WL Toys v262 Quadcopter – First look and review

WL Toys are well known for their inexpensive line of mini and micro Quadcopters – these include the v929, 939, 949 and v959. Newer models are called v202, 212 and 222 which feature additional stabilization.

The new (July, 2013) v262 quadcopter is a step up in size from mini-quads, making it capable of carrying larger payloads as well as being seen at longer distances from the pilot. Despite being larger, it is priced very low – the current supplier ,Banggood, sells the quad for a little over $80. Add in the cost of a couple extra batteries and parts and the entire package is under $100.

Link to v262 Quadcopter at Banggood

Appeal to users:
Beginners* (see summary) and Advanced Beginners who want an inexpensive platform for flying fun as well as aerial photography, FPV and video experimentation.
Type of Quad: Consumer / Hobbyist “toy grade
Cost: approx. $85 with battery, spare props, charger and Receiver
Crashworthiness – Good

The WL Toys v262 is a “6-axis” quadcopter, which means it has the ability to self-level as well as easily correct itself when flying. This makes control quite easy – pilots with advanced beginner skills (up) will feel a sense of control which is often lacking with the 3-4 axis machines.

The Basics

WL Toys v262

WL Toys v262 – click to enlarge


The v262 comes RTF with everything you need to fly except for the 6-AA batteries needed to power the transmitter. In the box are:
The quadcopter
foam cowl with propeller protection rings
2.4 GHZ Transmitter (needs 6 AA batteries – not supplied)
A single Lipo battery -7.4v dual cell 800 mah
AC balanced battery charger
Spare set of (4) propellers

For any decent fun, you’ll need a couple more batteries. I’d suggest at least 3 total, so pick up a couple spares if you don’t already have them in your collection. You may be able to use some slightly more powerful batteries – check with your vendor or online forums to make sure they will fit the v262. I ordered some spares from the Hobbyking USA warehouse:
Turnigy nano-tech 850mah 2S 25~40C Lipo Pack
These are quite close in size to the originals except for the extra plastic wrapping around them. Removing this wrapping and slightly loosening the screws which hold the battery holder on allowed them to fit properly.

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The styling of the v262 appears to mimic the popular Parrot AR Drone. This is typical of the “copycat” nature of many of these toy quads. Despite the style, this is NOT an AR Drone. It is a “toy grade” quadcopter which is basically a stretched-out model of the popular minis such as the Syma X1, WL v212, etc.

The savvy buyer knows that you cannot buy a $300+ quadcopter for $85, so this should come as no surprise. Instead of comparing this to a more advanced machine, let’s consider it for what it is – and is not!

WL Toys v262 with foam cowl

WL Toys v262 with foam cowl

As mentioned previously, the v262 is much larger than the minis and micros, yet it is much smaller and lighter-duty than full size quads such as the DJI Phantom or Dualsky Hornet. This quad uses small brushed motors as well as the same type of gearing system as the minis.

Gearing of v262

Gearing of v262

The v262 should be thought of as a light duty “toy grade” quad capable of carrying a much larger payload than the smaller 3.7v (single cell) mini quadcopters. As you will find if you read the remainder of the review, this quad is best flown without the stock foam shell, which adds considerable weight (80 grams) as well as wind loading to the stock unit.

As of this writing (Sept 1, 2013), spare parts are not readily available. UPDATE – many parts are now available from the current main vendor, Banggood. This is because the model is new.

The Transmitter (TX) for the v262 has a similar layout to other WL Toys models and therefore should be easy to adjust to for those with experience with the 949, 959, 212, etc. A line drawing of the TX is below:

WL Toys v262 TX - CLick to enlarge

WL Toys v262 TX – CLick to enlarge

The two keys labeled function do not appear to do anything in the stock model – perhaps they are reserved for a future unit with video and still photo capabilities. The other front buttons control the mode of flight in percentages, which determines how severe the unit will respond (angle of flight) when you move the sticks. In light winds and for the best video, the lowest setting (40%) should do fine.

The unit will do some fine 360 degree flips. This is achieved by hitting the silver button on the top right of the TX – the TX will start beeping, which lets you know it is armed for flips – then move the right stick forward and it will flip! The flips are very tight, but make sure you are at least 10 feet above any obstacles before attempting this move.

Range

The v262 appears to have a good range with the stock TX. I tested the quad to 95+ meters (300 feet) distance horizontally and was able to still take off and control it. The stock range is more than sufficient for the way in which most people will use this quad. The quad features colored LED lights on the bottom near the motor pods – these help greatly with orientation when the quad is flying high above you.

Flight Characteristics

The newer 6-axis stabilization can make an advanced beginner feel like a pro! I’ve flown this quad about 20 times without a single crash, landing it perfectly each time. This is usually unheard of for those without more experience.

The v262 is easy to fly, although I’d still suggest a mini or micro quad for most who are just starting out in this hobby.

Payloads are lifted with ease and the quad is not unstable when carrying 100+ grams in addition to it’s frame. As an example, I flew the quad with the foam shell (80 grams) and a Mobius camera (40 grams) and it behaved perfectly.

Longevity and Crash Worthiness

Larger quads are NOT made to bounce regularly off the ground and walls – physics comes into play, and the additional weight can cause problems in hard crashes. However, the 6-axis stabilization means that crashes should be very rare. Considering the toy grade rating of this quad and the foam shell (only beginners should use this, IMHO), I’d rate the crash worthiness as fair to good. The parts, however, are not heavy-duty in any way – a factor which works for you in some ways (lightweight quads don’t crash as hard) and against you in others.

The v262 has not been in the market long enough to judge it’s longevity, however initial reports show that some users are experiencing motor and circuit board burnout within a couple hours of flight time. I suspect this is somewhat related to how heavy (foam shell, larger payloads) the quad is flown as well as how aggressively. Our current recommendation is for this quad to be flown without the stock foam shell in order to lighten the load. Some pilots have cut the shell down in weight by removing the propeller rings and also the decal.

Flyers looking for a “buy it and forget it” quad which just flies and works without parts replacement should probably spend more and look elsewhere. There are many more reliable models in the $140-$500 range either available now or coming soon. Watch for a upcoming Droneflyers article on the wide range of new quads being introduced this fall.

Video and Photography Capabilities

Still Photography

The ability to carry a larger camera, like the Mobius Action Cam allows for some impressive aerial photography. In fact, at this writing, the combination of the v262 and Mobius provides the best possible photography in the one two) to additional v262 still shots. Note that cameras such as the Mobius have settings (interval shooting, intervalometer) which allow you to take a photo every “X” seconds.

Aerial Shot From v262 and Mobius Action Camera Click to enlarge

Aerial Shot From v262 and Mobius Action Camera – Click to enlarge

Video

My first experiments indicate it is a poor platform for video because of the difficulty of getting most vibrations out of such a quad. I tried a couple different mounts and think it would be a lot of trouble to get the vibration and jello out.

Speaking generally, it would seem that a geared lightweight quad may not work well for video. In fact, the best piece of video I got from the v262 was with the foam on and just velcroed the cam to the top! I assume this is because the added weight dampened it. Of course, given the problems with the motors on this model, adding too much weight may cause premature burnout of the motors or main circuit board.

Here are a couple examples of videos – the first with the foam cowl on and the camera simply taped to the top. The second was with a vibration absorbing mount, yet still shows jello and shake. The third is about as good as it will get without some real work on vibration mounts.

Here is the USA, commercial use of drones is not permitted, so the lower quality video may be tolerated since it’s purely for fun. However, done right, the still photos taken from this quadcopter could be classified as “real estate quality”, that being a quality which could show prospective buyers a decent aerial view of a property. See the example below:

Sample Real Estate Photograph

Sample Real Estate Photograph

FPV

The payload capacity of the v262 allows for various schemes of installing the extra equipment required for FPV (first person view). The current vendor, Banggood, sells an FPV add-on, however there are many other rigs which can be created by the aspiring hobbyist. The Mobius Camera, for example, has outputs and cables which allow it to be the eye of such an assembly.

Summary

This size and type of quad is a good idea, but the initial execution is less than perfect. It appears that WL Toys has once again (as with the 2xx series) released a quadcopter that may have some initial defects – or, it just may be that the decisions made (price, timing, etc.) do not allow for a better quadcopter.
Still, it’s hard to argue with the $85 (shipped) price tag, so it is a great value for the $$$ – as usual when it comes to these Chinese toys!

I hesitate recommending the model as a first quad, with some exceptions. Those who may have some R/C experience (helicopters, planes, etc.) may be able to train on it for a few short flights with the foam shell and then remove it. For most pilots, however, this would be a better 2nd or 3rd machine – something to experiment with as far as further away flight and aerial photography. Keep in mind that current buyers should be comfortable with some basic modifications, fixes and motor replacements. You WILL have to replace the motors and gears every couple hours of flight ($6 and $1 each respectively).
Those seeking a “buy it and use it” quadcopter should probably consider spending a bit more and buying additional reliability and construction. Examples include the Parrot AR Drone, the new Eye One Extreme, the Walkera Hoten-X and many new quads which will hit the market this fall.

There is nothing even close at this exact price range – but that does not mean you should buy it! Read this entire review as well as the continuation thread below and decide for yourself.

Link to v262 Quadcopter at Banggood

You can add your own tips, experiences and comments in our Forum Continuation Thread for this review:
http://droneflyers.com/talk/threads/wl-toys-v262-quadcopter-first-look-and-review.217/

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