The Beta65X HD is the smallest HD FPV drone released to date. While real-time HD still isn’t ready for craft this size, BetaFPV developed their own micro HD DVR recorder and put it into a 65mm “tiny whoop”-sized frame. If you’re stuck inside and want to share your flights with friends, this may be the platform for you.
Features and Specs
F4 flight processor
- 5A ESCs
- 0802 14,000Kv motors
- BetaFPV Nano HD camera (analog broadcast with HD DVR)
- 2S input voltage
- Battery connector: 2×1S BT2.0
- 25mW SmartAudio VTx
- Internal or External receiver
- 31g dry weight
The Beta65X HD ships in a semi-rigid zippered fabric case. This is a really nice upgrade from the cardboard boxes of previous BetaFPV products. The case appears designed to hold 65mm or 75mm quads, so I think we can expect to see it used again in the future. Inside the case is the quad, two 300mAh BT2.0 batteries, and a BT2/JST-PH adapter for charging. You must supply your own radio controller, FPV setup, microSD card, and battery charging.
BetaFPV advertises that the quad is shipped with a micro screwdriver, spare props, and a spare canopy, but our review unit didn’t include them.
Just about any receiver type you might want to use can be bundled with the quad. Depending on the version you purchase, you might get an on-board or an external receiver. FrSky (US or EU) or Futaba receivers will be built in, DSMX, Flysky, or Crossfire will be external, or you can opt to forgo a receiver and supply your own.
We’re looking at the FrSky US version, which operates on the original ACCST protocol. A radio updated to ACCST 2 will not work. If you want to use ACCST 2, attach a receiver of your own.
The 65X HD uses the frame from a Meteor65. We put in only one or two flights before taking the photos for this article and the frame is already beginning to show scratches. It’s only cosmetic; the frame has proven durable on the Meteor. The Meteor65’s frame is designed for 1S, so BetaFPV includes a separate piece which fits into the battery holder and itself holds a second battery underneath. With two batteries installed the quad no longer rests on the motor mounts and instead sits on the second battery.
Mounted to the frame on an outer set of braces—instead of to the FC posts—is a new canopy design. This one is stiffer than what’s shipped with the lighter drones. The new canopy is larger in order to house an extra PCB with the camera processor and DVR board. Inside the canopy is a bracket for the camera which holds it at a fixed camera angle of 30°.
As usual with BetaFPV, the flight controller is an F4 running Betaflight. 5A ESCs sound a bit underwhelming on 2S, but this isn’t a race machine. The ESCs support DSHOT and turtle mode so the craft can flip itself if it gets into trouble.
The VTx is a fixed 25mW, though a radiated power measurement puts it at about twice that. While the VTx performs fine, I would have liked to see something that could boost upward in power. Additional range can be a big plus for cinematic shots. There’s no physical button, (and it’s buried inside the canopy anyway,) so changing video channels must be done remotely. Typically this is done via the Betaflight OSD but using a connected Configurator works also.
BetaFPV has chosen 14,000Kv motors for this craft. They deliver enough power to move the drone around easily but are not especially exciting. Speed is not really the purpose of this machine anyway. The motors are paired with Gemfan tri-blade props that have a balance of power and efficiency.
While the HD recorder supports Betaflight’s camera control features to adjust its OSD and recording settings, the 65X HD wasn’t wired up to do it. In order to take advantage of this, you would have to disassemble the quad and add a wire to the “ADC” pad and connect with with the FC. You can see directions on this from the Nano HD Camera page. I’m not sure why it wouldn’t have been done already. The HD recorder provides a voltage sensor, but it only works in 0.5V steps. The flight controller’s voltage sensor is much better.
Camera and HD Recording
The onboard camera is a 16:9 aspect ratio. The SD broadcast is underwhelming, with low contrast, poor dynamic range, and unexciting color. In low light, this just gets worse with visual artifacts and image noise in addition to worsening color, contrast, and dynamic range. In addition, the HD recorder’s OSD and the Betaflight OSD are positioned over top of one another.
The recorded HD picture is much improved over the SD performance. It produces very good color and contrast—as long as the light levels are good. In low light the contrast and dynamic range are reduced, color begins to shift, and there’s a ghosting effect with motion as one frame blends into the next. For best results, stay in areas with good light.
Light to dark transition takes about one second, which is better for cinematic footage than a typical FPV camera that might change in just a fraction.
While the unit is branded as the “BetaFPV Nano HD,” the HD recorder is likely produced by Caddx—the filenames it produces bear that moniker. The recorder has an onboard microphone, but I suspect that few videos will be produced that leave the sound on. The props and motors are noisy and make an annoying whine while in the air. Sound is not transmitted in real time.
During isolation for COVID-19, it was difficult to get a veriety of locations and weather to shoot in, but here’s a sample of lighting conditions and indoor/outdoor spaces. SD captures are from goggle DVR, so represent lesser quality than one would see in the goggle itself.
The 65X HD is built to a high standard, like much of BetaFPV’s product line for some time. The frame has proven durable on the Meteor65 and the canopy looks tough; falling about 20ft onto the grass several times wasn’t a problem at all. Gemfan is a leader in props, Caddx is a proven camera manufacturer, and BetaFPV’s electronics haven’t failed me in all the various craft of theirs that I have owned. I don’t anticipate any quality issues with the electronics or structure of this machine at all.
In a minor step backward for BetaFPV, though, the VTx antenna’s active element isn’t covered by heat shrink. I’ve seen this design fail much faster than the fully-covered antennas that BetaFPV usually employs. Put an additional piece of heat shrink over this to stiffen the connection and prevent it breaking.
If there’s one piece I do worry about a little, it’s the 2nd battery bracket. This piece is really thin and gets stressed each time you put a battery in. You can probably make a new one fairly easily if you have a 3D printer and TPU filament, but not everyone has access to that.
There was nothing unusual about the setup as compared to any other Betaflight RTF. Activating bind mode is a long press on the button, and taking a trip through the receiver and modes tabs are as straightforward as ever. Even the HD camera requires no setup; it starts recording when you power on and saves the file when you disconnect power.
You might want to adjust the Betaflight OSD; a lot of information is positioned in a way that conflicts with the HD recorder’s OSD.
Flight performance on the 65X HD is underwhelming. At over 30g it’s already a heavy craft, and two 300mAh batteries take the AUW up to almost 50g. This makes it feel somewhat sluggish and unresponsive—especially compared to the low-weight highly-tuned brushless racing whoops we’ve been looking at recently. There’s still plenty of power available, but the poor acceleration and drift prevents quick direction changes. It’s not really fair to compare it to racing machines, though, as that’s not its purpose. Flight times sit at around 4 minutes if you’re keeping things tame.
The quad’s light weight and small size makes it almost exclusively an indoor craft. Even very light wind will push this quad around easily, and the reduction in power and handling over other brushless whoops makes it a bit harder to counteract effectively. You’ll need to live where there’s almost no wind or watch the forecast carefully if you’d like to do outdoor flights.
Personally, I found the fixed 30° camera angle to be too high. It made it difficult to frame shots without gaining speed. I had to adjust the shots I was taking to how the quad flies because I couldn’t have it the other way around.
Replacement Parts for Beta65X HD
- F4 AIO 2S FC
- Meteor65 Frame
- 0802 14000KV motors
- Gemfan 31mm 3-blade props with 1.0mm shaft
- Betafpv Nano HD Camera
- Canopy for Nano HD Camera
- External receiver: DSMX | Flysky | Others
- BT2.0 300mah Batteries
With these flight and camera characteristics, the ideal shot to capture with this drone seems to be faster-moving indoor scenes. That can be pretty exciting as it allows you to share out your ‘tiny whoop’ courses and flights in HD as you zip around your space. This is the smallest HD recording platform that exists, and it allows you to fit in spaces to get shots that other drones simply can’t. On the other hand, it’s very specific to that job and you can’t expect a lot of versatility.
In raw speed it can do a pretty good job, though handling lags behind the current crop of micro quads. This isn’t a machine for racing—but it’s a great one for capturing race footage. For the small-quad enthusiast who is not into racing, the handling and speed are totally fine. It’s a great cruiser, and you get to share your flights later with friends and family in HD. For the serious cinematographer pilot, there are definitely some beautiful shots to be had and places that other larger drones could not explore.
If that sounds like a good time, you won’t be disappointed with the quality of the Beta65X HD.
If you’re interested, BetaFPV is kicking off a sale right now. Order before April 23 and use the code STAYHOME for 10% off the 65X HD or anything else!