The Rotor Vegas Drone Champs in NZ have concluded and I hope everyone had a good time. I spent the day after flying the connex build and it went better than I had expected. I go through part one of my review below.
I was pretty excited when this thing arrived, as I had been hesitating for months to give one a try and for some reason Mathew Evans' abysmal review on the unit prompted me to just go for it. In the back of my mind I wanted to see for myself if this thing was worth it. Mathew had trouble getting it to work properly and the unit left a bad impression and therefore a not so great review.
The complete Connex Pro Sight system set me back $637 NZD, which is a bit of coin to spend on FPV, however analogue systems can cost close to half the price of the Pro Sight when you account for Camera, VTx, Antennas and Groundstation/Receiver Module.
My initial reaction when I unboxed the unit was that of surprise, the receiver and camera were far smaller than the internet made it out to be, but the transmitter antenna was massive. It came well packaged and I was eager to get it installed.
The frame I chose for the unit was the Hyperlite Evo HD from Pirodrone. This frame is a lightweight stretch X frame designed specifically to mount a connex system. The video transmitter of the connex is quite big, but manageable with the right frame design. My pet peeve with the VTx was that the antenna connectors protruded into the frame 5 or so millimeters. Which ends up wasting lots of space.
I couldn't help myself and as soon as I had pulled it out of the box, I powered it up using a 3S battery and played with it in the lounge while watching TV. I could read subtitles through the Connex System and the clarity was incredible.
The install was pretty straight forward, and probably one of the easiest FPV system installs I have ever done. All I had to do was shorten the power supply cables to the VTx and solder onto the main input power pads on my 4 in 1 ESC. The Connex Pro Sight supports voltages ranging from 2S to 4S.
After installing the Connex I immediately ordered the Taoglass antennas and a far smaller, more practical mount as the stock antenna is just the worst. I had the original larger version. The aftermarket antennas make a huge difference to the profile of the quad and negate any thoughts about antennas being too big.
I had hoped to have the build finished in time to show it off at the Racing on Saturday, but never got to finish it due to organising the event. However, once the Saturday concluded I stayed up late to finish it off for the funfly on Sunday. Even breaking my rule of no late night builds (we all know what happens to those builds)
My after market antennas hadn't arrived so #RCFREAKO printed me a better 3D mount for my stock antennas. Which would tie me over until the Taoglass versions arrived. These were a tad too flexible but would do the job for the weekend.
Sunday: After a bit of a sleep in and a late breakfast with Philfy FPV, we hit the track again. This time I was flying in HD for the very first time. To make the system more portable for me, I mounted my Connex receiver to the underside of my radio which worked amazingly well and wasn't too heavy. I fly with a lanyard anyway so wasn't a drama. First thing I noticed was all the cables and wiring required to use this thing. Something I wasn't used to coming from a La Forge diversity unit retrofitted to my goggles. I had an HD cable going from my goggles to the receiver, as well as power from the receiver to a 3S battery in my pocket. An idea I had to eliminate some of the annoying cables was to run power from my radios battery to the receiver, instead of having a separate battery in my pocket. I am yet to give this a go but am pretty keen to set it up this way.
Next, it was time to power up my quad and go for a fly. Normally a certain level of etiquette should be adopted when flying analogue FPV systems, and one of these common courtesies is to check with other pilots what channel they are on, set yours to a frequency that has enough separation and then alert nearby pilots when you are about to power up.
I DID NONE OF THIS!
Luckily when I powered up, nobody had noticed a thing and there were 4 other pilots in the air at the time. Phew!
For me, this ability alone has justified the cost of the system, as I no longer had to worry about any of the issues you get with analogue shooting other people down and interfering with video feeds. Whenever I wanted to fly, I literally just connected a fresh pack and went for a fly. No waiting, no interfering. Brilliant.
Now to explain a little bit about each mode:
HQ mode: 720P 30FPS = An amazing mode, everything is so clear and sharp however having such a low frame speed made it a little harder to fly. It just seemed a little choppy for any sort of fast or risky flying. I founf myself having to react earlier than normal. Great image quality but just not quite there. However, I did get used to it during the day, but the low frame rate still caused a few issues.
HP mode: the quality degrades here but the frame rate is nice and smooth, this mode was a little bit better than the runcam eagle. I compared the two on the day and the eagle was very close, albeit with static when signal was a bit sketchy. Not worth the difference in price on raceable image quality alone.
HP+ mode: Haven't tried this mode yet as it requires a different lens. Which is on order after breaking my connex one near the end of the day. But if the image quality is similar to HQ mode with the frame rate of the HP mode, then the connex is a winner in my book.
So after a weekend of flying the connex system I'm pretty impressed as with a few aftermarket add on's this thing has huge potential. I had even snapped both stock antennas, one about half way and the other a quarter of the way up and the system performed solidly with only a tad more noticeable breakup through trees at reasonably close range.
Review part two will hopefully be a bit different, with the updated antennas and lens......stay tuned.