Eachine E011 & Eachine E012 review

Quick facts (E011):

Battery: Removable 1S 260 mAh LiPo
Flight time: 5-6 min
Charge time: ~60 min

Transmitter rates: 2 (variable yaw)
Transmitter compatibility: JJRC/Eachine H8 Mini, Bayangtoys X7/X9/etc.

Competitors: Blade Inductrix, Boldclash Bwhoop

Quick facts (E012):

Battery: Removable 1S 200 mAh LiPo
Flight time: ~5 min
Charge time: ~40 min

Transmitter rates: 3 (variable yaw)
Transmitter compatibility: None

Competitors:?

Video review:

Transcript:

Today you’re in luck, because today is double review day here at RCview!

Our main course (and the one I’ll be spending most time talking about) is the Eachine E011, an update of the well-received and popular E010 of last summer. Returning viewers may recognize the name: I’ve previously covered both the original E010 and one of its FPV spin-off, the E010C (and liked both!)

The E011 may look very similar to its predecessors, but a closer look reveals changes and tweaks to nearly every aspect of the kit. Changes doesn’t necessarily equal improvements though, so let’s find out how these fair and – in more general terms – if the E011 is worth getting, for people who already own the predecessor and for people coming in fresh.

As a side dish we also have the Eachine E12, a miniaturized version of the same Blade Inductrix/Tiny Whoop form factor used by the E011 and other clones. While the E011 has obvious potential as an FPV platform, the case for the smaller and weaker E012 is not as clear. Is it still worth your time and money?

That’s a lot of questions and unless you got all day, we better get started! Welcome to this review and flight test of the E011 and E012 quadcopters from Eachine!

Let’s start by addressing the pink elephant (or should I say blue knight?) in the room! For reasons that aren’t super clear, the Eachine E011 comes with a brick figure which isn’t Lego branded, but still – by what I can only assume is pure coincidence – happen to work with real Lego bricks. There are two distinct designs (the “cool blue” hero and “passionate red” villain) to go along with the two available quadcopter color schemes (“white/blue” and “black/red”).

The point of the brick figure is not to gather dust on some display shelf, but for you to show him the time of his life as a passenger onboard the quadcopter! The canopy has a couple of – again – not-Lego studs on which the figure stands surprisingly firmly. Using the transmitter, you then access a special “brick figure flight mode” which is supposed to handle the extra payload. To me this just feels like a modifier to the quadcopter’s existing rates though, if so effectively doubling these.

While the canopy is obviously different from its predecessor’s, the frame looks – if not exactly, then at least very nearly identical. The only difference I’m able to spot is that the plastic has noticeably more flex to it. On one hand this likely means it’s less brittle, on the other I’m worried it may be a little too bendy to actually protect the propellers in case you bump into something with enough speed.

One of the biggest differences between the E011 and its predecessor are the motors, which have been upgraded to a “716 double ring high-intensity” variety with “60 000 revolutions per minute”. All this really tells you is that they are 7 mm in diameter, 16 mm long and theoretically spin 60 000 times per minute with no load (though they won’t actually reach this under real-world conditions).
While RPM doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to performance (far from it), it’s still a useful indicator when comparing motors used in similar circumstances and while 60 000 is probably much higher than what the 6 mm motors of the E010 could produce, Eachine has never specified the RPM for them, so we’re going to have to rely on the flight test instead.

Although not advertised anywhere, another significant difference between the E011 and its predecessor is the flight board. This seems to have gone through heavy revision, resulting in several practical changes:

For one, the E011 has ditched the esoteric dialect of its predecessor in favor of the Bayangtoys transmitter protocol. At this point, both have been implemented in the popular multi¬protocol solutions, but Bayangtoys is by far more the more common of the two.

For another, the updated flight board comes with pre-installed 2-pin 1.25 mm JST connectors, making replacing or upgrading the motors easier than on the E010, where they were soldered to the board.

Lastly the revisions to the flight board has made it compatible with alternative firmwares, which allows you to – among other things – unlock an “acro” mode for the quadcopter. I had hoped to cover this in the review, but sadly didn’t receive the necessary equipment in time. Maybe for a supplementary video!

When I reviewed the E010 I found the transmitter – due to its small size and poor build quality – to be one of the weakest points of the kit, so I was happy to hear the E011 would receive an upgrade in this department! While I admit it is bigger and slightly less flimsy, it’s still a rather marginal upgrade. If the E010 transmitter was straight-up bad, the E011 transmitter is… just not very good or – at best – unimpressive. If you own a couple of toy-grade quadcopters I’m sure you recognize the model.

For whatever reason, the transmitter lacks shoulder buttons so Eachine got a little creative when assigning commands. Both sticks have dual purposes, pressing the left activates headless mode and return-to-home (counter with the stick to cancel the return-to-home part) while pressing the right performs automatic flips or toggles “brick figure flight mode” (mentioned earlier) based on how long you keep it pressed. To switch between the two rates you use the yaw trim buttons, meaning – as far as I know – there’s no way of adjusting this.

The final major change I can think of in terms of construction is the included battery. While sticking with the unconventional JST PH connector, its 260 mAh is almost double the capacity of the original. Due to the added weight and more power-hungry motors, this doesn’t translate to double the flight time though. Expect about the same flight time as with the predecessor, roughly 6 minutes.

Obviously the battery compartment underneath the quadcopter has also been scaled up to accommodate the bigger battery, but maybe not quite enough. When inserted, the battery now partly blocks the connector, making it finicky to connect the battery. Annoying! The battery lead is also too short to allow connecting the battery first and then inserting it into the battery compartment.

The Eachine E011 comes with a set of replacement 4-blade propellers, a USB charging cable, a screwdriver for the transmitter and instruction manuals in English, Chinese and – for some reason – German. I can’t attest to the quality of the latter two, but the English translation – while far from perfect – is for the most part intelligible.

Let’s have a quick look at our other review subject as well before moving on to the flight tests!

Apart from the obvious size difference, the Eachine E012 is actually not that different from the E011. In fact, the only noteworthy differences I’m able to spot is that the E012 uses 3 instead of 4-bladed props, that the motors are soldered directly to the flight board (probably to save on weight and size) and that it has a bright LED in front to make it easier to tell direction when flying line-of-sight.

Otherwise it’s pretty much the same design and construction, only with a smaller frame (roughly 4½ instead of 6½ motor-to-motor distance), smaller motors (6 instead of 7 mm diameter) and smaller battery (200 instead of 260 mAh). In fact even that figure seems exaggerated, the battery is smaller than any 200 mAh cell I’ve ever come across before.

Compared to the E011 the frame is made from more rigid plastic, but instead the problem with the battery blocking the power connector is even more pronounced. It’s completely impossible to insert connect the lead while the battery is inserted, though this time the lead is long enough to do the steps the other way around.

The E012 comes with yet another not-so-hot transmitter and this time the protocol hasn’t been reverse-engineered, meaning it’s the transmitter you’re stuck flying with for the time being. It also comes with a set of replacement propellers, a USB charging cable and a really well-written English instruction manual (though it – for some reason – insists on calling the quadcopter “Xfly” throughout).

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about all the ways the E011 improves on the specs of the predecessor – on paper, but of course none of that means anything unless it translates into actual, real-world improvements. It’s fortunate then that the Eachine E011 makes it clear, right from take-off, that – in terms of fight characteristics – it’s a very different beast from the E010… or maybe the same beast only on steroids.

The most immediate difference is – not surprising – the thrust. While the E010 was already adequate in this department (fine for line-of-sight flying, a bit on the weaker side for carrying an FPV camera), the E011, I assume in large part thanks to its faster motors and – by extension – higher capacity battery – got it in spades.

This gives off a more energetic impression and increases maneuverability by allowing deeper pitch and throttle punches, but also makes the quadcopter a little jumpy stressing the need for precise throttle control. It would’ve made a ton of sense if the “brick figure flight mode” addressed this somehow, but if it does it’s very subtle.

Apart from this minor annoyance, flying the E011 is pretty much pure joy – hampered only somewhat by the mediocre transmitter. All in all, the flight characteristics seems to target people with at least some prior experience. While the rates feel distinct and well balanced, the first is already pretty fast and the second is positively sporty. Of course, if you are using an alternative transmitter you can setup the rates however you wish.

As a side note the automatic flips of the quadcopter are extremely fast and tight, not unlike the previously reviewed H8 Mini and the Bayangtoys X7. Curiously these all use the Bayangtoys protocol and – I believe – all use similar flight boards and therefore are compatible with the alternative “acro” firmware mentioned earlier.

I’ve seen people complain about the color coding of the quadcopters LEDs (red in the front, blue in the back). While I do admit having red in the back (as on the E010) would have made more sense, I must also admit I didn’t notice this until it was pointed out to me. I guess it depends on to what you are used to and to what extent you rely on this information. At least we can all agree that front and back are clearly distinguishable.

No Inductrix clone review would be complete without the obligatory FPV mod test. With the E011 it feels like Eachine – in some regards – designed it especially for this purpose, in others like the thought never entered their minds. For example, while the fast motors are plenty powerful to carry an FPV camera, there is no plug for connecting one and the area on the board where you would normally place it is cluttered with chunky components making it uneven. For this reason I would recommend getting some form of mount, 3D printed or otherwise.

Once the mod is complete though the E011 proves itself an excellent micro FPV platform, better than the E010 and – taken all together – probably better than the original Blade Inductrix as well. The quadcopter has more power, longer flight time (still a good 4 minutes in my experience) and – at least if used with an alternative transmitter, like the Devo 7E – flies just as good. Expect one – if not several – official FPV versions from Eachine soon.

Before wrapping up, let’s check back with our other review subject!

While it perhaps won’t blow your socks off, the E012 flies just fine as well. The quadcopter has three instead of two predefined rates and is impressively powerful and stable considering its small size, but after a while the thrust decreases and you may notice some wobble. It’s obvious that Eachine is really pushing the envelope of the specs here.

At the end of the day, the E012 is basically a souped-up nano quadcopter with an Inductrix style frame. As such FPV – while not completely off the table – is a significantly higher hanging fruit than in the case of the E011. Still, you’re welcome to have a go at it! A few people already have, in some cases with surprisingly good results!

In conclusion, the Eachine E011 – in many ways – is exactly what you’d expect from a follow-up to an already well-liked and reviewed model: The same basic formula, but with a couple of upgrades and improvements. In this case they seem to serve one of two main purposes: more power, such as with the faster motors and bigger battery, and upgrade-/maintainability, such as with the motor connectors and more common protocol.

The only obvious flaw that remains unaddressed, despite being a clear disadvantage versus many of the competitors, is the relatively poor included transmitter. Yes, the E011 comes with a different and – in some respects – improved version, but it still has a long way to go and represents the only reason I can’t unreservedly recommend the quadcopter to people who don’t have access to or plans to acquire an alternative transmitter.

The Eachine E012 is much narrow in scope, but what it seems to set out to do – being a fun-to-fly indoor nano quadcopter – it pretty much accomplishes. It’s maneuverable, very stable and has good flight time for a nano multirotor. On those merits you’d think it’d be an easy recommendation, but it currently sells for nearly the same price as the E011. With only a two dollar price difference, I’d think twice about passing up the upgrade to a more powerful and versatile quadcopter.

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