Walkera Devo F12E (In-Depth Review)
The Walkera DEVO F12E is one of two flagship models in Walkera’s range of RC transmitters and sits alongside the DEVO F12S in the $200 to $300 price segment.
This means it competes against the likes of FrSky’s highly popular Taranis X9D Plus and the Futaba 10JH which offer plenty of performance and value — indeed a price range with stiff competition.
Though having some serious rivals, the 12- channel F12E actually stands in a class of its own because it is probably the only premium transmitter in that price range that has a built-in FPV screen and 5.8G receiver. The same FPV integration can also be seen in a few other Walkera transmitters such as the DEVO F4 and F7.
Since it was released some two years ago, the F12E has undergone at least one face-lift in the form of the F12E Sport Edition which is essentially the original F12E in a white and black body.
- 12 channels including:
- 4 dials
- 2 x 3-way switches
- 4 x 2-way switches
- 5″ LCD screen (640 x 480 resolution)
- Control range: about 1km (100mw)
- Built-in 5.8G FPV receiver with 32 channels
- 4 stick modes
- Adjustable RF transmitter power
- Supports helicopters, airplane and multirotors
- Stores up to 15 models
- Telemetry functions: GPS data, altitude, distance, voltage, temperature, etc.
- Auto ID binding & Fixed ID
- USB port for firmware updates
- Frequency: 2.4GHz DSSS
- Power supply: Li-Po 7.4V / 11.1V 1600 – 3000mAh or AA batteries
- 5.8Ghz video distance: 0.5 – 2km
- Image frequency: 32 points
- Frequency domain: 5645MHz – 5945MHz
- Standby time: 6 – 12 hours
Like any other DEVO transmitter, the F12E is only compatible with DEVO receivers that use the DSSS radio protocol. There is no module bay where you can install modules to make the F12E compatible with other types of receivers. It is not entirely impossible to have the F12E talk to non-DEVO receivers. However, this involves performing a DIY hack on the unit — not exactly convenient for those who do not wish to go the DIY way.
The F12E comes with two removable antennas — one for 2.4G and the other for 5.8G. This is great for those who like to swap antennas or use different antenna setups.
The F12E can be powered by 2S or 3S Li Po batteries and also comes with a AA battery cartridge just in case you run out of batteries in the field and desperately need to use your transmitter.
It is interesting that although Walkera aerial photography drones are well known for their poor quality and reliability, their transmitters seem to be quite the opposite. The F12E is built to be robust and sturdy with a one-piece brushed aluminum slab dominating its front.
After many hours of use, my F12E has experienced plenty knocks and even drops and it is still functioning well. The worst was a 1 meter drop from a table top onto a hard floor and the F12E experienced no damage at all except for a few nicks and scratches. The control sticks, dials, switches and buttons are still functioning well.
The same, however, cannot be said for the foldable sunshade which is rather flimsy and fragile. Besides the poorly-made sunshade, I have not much to complain about the F12E. It is built to be quite tough.
The F12E feels a bit too big when compared to other transmitters in the same class. Due to this, switches and buttons are spaced out more than what you’d normally expect and reaching them can be a bit difficult if you don’t have large hands. As a result, using the F12E for precision flying while trying to operate the switches can be a bit tricky. Though the problem is not too bad, users with smaller hands can find it a bit hard to operate.
Besides the odd size, there is nothing much to complain about the F12E’s ergonomics. Switches and buttons are all placed in places you’d expect them to be. There are four dials which are placed appropriately at the sides, two on each side. These dials can be used to control a camera gimbal system or something else you’d expect to control using a dial. The dials click in place when centered and there is also an audible beep to let you know when a dial is centered. The sides also have rubber grips that provide you with an excellent grip.
The control sticks are also something worth writing home about. They’re about as good as it gets in this price range. The throttle stick has a very subtle ratcheting feel as you move it up and down, giving you a fairly good idea if you’re moving the throttle or if it is staying put.
The F12E comes with a built-in 5″ color LCD screen. It can tilt up to about 45 degrees and serves as both the FPV screen and the transmitter’s display screen. Although fairly large, the screen performs poorly outdoors during the daytime.
Even at maximum brightness, it is almost impossible to see what’s on the screen if you remove the sunshade. With the sunshade, things improve significantly although details in an FPV feed can still be difficult to pick out.
The screen can also display telemetry data over an FPV feed. This feature only works with DEVO receivers that come with telemetry such as the DEVO RX705 which I believe can pull telemetry data only from DEVO flight controllers.
A total of 32 channels on the 5.8G frequency can be selected on the F12E. Channel selection is done manually using the up and down buttons and no auto-scan feature is available. You also have the option of turning off the 5.8G receiver entirely if you’re not using it. This can help save battery power.
Despite the lackluster display which performs poorly in daylight and the flimsy detachable sunshade, the DEVO F12E is actually a very well-built transmitter that is both reliable and durable. Unfortunately, it is priced slightly higher than its rivals such as the Taranis X9D Plus which is probably the main reason why it is not as popular. The higher price along with the lack of other key features such as a module bay and voice feedback makes the F12E less appealing as a general purpose transmitter.
With its built-in FPV screen, integrated 5.8G receiver and four control dials, the F12E is one transmitter that is more suited to aerial photographers. In fact, it was designed to be shipped with Walkera’s earlier generation of aerial photography drones such as the QR X350 Pro and the Tali 500.
It is also important to note that the F12E (including its telemetry feature) will only work with DEVO receivers and flight controllers. So if you’re getting yourself an F12E, you’re pretty much locked in Walkera’s system unless you plan to do your own DIY hacks to make it compatible with other systems.
For aerial photographers who wish to travel light, the F12E is an excellent transmitter to have. With its FPV integration, there is no need to be carrying a seperate FPV headset or monitor around when out flying. This simplifies a lot of things for the average aerial photographer.
In other words, the F12E fails to impress as a general purpose transmitter. However, as a purpose-built workhorse transmitter for aerial photography it appears to be the best there is at the moment.
Walkera DEVO F12E
- Built like a tank
- Integrated FPV screen and receiver
- Removable antennas
- Good ergonomics
- FPV screen performs poorly under sunlight
- Fragile and flimsy sunshade
- Incompatible with non-Walkera receivers and systems