Eachine E20 “Mini Spider” Review

Quick facts:

Battery: Removable 400 mAh, 3.7 volt
Flight time: 6 min
Charge time: 60 min

Transmitter rates: 2 (variable yaw)
Transmitter compatibility: ?

Competitors: Floureon H101, JJRC H22 etc.

Video review:

Transcript:

Eachine is a brand associated with the website Banggood.com. I don’t know and am not sure anyone knows in exactly what way though. Either one owns the other or – at the very least – there’s a close business partnership between the two. The brand is currently enjoying considerable success with their racing oriented pre-assembled hobby grade quadcopters like the Racer 250, Falcon 250 and Falcon 180 as well as various FPV accessories. Though more of a mixed bag, they regularly put out toy grade stuff as well, arguably the most successful being the H8 Mini (later rebranded as JJRC H8 Mini). Latest in that line is the Eachine E20, a so called inverted or 3D flyer with a unique design and sporty attitude. Let’s check it out!

Returning viewers know I’m a sucker for design and – as such – feel compelled… nay obliged to dwell some on this aspect of the Eachine E20. It looks both anime and – as already referenced – monster movie inspired, like a cross between something out of Neon Genesis Evangelion and those M.U.T.O.s in that 2014 Godzilla movie (and no, I didn’t remember what they were called just on top of my head!). Whether or not you dig the design, you have to admit it’s original! The most similar looking model I can think of is MJX’s X902, reviewed on this channel a few months back, but even that doesn’t come very close.

It’s offered in black and gray (as pictured here) and while that does provide some variation, it would have been nice to have more contrasting color options (like a Neon Genesis Evangelion purple perhaps?). Anyway, at this point I’m just nitpicking based on personal preference. Aesthetically, I could hardly be happier with the E20. Two thumbs up from me!

Size-wise I expected the Eachine E20 to – like the Eachine H8 Mini or just mentioned MJX X902 – sit somewhere in-between the nano and micro size classes, but in fact it’s bigger than both of them, definitely tipping the scale towards the latter category. Again like the MJX X902, the E20 has downward facing motors and propellers which in itself don’t necessarily change flight characteristics significantly, but unlike that it’s also an inverted flyer, meaning once in-air you can fly it upside down as well as right side up. More on this in the flight test!

The battery of the Eachine E20 is removable, which in itself is good. The 400 mAh single cell LiPo provides for around 6 minutes of flight and takes around an hour to charge with the included USB charging cable. What’s not so good is that the battery compartment is a very tight fit. Getting the battery in there isn’t the issue; it’s getting the battery door to close with the battery connected. On top of this there’s no on/off switch, so you have to do all this with the battery live and the LEDs flashing. It’s tempting to modify the quadcopter so the battery can be connected outside of the battery compartment, but thus far I’ve felt a little hesitant about messing with exterior as I like the look of it so much.

Speaking of LEDs, the Eachine E20 got some and while the odds of good night flying capabilities may be stacked against it with its dark, opaque body, it manages to beat them thanks to some clever light placement and color coding. The white propellers also help things by reflecting the light from the LEDs, making it visible from most angles. There are more clever details like this about the design, like how the feet functions as both landing gear and prop guards and that the shape of the quadcopter is such that it can be landed upside down as well.

The transmitter is a clone of the one included with the original Hubsan X4, sans the little display. It’s a nice toy-grade transmitter and definitely an improvement over those over-sized nano transmitters that are otherwise common in this price range. On the downside it doesn’t seem to use any of the more common protocols, meaning no support for other transmitters (including the popular Deviation transmitter firmware).

The control scheme is also a little confusing and very poorly documented in the instruction manual: The sticks work as you’d expect from a mode 2 transmitter, so does the trim buttons… except the throttle trims which cycles between rates. The two buttons in the middle are used for switching between normal 360° flips and special 180° flips that invert the aircraft (right for full, left for half). The flips themselves are executed by clicking the right stick.

I think I’ve already mentioned most of the accessories that come with the Eachine E20: a set of spare propellers, a USB charging cable and an instruction manual that’s largely unintelligible. I read it multiple times trying to figure out the inverted flight maneuvers and still didn’t fully get it based on the instructions alone… and I’m someone with – at least some – experience!

This is the first quadcopter with inverted flight capability I review, so don’t take me for an expert on the subject, but I believe the Eachine E20 offers a sort of simplified experience in this regard. Here, inverted flight is not a difficult manual maneuver you have to master, but rather a mode you simply switch over to. The quadcopter will perform a half-flip and start hovering upside-down. From here you’ll find that it still controls exactly the same, the only difference being that the flip turned the aircraft around which can be a little disorienting the first few times.

This “Easy 3D”, as I’ve seen it called, is a double-edged sword: On the upside it’s super easy to get started with and used to. On the flipside, there’s not much skill involved which – if the fact that it looks pretty neat isn’t enough motivation for you– may make you tire with it quickly, similarly to how auto-flips tend to have a limited appeal in the long run.

In flight, the Eachine E20 sadly didn’t fully deliver on my expectations though. Until about halfway into the battery it flies good – even great! – regardless if upright or inverted, but after that it starts exhibiting instability and loose altitude when flown with deep pitch or sharp yaws in inverted mode. Right towards the end, the behavior starts rubbing off on the “normal” side as well.

Is the quadcopter underpowered? It would seem so: The symptoms all check out and inverted flyers are especially susceptible as their dual direction propellers are less efficient than regular ones. Of course the usual disclaimer, that this is only one person’s experience with one unit, still applies. Regardless it’s not a complete deal-breaker, although I find it annoying having to adapt my flight style halfway into the flight.

Also – and probably related to this – I’ve had issues with the LVC warning sometimes triggering only a couple of minutes into the flight, which is made all the worse by the fact that it disables the inverted flight mode.

The flight characteristics are otherwise very well calibrated. The two rates are perhaps best described as sporty while not extreme, though the higher does approach the H8 Mini in terms of yaw speed. The flips are wide and laidback, but very reliable. Apparently there’s also an undocumented headless mode, though I wasn’t able to test it for this review.

Reviewing the Eachine E20 has been a roller-coaster ride for me: One moment loving it for its cool and clever design and solid flight characteristics, the next hating it as it starts wobbling and losing altitude or its LVC warning gets tripped off for no apparent reason.
All in all, despite loving individual aspects about it, Eachine’s E20 didn’t really do it for me as a whole and I don’t see it catching on the same way their H8 Mini did. If you’re looking for an inexpensive multirotor to try out inverted flight with… Maybe have a second look at the competition before making your decision.

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