Eachine E520S 4K GPS drone

Mixed feelings ...

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This is a review that is evoluating constantly. There are an awfull lot of aspects to learn and judge about drones. And I experienced many doubtfull aspects about this particular drone which each cause me a lot of time to tackle. If I can tackle them anyway.

What I also want to state very clearly is that I find it very typical (or actually not ...) that None of all these problems shows up in any other review I found online. There it is all (€ ?) halleluja, but the situation with my drone is way far from halleluja. I can not recommend this drone at all ! Read for yourself.

I bought the Eachine E520S GPS drone with 4K camera and three batteries in februari 2020. Since then I am (sometimes *) practicing to fly it but I experienced quite some problems, ranging from minor to critical.

 

General

Eachine ships the E520S in a dedicated box. However, they advise the wrong (old type non-gps) app at that same box. You can't see that and it takes some flights to realise that something is missing on that screen. Namely the complete gps part.

There is only a very basic manual supplied. And there is not one decent manual available anywhere. My mails to the dutch supplier and to Eachine about this were never answered.

You will not be warned if there is no memorycard in the drone. The controller beeps as usual if you hit the picture or video button. The app shows you actively that a picture is taken or that a video is recorded.

One of my propellorprotectors fits too loose and often falls of. I have secured all of them with a piece of fishingwire that I knotted to the two brackets underneath the body. That functions fine and the wires are not in conflict with the propellors since they hang down and are blown down.

You can also fold the drone with the propellorprotectors installed.

 

Pictures and recordings Eachine E520S drone. Mixed feelings ...

Eachine is actually misleading with the term 4K. They don't say 4K video, just 4K but only the pictures are 4K. The videocamera is 1080p and can not record 4K videos. Even more worse is that it runs at only 20FPS. This might be the reason I did not manage to even have one decent non-blurred video on 30 flights.

The drone is reacting to the joysticks like a dragracer (and there is no finetuning available). Which causes the camera, and so the recordings, to dive deep down everytime you move the drone.

I have a kind of "bad pixel" in the camera. However it is not a bad pixel but a small perfectly round black circle which is half filled up black while the other half is transparent and so shows the camera view. Unfortunately it is situated in the top-left so it always shows while in the evenly sky-recording.

The controller and the app use different ways to name the picture- and video-files. Per controller buttons pictures are named like PHOTO_000001.jpg and videos are named like VIDEO_000001.mp4, so consecutive. Per app-buttons pictures are named like 20200506133002.jpg and videos are named like 20200506133006.mp4, so with timestamp. The drone does not use timestamps in controllermode, despite having the GPS signal available. It also does not use the (wifi) timestamp from the phone in controllermode. This is very annoying since this hinders enormously in correct filehandling. Chronological filehandling is even impossible this way.

Besides that using the controllerbutton pictures get a consecutive number which starts with 001.jpg every time you start with an empty memorycard. That will sooner or later also cause you to loose pictures since they will get overwritten because of having the same number.

 

Pictures and videos : examples

At these pages you can judge for yourself about the qualities of several pictures :

Pictures 2020-05-03 and Videos 2020-05-3

Pictures 2020-05-10 and Videos 2020-05-10

 

Drone

The drone clearly (*) has too little mechanical power (or non-responding software) to fly stable at winds of more then +/-10kmh. Which is quite strange considering flying it at (only) speed1, so at the calmest (weakest?) motorsetting. It should be no problem to use the potential extra power (of speed2 or even speed3) to extra stabilize the drone if the software notices abnormal unstability. This powerlack limits the use since there are not that much calm days. Let alone in the hills or mountains or at the beach. The result is that your videos are spoiled.

It also happens (*) that the drone is not even able to maintain it's hight while flying forward. If you let it fly forward it ofcourse tilts a little bit and then lacks power to also survive gravity. The faster you fly it forward the more it tilts (ofcourse) but also the more it decends. This can only be stopped by stopping the movement since it then levels out again. Then it is able to regain it's height.

It looks like the processor is not able to handle (flightcontrols + camerasignal + app-wifi-stream + gps-data) all together. As soon as you let the drone fly forward, backwards, left or right the video gets blurred heavily, or it even turns full-green for some seconds. This is not related to the quality of the memorycard. Turning stationary is not a real problem (however the drone turns way to fast).

Many times the drone does not stop decending if you let loose of the joystick. Pushing the up-joystick then has no effect at all. For unknown reason it keeps decending for ie 10 or 15 meters until it hits the ground (or sometimes almost). This is a very serious problem since you might very easily loose the drone forgood then.

The camera can be tilted (manually, not by the buttons in the app) from +10 to -90 degrees. In the horizontal range the blades are in sight for about 5% of the screenwidth to the left and right. I actually like that since it brings you a real flying high idea.

The bottom of the camera housing is some 3cms free of the ground. The camera can will therefor surely be pushed fully upward if you land at ie grass. You have to check that every time or you will have to land to correct it after your next start. However you will only notice that if you stream to the app. And watch it, however you will not (want to) have your phone in the controller-bracket since it drops out constantly !. If you only use the controller you will find out too late.

The body has two supports at the rear but none at the front. And the front of the body is where you have to push down at the starting button. There are two legs at the front but they are far out underneath the motors. The body plus frontarms bent quite a bit down if you don't support them. It would have been a better construction if the two frontlegs would have been positioned at the body, ie next to the camera.

 

Flight time

The flight time is oké being 10 to 15 minutes.

The special 4-ports Eachine charger seems to not charge the (3) batteries fully. That charger seems to just stop too early, although the charger-leds and the control-led inside the batteries also show the full-status. Flighttime is oké then with something like 10 - 12 minutes.

If you charge the batteries each with a dedicated usb-charger flighttime is quite longer.

Handy aspect is that the batteries have the standard usb phone connector so you can use any regular charger and cable.

 

Controller Eachine E520S drone. Mixed feelings ...

The antennas at the controller are fake, made of plastic only and not electrically connected to whatever. How idiot does Eachine think I am ??? I removed them since I didn't want to have them in sight anymore. Just use a small pin to push out the hingepins. I have opened the controller and turned around those plastic holders inside out (after having cut off some plastic).

Eachine E520S drone. Mixed feelings ...

At the same time I have put a double piece of tape at the beeper since it wakes up everyone in the far surroundings.

Eachine E520S drone. Mixed feelings ...

The joysticks are way to sensitive and they do not offer finetuning. Especially the horizontal turning is doing way way way to fast. If you touch that joystick the resulting video makes you dizzy. But also the forward and rearward commands act like a dragracer. Which causes the drone (camera) and so the videorecording to dive down very deep. This simply means your videos are looking quite bad and hectic.

Eachine E520S drone. Mixed feelings ...

I glued rubberstrips underneath the left and right of the left joystickhandle. After testing stationary I even glued a thirth one on. By the time of writing I still have to do testflights to see whether or not this really is of help to prevent dragrace turnings.

Eachine E520S drone. Mixed feelings ...

This is the final result until now. I also turned the (real) antenna inside since I think it will then be less blocked by my hand. I have to test whether it is not interfering with the pc-board.

There is a toggle button to start and to stop the videorecording. But both the start and stop action generate the same one (1) beep. Within a minute you don't know anymore whether or not the camera is recording.

 

App, phone

Hold ! You have to start (enable) the drone by moving both joysticks of the controller down-out. The motors then start running stationary and the drone is ready for take off. However, there is no enabling command at the app. If you want to fly with (only) your phone you still always need the controller for the joysticks enabling command. End Hold ! I discovered a 1-key takeoff button at the app. Maybe this is the alternative for the enable command. I still have to test that.

Half of all times starting a recording with the controller-button the app shows "card error". It looks like this is a false error message, but there is no way you can check that while flying. Seeing the camera stream at your phone does not mean the drone is recording.

I did not yet fly the drone with the app since I am still trying to get the drone flying decently with the controller anyway. After 30 testflights.

 

Controller plus phone

A phone is clamped very badly in the controller's bracket. That bracket does have an antislip profile but the bracket is rounded over it's full length and phones are not. The phone is only clamped for some millimeters at the far ends and not at all along the long side. It flips out constantly and easily so it drops to the ground.

The phone is clamped downside of the controller which is the most worse construction. A screen should be mounted as high up as possible, so above the controller. You also want to keep an eye at the drone itself so you want minimal movement of your eyes.

 

Special functions

I did not yet test any special function, like gps parcours, follow me and orbit (360 selfie) mode. Especially the follow me function attracts me a lot. It will be very nice to see myself cycling from the higher point of view of a drone.

But I don't have enough confidence yet in my own skills nor in the drone for that. And since the video quality is rather bad anyway these functions might not bring what they promise.

 

Verdict 1 (2020-05-03)

After about 30 test- and practicingflights I still lack confidence in myself and in because of the drone. However it is already clear that the video quality is too bad. Luckily (for me) picture quality is fine.

Since one can have several reasons to fly (select) a drone I have judged the aspects separately. That way you can decide for yourself which aspects are more or are less important to you.

Results :
Pictures are oké
Controller and app are not oké
General aspects, drone, controller plus phone and videos are bad

Verdict 2 (2020-05-10)

Today I made another 3 testflights. The drone was flying more stable now, maybe due to the more constant wind. However, at first instance the drone flew up about 3 meters to then land again immediately after the start. This happened three times in a row. When descending the drone does not respond to any command. Pulling the joystick up (or down, or up and then down) had no effect at all. The drone just descended until it hit the ground. And after some attempts it then started to behave normal. Anybody any idea ???

This time I kept the drone stationary high up and had it only turn left and right. Meanwhile I was filming and taking a lot of pictures and it was all looking quite nice at the phone's screen. To later find that the pictures were oké but there was no video recorded at all. I started filming (only) twice and the app then showed a green video button. But later I saw there was just a (1) file in the "tmp" directory at the memorycard. This "tmp" directory is completely non-documented so I have no idea what it means if there is any file there. And it is actually not a file anyway since it is named "video_record_1", so it has no file-extension.

I came up with several reasons why this could have happened. My first 30 testflights had all delivered bad videos on the class10 memcard that was tested at 19Mb/sec writespeed. So I had changed the memcard for a class4 type that was tested at a 4.7Mb/sec writespeed. It is the only extra memcard I have but maybe the class10 card is not class10. That class4 card functions flawlessly in my (real) 4K-30fps actioncam. I have to change memcards again to see if I then will have recordings.

But maybe the video got corrupted when changing the battery (twice). Although I always turn off equipment before I remove anything.

So more testing needs to be done. But this non-video-recording is not bringing me more confidence.

I also have the very strong impression that the app is not at all showing the drone's real battery-status. If the drone starts to show signs it gets out of power the app shows a chargedlevel of at least 50% or even more.

The pictures were not oké either since 6 of the 21 were corrupted. The lower half of them was empty, the upper half was normal.

The cameralens has a big fisheye effect and that means the horizon is far from straight. That makes it impossible to use the pictures to create panoramapictures.

I will update this review if I have new info to share.

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