The Holybro Shuriken 180 Pro is an RTF quad that can be bound and flown within five minutes of opening the box.  Based on the original Holybro Shuriken, the Pro sports larger motors, various frame adjustments, a better camera, and more.

With the vast number of RTF quads released to the market today, how does the Holybro Shuriken 180 Pro hold up?  Let’s find out!

 

What comes with the Shuriken 180 Pro?

Here’s what you can expect to see after opening your Shuriken 180 Pro box:

  • Shuriken 180 Pro quadcopter
  • 8x 4040 4-bladed props
  • 2x battery straps
  • FPV antenna
  • Instruction manual (well-written, full color) and sticker sheet
  • Prop wrench (required to swap props with the top plate on)
  • GoPro Session mount (obviously no actual GoPro session is included)

 

Components wise, the 180 Pro has some surprisingly powerful motors and a nice CCD FPV camera:

  • F3 32-bit STM32F303CCT6, MPU6050 Gyro/Accelerometer flight controller
  • 5.8GHz, 25/600mw switchable via jumpers, 40 channel VTX
  • BLHeli 30A ESCs with OneShot125
  • 2205, 2750kv motors
  • 1/3” Super HAD II CCD, PAL, 600TVL, 2.5mm lens FPV camera

The kit is sold as an RTF/BNF solution with receiver options available for FRSKY, FLYSKY, DSMX, and Futaba.  Betaflight is pre-installed.

Shuriken 180 Pro dissected!

Shuriken 180 Pro dissected!

The top plate is a 3.5mm thick carbon fiber plate that fits flush with the top components and plastic bumper.  The bottom plate of the quad is a 1.6mm integrated PDB with a Fiberglass-reinforced base.

The quad feels solid and looks great after removing it from the box.  Other than the FPV camera wiring, no pesky cables or odds and ends hang out from the frame.  Everything is held between the plates and contained via the plastic bumper.

 

Assembly and binding

Binding is dead simple. Just follow the instructions for your receiver type.  For all receiver types, there are no more than four binding steps.  For the most part it’s set your transmitter in bind mode, hold down the bind button on the quad until a red LED blinks, when the light turns green the quad is bound!

I had no issues – the instructions worked great and the quad instantly bound to my transmitter!

Betaflight comes pre-installed with stock settings, so the quad is truly ready to fly out the box.  We always recommend updating to the latest firmware and setting up your rates, but if you just want to bind and go you totally can.

If you need help setting up your drone’s software, check out our full software setup guide here.

Changing the channels is just as easy as binding.  The band switch is at the back of the quad to the right of the numeric LEDs.  The Shuriken Pro 180 even comes preset to the FatShark frequencies – clever!  You can change bands by holding the button and channels by short pressing.  The box includes a portable frequency chart you can take to the field.

If you want to change the VTX power between 25mw and 600mw, move the jumpers as shown in the below diagram.

shuriken manual

Again, an easy to read and understand manual.  So far so good!

 

Initial modifications and preparation

Three things caught my attention when getting everything ready for my first flight.

Adjusting the camera tilt on the Shuriken 180 Pro

First, the camera angle is intense!  Out the box, you are looking at around 35-40 degree tilt.  Unfortunately, there is no obvious way to adjust the camera tilt significantly.  The camera is blocked from moving downward by the bottom plate. I have to say, even with “Pro” in the name, I I find it surprising that an established manufacturer thinks that a 35+ degree non-adjustable tilt is acceptable in an RTF quad.  It saddens me that I had to spend more time figuring out how to adjust the camera tilt than I did binding and setting up the quad.

My solution was to add some nylon standoffs to raise the camera up and allow more clearance for adjustment

default camera tilt

Way too much tilt!

adding spacers to camera

Spacers can fix that!

 

better camera tilt

Spacers installed

After the spacers were installed, I could adjust the tilt to my liking.  However be warned – putting these plastic spacers in make breaking the camera top box much more likely on a bad crash.  Adjust with caution.  Additionally, extending the camera box might stretch the camera cable and cause the connector to unseat.  Be careful how far you stretch that cable when adjusting the tilt.

Securing the antenna

The VTX antenna’s positioning had me a bit worried.  I read that this was one of the biggest failure points on the original Shuriken.  The SMA connector is soldered directly to the board, and if it were to get ripped out of place it would make for a bad day.  Luckily, the Pro version dealt with this issue by making the carbon fiber fit flush with the SMA connector.

Still, I am a bit worried that the connector could get bent in a bad crash.  To put more pressure on the antenna rather than connector, I zip tied the antenna to the camera plate.

zip tie antenna

This should add an additional layer of protection.

Put batteries in sideways

The battery mounting placement has me a bit worried.  There is almost no room for sitting a battery flat on the Shuriken 180 Pro.  The 180mm size and low profile frame don’t play nice here for battery mounting.  I had to tilt the batteries sideways to allow for any propeller clearance.

battery mounting is poor

That’s not going to work! Props clipping the battery when laid flat.

Additionally, I’m a bit worried about the cables.  There really isn’t a safe place to route the cable to the XT-60 connection, so the cables sit precariously close to the propellers.  I have wrapped my balance leads, but even so, the cables and connectors are just a hair away from the props.

battery wrapped

Even with the balance leads wrapped I’m a bit fearful of those props!

Let’s get airborne!

 

How does it fly?

All-in-all the Shuriken 180 Pro flies OK.  It’s a very middle of the road quad that has decent, but not excellent performance.  It doesn’t truly excel at anything.  It won’t be winning race or freestyle events anytime soon, but it will cruise around a park.  Its heavy weight doesn’t allow it to nimbly hit tight gates at high speed, nor does it allow for freestyle maneuvers that require a significant punch-out.  I had multiple crashes trying to recover from dives and loops just because it didn’t have enough pop to pull up in time.  This is likely due to pairing 4″ props on a very heavy platform (more on that in a bit).

I don’t have a GoPro session to strap on top of the camera mount, but I imagine the increased weight would just hurt performance more here.   Additionally, the antenna positioning really doesn’t allow for a lot of action camera clearance and I imagine mounting a camera would cause some video signal loss.

It is a durability beast though.  I crashed multiple times hard, and the only damage to show for it are scratches along the frame.  This was one of my biggest surprises, as I figured the carbon fiber plastic sandwich design wouldn’t be too durable.  Similarly, the stock props, while beat to hell, held up.  I chipped a blade or two, but no major bends or breaks.

 

The good: what I like about the Shuriken 180 Pro

Let’s look at what works with the Shuriken 180 Pro.

Durable frame

I will say that the sandwiched frame provides surprisingly effective protection.  I crashed head first into dirt, trees, and concrete with only minor scuffs to show.   While I don’t find the quad to be bulletproof, it feels more armored than other RTF quads I’ve flown.

scuffed bottom plate

Sleek design

Aesthetics are always going to be subjective, but I really like the look of the frame.  A lot of time was clearly put into designing a frame that protected the internal components while maintaining a low profile.  Small details like the carbon fiber slightly extending behind the USB port for added protection, the flush fit with the SMA connector, and the counter sunk screws on top of the camera plate all add to the elegance of the build.

Nice camera

The CCD 600TVL camera works great.  Picture clarity is solid, and I really like the angle of the 2.5mm lens.  While I think the original mounting style is a little odd, adding some spacers allowed me to adjust the camera freely, and really dial in my angle and focus.

 

Issues with the Holybro Shuriken 180 Pro

Unfortunately, there are definitely some big issues with the Shuriken 180 Pro that need to be called out.  Here are some of the things we didn’t like about this quad:

The full frame PDB and general accesibility

The first quad I ever assembled used a full board PDB.  I had nothing but problems with it, and have been cautious ever since.  Holybro did a fantastic job enclosing their PDB/board assembly, however, it is very easy to see that if a problem arises repairs may be extremely difficult to perform.

While I loved the protection the sandwiched frame gave, it made attaching or removing props nearly impossible without the bundled prop changing tool.  This small plastic wrench is easy to lose and could break in a bag.  Luckily, there are printable versions on Thingiverse, but for those without a 3D printer, breaking one of these would be really unfortunate.

Popping the frame open after flying led to discovering quite a bit of debris trapped inside the quad.  Dirt, grass, and other materials found their way through some of the openings in the carbon fiber and made their way into the enclosure.  On most quads, a shot of compressed air or a quick wipedown would do the trick.  However, the Shuriken’s secure casing is also its curse – to clean or access anything you have to take the frame completely apart.  This means removing 8 nuts, 8 bolts, and the antenna before you can get to the guts of the quad. I found this to be a bit cumbersome compared to other quads.

Finally, there is the paranoia factor.  If you crash hard, fry anything, or break any components, you may have to replace the entire PDB/FV/VTX combo.  As far as I can tell, this isn’t offered anywhere because it is basically an entirely new quad.  Sure with other quads you may break an arm, fry a PDB, or bust a motor, but usually you can find a replacement part.  With the Shuriken 180 Pro you are basically all-in, and repairs just may not be possible.

 

Battery placement

As I initially feared, this is probably my biggest issue with the Shuriken 180 Pro.  The top mounted battery positioning offers nearly no protection from the props.   I feel most people at some point will chop up a battery cable or balance lead.  During my initial testing session, I clipped a balance lead on my fifth pack.  I was careful to strap down my connectors, but there is just so little room for error.

battery placement

Even sideways the cables are super close to the props during a crash.

This seems like a huge missed opportunity for a bottom mounted battery.  The 180mm frame size and low profile just doesn’t play nice with top mounted batteries – especially for 4S ones.  Unfortunately, the XT-60 connector is soldered facing the top of the board, so changing to a bottom battery mount would require a significant amount of modification.

Heavy

Again, Holybro did a fantastic job armoring their quad.  The carbon fiber, plastic, fiberglass sandwich is surprisingly durable and took quite a beating without issue during my testing.  However, these also add quite a bit of weight to a very small quad.  Pulling off quick freestyle tricks was difficult, as the quad struggled punching up from dives closer to the ground.  All too many times I felt I was safe pushing up but just didn’t have the power.  This led to many sessions of me fetching the quad after a botched dive.

shuriken heavy

Definitely beefy at 370g without a battery, action camera, or action camera mount.  As a frame of reference, my ZMR 250mm from late 2015 weighs only 5g more with 5” DALPROP tri-blades attached.

 

Conclusion

If you are looking for a park flyer and can get it at a heavy discount, the Shuriken 180 Pro might not be a bad quad.  However, for the vast majority of pilots, it doesn’t compare to other RTF or even kit building offerings.  It won’t compete in races and would have a very difficult time with any technical freestyle.

It’s a shame, as I really dig the aesthetics of this quad and love how easy it is to setup.  I may modify it further with bottom battery mounting, adjusting the antenna position, and cutting the weight in parts, but I don’t think that’s worthwhile for pilots looking for the BNF/RTF out the box solution this quad is supposed to offer.

Furthermore, I am worried about the long-term survival prospects of this quad.  While its durability surprised me, I have yet to see a quad that doesn’t break something after a few weeks or months of flying.  The full frame PDB doesn’t allow for many replacement options or the ability to move many of the components to another frame.  If something breaks you may be out of luck when it comes to repairs.

If you are a fan of Holybro, we recommend looking at their X1 instead.

Props:

  • Works great out the box: easy binding, simple setup, Betaflight pre-installed, and packaged with a well written color instruction sheet.
  • Sleek design and surprisingly durable.
  • Compact and easy to take to the field.

Slops:

  • Battery mounting placement will eat balance leads and power cables for lunch. Almost no room for error.
  • Heavy for a 180mm, 4” prop quad. Hard to pull off nimble maneuvers for racing and freestyle.
  • Lack of FPV camera tilt manipulation is sorely missing.  Default tilt way too high for most pilots.
  • Full frame board / PDB and narrow clearance means replacing components or custom modification will be difficult. Furthermore, any hard crashes or cracks on the bottom plate could result in damage to the PDB.  Repairs may include expensive proprietary parts or scrapping the entire quad.

shuriken 180 pro gearbest

Thanks to the folks over at GearBest for sending us this quad for review.

 

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