Tech Stuff & Reviews

Review: Full Speed Leader 120 Mini FPV Racer

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Finally there is a new cult racer! After the awesome KingKong 90GT some pretty decent Mini Racers came out, but this one really rocks. With the Full Speed Leader 120 – that flies with 2S, 3S and even 4S batteries! – we have a new winner that performs like the devil on speed!


Full Speed Leader 120 Mini FPV Racer


Index:
Page 1: Review
Page 2: Modding
Page 3: Betaflight
Page 4: Lipo Comparison
Page 5: Videos

 

Full Speed Leader 120

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Modded Version

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Modded Version

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Modded Version

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Leader 120 & Accessories:
Leader 120 Mini FPV Racer
VTX03 25 / 50 / 200mW Mini VTX
Runcam Micro Swift 2
Mini LED Strip
FrSky XM+ SBUS Receiver 16 Channel
Kingkong 2840 2.8X4 3-Blade Propeller
Gemfan 3025 2-Blade Propeller

Caution, two versions!

With the Leader 120, the manufacturer Full Speed introduces a 120mm Mini FPV Racer that flies with both 2S and 3S (and even 4S – on the papers, at least). As the Leader was introduced, the reviewers were overwhelmed with enthusiasm about the great flight characteristics, the good handling and the enormous power, even with “only” 2S lipos used.

Shortly afterwards, however, there were the first reports of the Leader 120 performing so-called “roles of death” under full throttle, simply tipping over to the side and falling out of the air. The reviewers were quite baffled. Manufacturer Full Speed, however, responded quickly and took care of this problem, which became known as FOD (“Flip of Death”). The manufacturer gave the Leader 120 better engines and – this may have been the cause of the problem – 20A ESC, instead of the previously installed 10A. This seems to solve the problem and nothing negative is known yet about the new 20A version.

We also have the new 20A version of the racer in the test. These are currently available on Banggood. If you are not sure if you see the old or new version at a retailer: pay attention to the ESC’s ampere specification. 10A is the old version, 20A is the new and improved version.

Features

Features at a glance:
Comes with OSD!
Can be used with 2S / 3S / 4S lipos!
7500KV brushless motors
Carries up to 70mm propellers
Betaflight F3 6DOF flight controller
20A BLHELI_S ESC, capable up to DSHOT600
Plenty of power, superb flight characteristics!
Betaflight 3.2 compatible (dynamic filters)
Can be equipped with Runcam Micro Swift
Simple to mod
Comes as PNP (no receiver), compatible with PPM/SBUS/DSM receivers

The Leader 120 comes with a 3mm carbon frame, 1104 7500KV motors, 20A BLHELI_S ESC (DSHOT600 capable), a Betaflight F3 Omnibus flight controller with OSD, a mediocre camera (can easily be replaced with a Runcam Micro, see “Modding” below) and a 25mW transmitter. If you prefer a better range, you can easily replace the original VTX with 200mW VTX03 (see “Modding”). A buzzer is already installed (great!), on which there is also a LED that flashes cheerfully in time with the beeper. There is a connection for an additional LED strip on the board.

Attention: The Leader 120 comes without any receiver – which is an advantage in most cases so you can simply place your own favourite receiver (in our case the FrSky XM+). Advantage of the ultra-compact FrSky XM+ receiver: fits perfectly, offers full range, diversity and RSSI (real-time display of the reception strength via the OSD). So if you have a FrSky compatible TX (e. g. Taranis or Devo 10) you should definitely grab an XM+.

The Leader 120 differs from the KingKong 90GT mainly in its larger frame – and this allows the Leader to use 70mm propellers. In combination with the powerful 2S – 4S 7500KV engines, the leader can develop a considerable thrust which the KingKong simply can’t reach by far.

The fact that the leader has an OSD (and also a barometer, for your interest), is also a huge improvement over the KingKong. The PIDs can be easily adjusted via OSD now, right on the field instead of carrying a laptop around. If you have installed an RSSI-capable receiver (e. g. the FrSky XM+), you can always see the current reception strength on the OSD – and thus know at any time how far you can fly before the connection gets too weak.

An OSD is essential because it indicates in real-time how much mAh you have already flown. So you always know when it’s time to land, no matter if you’re using a 450mAh, 850mAh or other lipos. You don’t have to fly stubbornly to the timer anymore, because you can always see how much capacity is still in the battery. Once OSD, always OSD!

In short: the Leader 120 has all the prerequisites for a perfect mini racer: light weight, big propellers, powerful engines, runs with 2S and 3S (even 4S are mentioned, but nobody has dared to do that yet. ), an OSD, comes with a buzzer and an LED strip can be easily attached.

A Runcam Micro Swift (currently the best choice for FPV cameras on mini racers) is also easy to install! Sounds great so far – but how does it fly?

Flight Characteristics

full speed leader 120 kingkong 90gt runcam micro swift vtx03 leader120 leader 120 mods modding modded mini fpv racer micro fpv fpv racing 2s 3s 4s led strip leds beeper buzzer betaflight pids pid mike vom mars blog

 

Already on the first flight with a 2S 850mAh lipo you will notice: this thing has power. In fact, the leader flies so agile and nimble that you’ll automatically have a grin on your face. Racer pilots know this phenomenon: it only occurs when a racer performs like the devil. And that’s what Leader 120 does.

The “locked-in” feeling is perfect – the Leader 120 flies ultra-precise, you almost get the feeling as if it was totally weightless. But the Leader has a huge advantage to the KingKong 90GT, which flies ingeniously as well: its power! If you had to remember to accelerate the 90GT in time after a dive, so that you don’t drive it into the ground, you’ll notice with that you can fly much more relaxed with the Leader 120, because it has just enough power reserve to catch itself from a dive at the very last moment. And that’s even with 2S!

But with 3S, the leader is going to add another dimension of power, it literally becomes a little rocket! 4S would still be inside the specs (well, at least on paper). When choosing the batteries, you should not use lipos that weigh more than 50-60 Gram, otherwise the flight characteristics will suffer and the leader doesn’t steer as easily. With a light 2S 450-800mAh or 3S up to 500mAh it performs great!

The leader can be easily upgraded to the current Betaflight version (3.2.1), so that you can use the new “Dynamic Filter” feature – that’s exactly what we did. The setup is the same as before – the motors didn’t warm up and the Leader 120 flies better with the dynamic filter than before. We couldn’t produce any prowash on our flights. We really tried hard though. Wow.

Some Drawbacks

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The Leader 120 seems to a perfect match so far. But are there any drawbacks? Actually, yes… and that’s an old friend of mine: the built-in camera. Unfortunately, this is only mediocre in terms of image quality and light sensitivity. Under Californian sun this may hardly be noticeable, but whoever flies in northern regions or under cloudy skies is, as usual, rewarded with a muddy and dark picture that lacks of colour and contrast. At dusk, the original camera does perform absolutely poor.

Also the video 25mW transmitter is not a perfect match either. Not because of the low transmission power (25mW may be still sufficient in some situations) but because of the modest transmission quality. The video transmitter is mounted piggyback on the camera. An elegant solution, actually. However, there are three clear disadvantages of this method: because the transmitter sits directly behind the camera, it can only be tilted upwards to a limited extent until it hits the flight controller. And the antenna of the video transmitter disappears between the side parts of the carbon frame – which results in a great loss of transmitting power. We had dropouts with the original cam/transmitter combo in an open field and within a range of 30 meters. That sucks.

Third disadvantage of the piggyback combo: if you only want to replace the camera, you have to replace the transmitter as well (and vice versa) since both are plugged together. There are no wires at all and you really don’t want to mess around with such small soldering points. So either change both or stay with the original cam and the original VTX.

Fortunately, the Leader 120 can be easily equipped with a Runcam Micro Swift, as well as a 200mW VTX03 transmitter. Do so and you really have a perfect picture with a good range.

How this is done is shown on the next page.

Summary

Finally there is a mini racer again which does (almost) everything right in terms of both, features and flight characteristics. And the few things that are to be criticized (camera and video transmitter) can be eliminated with little effort.

The Leader 120 is currently available as the new and improved 20A version for just around 100 EUR at Banggood. This makes it very, very attractive. If you are looking for a really great mini racer that offers modding potential and ingenious flight characteristics and can fly with both 2S up to 4S, you should definitely add the Leader 120 to your fleet.

The Leader 120 flies as precise and agile as the KingKong 90GT – but is superior in many aspects. Due to its bigger propellers, the Leader offers a lot more power, flies great with 2S and 3S, comes with an OSD and has room for a Runcam Micro and a stronger video transmitter – much more modding potential than the 90GT has. So is the leader the long-awaited cult successor of the 90GT and the new king among the mini racers?

Definitely yes!

Next page: Leader 120 Mods – Adding a Runcam Micro Swift and a 200mW VTX

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Editor rating: 4.7 / 5




Recent Comments

  1. Hey – great review and write-up. Great for noobs like me! I am struggling to find the Nano-tech 2S 850mAh batteries that weigh 49g though… the ones on the Hobbyking site are listed as 95g. Did they used to make a lower C rated version that was lighter?

  2. Mike-vom-Mars

    Paul, see here: http://bit.ly/2sR2epi – 95g is the brutto weight. Netto weight is 49g (just the lipo with the cable), it's written in the description below there.

  3. Doh! I was ordering the battery list by weight:)

    Thanks, I'll get a few of those ordered

  4. Will these settings work for a Frsky R-XSR receiver? I can't seem to get my TAranis talking to my receiver.

    Thanks

  5. Mike-vom-Mars

    I am using FrSky XM+ with all my micro quads since it is tiny and has full range, plus RSSI. That's all you need while flying with goggles. So I don't know about R-XSR, I'm sorry. There could be several issues: make sure you activated the correct UART in Betaflight and plugged the receiver to the correct pins on the FC. Protocol in Betaflight should be set to SBUS, too. That's the main things to do.

  6. Thanks for that excellent Review!

    Are the props suggestion for 2S -3Blade 2840 and for 3S 3025? …besides the originals draw to much amps and seem not available.
    Are there further alternatives?

  7. Mike-vom-Mars

    I am using the original props (with 2S and 3S) and they do very well so far. Motors don't get hot (not even warm) with them. However, some Leader owners complain about blackouts or reboots that may happen if the FC board cannot provide enough power for the VTX, RX, LED etc. This seems to be the case if a 200mW VTX is used (which draws more power than the FC's cheap 5V converter can handle). If this is the case, I'd just install a little 5V BEC (Matek, f.e.) that is directly plugged to the battery and powers the VTX, RX and LED. That should provide more stable 5V than the built in converter of the FC board.

  8. Looking to buy the Flightcontroller that came with the leader 120
    fired mind but everything is ok so need the FC .Anyone know were I can get and what is the Flightcontroller I need to purchase
    Thanks a lot
    Love this write up

  9. Mike-vom-Mars

    Generally you should be able to use any F3 / F4 board that fits the frame's screw holes (20x20mm mounting hole distance), so you could chose one that fits your taste. Or even upgrade to a F4.

    This one looks very similar though: http://bit.ly/2GlyLdF

    Or drop an email to Full Speed and ask them about spare parts.

  10. Thanks for the reply
    I am new at this, the one thing I am confuse with is how to power the FC how do you know were 12v is
    Thanks

  11. Mike-vom-Mars

    @David – I am not sure what you mean with 12V, so here's a general guide:

    Most FC's have a VBAT pin. The VBAT pin is used to power the FC directly from the battery (2S-3S for example, depending on the FC's specs). To power a FC, just connect it's VBAT and VBAT GND directly to the battery contacts -or- to the VBAT / VBAT GND pins of the PCB board.

    Some FC's cannot handle full VBAT power. They are powered by 5V only. Then you have to use a power board that provides a 5V output for the FC. The Leader FC (and many other F3 FC's) should be able to handle full VBAT, however. "VBAT" always means full battery power as it comes from the Lipo.

    Once the FC is powered, it reduces the full VBAT voltage to 5V (using an on-board module, called LDO) and sends the reduced 5V to all the 5V pins found on the FC board. All these 5V pins on the FC are called the "5V rail". These 5V pins on the FC can then be used to power the camera, VTX or an LED strip. You should keep the number of devices connected to the FC's 5V rail to a minimum, otherwise the FC might get too hot or won't be able to provide enough Ampere for all that devices.

    So if your camera or VTX can handle VBAT (full battery voltage), you should connect them to the battery directly to reduce the power load of the FC. Most cams (such as Runcam etc.) and VTX can handle full battery power nowadays.

  12. Hi, kannst du mir sagen wie das Update von Betaflight vonstatten geht? Muss man einen dieser USB Treiber installieren?

  13. Mike-vom-Mars

    @Martin: falls dein Kopter über USB nicht von Betaflight erkannt wird, gibt es zwei Tools, die dir den USB-Treiber installieren: das eine heisst "Zadig", das andere "ImpulseRC Driver Fixer" (Google-Suche). Damit sollte der USB Treiber dann installiert sein. Hier ein Video dazu: http://bit.ly/2EVifkl

    Das Update selbst geht dann über die Betaflight App. Diese App musst du im Chrome Browser installieren (Chrome starten, suche nach "Betaflight App" und diese installieren).

    Wie man dann in Betaflight updatet, zeigen viele Videos auf YouTube, z.B. hier: http://bit.ly/2nXrhFv

    Ist am Anfang recht viel zu lernen, ich weiss. Aber da muss man leider durch ?

  14. Hi Mike, danke für die schnelle Antwort! Der Driver Fixer hat mir weitergeholfen und BF auf den neuesten Stand gebracht!
    Lg

  15. Hi Mike. Toller Artikel, danke dafür. Leider bekomme ich die Kiste nicht mit meiner QX7 gebunden. Der FrSky Receiver XM+ mit EU/LBT Firmware sollte richtig verkabelt sein. Taranis steht auf D16 Modus. Wenn ich binde, leuchten die rote und grüne LED am Receiver. Nehme ich den Strom weg und wieder dran, leuchtet nur die rote und nicts tut sich :(
    Hast du ein paar Tips für mich?

  16. Mike-vom-Mars

    @Michael: bist du dir sicher, das die passende Firmware auf dem Empfänger installiert ist? Ich gehe immer so vor (allerdings mit der Devo 10, nicht der Taranis):

    1. Funke an
    2. Bind Button am Empfänger drücken, Akku anschliessen.
    3. Funke in den Bindemodus schalten
    4. Nach dem Binden Funke und Empfänger ausschalten
    5. Dann beide wieder einschalten, die sollten sich dann automatisch finden.

  17. Jo, ich tausche Punkt 2 und 3. Ansonsten mach ich das auch so. Hat auch bis jetzt immer geklappt. Nur bei meinem Leader nicht. Ich denke auch es ist ein Versions Problem. Ich muß mich mal in das Firmware flashen Thema einlesen.

  18. Kurze Rückmeldung nach dem flashen des XM+. Es lag tatsächlich an der falschen Firmware. Vielen Dank für deine Hilfe.

  19. Hallo Mike,

    Auf dem Wiring diagramm steht unten rechts 5v+, bei mir ist dort dort aber vbat angeschlossen. Ist das Diagramm falsch?

    Grüße Steffen

  20. Hi Mike,

    I bought the Leader 120 based on your review and I'm loving it. I'm using an FrSky R-XSR without any problems. However, I miss the FrSky telemetry and spoken battery alarm I have on my bigger quad. Do you know if the TX1 or TX2 pins on the FC can be used for Telemetry? I'd try it but I'm still quite new at this and have damaged enough electronics through ignorance to be worried about trying it without a good idea it might work.

    Thanks
    Peter

  21. Mike-vom-Mars

    @Peter: I don't use Taranis myself, so I can't help you with this. I am using the Devo10 and FrSky XM+ with all my micro quads. The XM+ receiver has RSSI, which can be displayed in the goggle's OSD, as well as the voltage and mah consumption, so (in my opinion) there is no need for Taranis telemetry anymore in the days of Betaflight OSD.

  22. Hello, friend! Is it possible to set up a beeper to search for a quadcopter? I tried to set up a betaflight nothing happens..((

  23. Why the Max Vel Deg/s of yaw is bigger, despite the rates of pitch, roll and yaw are equal?

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