The Holybro Kopis 1 is a pre-built racing quad requiring minimal setup to get in the air. It’s a mid-range option offering a mix of quality, durability, and performance. The Kopis 1 is available with or without a FrSky receiver; we’re looking at the version with receiver included. We were provided this sample to review by Gearbest.
The Kopis 1 has a pretty full feature set. Check out the manufacturer supplied specs:
Features and Specs
- 5mm full 3K carbon fiber twill with counter-sunk screws
- KakuteF4 FC with soft-mounted gyro
- 32kHz-compatible high-speed gyro
- 128 Mbit Dataflash chip for Blackbox logging*
- Betaflight OSD
- BLHeli_32 ESCs 30A (DSHOT1200 compatible) supporting 2~6S LiPo*
- Atlatl video transmitter: 5.8 GHz, 40 channel, adjustable power, MMCX connector, remote (OSD) control
- Programmable LED/buzzer board
- RunCam Swift Mini camera
- Adjustable camera tilt from 0° to 90°*
- Supports serial receivers (SBUS, iBUS, Spektrum)
- 300g dry weight (without battery)
- Kopis 1 racing drone
- 5.8 GHz FPV antenna
- 8× 5045 tri-blade propeller
- 1× Battery strap (installed)
- 1× Gopro4 stand
It’s a solid list of specs, though I found some of the description to be inaccurate. I marked those items with an asterisk and I’ve gone into details on each one throughout the review. Thankfully, none of the inconsistencies are show-stopping.
The Kopis 1 is built on a unibody frame in a stretched-X configuration. Motor-to-motor, diagonally, it measures about 220mm and accepts 5″ props. The electronics bay in the center is very compact without much unused space. It’s similar in style to the FLOSS 2, except that the battery mounts underneath the Kopis. Holybro decided to chamfer the frame’s edges. This is great, as it makes it less likely to delaminate and reduces stress on wires where they route around the edges. The unibody construction means you’re unable to replace broken arms without changing out the whole frame—but super thick 5mm carbon ensures that’s not likely to be a problem. You also get a chamfered 2mm top plate (which should also prove more durable than 1.5mm on other frames) and a 1.5mm skid plate (not chamfered) that the 20mm battery strap slots through. It’s held together with knurled pink standoffs at just the right height for the components included, and counter-sunk screws which keep the surface flat. A few slots in the main plates hold the camera mount and LED/buzzer board in place.
Counter-sinking screws gives a smooth appearance and fewer bumps that your battery might scrape across, but reduces a frame’s strength somewhat. In most places on the Kopis this shouldn’t be a problem as there’s still a good amount of carbon surrounding each screw hole. On the top plate it gets a bit thin near the sides, but this plate is unlikely to take a direct hit in a crash. I’d only expect an issue there if an HD camera is mounted on it.
There’s a lot to like about the frame, but it has a few minor issues. I’m concerned at how the motor wires are routed. The motors are mounted backwards; the wires run outward, through a hole in the outside edge of the arm, and around underneath the motor. This should increase the arm strength vs. having a hole in the arm between the frame and motor, but puts the motor wires close to the edge of the frame and exposes them on the bottom side. A collision in the wrong place could sever a wire. The camera mount might allow you to increase all the way to 90° tilt, but somewhere around 60° the camera wiring collides with other components inside the frame. You could probably pull it up further if you opened it up and re-routed the wiring inside.
The Kopis’ 5mm arms should be very strong and the frame has no visible weak points. The width of the arms is about 13.5mm at the thinnest point. This sits comfortably between the 20+mm used in “high durability” acro frames and the ultra-light frames which often measure less than 9mm. It should give the Kopis a good balance between strength and weight. The arms blend into to the main body with a rounded join, which improves durability over a sharp edge that would concentrate stress. The arms each have an inward curve to them. Structurally, I’m not sure this does anything useful, but it’s perhaps meant to be evocative of an actual Kopis blade. It’s a nice thematic touch, but probably lost on most.
Because the bottom plate is unibody, the frame designers had to decide which direction to orient the carbon. It’s strongest along its weave, which runs front-to-back on this plate. This has the unfortunate side effect the placing the weave at 45 degrees against the arm at its thinnest point. Ultimately, this is the exact point where we finally saw the frame fail in a hard crash.
Even though the battery is bottom-mounted, you still need to take care to protect your battery leads while you fly. They can easily hang out and bobble around. On one of my first flights, I smashed the balance lead during a landing and had to re-pin it into a new JST-XH connector. Be sure to tuck it away. Your XT-60 lead also needs tucked in, otherwise it might come loose and end up in a prop with a crash.
Under the hood is a Kakute F4 AIO. This is the original board, not the newly released V2, but that doesn’t matter too much for this application. (The V2’s primary features are additional UARTs and a barometer.) The Kakute board isn’t soft-mounted and doesn’t need to be because the gyro is independently soft-mounted on top of the main controller. Blackbox shows this to be an effective approach with extremely smooth traces on all three gyro logs. The Kakute’s ICM20689 6-axis gyro can run at 32kHz, though the craft is set up at 8k/8k by default. It’s nice to see all the peripherals wired in and ready to go: VBAT, current sensing, Smartport telemetry, addressable LEDs, buzzer, and even remote control of the VTx. All are set up exactly the way they should be and work right out of the box.
The advertised 128MB of flash space is a generous amount that should allow you to worry less about how often you use it—except that I was surprised to find Betaflight telling me that only 16MB is available. I don’t know what happened to the other 112MB, but it means I can’t just leave Blackbox on full-time and will need to be selective about when I run it. Another surprise was when I enabled 32kHz sampling and looptime: the CPU usage rocketed to 100% even with almost all other board features disabled. This is not a safe value to fly on, as it means the chip can’t process all of the data it’s getting before having to read the next packet. As it turns out, you actually have to overclock the CPU to effectively run 32k. Since good filtering hasn’t landed in Betaflight yet, most users should just stick to 8k.
The ESCs are attached to the underside of the arms with plastic heat shrink similar to what’s used as a tamper seal for food products. Despite covering the entire ESC, it won’t offer much protection from water damage because the ends are left open. Mounting the ESCs under the arms protects them from a prop strike in a crash, but makes them more vulnerable to being landed on. I’ve never had a prop strike the ESC on my other quads and it seems unlikely that the Kopis’ stiff props would have done so without a motor breaking first. To reduce damage by landing on an ESC, there’s a plastic barrier inside the heat shrink as well. I’m not sure it provides a lot of protection.
Holybro chose to fit the Kopis with T-motor Air 40 2450KV motors. While not from the extreme powerhouse end of the spectrum, these 2205-sized motors are still solid! They are, instead, Tiger Motor’s lightweight offering and should generate 1.1kg of thrust. Using a brand name like T-motor should give pilots confidence in the quality of their construction (windings, bearings, etc.). Though top-end thrust definitely suffers compared to their larger arc-magnet-equipped brothers, these are said to have better acceleration, especially on lightweight quads. Converting rotation into thrust are 5045 triblade props. This somewhat aggressive pitch gives the Kopis a firm grip on the air and makes for great cornering. The 5045 will go through a battery faster than many other props, but isn’t nearly as bad as the likes of RaceKraft 5051s. The combination of a mid-range motor with a grippy prop might actually give the Kopis an advantage on tighter courses at the cost of top-end speed. All four motors have conventional threads, so replacement prop nuts should be easy to source locally if you manage to lose one.
The ESCs are rated for 2–6S, which is what’s published on the Kopis’ spec list. This goes for the rest of the electronics, too. However, the T-motor Airs are only rated for 3–4S. This means the Kopis is capable of 5S, but you should expect to replace the motors first. On the other end, operating at 2S is likely to place considerable stress on a battery. We recommend only running 3S or 4S out of the box and would have preferred to see this published in the specs.
Holybro has included a Runcam Swift Mini as the camera. We previously reviewed this exact camera, so jump over to that for the details—but we really liked it. It’s a great choice for the Kopis and will serve buyers well. The camera is very exposed, though; the frame offers little protection and the camera gets even more exposed as you add uptilt. The frame design places the props directly in front of the camera. This has the effect of always showing props in your FPV feed, which some pilots find annoying. I got used to it quickly, but I fly with a significant uptilt that places the props away from the center of the frame.
Holybro has used their standalone VTx product, the Atlatl. It’s a pretty full-featured VTx; if you’re familiar with the Tramp HV, much of the functionality is replicated here: power levels from 25 to 600mW, pit mode, wide voltage input, and remote control. One feature that appears absent as compared with the Tramp HV (though I didn’t specifically test for it) is the thermal protection, which is a feature that’s helped the Tramp pay for itself. However, the Atlatl includes a microphone on board and uses the superior MMCX connector for the antenna.
The VTX comes from the factory pre-wired to communicate with the flight controller—it’s great to see this awesome feature making its way into pre-built quads. It’s also almost a necessity, though, because the Atlatl has a poor physical interface. Since the boards are all mounted tightly inside the frame, the buttons are difficult to press. Selecting video channels remotely through the OSD or Taranis script is obviously preferred. I prefer the script over the OSD, but it’s currently only available on the Taranis.
When you open up the Kopis, you might notice there’s a screw missing from one corner of the Atlatl. This seems to be intentional as you can find the same screw missing in the official photos on the product page. I’m guessing that the screw interfered with and put stress on the antenna connector. If this were a flight controller I’d be concerned, but the VTx shouldn’t really be sensitive to that kind of vibration and three screws ought to be plenty to hold it down.
The included FPV antenna isn’t especially good. I had issues with it even at short ranges. Its length might have something to do with this as it doesn’t extend very far away from the quad. Since it mounts in the back, it’s easy to obstruct at many angles if you’re not flying fast. You should be rewarded with better reception if you’re flying faster; when you tilt the quad further forward you can get the antenna to clear the body and reception should improve. This is easier to do with a longer antenna than what comes stock. Once I swapped it out, I was happy with the range.
Finally, there’s a short cable for the camera joystick that’s hanging out the side of the craft. It’s a nice addition that means you don’t have to open it up to change camera settings. This cable is in real danger of getting sucked into a prop, though, and needs tucked away to protect it. You don’t get control of the camera settings through Betaflight.
You get some extra parts included with the Kopis that aren’t in the product description. In addition to the listed quad, antenna, 8 props (4 CW, 4 CCW), the installed battery strap, and GoPro mount, I also got the camera’s OSD joystick and manual, four 2.8×150mm zip ties, two 6×100mm lengths of shrink tubing, the GoPro camera strap, a replacement foam pad for the battery mount, and a big piece of foam with one adhesive side packed in with the GoPro mount. There’s also a card with common frequency channels on it (that isn’t especially useful since the Atlatl VTx doesn’t have a physical display). Finally, there’s a bag with a lot of small parts: 8 spare motor clips, four 4.5×0.7mm brass washers, a 22mm 7-pin ribbon cable, three bits of 3mm foam tape, and two bits of 0.9mm foam tape. I think Holybro tossed in all the extras that come with each individual component they used in their build—which isn’t a bad thing at all, though some are sure to be irrelevant.
One of the more elaborate accessories that comes with the Kopis is a zippered case. This looks pretty well constructed, actually—I expect it to hold up better than the flimsy case that comes with some Fat Sharks. The zippers are large and don’t catch on the edges when pulled. You get a carrying handle on the outside that seems like it would easily handle the weight, and a zippered mesh pocket inside where all the other accessories fit into. A custom-fit strap in the center prevents the Kopis from flopping around inside. I think the case is just short of a great idea. It may give users a false sense of security: it’s not a particularly hard-sided case, and won’t do a good job protecting anything inside from pressure or impact. There’s no room for your goggles or radio, so you’ll still be bringing at least one other bag to the field.
The Kopis 1 has an LED/buzzer board installed with gives it great visibility from behind. This should help it stand out in a race and identify the pilot more easily. One of the LEDs stopped working for a short time, but then started working again. Hopefully this doesn’t indicate any larger problem.
An easily overlooked “inclusion” with the Kopis is a manual written by Joshua Bardwell, one of the hobby’s more prolific and informative content producers. Unfortunately and despite “FULL SETUP AND CONFIGURATION GUDE INSIDE THE BOX!” written across the back of the packaging, you won’t find a printed copy nor a download link in any of the materials packaged with the quad or even on the product page on Holybro’s website. There are a few download links available in various locations, but we’ll save you the trouble of digging around: download the Kopis 1 Manual. It’s too bad some users won’t be able find it, because it covers a lot of great information on getting the quad set up and ready to go.
The list of things you need to do and check with the Kopis 1 to get flying is very short. This is a great vote of confidence for the parts selection and assembly.
The first thing you must do after you unbox the Kopis 1 is to take the props off. Having them already on provides a nice unboxing experience, but you really should not be binding a receiver or flashing software with props on. Follow the informative manual, or take a look at our setup guides, to get your radio bound and communicating.
The board I received had Betaflight version 3.2.0 from April 6, 2017 installed. This is a pre-release version (3.2.0 was released in October 2017) and lacks many features which are present in the stable 3.2.0 release. It’s recommended that you update the software to the most recent stable release in order to take advantage of bug fixes and new features like anti-turtle mode. When you do this, you’ll lose all of the settings that came pre-configured, so make note of them (use the diff command in the CLI) so they are easier to re-apply afterward. Settings you’ll definitely want to carry over include the ports setup and battery/current scale values.
The LED strip comes configured with 8 LEDs set to a pink color and using the Larson scanner effect (a bright section bouncing back and forth). This is somewhat curious because the board has only 6 LEDs on it, and causes a delay in the scanner effect. I elected to drop the effect entirely and set up the LEDs to provide arming status.
The Kopis has the potential to fly extremely well, but probably the biggest disappointment of the package is that it arrives entirely untuned. Betaflight’s default settings work remarkably well—you could race it right away—but you won’t be getting that perfectly smooth, effortless feeling without some additional work. Even on the default settings, there doesn’t seem to be a huge handling difference between 3S and 4S. You notice the power, for sure, but it otherwise has a very similar flight character. I expect the mid-range motors and high-pitch props have something to do with this, giving the frame good grip even at the lower torque 3S offers.
Flight certainly feels fast, but very much under control. The Kopis’ low weight and strong grip helps it stick to tight corners. As we’re exploring in our Advanced Racing series, the ability to stick to a race line is massively important. Top-end speed often takes a back seat to handling. The Kopis doesn’t attain that ultimate top speed—but it does deliver exceptional handling. I expect that I will reach for the Kopis as my weapon of choice in next season’s races when the course is tight.
Repairs, Modifications and Upgrades
As of today, there aren’t too many upgrades I’d recommend for the Kopis. The FPV antenna is the obvious weak point here, but beyond that it’s constructed of a set of parts that are good quality and work extremely well together. About the only features the Kopis doesn’t already have are camera control from within Betaflight and ESC telemetry. Neither are must-haves. Changing out the motors could provide more power, but almost certainly at the expense of handling.
There are other reasons why you might need to make modifications, though. The hobby is still developing quickly and new parts are always being developed that offer additional features and better performance. Or, perhaps you’ve simply broken something. The Kopis is built with parts that follow a standard form factor. This is great, as it allows you to replace any given component—even the frame itself—with just about anything else. The exception here is the camera since the Kopis frame’s camera mount is fairly specific to the micro size. Holybro’s previous pre-built quads didn’t follow this formula and we’re happy to see the change.
While you can choose just about any part you want, almost everything in the Kopis is available individually:
- Kopis 1 Frame with LED board / without LED board
- Kakute F4 AIO | Kakute F4 AIO V2 | Kakute F4 V2 AIO with Atlatl stack
- BLHeli-32 ESC
- T-motor Air40 2450KV motor
- Runcam Swift Mini Review | Purchase
- Atlatl VTx
- Kakute F4 + Atlatl
- 5.8G antenna
- Zippered case
- LED board
- 5045 triblade propeller
- Battery pad
- Battery protector plate
- Battery strap
- GoPro mount
- Camera strap
The hype behind the Kopis 1 in the review community is pretty strong. High-profile reviewers headline their commentary with lines like “Puddles of Drool” and “F*ck Me It’s Good”. While I might not go quite that far, the Kopis 1 is definitely an impressive machine. Holybro has really stepped up their game since the Shuriken 180. We found very few areas to criticize, and most of them are extremely minor. If you consider the case and accessories to be extras, then the package is not a huge savings over buying the parts individually, but you also skip the time and effort you’d have spent selecting and building up all of the parts.
The Kopis 1 hits a mid-range price point and takes a balanced approach to power, weight, and durability. It’s not the absolute lightest and won’t have the absolute best top-end speed, but doesn’t disappoint in either category. The Kopis 1 sits right below the point where it’s pushing the boundary—with any better parts, costs would have started to balloon with diminishing gains. You really do get the full value of what you’re paying, without buying that “upper edge”.
Would I recommend it as a first full-size quad? No. The priorities behind the design don’t align with what a first-time owner needs. The performance might even be too much for a first-timer. Replacing parts won’t be too hard for a seasoned hobbyist, but a newcomer would have trouble with the ultra-compact nature of the build. If someone did approach it as a beginner, the extensive manual will provide lots of useful information, but it will still be a lot to figure out all at once. Not being tuned detracts from the out-of-box experience, which will be a particular barrier for a new user as tuning proves to be a difficult topic for most.
As a second quad, or a first dedicated racer, though? Absolutely. The Kopis 1 offers great performance and durability with a set of parts that work very well together. Once tuned, it’s a joy to fly. Exceptional handling should make it a true competitor on the local race circuit. The Kopis 1 provides the opportunity for repairs and future upgrades with parts as needed or desired. If you have a little experience with full-size quads already and are looking for a competitive racer with great build quality, we can strongly recommend the Holybro Kopis 1.
You can find the Holybro Kopis 1 at Gearbest and other retailers.