These are two frames on the market today that are very similar. They both have the option of 4, 5, or 6 inch arms, making them the same size. They both have modular arms that sit together snuggly to make an X shape (but not true X). They both have 4mm arms, 2mm base plates, fit a GoPro in the same place, they both top mount batteries, and have the same shape frame. They are both made of 3k carbon, and are both within the 90 – 100 pound range. So a load of similarity! But, where are the differences?
The most obvious aesthetic differences are that the alien comes with purple or red anodised hardware, and the QAV-R has black anodised hardware. The top plate of the alien is 1.5mm compared to the QAV-Rs 2mm top plate. The board camera plates on the alien are 1.5mm while the QAV-R has 1mm board camera plates. These are only been minor differences between the frames, no deal breakers yet. So which frame is better, what are the differences that count.
- Released in December 2015 the QAV-R is stocked all over the world in most hobby stores such as GetFPV in the USA, and multiple stores around the UK; making it easy to source spare parts wherever you live. Also, prices are fairly low, including postage and customs, as the frame is likely to be stocked locally to you.
- The 4mm arms make the frame extremely durable, we have a QAV-R, nothing has broken on the frame so far, and there are no signs of weakness yet.
- It has mounting options for both standard 36mm board camera’s and 26mm camera’s such as the Runcam swift or HS1177.
- As it is not a pod racer, it contains considerable space for numerous components. Therefore, the use of all-in-one boards is not needed, making the build easy.
- The arms are replaceable, so if you manage to break an arm, it’s quick and simple to repair. No need to replace a whole unibody.
- It is made by Lumenier which is known for high quality products.
- It does not use a structural PDB, and so you can choose your own PDB. Less stress is also placed on the boards, so there is a smaller chance of the PDB breaking.
- The frame with 5 inch arms weighs 106 grams with hardware, which is quite heavy for a 5 inch drone frame today, compared to a true X frame such as the RDQ 182 which only weighs 76 grams, however it is still lighter than the alien.
- The arms are not sandwiched between two plates when you buy the frame, and for the option to sandwich the arms, you need to purchase another carbon plate. However, as an owner of this frame, I have had no problems so far.
- Due to the style of the frame, this frame is not a hardcore racing frame due to the large footprint in the air. However, it is still a high performance acro quad, and used by pilots such as Nick Willard.
- At 92 pounds, the drone is expensive, and again compared to an RDQ 182 which is around 50 dollars, it is quite a large investment for a frame.
- The motors are quite exposed, as the bumpers on the end of the arms are not very large, meaning that bad crashes can be expensive.
Impluse RC Alien
- Pretty much considered the benchmark for X FPV frames, and pioneered, as most drone frames were H quads before this drone was released in August 2015.
- It has 4mm arms, making it ridiculously strong. We have seen this drone in some huge crashes with minimal damage.
- It is also not a pod racer, and contains the same amount of space as the QAV-R; so fitting larger components is also not an issue, making the build easy.
- The arms are removable as well, and so if you manage to break an arm, you do not need to replace a whole unibody.
- It has its arms sandwiched between the base plate, and a structural PDB, however the PDB has 4oz of copper, making it extremely strong, and able to handle very high current, and still keep the frame rigid, without fault.
- Soma, the designer of this frame, is a very respected designer, especially now that the Impulse rc helix has been released, and has proved itself as one of the best racing frames to date.
- The frame includes carbon files. This allows you to file down edges for a clean finish and sleak look.
- The frame with 5 inch arms weighs 144 grams, which is even heavier than the QAV-R, and 28 grams is substantial, especially when the quads of today usually have over 4kg of thrust.
- Even though the structural PDB is like a brick, if it is to break, there are only two PDB’s that fit the alien (the standard one, and the soon to be released PDB with the integrated kiss flight controller).
- The alien is only sold in Australia and the USA Rotor Riot store, so getting the frame shipped anywhere else could be extremely expensive due to the distance and customs. So, if you do manage to break a part of the frame get your wallet out!
- At 100 pounds, it is expensive to purchase, and then the postage an customs to the UK can set you back another 20 – 70 pounds, depending on the postage you select.
- It has no mounting place for 36mm board camera’s however this is not a major problem.
Overall, these frames are very similar. There pro’s and con’s overlap considerably but there are two things you need to consider. Firstly, if money is no problem, looks, the purple anodised hardware from impulse, and the red anodised hardware from rotor riot make the alien really stand out, and differentiate itself. When you look at a drone, you would instantly know it’s an alien, and noticeable pilot’s such as Mr Steele and Final Glide Aus fly this frame, who originally made it popular. However, if you are after the all black effect, the QAV-R is the option. The second, is price. The frames are both similarly priced, however, postage and customs on the alien can really set you back. If you live in Australia, I would say the alien is the obvious choice, however for everyone else, the QAV-R is a very similar frame. If you look at pilots who fly it/used to fly it: Skitzo, Freybot, and Nick Willard are no small names in the hobby, and overall, it is up to you. All in all though, remembering that these two frames only differ in minor details and you would be well off with either of these frames.