Happy Model 2.4G ExpressLRS – Range test + Review
I mean wait: no it’s, not what i meant ah screw it it’s cut to the b roll footage Music. So one of the emerging trends in fpv right now is a shift from using the 900 megahertz lora based systems like crossfire to the 2.4 gig laura systems like ghost tracer and express lrs. Now this makes perfect sense for things like racing, where the much faster packet rates make a big difference, but it’s also really good things like freestyle and also for some medium range flying out to like the 10, 20, 30 kilometer mark. Now. Obviously, if you’re doing dedicated long range and punching rf through mountains and forests, then the 900 megahertz band is still going to be what you want, but for most freestyle guys and almost all races. The 2.4 gig systems really do have a lot more going for them. Right now, they support faster packet rates, so much better stick response. They use a wider bandwidth on the spectrum, so less packet collisions at things like events or when you’re flying with others, and they use much smaller antennas so easier to mount and less likely to get chopped up in your props when you’ve got them out on your Arm now, one of the downsides of making the antenna smaller is they have become a bit more fragile and it’s, not uncommon, to see quads. Looking like this after a few hits on the track, the ghost qt antennas are a little bit better than the tracer ones.
In terms of durability, but they still do get chopped up and it’s just something you really can’t avoid when you’ve got the antennas out on the arms underneath the props, but there is a solution to this and it’s jai’s tiny little pp. No, not that pp. This pp, this is the original open source, pp, receiver, design from jai smith and one of the most interesting things about this design. Is it uses this tiny little surface mounted 2.4 gig antenna rather than having the traditional ufo connector for an external antenna, which makes it absolutely perfect for a super clean mounting in a race frame? Now, obviously, happy model have been developing a lot of express lrs compatible hardware lately, so when jai showed them his pp, they loved it and when they asked if they could use the design as part of their 2.4 gig lineup, we said yeah for sure all you Need to do is keep the name the same and, if you’re not already aware the naming of the pp receiver isn’t just so that we can throw around some light toilet humor, although that is one of the benefits of owning one. It actually stands for power pellet, which is the big white dots that you see in pac man that pac man eats to make the ghost vulnerable and i’ll. Just let you ponder on that for a second anyway, a couple weeks later happy model had a kit developed that they sent out to me for testing and i’ve been flying it both in my race quads and on the wing for range testing.
So let’s take a look at the hardware and see how it stacks up so starting off with the tx. Once again, this module comes as a separate pcb, which you need to put into the jr enclosure yourself and this time round. Happy model have supplied the plastic enclosure as part of the kit, which is something that you didn’t get with the 900 megahertz version. The pcb mounts to these two screw holes here, which does hold the board in there, but the fit is absolutely terrible, pcb rocks back and forth, even if you use the double sided tape that they supply and as you push the module into the module bay, this Pushes the pin header away from the jr pins as you insert the module, and this is going to cause in a minute disconnections. My advice is don’t use the split enclosure, otherwise you’re gon na have a bad time. There is a few nice printed versions of the enclosure that i’ve seen floating around so have a look at thingiverse or on the repo. The tx antenna is a cut down version of the 900 megahertz antenna that happy model built for the 900 megahertz module and when i say cut down i mean they literally took the inventory of antennas. They had and cut the ends off with some wire cutters. The tune on these is not too bad, considering maybe a little bit on the higher end of our center frequency, but there is a big problem with these antennas that caught me out during testing and it’s not related to the tune so i’m out here, testing the Happy model 2.
4 gig module, so let’s take a look at the sma connector yep that’s an sma, not an rp sma. Now what do most 2.4 gig antennas have on them? Yeah they have rp sma2 so that ain’t really gon na work too well. Is it so that’s something else to look out for because if you do buy any of the off the shelf 2.4 gig antennas, like the true rc moxon they’re, going to be rp, sma and it’s not going to work with this? Unless you change over your ufl to sma tail to an rp sma version, which i would suggest doing, because otherwise you’ll be stuck with the stock tx antenna, the power output looks pretty good on all power levels. Maybe a touch on the high side, but still within spec and for all the flights in this video we’ll be using the 100 milliwatts power output. Moving over to the rx’s we’ve got three different options available from happy model. The pp, which is based directly on gya’s original design, as well as two ep receivers, the ep1 and the ep2. The ep series is basically two additional versions of the pp, but with a few subtle differences. Instead of using the stm32 chip that’s on the pp, which is one of the chips that’s currently being hit hard at the moment with the global supply shortage, happy model put the esp8285 on the ep receivers, which makes them cheaper and you also get the benefit of Wi fi on these, so you can do wireless firmware updates over the air.
The ep receivers also come with either the smd antenna for short range racing or a traditional ufl version. If you want to mount an antenna on the arm like normal now, when we took a look at the very first happy model – 900 megahertz receivers, there was a few things that i pointed out that i really didn’t like and happy model have addressed pretty much. All of those problems with this new lineup of rxs and, to be honest, i’m, really digging the design of all three of these receivers – they’re, absolutely tiny at 10, mil by 10 mil they use the standard crossfire pad arrangement, so they’ll direct solder to any flight controller. That has that pad layout they use castellated pads, so you can easily remove them if you do decide to direct solder them to the fc and the ep2 and the pp receivers use the integrated smd antennas, which are absolutely perfect for racing now. Speaking of antennas, if you are buying the ep1 receiver with the ufl connector on it, i seriously recommend steering clear of the supplied antennas that come with these. It seriously feels like happy model, have basically just taken three bits of silicone wire and soldered them together. For these antennas, they’re really really flimsy so here’s. What that antenna looks like oh wait. No, that actually is three bits of wire. Sorry got mixed up there here’s the actual happy model antenna and, as you can see, these elements are seriously flexible and it’s going to bend out of shape, even with a light breeze passing over them.
So i’d recommend getting something different. If you are looking at an external antenna – and i definitely wouldn’t – recommend these for racing they’re just going to get chopped up in a second now speaking of racing let’s, take a quick look at how the smd antenna performs on the track. Now, one of the main concerns that people are going to have with these smd antennas is going to be any reduction in rf performance and, of course, when you make the antennas, this tiny there’s definitely going to be a reduction in range. So these really are just designed for racing and short range flying like micros and toothpicks, and things like that. So you can see the lq is fairly locked at 100 for the whole track, but we do see a slight dip in rssi dpm at the very back of the track here and we lose a handful of packets. But generally this is looking pretty good. This was on 100 milliwatts power output and 250 hertz packet rate, and i was using the standard 2.4 gig dipole on the tx module. Now, even though these tiny little pps aren’t designed for long range, you guys know, i can’t resist range testing them. So i stuck my little pp into the wing and you can see i’ve just got it mounted out on the foam here and then headed out to the long range spot for a fly all right, happy model 2.4 gig with special rs on 100 watts, output tower 250 hertz packet rate, with a tiny pp on the wing and an smd antenna thanks Music getting bad about to go and there it goes 3.
47 kilometers pretty much three and a half so as we expected this really isn’t designed for any kind of decent range. Obviously, you can go further with higher power, outputs and slower packet rates, but as we’ve seen with our control tests on external antennas, we can go far far further on 100 milliwatts and 250 hertz packet rate. Now, speaking of external antennas, the other thing that i want to test was to see if the ep 1 receiver, with the external antenna, can match the 33 kilometers of range that we got in the original test on 2.4 with the nano rx. So i mounted up the flimsy external antenna. You can see. I’Ve got it up out of the foam as per my other tests and then headed out to send it once again all right. Happy model 2.4 gig express lrf on 250 hertz packet rate 100 watts output tower using the et rs and a normal key antenna on the wing, thanks Music, all right, we’re out at 34 and a half kilometers with express lrs on the happy model. 2.4 gig hardware. I’M, getting pretty bad with the video signal now uh. We might start thinking about hitting return to home around the 35 kilometer mark because i’m getting a lot of just rolling static at the moment. So when we hit 35, we might just manually engage return to home. Here, Music, all right, express lrs, happy model; 2.4, gig hardware, 35 kilometers on 250 hertz, 100 milliwatts, hitting return to home manually, all right 35 kilometers that’s, a new record for the 2.
4 gig tests and that’s exactly what we want to see because it means the happy Model gear is on par with the awesome results. We’Ve been getting from the diy 2.4 gig hardware. Speaking of results, let’s wrap up with the range chart on 100 milliwatts, the express lrs nano rx made it out to 33 kilometers without fail, safe and still had decent lq and with the happy model, es24 tx on 100 milliwatts and the ep 1 rx. We made it up to 35 kilometers again with no fail, safe and good lq, with our tiny little pp and our smd antenna. We made it out to 3.5 kilometers and we did fail safe and we had a pretty consistent 20 db loss between the smd antenna and with the external antenna when we compare the dvr side by side here. So these smd antennas really are made for just close range flying now for those of you that made it all the way to the end of this video here’s, a sneak peek of the build progress on my new long range test platform. So this is the mfe believer and i’ve got it outside here, because there wasn’t any space in the workshop. That was big enough to get some decent shots of it, and i don’t know if you can gauge just how big this thing is. So we’ll put a five inch quad on top here, so you can get an idea and i’ve still got a bit of work to do with wiring all this up, and i also still got to buy myself 60 lithium ion cells for the 6s10p battery that’s.