Storm Racing Drone SRD280
With its sexy curves, customisable canopy and packed with features under the hood, this FPV Racing quad is as much fun as it is a futuristic work of art. By Technical Editor Andy Willmott.
Most FPV racing quads display personality with some coloured props and LED lights, but generally the builds are focused on business and many look much the same. The manufacturer Storm has come up with a unique futuristic looking frame that is both practical, and sports sexy curvy panels that are crying out to be personalised.
With its sexy curves and customisable canopy, the Storm SRD280 is as much fun as it is a futuristic work of art. Andy Willmott put a military version through its paces.
Most FPV racing quads display personality with some coloured props and LED lights, but generally the builds are focused on business and look much the same. Storm has come up with a unique futuristic-looking frame that is both practical and cool, sporting sexy curvy panels that are crying out to be personalised.
Ready to Race
There really is very little to do to get up and flying with the RTF package, as you would hope. The distributor, Helipal, does quality control checks, tests and calibrations on every single unit before shipping. I literally just charged a battery (charger included), screwed on the props and it flew great, quite literally out of the box. The only thing the RTF kit doesn't have is a set of goggles or monitor. However the choice of goggles is quite individual and anyone who has flown FPV before will already have a set. It's the norm not to include this item. I had a set of cheap Quanum DIY FPV goggles from HobbyKing which took less than a minute to tune, as the Quad comes with an already configured video transmitter, and I was ready to race.
Under the Hood
The unique canopy on the SRD280 lifts to reveal the Flight Controller and internals for easy maintenance. It's cool and practical.
Flight Controller and Flight Modes
Storm has used one of my fav flight controllers, the CC3D running LibrePilot. They have optimised all the flight parameters for the SRD280 and created 6 tuned, tested and pre-loaded flight modes to cater for various flying styles and pilots of all levels.
The SRD280 comes with a Foxeer 700TVL CMOS camera giving you 90 degrees field of view with an adjustable tilt. Combined with Storm's 5.8GHz 600mw video transmitter and mushroom antenna, I had no issues with video quality and no sign of jello (distortion from vibrations transmitted through the frame).
The camera itself is protected neatly out of harm's way inside the nose of the canopy. Should you want to add your own camera such as a Mobius ActionCam for recording your flights, there is a mounting panel on the roof.
Storm has engineered its own unique 2300kv/2204 motors, which have special vents that drive air through the coils to cool them. You are going to be pushing these motors to their limits to beat your mates, so keeping them cool is important.
The bigger bearings also increase overall performance and ensure they can handle larger or increased pitch props. The ESCs (Electronic Speed Controllers) are rated to 30A and can handle up to 4S batteries. Standard props on the SRD280 are HQ 6 inch x 3.5S. You get pretty awesome performance out of them but you can certainly swap them out for some higher pitch, stiffer props and increase the responsiveness and punch.
The SRD280 V3 ships with a Radiolink AT9 which is a really nice 9 channel transmitter. The sticks are smooth and springy. It feels nice to hold and all the switches are pre-configured and even labeled from Helipal if you get the RTF version. It comes with an 8 x AA battery holder, but it's easier and cheaper to run it off a small Lipo or LIFE battery, accepting from 2-4S.
It's inevitable you are going to crash as you dodge trees. When you lift your goggles you're going to wonder where the hell it went down. Fortunately a flick of the switch on the transmitter will start the drone beeping until you find it. The buzzer also functions as a low battery alarm.
Make It Your Own
The SRD280 is uniquely customisable. You start with choosing a colour for the panels with 6 to choose from, plus a limited edition military spec one like we got. They supply you with a couple of sheets of decals, for you to add as you wish. Or you can get creative and add your own decals or paint however you like. The panels are big enough to let you be quite creative.
There are banks of LED lights forward and rear facing with convenient little dip switches alongside them to change to various colour options.
Start Your Engines
So, how does she fly? Like a bat out of hell.
I started on the beginner modes to get a feel for it, and gingerly increased speed and angles of attack as I went through the other flight modes. She can certainly get up and boogie, and no problems manoeuvering around obstacles at high speed.
I didn't get a chance to race against another drone, so I can't tell you if it will beat a QAV250 out of the blocks, but as FPV racing is more about piloting skills than straight line performance, I have no doubt you'll be taking some checkered flags with this quad once you get comfortable with it.
Beginner Mode: is slower and less aggressive, providing a no-stress flying experience that’s perfect for the beginner or casual flying. Has auto leveling.
Sport Mode: is faster, offering the best performance for racing. Has auto leveling.
Freestyle Mode: impress your friends. In this mode you can execute manoeuvres from rolls to loop-the-loops. Basically like a RATTITUDE mode. Has auto leveling.
Beginner Mode: contains a slow auto-leveling, but gives more control to the pilot. Allows you to start flying more aggressively. Has auto leveling.
Sport Mode: FPV Race mode with no auto leveling.
Freestyle Mode: the ultimate mode for adrenaline junkies - the best performance mode for aerobatics. No auto leveling, full manual, full power.
Built, tested and tuned Ready To Fly (RTF)
Various flight modes from beginner to FPV Pro
Model: Storm Racing Drone SRD280 V3
Type: RTF FPV Racing Quadcopter
Width/length: 230mm x 245mm
Radio control type: 2.4Ghz supplier transmitter
Flight controller: CC3D EVO
Battery: 3S-4S LIPO
Operating range: 1-2km
Flight time: depends how hard you go
Price: $677 (RTF version, no goggles)
With 6 flight modes you can switch between various performance and handling profiles. On the full ACRO/SPORT mode it is excellent. Your mates will find it hard to catch you.
With any FPV quad flight time will vary depending on your flying style. But you will get something between 4-7 minutes generally.
I would have bought one of these purely on its looks, I mean just look at it! I was pleasantly surprised though to find it had all high end components and refined tuning to make it a buzz to fly. With so many FPV quads out there looking so much the same, you will certainly be the one to watch when you rock up to your next race meet with an SRD280. Get in quick and there may even be some limited edition military spec ones left!
(This review first appeared in Drone Magazine Issue 3, December 2015)