The X-Racer F303 is a fully capable FC from fpvmodel, a company mainly known for selling fixed wing FPV Planes. However they are now well known for their good customer service, (for a China based company) as well as their miniquad products, such as the ZMR X.
First the Specs:
- Built in high capacity black box featuring 16mb flash memory. This will allow you to store an entire days worth of flights while you are out in the field burning through multiple batteries and flights. Next generation F3 processor for efficient flight calculations and those lower loop time you’ve been reading about.
- The size of the flight controller follows the form thats so typical in all the others allowing you to mount to the majority of the frames out on the market without the need of changing mounting holes on most base plates.
- 8 PWM I/0 lines for ESCs and added options you may choose.
- Supports Sbus, SumH, SumD, Xbus, PPM, PWM recievers but has a recommended and weight saving direct connection specifically for Sbus, which is our recommended connection for flight control.
- Buzzer port for audible lost model location.
- Convienent pin outs for easy, reliable soldering.
- Only available in Acro style, no barometer or magnetometer.
What we think are the most important specs to note:
- A 16Mbit Flash memory (unlike they claim this can not record “an entire days worth of flights”)
- I2C Gyro Bus- Not as good as SPI
- MPU 6050 – Not susceptible to noise, the 6500 is.
- Can do BLHeli passthrough
- Pins throughout! No more fiddly JSTs!
The flight controller was well packaged in an anti-static bag with all necessary vertical pins included (but no right angle ones). The shipping from FPVModel was very quick and we received our FC in 4 days from date of order!!! (fastest we’ve ever something arrive from China on standard shipping.) Unfortunately it did not include the necessary standoffs but this isn’t a large issue in our opinion.
Flashing the board was easy, heres a guide on how to do it.
- Download the CP2010x drivers (you will already have done this if you have flashed/used a Naze)
- Download the CleanFlight Configurator.
- Hold the boot button while connecting the USB cable from the FC to the Computer. A blue led should light constantly on the FC.
- Open Cleanflight configurator and proceed to the firmware flash.
- Select the “spracing” hex from the drop down menu and click flash!
The setup was typical of any clean/betaflight flight controller, it was as simple as the classic Naze Rev5. We used Betaflight 2.7.1 in our review, in light of the issue some users were having with 2.8.1. In order to unlock the 4KHz looptime all we needed to do was “set looptime=250” and “set pid_denom_process = 1” and we were good to go! The boot button was a nice addition, but most flight controllers have it nowadays.
There is not much to say regarding flight performance, as it was typical of any F3 flight controller. The lower looptimes certainly help tame the propwash oscillations, nevertheless they were still present, but in the minority and not did not present a huge issue. We hope to see F4 chips in the future become more popular as they are the only flight controllers really that can achieve the 16KHz and 32KHz looptimes. The Blackbox was also very easy to use, but downloading the files took forever. Analysing the files was actually quite interesting and it really does help push that 95% complete tune to 100%, if you are willing to learn how to properly use it.
The X-Racer is clearly a very well thought out flight controller and it is hard to fault it. The build and setup is as easy as can be, and its flight performance is that of an F3 chip! The biggest flaw we find is the I2c gyro, which really does limit you. Even the CC3D can do 8KHz! However we look forward to the latest V3 of the X-Racer, which has the SPI Interface. One other point we have to add is that we would like to see a SD Card slot instead of the inbuilt flash, which would be connected through SPI not a UART. Enabling the high sampling rate that the flash chip has, but the storage space of an SD Card. We do realise that this is a rather niche use case, but it would be nice to have.
The best F3 flight controller on the market, the upgraded SPI Gyro will push it up to a 9 presuming there are no issues with its performance.