Battery: Removable 150 mAh, 3.7 volt
Flight time: 5-6 mins
Charge time: 25 mins
Transmitter rates: 2 (variable yaw)
Transmitter compatibility: Bayangtoys quadcopters
Headless mode: Yes
Competitors: Yifei XS-1
As of February 2016, the H8 Mini – confusingly sold under both the JJRC and Eachine brands, but equal in everything but the packaging – perhaps isn’t the hot stuff it once was. Released in May of 2015, the H8 Mini generated buzz for two reasons: 1) It had a super-fast yaw rate and 2) It was super cheap, retailing for only about $15 ready-to-fly. At the time of this review it’s pretty much been beat on both these points, but from what I gather it remains a very popular model and is one of the most requested to be reviewed on the channel. So, for sake of completeness…
Welcome to this review and flight test of the H8 Mini quadcopter from JJRC (or Eachine)!
The H8 Mini is called so because, when it was released, there was already an H8 model on the market from JJRC. Ironically the original H8, usually seen sold with a camera and thus called H8C, is according to size classification convention a “mini” while the H8 Mini is actually a “micro”. To confuse things further, there’s now also an inverted flyer called H8 3D Mini and a camera model called H8C Mini, but that seems to owe more to the original H8C than the H8 Mini. These models don’t have very much in common, but – as you’re able to tell – do share the same design.
As if there wasn’t already enough confusion, the H8 Mini also has an unmistakable but somewhat vaguely defined relationship with the Bayangtoys X7, a competent but overlooked model I reviewed way back. In that review I hypothesized the two were made by the same manufacturer, a theory I still stand by today. Thus, it’s only natural you’ll hear a lot of references and comparisons to the Bayangtoys X7 in this review.
As stated, the H8 Mini is inexpensive even by Chinese toy quadcopter standards and – examining the aircraft – it definitively looks the part. It comes in two variants: White with some red paint slapped on it and black with some green paint slapped on it (as pictured here). Regardless of your choice though, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s no-frills design, call it either “conventional” or “uninspired” depending on your preferred slant.
No, very exciting-looking it isn’t. Then again, how it looks probably comes pretty far down most people’s lists of why they’re interested in the H8 Mini. In terms of more practically oriented observations:
- At only 20 grams including battery, it – much like its brethren the Bayangtoys X7 – is extremely light for its size.
- As the LEDs are mounted directly onto the circuit board of the quadcopter and thus kind of sunken in, it makes them hard to see. Neither are they very bright, which taken together make the LVC warning easy to miss and the H8 Mini overall ill-suited for night flights. Believe me, I’ve tried! Looking at other reviews though, I gather the white version is somewhat of a different story as the body lets through a lot more of the light from the LEDs.
- The prop guards are part of the body and thus non-removable, unless you’re willing to perform plier surgery (at which point they become non-attachable instead). They have an annoying tendency of bending into the props, but otherwise don’t seem to affect flight performance the least.
- The included battery is a single cell 150 mAh LiPo which provides a respectable 5-6 minutes of flight after around 25 minutes of charging. As you can see it is removable, which is great news if you intend to keep several to avoid having to charge in-between! Curiously, my battery says “Eachine” on it while the quadcopter says “JJRC”.
The H8 Mini comes with your typical nano transmitter. I’ve talked about these extensively at this point, but my opinion of them remains unchanged: They get the job done, but it’s difficult to achieve much precision with them and they’re hard to find a comfortable way to hold for normal-sized hands.
In this particular case I realize the choice of transmitter must’ve been a cost-saving measure. It’s just unfortunate that a quadcopter primarily sold on its flight performance is paired with basically the worst possible transmitter for showing this off. All in all, the transmitter is probably one of the weaker points of the H8 Mini.
If you happen to own a Bayangtoys quadcopter though, your transmitter (which most likely looks like this – a miniaturized clone of the original Hubsan X4 TX) should not only work, but also offer more rates at the cost of a tamer yaw. If you happen to own one of those snazzy programmable Deviation transmitters, you’re also in luck as some industrious souls have re-implemented the Bayangtoys protocol for those as well.
Perhaps to be expected considering its price point, the other weak-point of the H8 Mini is in my opinion quality. Since I got mine, I’ve had to replace two motors. It’s an easy enough process and replacement motors luckily doesn’t cost much, but do take a long time to arrive all the way from China. I realize there’s always an element of randomness involved in this, but if my experience is anything to go by weigh in the risk of the occasional break-down when considering a purchase.
It’s not for naught the H8 Mini has been called a “stunt flyer”, implying it’s an aircraft designed with flips and funnels in mind rather than more traditional flying. The included transmitter offers only two rates, but with both flips and – famously – yaw are both very fast.
The former is something that has carried over from the Bayangtoys X7. As I put it in my review: “If you only take one thing away from this review, let it be that the Bayangtoys X7 has the tightest flips of any quadcopter”. The fast yaw – however – is an original trait.
The H8 Mini was one of the first toy grade quadcopters to sport the type of extreme yaw rate you’re seeing here. This quickly caught on and became something of a trend though, followed by models such as – and perhaps most noticeably – the Yifei XS-1 Phantom.
I admit I went into this review skeptical, having pretty much already decided the yaw was a gimmick. This sadly turned out largely correct of the higher rate, which – for all intents and purposes – is a show-off only mode, unpractical to do any regular flying with. The lower rate is actually controllable though, which makes it all the more critical.
Luckily, it holds up well. The yaw still borders on too fast and sometimes makes you over-steer and loose direction, but most of the time – especially when used to it – the level of agility and possibility for maneuvers feels surprisingly liberating and exhilarating.
To form a frame of reference, I did a quick flight comparison between the H8 Mini and the two most similar quadcopters I had access to: the Huiying Toys HY-852 and the JJRC JJ-1000:
- The HY-852, one of my favorite micros, handles similarly: Response to stick inputs feels very immediate and direct, but the yaw rate – unsurprisingly – feels measured in comparison. Also, although perhaps beside the point, it’s much louder!
- The JJ-1000, a popular sport flyer, seem to offer the deepest pitch of the three (also making it the fastest), but the TX has noticeable smoothing (lower servo speed, I think) which makes controls feel “floatier”. Furthermore, the yaw rate is probably the slowest of the three.
All three clearly have their individual strengths and weaknesses, but taken together the H8 Mini fairs well. It should be noted that more is not always better: Higher rates requires more from the pilot and the H8 Mini is one of the more demanding toy grade multirotors I’ve flown due to every nudge on the transmitter resulting in an immediate and forceful response.
As to be expected of toy grade quadcopters nowadays, there’s a poor-man’s return-to-home and headless mode implementation in place on the H8 Mini. This works as good or even better than can be expected, but there are two caveats to be aware of: 1) There’s no designated headless mode button, so this must always be activated via the return-to-home button and 2) the transmitter will keep beeping as long as headless mode is active, which can become extremely annoying.
In conclusion there’s lots of fun to be had with the H8 Mini, provided you got the experience or determination to master the super-fast yaw rate and overall extreme flight characteristics. Considering the sub-$15 price tag, it also has an impressive bang to buck ratio going on.
With all this going for it, you may ask yourself: “Whom is it not for?” Well, if you’re a beginner trying to get the hang of things, the H8 Mini would perhaps be a poor choice due to the lack of variety with regards to rates. It’s kind of a one-trick pony in that – and many other – senses, but I’ll admit it’s a pretty sweet trick.