The quadcopter is advertised as “Indoor” - I don’t really think that this is true for any 85mm quad, except if you really have a big indoor space. At least for my apartment, 85 mm is way too big. I mean, I can fly it - but it is simply no fun. In a bando on the other hand, this is obviously a different situation - any place that you can explore, you will have a lot of fun with this one.
The copter itself, without battery weighs in at 76.5g.
Banggood was kind enough to send me one for review.
The camera used is the Caddx Baby Turtle. A very popular HD and FPV camera. It provides the FPV feed and records the footage to the onboard DVR. If you have read previous articles of mine, you will know that I am not the biggest Caddx fan - quite on the contrary, I often have problems with their quality control. That being said, this turtle worked for me like a charm. No dirt on the sensor, no black corners, everything is working as one would expect - I can now understand why other people really like and enjoy Caddx products.
There is a couple of different settings that can be done on the Caddx Turtle, unfortunately the joystick that is required to make those settings is not included with the A85. So unless you already have another model with a Caddx Turtle, you might need to order yourself a joystick - or live with the defaults.
The unnecessary OSD elements of the turtle are disabled and auto recording is enabled, which for me is the most important part. This means that the DVR will automatically start recording as soon as you plug in the battery.
The audio of the Caddx Turtle makes your ears bleed - I can not stand it and usually remove the mic on all other models as one of the first things.
Here you can see an unedited flight with default settings, I basically took the quadcopter out of the box and bound it up to my receiver:
I need to mention this, since this is a big issue for me. I grew so used to the rather low latency of the regular FPV cams, that the HD cams always give me a hard time with their (slightly) higher latency. If you are just cruising, you will probably not even notice it, but as soon as you start doing some tricks, it becomes quite obvious.
I am sure that you can get used to this amount of latency, but since I often switch between quads and primarily fly regular FPV cams, it always tends to throw me a little bit off and I need a couple of packs to get used to it - again: no issues when I am just cruising around or exploring.
The flight controller is iFlights SucceX-D 20A Whoop F4 AIO Board. As you can guess from the name, the ESC’s are capable of continuously pushing 20A to each motor. The ESC’s come flashed with the Jazz Maverick RPM filter firmware. A capacitor is pre-installed.
Further, the flight controller comes with 8MB flash so you can utilize balckbox logging if you further want to improve it’s flight characteristics. Generally the flight controller is a very solid AIO board.
The video transmitter is a SucceX Micro Force VTX which is adjustable via IRC Tramp protocol. Supported output power are 25, 100, 200 and 300mW. A RHCP antenna is included, which is really a nice feature on a quad of its size.
The A85 is rocking Xing 1204 motors with 4500KV. The motors have a T-Hub mount and you can run basically any 2 inch prop with 1.5mm shaft. I quite like the Xing motors, not only are they very reliable, but they also look super sexy.
The included props are 4 blade HQ 2020 and you get a spare set.
You can get this quadcopter with different receiver options: Flysky, Frsky XM+ or R-XSR and TBS Crossfire. Strangely you can not get this model without a receiver. But you can easily add any receiver of your choice.
Firmware & Handling
What probably surprised me the most are the default settings. You take it out of the box, bind it up and are ready to go. Since it is advertised to have a cinematic tune, I left everything original, even the rates.
And it really flies amazing out of the box. I am used to slightly higher rates and less expo, but the default settings allow you to fly super smooth lines. Thanks to RPM filters it is very hard to get propwash - you really have to try hard to actually get propwash.
I am more into aggressive freestyle flying - and this definitely is not the right quadcopter to do this - but it is still a lot of fun, finding nice lines, cruising around and exploring your environment.
The default Betaflight version that comes flashed on the A85 is 4.1.2 - definitely not the latest version, but the tune is so good, that I have a hard time complaining about that.
Recommended are 4S, 450mAh batteries, I do not have any of those, so instead I opted to go with GNB 3S, 450mAh batteries that I had laying around - and those worked really great for me - I get around 5 minutes of flight time out of them, have enough punch to save myself from sketchy maneuvers.
I have some Full Send 4S, 450mAh batteries (Full Send is iFlights own battery label, they are basically re-branded Tattu) on order and am looking forward to test with them. I am a bit afraid that I will not like the additional weight. I prefer my quads to be lighter and am very sensitive in that regard - if it flies like a bus, it is not for me.
I also tried with 2S 450mAh, but that was just way under-powered and I would not recommend it.
The batteries are mounted via a small battery strap, so you are pretty flexible in regards to which battery you want to use.
Frame & Canopy
The canopy protects the camera pretty well and you can adjust the camera tilt to your liking. The frame seems to be pretty rigid and protects the props pretty well - it took a couple of hits against concrete walls and floor without any issues, only some small scratch marks are visible which is to be expected.
You will get a spare set of props, a small Phillips head screw driver, a couple of spare screws, a spare battery strap and some stickers.
You will also get an USB extension, which is not really needed for this quadcopter, and I am wondering if I got this by mistake instead of the joystick for the Caddx Turtle.
If you are looking for a quadcopter for cinematic footage which will also fit tight spaces, the iFlight Alpha A85 might definitely be the right choice for you, especially if you are going for a hassle free, bind and fly experience, there is nothing that can go wrong with this one in my opinion.
You can obviously not expect footage with the quality of a GoPro, but for what it is, you can achieve quite a lot in post production.
The price tag of the iFlight Alpha A85 with around $180 - depending on your chosen receiver option - is in my opinion very fair for what you get.
I would not recommend it if you are into hardcore freestyle, but then I would probably not recommend anything of this size with a Caddx Turtle anyway, just because of the latency and additional weight of the DVR.