatory. Just push the camera through the hole in the front, and “press fit” the antenna through the top. On the stock flight controller, the antenna can be run through the top of the canopy as well by poking a small hole. I found this gave me better range on the stock flight controller and toy transmitter. After that, you’ll want to put a piece of foam between the camera/vtx and the flight controller. I used a piece of foam from the wolfwhoop box. Total weight was around 0.03 grams for the foam.
I clipped the front of the canopy off and may clip the rear off too at a later time. The front has no real purpose and it saved a tenth of a gram. I also liked the look better.
On the stock flight controller with the stock firmware, the angle of the camera is fine with the E013 canopy. However, once I switched to betaflight, it became more necessary to angle the camera up. The foam I mentioned above, helped me achieve a small angle, about 10-15 degrees (purely a guess). Flying in auto-level mode, this seems fine. I may move up to a more aggressive angle especially if I start flying Acro more.
FPV goggles – Budget option
I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Knowing that the cameras available for these quads are not the best quality, I wasn’t terribly worried about the resolution of any goggles I purchased. I don’t intend at this stage to fly much larger quads with better cameras, so I didn’t really view the FPV goggle purchase as a “long term investment” either.
I opted for the eachine 007 Pro box-style goggles. The reviews were all very good and now that I have them myself — they are very good, especially for the price/purpose.
I found the 007 Pro to be comfortable to wear for extended periods, easy to charge, easy to get sync’ed up with the quad and they have a fairly decent display.
The 007 Pro goggles are around $45, so even if you did want something “better” later on — these are great spares. Otherwise, they’re great primary goggles and get the job done.
Beecore V2 and BetaFlight
I plan to experiment with Silverware soon. However, I have converted the E011 to a beecore v2 flight controller and have flashed the latest version of Betaflight to the board. I will soon write a full write up for that as I ran into a lot of small issues since I had never set something like this up before.
For the most part, you can go ahead and mount the beecore v2 directly to the E011. The rubber spacers, you don’t seem to need at all and I found they more got in the way than they helped.
I connected my computer to the flight controller with a standard micro USB cable and used the Betaflight configurator stand-alone program to connect. It connected straight away without any drama and I clicked on the CLI tab (bottom one) and typed “version” to find out what kind of board we were working with. Mine said OMNIBUS.
I flashed the beecore v2 with the latest Betaflight version for Omnibus and got lucky as the guides I was working from were meant for the version just prior. I’m told it’s a bad idea to try to use PIDs and so on from other versions of betaflight as the algorythms change from time to time. So, I’ll tell you what I did with that warning in mind.
To flash the beecore v2 I did need to use a program to replace the USB driver for the beecore to a generic windows driver rather than the one that came with my computer.
Getting the E011 flying with the beecore v2 does require some fiddling. If you follow the setup guide from banggood for the beecore v2, you’ll be on the right path.
After that, you need to set your min_throttle and your max_angle settings and either set up an arming switch or learn the arming gesture.
I did get mine working with the stock PIDs and so on. However, I followed the “project mockingbird” document and was much happier with the results of that template for my quad.
The Beecore v2 gave me the ability to fly with a Devo 7E transmitter. I have always been resistant to having a “real” transmitter as I found the toy ones to be fine and perhaps importantly to me — small. However, the 7E is very nicely sized (small) and it makes a world of difference in controlling the quad.
It also “woke up” the quad by allowing it to pitch and roll much further than the stock firmware allows which results in a MASSIVE increase in speed. If you want to make your E011 faster — update the flight controller and use a real transmitter. It’s truly an entirely different quad with these small modifications.
The OSD is something I’m very interested in getting going on my quad. Mostly because I have found out the hard way that you need to know how much power you have left so you aren’t flying around on the other end of the field when the quad decides it’s done flying :). It’s also very nice for tuning your quad in the field and making small changes in betaflight in the field without needing a computer. I haven’t gotten to this project yet, but will soon.