XK Detect X380-C (In-Depth Review)

When WLToys released the V303 Seeker quadcopter just over a year ago, it immediately became an instant hit. Its popularity was driven mainly by an affordable price tag (less than $400), basic but reliable GPS features, decent quality and highly stable flight characteristics which made it an excellent beginner drone for those looking to take up aerial photography at low budgets.

At a time when the cheapest Phantom 2 cost well over $900, the V303 was like a dream come true for many who wanted a semi-pro aerial photography platform minus the hefty price tag of a Phantom.

XK Detect X380 with FPV monitor (sold separately).

XK Detect X380 with FPV monitor (sold separately).

Fast forward one year into the future and WLToys, via its sister company XK, releases the Detect X380 — a beefed up and improved version of the V303. Appearance-wise, the X380 shares a striking resemblance to its predecessor. Not much has changed on the exterior except for the new faux carbon fiber finishing and a larger battery bay. The X380 still retains the x-shaped body, the twin headlights and landing legs that look like retractable antennas from a 1960’s science fiction movie.

What has changed, among other things, is the battery capacity and control range — the new battery has a capacity of 5400mAh, about twice the capacity of the V303’s while the control range has been doubled from 500m to 1000m. This is good news for V303 owners who wished their drones could fly longer and farther. Best of all, a X380-C with 2-axis camera gimbal system only costs roughly $50 more than its V303 equivalent — not exactly a very large increase considering the generous improvement in battery capacity and control range.

The X380 comes in 4 different kits:

  • X380 – standard kit with no camera (30 minutes flight time)
  • X380-A – includes fixed gimbal and 1080MP camera (27 minutes flight time)
  • X380-B – includes fixed gimbal with 3-point dampening and 1080P HD camera (27 minutes flight time)
  • X380-C – includes 2-axis brushless gimbal and 1080P HD camera (22 minutes flight time)

This review is based on a X380-C with an added FPV transmitter and monitor (not included in the original kit).

Specifications
  • Dimensions: 305 x 305 x 210mm
  • Diagonal motor distance: 380mm
  • Motor size: 2212 950kV brushless
  • Weight: Approx 1190g (with battery and camera)
  • Flight time: X380 (3o mins) / X380-A (27 mins) / X380-B (27 mins) / X380-C (22 mins)
  • Battery: 11.1V 5400mAh 20C 3S Li Po
  • Charging time: 90 – 120 minutes
  • Control distance: approximately 1000m
  • Transmitter power: 6 x 1.5V AA batteries (not included)
Less Is More

The XK X380-C may not have all the bells and whistles of its closest DJI rival — the Phantom 3 Standard but sometimes less is more. Unlike the Phantom 3 which boasts GPS waypoint navigation and a host of other neat features, the X380-C does the bare basics with regards to GPS navigation.

The X380 features one key automatic take off and landing.

The X380 features one key automatic take off and landing.

It can take off or land automatically with the press of a button, automatically return to its launching point when needed and also boasts the popular “Hover Around Point” GPS feature which aerial photographers will find very useful (at press time, this feature is only available via a firmware upgrade).

All these GPS features may not seem much but when you’re into aerial photography, you’d rarely need more than what the X380-C has to offer anyway. Features such as waypoint navigation and other more advanced autonomous features may be useful to industries such as agriculture and law enforcement but they are rarely in the average aerial photographer’s wishlist.

Flight Performance

The first thing you’ll notice when you get the X380-C up in the air is that this is one drone that was tuned and designed purely for aerial photography. The X380-C is not a drone you’d buy for the thrill of flying, racing or performing aerial stunts. It is a drone that was made to take great photos and videos from the air.

The X380 is amazingly stable in the air.

The X380 is amazingly stable in the air.

You’ll notice this in its highly stable flying characteristics. The X380-C flies with such stability and grace that you’d think it’s a $1,000 drone. One key feature that makes the X380-C so stable in the air is its barometric pressure sensor and GPS module which give the drone an accurate reading of its altitude (within 0.5M) and position, allowing it to precisely maintain its position in the air even in light to moderate winds.

The X380-C’s spring-loaded self-centering throttle stick rests at 50% so keeping the drone hovering accurately at a specific altitude is very easy. If you need to go higher, just move the throttle stick up till the X380-C rises to where you need it to be, let go of the throttle stick and voila, the X380-C obediently stays put where you left it and will maintain its position until you move it elsewhere (assuming you have a strong GPS reception).

This stability allows you to focus on taking good videos and photos instead of spending your energy and focus in struggling to fly the drone.

Yaw movement in the X380-C is also fluid and smooth, allowing you to take sweeping panoramas of the landscape below with ease. Everything in the X380-C seems dialed in to give you an excellent aerial photography platform.

Another key reason that makes the X380-C such a stable flier is its excellent propulsion system which consists of 2212 950KV brushless motors paired to 9-inch propellers. The quality of these motors are superb and they’re almost as good as what you’d find on the more expensive Phantom 3.

The only thing that needs to be done to get the most out of the X380’s propulsion is to balance the plastic propellers which I find to be mostly out of balance. The motors themselves are already very well balanced out of the box so they don’t really need any tweaking.

The X380 also features “headless” mode — a feature which allows you to fly your drone without worrying where its front is facing. When headless mode is turned on, the drone will fly in any direction you order it relative to your transmitter’s position, irrespective of where its front or “head” is facing. So if your drone has its front facing right at you, it will move to the left if you push your right control stick to the left.

It is important to remember that the “front” direction is determined when you arm the motors and is fixed throughout the flight until you land the X380 and disarm it.

“Headless” mode is really useful when you lose visual orientation of your drone due to distance. However, I advise beginners not to develop the habit of flying in this mode too often since this is simply a great way to develop bad flying habits.

Camera Gimbal System

The XK X380-C kit comes with a 2-axis brushless gimbal and camera system which isn’t the best there is where gimbals are concerned but gets the job done reasonably well nevertheless. The gimbal is attached to the bottom of the body via a set of four rubber dampers and plastic rails that help minimize vibration to the camera. A dial at the lower right of the transmitter allows the pilot to control the pitch angle of the gimbal. This setup is a bit complicated with plastic parts and wires sticking out from underneath the body.

Having only 2 axis, the gimbal is not able to dampen vibration in the yaw axis which is another weakness of the system. Due to this, the X380-C’s camera gimbal system does not offer the same level of stability that a 3-axis gimbal can provide. However, when flying conditions are ideal, the X380-C is still capable of taking great videos. It only starts to struggle in really windy conditions.

The camera gimbal system can get a bis messy with wires sticking out at the bottom.

The camera gimbal system can get a bis messy with wires sticking out at the bottom.

The X380-C comes supplied with a 1080P HD camera which appears to be a clone of the popular SJ4000 action camera. Although costing significantly less than a GoPro, the camera is still capable of producing some really impressive images, although not exactly in the same ballpark as the latest GoPros where quality is concerned.

Transmitter

The X380 comes with a redesigned 6-channel transmitter body that also features an improved control range — 1000m to be exact, double the range of its predecessor. While the V303’s transmitter had the appearance of a toy-grade product, the X380’s looks like it means serious business.

The X380 transmitter with optional FPV monitor and receiver.

The X380 transmitter with optional FPV monitor and receiver.

Gone are the childish graphics and color scheme, replaced by a more professional all-black look with labels and buttons placed ergonomically. The X380 transmitter not only looks good, it feels good in your hands too.

Power is supplied by 6 AA batteries and there are dedicated switches for “headless” mode and return-to-launch (“Go Home”). An LCD display dominates the lower part of the transmitter and displays important information such as throttle position, battery level and other status details. A dial at the lower right controls the gimbal’s pitch angle and can be pressed to activate the “hover around point” GPS feature (if you already have the latest firmware installed).

There is also a button for automatic take off and landing and another button for toggling between stick modes.

A World of Options

The X380 offers a host of options when it comes to modifications — one thing that makes it more attractive than other drones such as the Phantom 3 that have a more integrated/proprietary approach to their designs.

Don’t like the supplied camera? Just swap it with a GoPro. You can even replace the 2-axis gimbal with a gimbal of your choice and add your own choice of FPV transmitter and antenna.

The X380 is also compatible with generic 5400mAh Li Po batteries that cost about $30 each. That is certainly a far better bargain than the smart batteries that come with the Phantom 3 which can cost well over $100.

For the more technically-inclined, the X380’s flight controller can be accessed via a software connection and its GPS capabilities upgraded with your own DIY copper shield to dramatically improve satellite reception.

These are just some of the upgrades and modifications that can be done on the X380 to make it perform better.

Conclusion

The XK Detect X380-C represents a big improvement over its highly popular predecessor the WLToys Seeker V303. It is an excellent entry-level aerial photography platform that offers nearly the same stability, quality and reliability that you’d normally get in more expensive drones. It also offers plenty of freedom for upgrades and modifications. It may offer only basic GPS features such as Return To Land (RTL) and Hover Around Point — a list which may not appear impressive to some but for the average aerial photographer, such features are just what most assignments need.

With that said, the X380-C was designed primarily as an aerial photography drone. It’s not something that you’d buy for the thrill of flying, racing or performing aerial acrobats. Almost everything about this drone was designed for taking smooth and impressive aerial shots.

Priced between $310 for the X380 model and $480 for the X380-C model, the X380 range stands in a class with few rivals, with only the Cheerson CX-20 and a few other similar models coming close to matching its specs. On the upper price range, it faces stiff competition from the Phantom 3 Standard which is a very well-rounded package itself and represents a formidable rival to the X380-C. But while the P3 Standard offers a highly integrated package, it does have its drawbacks.

Chief among these are its lack of mod options, highly proprietary design, expensive smart batteries, no fly zones and a flight controller that requires mandatory updates. This makes the X380-C a highly attractive option for those seeking an affordable (and less fickle) alternative to the P3 Standard.

Priced at $480, all it takes to make the X380-C fully FPV capable is to purchase at least a 200mW 5.8GHz FPV transmitter and FPV monitor with built-in receiver and battery at a cost of roughly $100. This brings the total cost to about $580 which is still about $120 cheaper than a P3 Standard. Bear in mind that the Phantom 3 does not come with its own FPV monitor as it uses your smartphone for that purpose.

Like the P3, the X380-C has its own drawbacks too but there aren’t many to mention here. One of it is the messy camera gimbal system that leaves plenty of wires sticking out from the underbelly and a 2-axis brushless gimbal that is certainly no match for the P3’s 3-axis gimbal.

Still, the X380-C is overall an excellent package that offers great value. It’s not surprising that the X380-C is already on its way to becoming one of the most popular, if not the most popular, entry-level aerial photography platform below $600 — a worthy successor to the venerable WLToys V303.

The XK Detect X380-C is available for purchase at GearBest.

XK Detect X380-C

XK Detect X380-C
7.68

Affordability

7/10

    Reliability

    8/10

      Features and Performance

      8/10

        Flight Time

        7/10

          Build Quality

          9/10

            Pros

            • Very smooth and stable flight
            • Decent build quality and reliability
            • Room for upgrades, tweaks and modifications
            • Affordable batteries
            • Decent camera (X380-C)

            Cons

            • Messy wiring on the camera gimbal system
            • 2-axis gimbal instead of 3-axis
            • No power switch

            Adrin Sham

            Adrin Sham is a designer and photographer turned drone enthusiast. Since buying a drone for aerial photography some years ago, he has since developed a passion for UAVs and all things related.

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            22 Responses

            1. Howard Dillman says:

              Affordability

              10

              Reliability

              8.8

              Features and Performance

              8.8

              Flight Time

              10

              Build Quality

              8

              Are you able to use the camera for your fpv camera and still take photos and video with it to the sd card? How did you hook up the video feed to the video transmitter you added. Thanks.

              • admin says:

                Yes, the camera will still record and save to the SD card. The video feed comes from the micro USB port of the camera (not the one that has the label HDMI).

                Get a USB to AV output cable to connect the camera to the FPV transmitter. You can find the cable here:

                http://amzn.to/1NiZHKh

                Any 5.8GHz FPV transmitter with about 200mW power will do, such as this one:

                http://amzn.to/1NVM2Fl

                The FPV system draws power from the quad’s battery, or you can choose to add a smaller battery just for FPV, although this setup will make it a lot more messy.

                Hope that helps.

            2. John Kurt Collera says:

              Is there still gello footage on this? This or FUAV Seraphi?

              • admin says:

                With the blades properly balanced, there is little to no jello. However, the gimbal is a 2-axis gimbal and not 3-axis. A 3-axis gimbal provides far better video stability compared to a 2-axis although it’s heavier. A 3-axis is better at eliminating jello.

                I have no experience flying the FUAV Seraphi. From the specs I see online, it seems similar to the X380. It also has a more integrated and cleaner design.

            3. mahmoud says:

              does the camera use the drone battery?

            4. Vic says:

              Hi,
              I would like to know, whether the GPS function is dependent on/linked to magnetic compass?
              I have had a small crash of X380 – the landing frame with magnetic sensor was damaged (I will replace it by a new one). After the crash I connected the quadcopter to ground station software – all sensors (except magnetic compass) seemed to be working normally. But when I turned quadcopter and transmitter on, I have not received green light flashing (there was green-red flashing – which indicates no GPS signal(?) Is this just because the magnetic compass is not there (I have disconnected it) or does it indicate any other damage?
              Thanks, Vic

              • admin says:

                I’ve yet to mess around with the GPS module and other internal stuff with the X380 but from what you’re saying, it does look like the X380’s GPS will only function if the compass is connected and working properly.

            5. Thomas says:

              Affordability

              5.4

              Reliability

              8.3

              Features and Performance

              8.3

              Flight Time

              8.1

              Build Quality

              7.6

              Hi! Thanks for the review! Made me sure in buying the x380. I’m really happy about it but I have one question. The photo button does’nt take pictures or start recording. Is that normal? Everything else works great. Thanks again for making the review!

              • admin says:

                Yes, the “photo” button doesn’t do anything for camera control. If you have the latest firmware on your X380, the “photo” button is used to trigger the Hover-Around-Point feature.

                I have no idea why they label that button with “photo”. Maybe it was a last minute design change that didn’t work out.

            6. Vic says:

              Hi,

              1. I want to use XK detect FPV kit (monitor, receiver, transmitter…). Can I see any additional info (in addition to video/picture transfer) on monitor of this kit, e.g. speed of quadcopter, distance/altitude of quadcopter?
              2. What is the purpose of barometer in this quadcopter? E.g. is it important for quadcopter to hold stable altitude?
              3. Can I get some flight data from ground station software, e.g. how high quadcopter was, what speed it reached during last flight… OR is this software just for check of sensors and setting different parameters?
              4. Have you ever tried to set some parameters using ground station software – and if yes, did it work normally and reliably (without any crash)? E.g. speed, flight limits (maximal altitude/distance), return home mode….
              5. regarding “return home” function: if quadcopter reaches 1km distance (end of the control range) will it switch to “return home” mode and return it to the start position automatically OR will fly away? And if the transmitter stops to work (would be switched off) during flight, would quadcopter again return home automatically?

              Thanks,
              Vik

              • admin says:

                1. You need to install an On Screen Display (OSD) module and overlay the telemetry data onto your FPV screen. A good OSD to use for the X380 is the Tarot TL300L. You can find more details here:

                http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2358794

                Take note that adding an OSD to your X380 is a highly technical process and I can’t explain it all in this one reply. You can learn more about it here:

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-UTOHkEk2Q

                2. The barometer helps the X380 maintain its current altitude so you don’t have to struggle with the throttle on your transmitter to keep it from hovering up and down.

                3 and 4. You can establish a ground station connection with the X380. However, I’ve not had the time to experiment with it. You can find out how to do it here:

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0waf-xuBEfw

                5. Not sure about this but it does RTH when the battery is low.

            7. Vic says:

              Hello,
              you have mentioned in your review, that the camera X380-version C is kind of clone of SJCAM SJ4000 (?). I have checked it and they really look similar. Do you know whether it would be possible to attach SJ4000 to original XK gimbal and whether SJ4000 can be connected to XK FPV kit? i.e. is it possible to connect SJ4000 to XK FPV antenna and normally transfer pictures/film to FPV monitor (without any additional devices)?
              And I also was considering iLook camera with antenna and Walkera plastic G-2D brushless gimbal for X380 – do you have any idea whether these would be compatible (fully functional) with X380 and XK FPV kit?
              Thanks,
              Vic

              • admin says:

                Yes, the camera is probably a clone of the SJCAM SJ4000. I have an SJ4000 at home and it is identical to the X380 camera. Even the Version info on the X380 camera states:

                N20150702V01
                SJCAM-SJ4000

                I have not done a side-by-side comparison of the optics on both cameras so I can’t tell if they’re identical in terms of image quality.

                Since the X380 camera is identical to the SJ4000, you can use the SJ4000 on the XK gimbal and XK FPV kit. I have tested this myself. No additional devices are needed. Just swap the cameras.

                You can install the Walkera G-2D or G-3D on the X380 since the mounting holes at the bottom of the X380 are compatible with the Walkera gimbals.

                If you’re using an iLook+ camera then there is no need for the XK FPV kit since the iLook+ has its own built-in FPV transmitter and antenna. All you need to do is power it up with the 12V DC source at the bottom of the drone. This will require some soldering and wiring work since the connector provided is not compatible with the iLook’s port (you need to do some modifications).

                The Walkera G-2D/G-3D also requires 12V DC power.

            8. Vic says:

              Thanks for your advices.
              I know, you said you have not tested very much the “ground station” software yet. But perhaps you can give an advice regarding my current issue with this software. I am able to connect my X380 quadcopter to “ground station” installed on my PC – it communicates with sensors and with transmitter. But when I changed something e.g. height at RTH mode, velocity, flight limits… it has never been saved. I have been following instructions from different discussion forums and WLtoys website on how to adjust parameters, but this has not helped so far. As long as the quadcopter is connected to PC all changes are retained (even if I switch off and then again switch on “ground station”), but once I disconnect quadcopter from PC all changes are lost (original default values are retained).
              What can be problem?
              Thanks,
              Vic

            9. Ant says:

              I got my X380-C and i cant make the gimbal switch on. Maybe I am doing something wrong? Here’s a youtube video i recorded.

              Thanks for any tips!

              • admin says:

                I don’t see any video link in your post. Have you checked if the gimbal wires are all properly connected?

              • admin says:

                Do you have a multimeter? Try measuring the 5V power supply on the wires that connect the gimbal controller and the X380 body. It should measure about 4.75V.

                Looks like the gimbal isn’t getting any power or it could be that the gimbal controller is dead.

            10. Roger Playter says:

              Just got x380C fpv has no signal can you please tell me how to wire up camera pictures would be great thanks in advance
              Roger

            11. Rick says:

              So the camera that comes with the X380 has no controls from the transmitter or Wifi like a GoPro?.. You must have it recording before flight?

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