BetaFPV has been providing us with ever more powerful quads as of late, now offering “whoop” quads that will take 4S packs. The Beta85 Pro 2 is a pivot back in the other direction, shaving weight and taking only 2S power. Weighing in just over 40g, it aims to find the sweet spot for micro freestyling.
Features, Specs, and What’s Included
- 85mm ducted frame
- 1103 11000 Kv brushless motors
- 5A/6A ESC with BLHeli_S/DShot
- Optional integrated receiver (FrSky, Futaba, DSMX, Flysky, Crossfire)
- Full Betaflight F4 FC (preflashed with Betaflight 4.0)
- Betaflight OSD
- Voltage sensing
- 25mW/200mW 48-channel VTx
- 120° micro camera
- EMAX Avan 2″ 4-bladed props
- Dry weight of 42g
- Accepts 1S or 2S through XT-30 connector
In the box is the assembled quad, alternate 25° camera mount, support card, and a 300mAh 2S battery with XT-30. Since the frame fits the box exactly, there’s no padded foam insert like some of the other BetaFPV quads. The box is nicely printed and can easily be used as a case. Like BetaFPV’s other offerings, you don’t get accessories and spare parts like a charger, manual, props or a prop switch tool.
The 85 Pro 2 shares a frame with the 85X that came before it. For the most part, this is a good thing. It’s well designed for the components placed into it. The frame isn’t especially rigid, but it keeps its shape after crashes and doesn’t break easily. Smaller drones like this one generally get pushed harder than the larger versions, so I think it’s a good choice to put emphasis on durability. The frame has the typical “battery compartment” slot underneath, but the battery that comes with it won’t fit inside. Instead, there are a few rubber bumpers which provide a small amount of grip, and a battery strap. At the back of a frame is an empty mount for an LED board. Leaving it out is likely a weight-saving measure, but you could easily order an LED board separately to add on if you wanted one.
The canopy that protects the camera and VTx is the ultra-thin version also found on the other Pro Series products. It’s an obvious choice for weight savings, but the 85 Pro 2 will stress the limits of its durability. Since you’ll be flying higher and faster, you may also subject your canopy to more punishment. Mine wasn’t up to task and cracked during a rough crash. The canopy did its job though—the camera and VTx survived the crash without any problems. A new canopy is fairly inexpensive and available in other color options.
The 1103 11000Kv motors used on the 85 Pro 2 are also a transplant, this time from the 75X 2S version. The 85 Pro 2 is about the same weight as the 75X, but there’s a different flight feel running 2″ props on the 85 vs. the 75’s 40mm. These motors appear to be well made, with curved magnets, consistent magnet spacing, and very tight air gaps. Like many of BetaFPV’s other motors, they have an open-bottom design with the bell held by a very small E-clip. Motor wiring is terminated with a connector plug that fits the FC board. The motors have a lot of open space which helps with cooling but allows dirt and debris to get inside more easily.
The 2″ EMAX Avan props are press-fit onto each motor’s 1.5mm shaft. Often, 2″ props are secured with two mounting screws, but these motors don’t have that option. Using only the shaft reduces the time and tools needed for changing props, but they are not held on as securely. On the 85 Pro 2, the props do fall off in crashes. BetaFPV recommends adding some glue to avoid this; others have good luck putting a piece of floss inside the shaft when putting the props on. Breaking props is unusual, as with most ducted craft.
Also remixed from another BetaFPV product, the F4 AIO FC is shared with other Pro series quads. We’ve talked about this one before on the 75 Pro 2 review. A quick recap: it’s a single-board F4 FC and BLheli_S ESC that supports 2S and 5A. You can use DShot’s auto-calibration, crash-flip (turtle) mode, and ESC beacon as a makeshift buzzer. It works exactly the same as any other Betaflight ESC, so you can copy in your rates and other settings to get going quickly.
Like BetaFPV’s other products, the camera is good. It provides a clear picture that’s relatively noise-free. Light level transitions happen very quickly, there’s a good neutral white balance, and latency is very low. This one has a little more contrast than some of the BetaFPV cameras that came before it, which also means less dynamic range. Shadow detail is a little tough to make out at times and it struggles in very low light, but in most cases it’s a pleasant experience and provides enough detail to fly without hassle. While not exceptional, there’s nothing to complain about.
The 85 Pro 2 comes with a fixed camera angle of 35° in a rubbery mount. This felt to me like a good match for its performance, but angle is always a personal choice. Included in the package is an alternate camera mounting bracket of 25° if you would like something a little lower. The 25° mount is a harder plastic that doesn’t flex as much, but I don’t expect most pilots will notice the difference in materials while in flight. Both mounts require the canopy to be in place or the camera may fall out.
After peeking under the hood, I was a little surprised at how the VTx was mounted. It’s really just held in place by the canopy. There’s a bit of foam on the underside of the board that provides electrical isolation from the FC board, but doesn’t hold the VTx in place. The antenna gets pushed to the side when the canopy is put on. The VTx’s linear dipole sticks straight out the back of the canopy, which is common for BetaFPV quads. Like many of the others, though, this isn’t entirely resolved. The antenna can easily slip to one side and into the prop arc. Tie the antenna between the ducts with a bit of dental floss to keep it out of the way.
It’s nice to see a switchable VTx with a 200mW mode. I didn’t test this for range, but it’s great as an option since the 85 seems to be primarily an outdoor machine. 200mW should be more than enough for most people, as if you are far away and crash it will be very hard to find. There is both a button and SmartAudio for channel changing. The button would be hard to use since it’s under a canopy that’s both structural and screwed down. If you do intend to use it, desolder the SmartAudio wire—otherwise the quad will forget its channel change when you power on and Betaflight assigns it again.
If you use the FrSky version, do not bind it right out of the box and take flight. There is still a bug with D16 mode and integrated FrSky receivers that causes them to lock up. On your first connection to BetaFlight, flip your communication method from FrSky_X to FrSky_D, and then bind in D8 mode on your radio. You’ll lose telemetry, but the lockup issue goes away. The OSD makes up for the lack of telemetry to the radio, and Betaflight 4.0’s OSD profiles allow you to change how much of the OSD is enabled while in flight.
Not much more setup is required to get in the air. You’ll need to bind the receiver, of course, which is identical to the process on the 75 Pro 2 and others that use this FC. Make sure the receiver mapping and flight modes are responding correctly, and then adjust any optional settings to your liking. There’s nothing really special about the default configuration, but I’d still recommend taking a diff before flashing a new version if you choose to go that route. If you need a refresher on either of these, check out our Betaflight configuration guide.
It’s assumed that you have a battery charger capable of charging 2S batteries over an XT-30 connector. Like the 75 Pro 2, you could power the 85 Pro 2 on two 1S batteries connected serially—but to do that on the 85 would require modding the power cable with a new connector. BetaFPV sells the dual 1S power lead that you would need to do this.
The Beta85 Pro 2 is really not in the same league as the brushed 65mm 1S quad originally associated with the “whoop” label, but the flight characteristics gave me that “indoor” feel on a larger scale. While it felt slower than the 75 Pro 2, I could hit gaps easier and more confidently on the 85. The added weight on the 85 slows its responsiveness down just a bit, but this leads to smoother movements. Acro flight is still very possible—and in some ways, actually easier to pull off.
In the 5″ space, heavier quads are often preferred for freestyle over their lightweight racing counterparts. This is because the momentum of heavier craft carries them through acrobatics more easily, allowing for a “floaty” feeling that makes freestyle flight easier. BetaFPV seems to be trying to capture this in a micro size, and it has come about as close to it as I have seen. You will still need better reflexes (and more practice) to fly acro on the 85 vs. a full-size rig simply because of the scale and total power. There’s still less space between you and the ground after a punch-out, and gravity’s a constant, so get your moves in quickly. Thankfully, the recovery time from a dive is pretty good; that’s a big difference from the 85X HD.
If you haven’t gotten in on the current trend of 2S micro quads, you’ll find there’s a lot it opens up. It’s a good size for exploring smaller outdoor spaces like city parks and playgrounds, or larger indoor spaces such as building lobbies or event halls. Since the 85 Pro 2 is fully ducted, it’s unassuming and pretty safe to fly near people. Reversed “props-out” configuration gives the platform a lot of stability even during hard maneuvers, and I didn’t experience any washouts. Compared to contemporary 2S micros like the 75 Pro 2, Trashcan, and Mobula7, the 85 Pro 2 has less sharply responsive handling, but a smoother, more casual feel that’s more suitable for cruising.
Repairs and Upgrades
One nice thing about BetaFPV is that they offer nearly all of their parts independently. Parts for repairs are easy to find, and you can buy only the parts that interest you and mix them with other manufacturers’ parts if you prefer. Almost all of the parts that make up the Beta85 Pro 2 are available separately.
- 85mm Brushless Frame
- F4 2S Brushed FC/ESC
- 1103 11000Kv Brushless Motors
- EMAX Avan 2″ 4-blade Props
- Z02 AIO Camera/VTx
- 300mAh 2S Battery
The Beta85 Pro 2 is a new approach to the 2S micro formula which optimizes for weight. This provides a smoother flight experience that’s easier to control and easier on battery life as well. With an F4 2S AIO FC and 1103 11000Kv motors lifting only 42g plus battery, you have plenty of power to use in both indoor and outdoor spaces, such as a small scale acro playground. The weight savings also provides a handling advantage on the race course vs. other 85mm quads, making it easier to hit gates.
The 85 Pro 2 shares a lot of the DNA from the earlier 75 Pro 2. This isn’t a bad thing, as the 75 is a very fun and capable micro quad. To pick between them is really a question of which flight feel you want. The 75 has the “locked-in” turn-on-a-dime handling that racers love. The 85 pivots to a floaty, smooth handling that freestylers often prefer. It’s a fun, enjoyable flight for sure. While I wouldn’t put an absolute beginner on it, it’s a great choice for someone with some experience who is looking for a solid 2S quad. There are many incremental changes but nothing overwhelmingly new—instead of innovation, the 85 Pro 2 provides refinement. It’s always nice to have an option that simply works well.