DJI Racing Drone | DJI Snail | DJI Takyon – First Look!

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DJI Racing Drone | DJI Snail | DJI Takyon | First Look!

There has been a lot of speculation lately about DJI and their suspected move into the racing drone market. To those already involved in this hobby you’ll know drone racing as mini quads, multis, quads, quadcopters, FPV, and so on. DJI released a promotional video on their YouTube page promoting their latest offerings. I take a look into the DJI Racing Drone, with details on the DJI Racing Drone | DJI Snail | DJI Takyon products.

***BONUS UPDATES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS ARTICLE*** 

Is The DJI Racing Drone ready to fly (RTF)?

Before I get into the different components available for the DJI racing drone I should make it clear that DJI does not currently offer a ready-to-fly race quad. Their website currently has the Snail propulsion system (motors) and individual electronic speed controllers (ESCs) for sale. DJIs integrated 4-in-1 ESC (Takyon Z430) isn’t currently available on their website. I’ve reached out to DJI for an indication on the release date and will update on reply. They currently sell older flight controllers but I expect this will change in the coming months.

I have seen a carbon frame from DJI floating around online with a unique mounting system to accomodate the integrated ESCs and flight controller. I’ll try and dig up some more info and specs.

UPDATE (01/MAR/17): The friendly people at DJI got in contact with me in record time with a clarification on their racing products.

They currently offer the following racing products:

  • Takyon Z415/Z425 and Z650 ESCs
  • Snail Racing Propulsion System (Motors)

An update on the integrated Takyon 4-in-1 ESC (Z430) is below!

 

DJI Snail Racing Propulsion System (motors):

DJI Racing Drone Snail Motor Close up

Nice detail in the Snail’s bell-housing snail house….

“Snail” typically invokes thoughts of slow speed but I get it; irony is a great marketing tool when used properly. Slow is definitely not what I would call DJIs new quad motors. DJI claim these motors are optimised for speeds of 140 km/h… Yes, 140 km/h or 87 mp/h for my imperial friends.

That’s a hell of a lot of speed for anything, let alone a drone smaller than a dinner plate.

Obviously these optimised speeds depend on a lot of factors such as propellers, tuning, battery, weight so I’m eager to see some real world testing.

They are really nice looking motors and our friends over at Rotor Riot mentioned that manufacturing quality appears really good. In saying that, looks aren’t everything.

DJI Snail Motor Expanded View

That propeller attachment on top looks interesting.

DJI Snail – Thrust

The figures on paper impress me with a reported 1.32kg of thrust. At 1.32kg, this firmly puts the Snail amongst the top of the thrust pile.

What is thrust?

Northwestern University’s Qualitative Reasoning Group defines thrust as “the amount of push a rocket engine provides to the rocket”. That’s a reasonable definition for this situation, and although we aren’t dealing with actual rockets you get the idea.

Why is thrust important in drones?

Our friends over at Mini Quad Test Bench test thrust on quad / racing drone motors and report these results using various propellers. Here’s a quick table showing an example of their work:

Mini Quad Test Bench - TBS Steele 2345kv

Mini Quad Test Bench Results – TBS Steele 2345kv – Thrust Results

In the same way that the power or resolution of the latest iPhone are important to some people, thrust is a qualitative way to show the capabilities of a motor.

Once again, having the biggest number isn’t always the best and real world results will vary due to the factors mentioned earlier. I look forward to seeing MQTB’s results with the DJI Snail motors.

DJI Propellers

DJI Racing Drone Prop Nut-Spool Options

Propellers that have hubs?!

Let’s get the specs out of the way first. DJI have designed 6 propeller options. The details look like this:

DJI Snail Propellers 4S LiPo

DJI Snail Propellers – Recommended options for 4S battery

DJI Snail Propellers 3S LiPo

DJI Snail Propellers – Recommended options for 3S battery

By the looks of things, DJI offer a good range of propellers that cover 5-inch, 6-inch, and 7-inch. They’ve even developed a 3D prop!

DJI Snail Quick-Release Hub

DJI Quick-Release Propellers

As you can see on the 5048S tri-blade props, DJI has designed an innovative quick-release hub. I’m not going to debate the effectiveness, strength or stability of a quick-release mechanism but I like this idea. I’ll cover why here:

In a racing environment the most important factor is time, but not so much when it comes to attaching propellers because lets face it; when you crash and burn your run is over, broken props are the least of your worries.

I like the quick-release hub not only because it saves you a couple of minutes, it removes the need to carry a socket wrench and spare prop nuts. My calculation looks like this:

Less items to carry + more time flying = happy pilot

 

3D flight.. Isn’t flying an actual drone in the real world 3D flight?

DJI Snail 3D Flight3D flight isn’t talking about the difference between virtual reality and being down at your local park for a buzz. 3D flying is a relatively new and un-touched method of flying that requires special hardware and skills.

3D flight is basically flying inverted (upside down) for a prolonged time in a forward direction.

DJIs 6048 propellers have been designed to enable 3D flight. With these props, along with a setting change and a sprinkling of extra skill, flying inverted sounds like a lot of fun.

DJI Takyon 4-in-1 Integrated ESC

DJI Takyon 4IN1 ESC Z430

DJI Takyon Integrated ESC & the fingers of quad god – Mr. Steele

I don’t have much detail on these integrated 4-in-1 speedys. I’ve reached out to DJIs marketing and PR teams and will update this post as soon as I receive a reply.

What we know so far:

  • Model appears to be Z430 4IN1 ESC
  • Based on the naming convention of other ESC models: they are 30A
  • Weigh approx. 10-15 grams
  • 5V & 12V output

UPDATE (01/MAR/17): 

I have good news and bad news regarding the DJI Takyon Z430 4-in-1 integrated ESC.

Let’s start with the bad news: 

  • DJI has confirmed with me that the Takyon Z430 4-in-1 ESC (pictured above) won’t be available to the public and is “reserved towards some specific users”.

The good news:

  • We can purchase DJI-manufactured electronic speed controllers (ESCs) RIGHT NOW! DJI has confirmed in an email to me that they offer the Takyon Z415-M and Z425-M ESCs. I’ll cover these ESCs below.

When will the integrated Takyon Z430 4-in-1 ESC be available?

There is no indication on when or if the Takyon Z430 integrated ESC will ever be available to the public. DJI hasn’t gone into much detail but this integrated ESC could be a prototype currently in R&D. Or it could be a limited production while they build their drone/quad racing brand.

DJI Takyon Z4 Mini ESC (Z415-M & Z425-M)

Let’s start with the basics:

Takyon Z415-M

  • Maximum continuous current – 15A
  • Maximum peak current (<3 sec) – 20A
  • Battery range: 2S-4S LiPo
  • OneShot support? Yes
  • Weight: 6.3g (includes wires)

Takyon Z415-M

  • Maximum continuous current – 25A
  • Maximum peak current (<3 sec) – 30A
  • Battery range: 2S-4S LiPo
  • OneShot support? Yes
  • Weight: 7.5g (includes wires)

The Takyon Z4 Mini ESC series is DJIs latest move into the quad racing scene. These compact low-weight ESCs (just 1.6g when integrated) are an amazing looking choice for those who want high performance ESCs that come with the backing and knowledge of a multi-billion dollar company who spend their time researching and developing the latest drone technologies.

Measuring just 12mmx24mm the Z4 series ESCs are shaping up to rival likes of Little Bee and KISS who have dominated the ESC world for a very long time.

Compatibility doesn’t appear to be a concern for DJIs new ESCs. They work with a wide range of racing motors with a high kV rating.

My favourite feature of DJIs Takyon Z4 series ESC?

Motor direction

Motor direction has always been one of my biggest issues when building a racing drone. I’ve tried printing off diagrams, drawing motor direction on my work bench, writing down ESC wire order, watching YouTube videos, the list goes on. Every single time I solder a motor to an ESC I almost always cross wires or have to configure the motor direction via Cleanflight/Betaflight.

You might say ‘what’s the big deal? It’s a part of building a racing quad’. Well, the Takyon Z4 ESCs are capable of switching motor direction by simply manually turning the motor in the desired direction.

For me, that’s an amazing feature that I cannot wait to try out. It’s such a small thing, but awesome in so many ways.

Takyon Z4 ESC Easy Setup

Active braking control

The DJI Takyon series ESCs support active braking.

What is active braking?

When you’re flying you are constantly making throttle adjustments – faster, slower, higher, lower. Let’s say you’re coming into a corner and you reduce your throttle in preparation, what happens?

  • Without active braking:

Your motors slow down and reduce RPM via natural air resistance and friction.

  • With active braking:

The Takyon Z4 series ESC actively reduces your motor spin. This increases responsiveness and reduces that “floating” feeling.

So there we have it, a comprehensive update on DJIs racing drone products. I’m sure we’ll see more products released over the coming months and hopefully we’ll all be building a whole DJI race quad.

P.S. I’m in talks with DJI to receive new product releases for real world testing. Be sure to check MavicMate regularly or visit our new Facebook group below:

Keep up to date on our Facebook group! DJI RACING DRONE & FPV GROUP

 

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I'm a little bit drone obsessed. I love flying, writing, building them.

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