The Eachine Wizard X220 is an inexpensive starter race quad that has been getting a lot of attention recently. We were provided one from our friends at Banggood to see what it was all about. Does it live up to the hype? Here’s what we found after flying, crashing, tearing down, and taking it to the races.
Two versions are available, RTF (ready to fly) and ARF (almost ready to fly). RTF kits contain everything needed to start from scratch and ARF kits are for those who already have other models and an existing radio system. This review was done with the ARF version.
- 220mm Frame
- 4× MN2205 2300Kv motors
- 4× 20A BLHeli_S ESCs
- Matek v2.1 5/12V power distribution board (PDB)
- SPRacingF3 flight controller
- CMOS flight camera
- TS5823 48ch video transmitter
- Aluminum and nylon standoffs, screws, and nuts
- 4× LED boards underside frame arms
- A short dipole antenna
- 2 pairs of prop nuts (2 CW, 2 CCW)
- 10 pairs purple 5×4×3 propellers
- A small bag of zip-ties
- Two carbon fiber prop wrenches
- 4× foam bumpers
- About a dozen spare screws
Frame arms are a thick 4mm carbon laminate in an “X” configuration, all attaching at the center. The top plate is 1.5mm, and the “bottom” plate (under the electronics) is 2mm. The arms are held in place by another 1.5mm plate underneath. Four thin (1mm and 1.5mm) side plates are included with cutouts for the camera mount, wires for electronics on the arms, and the USB port for programming. These vertical side plates fit into slots in the horizontal plates, which screw into the standoffs. Each time you undo the screws, you need to re-fit these plates into the slots.
Power and Flight Controller
The 2205 motors provide a good amount of power, and thread in both CW and CCW directions. This self-tightening configuration means you should have fewer problems needing to check for loose nuts before you fly, and will lose props and prop nuts less often in a crash—but lost CCW prop nuts aren’t available at any local hardware store. We definitely wish an extra set were included. Pick up some reverse-threaded nuts to have on hand in case you do lose one. The ESCs should match well with the included motors and props, but a 20A rating might not be enough if you choose to run 4S with more aggressive propellers. They’re running BLHeli_S firmware.
A very capable F3-based flight controller which identifies as an SPRacing F3 sits right at the center of mass (before adding a battery). At this price, it’s almost certainly a clone, but is a very capable board nonetheless—we recommended it in our “How to Build” series. Ours came with Betaflight 3.0.1 installed. The Matek PDB has 5V and 12V regulators and a convenient layout.
The camera contains a 700TVL CMOS sensor and outputs PAL video only. It sits in an adjustable angle mount that rotates from down-tilt to about 50º upward—more than enough most pilots. This will likely need tightening, which is done with a standard #1 Philips screwdriver. The mount is a set of bare screws into the plastic camera housing through a hole in the carbon side plates. These plates have a fixed width that matches an HS1177. Cutouts on the upper and lower plates provide additional mounting options. The Video transmitter is a fixed 200mW, and has an RP-SMA connector. Some early Wizard reviews show a right-angle adapter attached to the VTx; on ours the right-angle bend was part of the connector soldered onto the board.
Included foam arm bumpers are probably useless out in the field, and provide only limited cushion and protection on flat surfaces—but they’re low weight and might prevent scratches if you place the quad on a table. They are extremely simple to install; peel the adhesive backing and stick.
Eachine includes two carbon fiber wrenches which are very small and lightweight. They seem ideal for tossing into any bag—but I avoid them altogether. I got black marks on my fingers when I touched them because the edges aren’t sealed. A quick internet search shows how wary people are of ingesting carbon dust. You could apply a sealant, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort or risk. Buy a separate prop wrench. A steel M8 wrench from any hardware store is less than $3, easier to use, and usually lifetime-guaranteed.
An M2 hex driver is not included but will be absolutely necessary for any repair, adjustment, or upkeep. Nearly all of the screws used throughout the build are of this type. One should have been included as every owner will need one right away, even before flying. At best, though, this will only get you through a few months—if you’re both gentle and lucky. If you want to stay in the hobby any length of time, eventually you’re going to need more tools.
There are two red and two green LED pads which can help with orientation when flying line of sight. There appears to be variation in where each color is placed: some units split red/green on the left and right, others (including ours) split front to back.
Our Wizard wasn’t airworthy right out of the box. In addition to installing the receiver, I had to make some important changes before plugging in a battery.
Fix the Video Transmitter Connector
An essential modification is needed to how the video transmitter is attached to the frame. At first glance, it looks fine; many people may not even notice a problem here. Unfortunately, there’s a very serious issue that is hiding within. The center pin of the VTx connector must go into the matching hole in the antenna, but the rubber grommet on the frame prevents the two connectors from mating completely. This is the same as not having an antenna attached. When running, instead of turning to signal, much of the power will be converted to heat inside the transmitter—which will eventually burn itself out. We’ve seen a lot of reports of the VTx failing, and wonder if this is the true source of the problem. To fix it, you need to get the antenna screwed on all the way. I removed some of the rubber from the bottom of the grommet so the VTx could sit flush on the underside of the top plate. This lets the connector push through all the way and exposes all of the threads so the antenna screws on completely. Do this modification before you ever connect a battery for the first time!
Secure Frame Screws
After the first day of testing, two of the screws from the bottom plate had fallen out somewhere in flight and were missing. On future flights the Wizard lost top plate screws, and even a motor screw came out once. This should not happen. A bag of spare screws is included, but that won’t help you if something goes wrong mid-flight. Take out each screw and apply a thread locker like Blue Loctite.
Cut Away Shrink Wrap
If you intend to fly with other people, you’ll need to be able to change channels. The video transmitter is completely encased in shrink wrap, so use a hobby knife to cut away access to the jumper block.
Flash to the Latest Stable Betaflight
Shortly after the quad was set up, it stopped responding to any receiver. We never figured out why, but flashing to the newest stable version of Betaflight fixed the problem. We recommend you update before you fly, too. Updating gives you all the most recent bug fixes and performance improvements, and also provides access to the latest features. Joshua Bardwell covers the process in his Wizard X220 configuration video (flashing starts at 25m in). Unlike Joshua, we didn’t have to short the boot pins to flash. We followed the process outlined in the SPRacing F3 manual: Disconnect everything from the FC except the USB cable and turn off all the options in the flasher. Then, set Manual Baud Rate to 256000. Load online, and flash. If this doesn’t work, you can rewind his video to 21:56 and follow the longer process Joshua uses for DFU/Bootloader mode. After flashing, check out our Betaflight Configuration Guide or start Joshua’s video over from the beginning.
Enabling DSHOT allows you to skip some of the more confusing configuration steps while offering very fast communication rate for your ESCs. It’s reported that the X220 works best on DSHOT150 and there are some issues at the higher rates. Learn more about DShot and why we recommend it in our DShot guide.
Install Your Receiver
With the ARF version, a receiver for your radio control must be installed. The SPRacing F3 board supports PWM, PPM, and serial bus (SBUS, iBus, etc) communication. The cable that comes with the quad is only good for PPM or serial—if you only have an older PWM receiver, you’ll need to find an 8-pin JST-SH cable that’s broken out with more wires for the additional channels. For PPM, use the included cable and leave it attached to the 8-pin port toward the front of the quad. To use a serial bus, remove the cable from this port and plug it into the other 8-pin port toward the rear. Don’t forget to change the settings to look for a serial receiver.
Thick 4mm frame arms should withstand all but the very worst crashes. Instead, a common place for the Wizard to break is just in front and just behind of where the frame arms attach. This may happen because pressure on the top plate is directly transferred to the bottom plate through the standoffs, and the lower plate then cracks where the arms prevent it from flexing. Because of this, it appears that the side plates have a structural role in improving the frame’s rigidity. Removing these for weight reduction is likely to reduce the frame’s durability. The plates also have a tendency to pop out of their slots in a crash. Sometimes you can snap them back into place, but other times it takes unscrewing the frame to set them right again.
The frame design of the Wizard does a good job of protecting the mounted components. Motors have protective shields mounted around them. The camera is recessed so it won’t take a hit even in a head-on crash with a pole. The FC and PDB are completely walled in, and the ESCs are mounted above the arms; you’d basically have to break carbon before any of these could take a direct hit. The VTx might sustain damage, though. It is mounted in a way that pressure to the antenna will stress the connector on the VTx board. This can cause the connector to break off the VTx board completely and make for a difficult repair job. It’s also possible that a bad crash will break the frame around the antenna mount because the carbon here is thin.
The props included in the package are semi-durable plastic (probably ABS) which bends and folds in a light crash, typical of inexpensive props. Sometimes you can bend them back into shape rather than replace them, but it’s only a matter of time until they break. There are lots of upgrade options when you buy more, including more durability and higher thrust—but beware drawing too much current with more aggressive props and burning out the ESCs. The motor shafts are a generous length and a standard 5mm width, so they will accept almost any 5″ props on the market. Props are a bit difficult to put on and take off because the motor shield makes it hard to get a good grip. Some owners 3D print motor holder tools to help with this.
Overall, the parts and assembly are good. Motors spun freely, frame edges were smooth, soldering looked good, and the electronics were in good working order.
The arms are separate pieces and individually replaceable, so you can swap arms without buying a new frame. Removing an arm requires quite a bit of disassembly, including pulling off the FC/PDB stack. It will be a challenge to do this repair quickly if time is short between race heats—but it’s actually more likely that your bottom plate will break than an arm, requiring a full teardown.
The LEDs at the base of the arms might eventually prove to be a liability. There are exposed solder pads here that could short together. The LEDs are connected to 5V, so the regulator may or may not limit the damage that can happen with a short depending on how it fails. Unless power to these boards are cut off entirely, it’s recommended to protect the area from shorting. Check them periodically to make sure nothing has scratched the boards and exposed additional area.
I dumped the X220 into some very wet grass during a practice lap on race day and had no issues. The ESCs are wrapped past the solder connections and the side plates protect the FC and PDB from shorting. More than one other pilot with less protection did not fare as well after a trip into the same grass.
The included CMOS camera was a disappointment. The color was poor, it had low dynamic range, and the auto white balance was too aggressive. It wasn’t great at resolving fine details, and there was no interface for making changes to settings. It’s perfectly usable for casual flight in good lighting conditions, but as soon as conditions become more demanding many owners will be looking for a replacement.
The dipole antenna is rubberized and smaller than many base-level antennas. This might give it a slight edge in durability over the typical plastic stick, but doesn’t change its below-average performance. If you sit next to a chain-link fence, this antenna won’t help with multipathing and you will get interference even inside 200ft. Get out into the open and keep line-of-sight, though, and you will have a clear picture to 1000ft (the maximum our test field permitted) and probably a usable picture much further. At that distance, though, the signal drops off almost instantly if you lose line of sight. (I had a long walk when I ran this test.) We recommend switching to a circularly polarized antenna to avoid many of the problems these cheap antennas have.
No printed manual was included. We know a manual exists because we’ve seen other reviews with a printed manual pictured. It’s possible that it fell out of the badly damaged box somewhere in transit, but we think it’s more likely that the manual is only distributed with the RTF version. There’s no download found on Eachine’s website, either. Most importantly, Eachine did not include a frequency table or dip switch guide to choose channels on the VTx. I made an attempt to locate this information, but the best I found was still not completely correct. It would take snooping with an RF scanner to be sure the band and channel were set correctly on our unit. We don’t recommend flying with other people without knowing what band and channel you are on—and most race organizers rightfully won’t allow it at an event.
There may be setup and build issues, but make no mistake: it flies exceptionally well. I was very happy with the flight performance even on default Betaflight 3.1 settings. It was controlled, responsive, and stable—even during the gusts of moderate wind that we had—and no tuning was required to get it there. There were no stutters during acrobatics or oscillations on hard turns. Low-altitude maneuvers can be performed with confidence and it’s quite capable of freestyle acro flight. The only oscillation easily heard and felt was during a heavier wind gust. For such an inexpensive entry-level kit, this is impressive.
The Wizard accepts 3S or 4S batteries. 3S offers more precision and tighter handling; 4S offers speed and much lengthened hang times desired in freestyle flight. Which you use comes down to preference—the X220 doesn’t appear to prefer one or the other. The flight characteristics on 3S and 4S were very similar and didn’t need individual tuning of settings for each type. Pilots can definitely move back and forth between one type and the other while out at the field.
At the Races
After replacing the camera and VTx, I entered our Wizard in a local race event. Before racing, I also added a race timing transponder, a circularly polarized antenna, and an HD camera and camera mount. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t entirely cooperative on race day. I was able to get in a few practice laps and one race heat before the event was called off for rain. Though I did not have a lot of time in the air and barely began to learn the course, I still learned a lot about the Wizard.
There is no doubt, this kit makes a superbly competitive racer at the local level. The various components are all very strong—not top-of-the line, but for further upgrades to make a difference in lap times a pilot may need to be fairly advanced. The performance seems to meet that of early 2016’s top-shelf equipment. Being able to easily switch between 3S and 4S allows the Wizard to be a multi-class competitor, and the performance is great on both.
In the short time that heats were running, I posted the 2nd fastest lap recorded. What’s impressive about it was the condition of the equipment it was flown with. Off the start block, I collided with the gate (caused by wind and pilot error). I trashed the gate for that heat but then came back around and flew the race as if nothing had gone wrong. Only after completing my laps and landing did I see that the collision had severely bent my front right prop. Take a look at the photo above, then watch the race footage. You can hear the difference immediately after the collision, but you have to be paying very close attention to make out any differences in handling or see oscillations in flight. I had no idea it was bent so badly. That’s a strong testament to the Wizard’s components, the F3 flight controller, and the Betaflight 3.1 software.
Modifications and Upgrades
Another feature that elevates this kit is how easily it lends itself to modification and upgrades. Many ARF/RTF kits use parts designed specifically for the product, but here Eachine has instead used parts with a standard form factor throughout. If you want or need to replace something, you can buy Eachine Wizard parts—or choose from nearly any standalone component. This includes the FC, motors, ESCs, camera, VTx, and even the frame itself. The Wizard is not just a starter quad, but a platform upon which you can build. It can be transformed, piece by piece, into your ideal purebred freestyle or racing machine.
If you like making modifications, there is some low-hanging fruit right out of the box. The hardware already supports battery monitoring and telemetry, and only need hooked together. We’ll be covering these and other modifications and upgrades in additional articles soon.
If you want a low-effort machine to quickly get up and fly with, the Eachine Wizard X220 is probably not for you. Despite the frame being pre-assembled with all necessary parts included, work is needed on software and configuration updates, and the VTx connection absolutely must be addressed. The camera is usable but ultimately a poor match, and the lack of documentation for the VTx means the quad isn’t even admissible to most organized race events as-is. We wish Eachine had included spare prop nuts, and an M2 hex key would also be welcome for a starter quad.
However, the X220 gets things right where it counts most. Most of its failings are easily remedied with some basic modifications and inexpensive upgrades. The flight characteristics and performance are already very impressive, and there is a nearly unrestricted number of upgrade paths. For the price, it’s hard to find a better collection of parts—and that’s perhaps the best way to think of the Wizard; a collection of parts that happen to be pre-assembled. This hobby demands tinkering, learning, understanding, and growing. If you don’t shy away from those things, the Eachine Wizard X220 is an exceptional starter platform on which to begin—and can grow with you for a long time.
The two Eachine Wizard X220 kits:
Replacement parts are also available:
- Frame Arm
- Frame Top Plate
- Frame Bottom Plate
- Frame Side Plates
- Motor Protectors
- LED boards
- MN2205 Motors
- VTx Antenna
- 5040×3 Propellers
- Prop Nuts
One Step Further
Since we received the Wizard X220 for review, an upgraded version has been released: The Wizard X220S. Several of our criticisms appear to have been addressed: The X220S has a CCD camera, a circularly polarized antenna, and an SMA pigtail that won’t stress the VTx connection during a crash, and 30A ESCs that should accept more aggressive props. It’s available in both ARF and RTF versions.