Battery: Removable 150 mAh, 3.7 volt
Flight time: 5-6 min
Charge time: 30-50 min
Transmitter rates: 2 (variable yaw)
Transmitter compatibility: DeviationTX
Competitors: Blade Inductrix, JJRC H36, Nihui NH010
At the time of this review, the clone war is well and truly on. On one side we’ve got the Eachine E010, on the other the JJRC H36 and… Well, kind of hiding in the periphery perhaps the Nihui NH010. I suspect the only real differences between them are the boxes they come in, their color schemes and the retailers peddling them.
What were the main points that made the Blade Inductrix such a success? Just on top of my head, I’d say its ducted design that protects it from crashes when flying indoors, its good flight characteristics for that precise control needed when flying indoors and its relative openness in terms of protocol and parts, making it easy to mod, upgrade and repair …indoors. Let’s put the E010 through the same paces!
Well, the design is obviously in place (it wouldn’t really be an Inductrix clone without it, would it?). In fact, it’s very nearly a 1:1 copy of the original: Ducted motors, four-bladed propellers and – just like on the Inductrix – very little in terms of lights, one in the front and one in the back. The frame may be ever so slightly bigger and weigh a few grams more, but the significant difference is that it’s made of a firmer feeling plastic, hopefully addressing a common criticism of the Inductrix: That its frame, especially the struts by the motor mounts, breaks too easily.
In terms of mods, upgrades and repairs the Eachine E010 falls short of the original: The motors are soldered directly to the board, making them less convenient – though still not difficult – to replace, the 150 mAh LiPo battery uses a different, arguably less common battery connector and different, arguably less common battery dimensions and the board layout and screw placements are slightly different, making Tiny Whoop mounts and such not fit very well.
Perhaps the biggest blow though: While the Inductrix uses the pretty widely supported DSM protocol meaning it can be flown with a variety of transmitters, the E010 not only ditches all the major protocols used in hobby grade contexts (perhaps no surprise there) but seemingly also all existing protocols used in other toy grade multirotors! This means you were initially stuck with the included transmitter.
Even by toy grade standards… Heck, even by tiny toy grade transmitter standards, the included transmitter is not so hot. It’s small, slippery and made from some very cheap feeling plastic. It’s also low resolution, meaning there is little gradual response to stick inputs. You’re either going or you’re not. This doesn’t mean you can’t fly the E010 with the stock transmitter (in fact, the experience is not that different from flying your run-of-the-mill toy grade nano quadcopter, but it does mean you won’t have nowhere near the same precision as with the Inductrix.
Thankfully, the E010 is supported by the Deviation alternative firmware for Walkera Devo hobby grade transmitters – provided you’ve also installed a special module called NRF24L01 (which just rolls of the tongue!). A bit of a tangent: I recently got this exact setup running on a Devo 7E and… just wow! I can now fly almost all of my multirotors with a single, very nice, highly customizable transmitter. Only downsides are that it all-in-all is a bit of an investment and involves more than a bit of soldering, firmware updating and general mucking about with electronics. There’s are similar projects for almost all major hobby grade transmitters, though they all definitely involves their own share of hoops and hurdles.
Well anyway, apart from the transmitter the Eachine E010 comes with a USB charging cable, 4 replacement propellers (which is a lot more than the big fat zero you get with the Inductrix, actually) and an instruction manual in Chinese and – sadly – atrociously translated English. “The push rod”, “Carefree mode”, “About to fine tune”.
Out of the box, without mods but with the stock transmitter, the Eachine E010 flies pretty unremarkably, much like your average nano or micro toy grade multirotor. The only noteworthy differences are that it – like the Inductrix – is a bit quieter and less inert in its flight characteristics. There are two rates ranging from slow to moderately fast with varying yaw speed and all the standard toy grade features: “Headless mode”, “Return to home” and flips, though these are quite sloppy. The Inductrix’s “Acro mode”, which basically turns of self-leveling and banking limits, is not available here.
Flown with a better transmitter, like here with a Walkera Devo 7E using Deviation, the experience is much different and improved. In my opinion it’s pretty much on par with the Inductrix, sans the “Acro mode” of course. Flying “Tiny Whoop style”, with a camera/video transmitter combo attached, works as well, although the craft feels a little underpowered. It doesn’t have enough punch to quickly ascend to avoid obstacles and towards the end of the flight it can enter into vortex ring state. Just like with the original, a motor upgrade is therefore probably advisable.
The out-of-the-box flight time is around 6 minutes, but of course drops considerably when converted into a Tiny Whoop-alike. I still get a pretty respectable 3-4 minutes out of the stock battery though. Speaking of flight times, a much appreciated improvement is that the E010 has an LVC warning: It will flash its lights to indicate the battery is running low, whereas the Inductrix doesn’t give any notice before it starts dropping to the ground.
In conclusion, whether or not the Eachine E010 is a viable alternative to the Blade Inductrix depends on what you intend to do with it:
If you plan on flying it with your fancy hobby grade transmitter by way of Deviation or some other solution and either don’t plan on upgrading it or don’t mind a few inconveniences in that department, by all means yes. If you were planning on flying it with the included transmitter or plan on converting it into a full-blown Tiny Whoop-alike but want to avoid all but the absolute minimum of precision soldering, you may want to think about adding those extra bucks after all.
The shortest way I can sum up the Eachine E010 is that it’s an Induxtrix clone with a lackluster transmitter, some minor advantages and some minor drawbacks.