Note: Although, the 350 QX3 has numerous beginner-friendly features, I consider it an intermediate level aircraft. My recommendation is for aspiring multi-rotor pilots to start out with a mini quad and/or a simulator. Once you become competent and comfortable with the basics of piloting, your odds of success with an intermediate quad are much improved.
It has only been a few months since I reviewed the Blade 350 QX2 AP Combo. I liked the flying qualities of the quad and the stabilizing effect of the 2-axis camera gimbal, but the included CGO1 camera wasn’t up to par. Well, the multi-rotor industry gathers no moss. A new version of this quad is already on the market, the 350 QX3 AP Combo. This new ship has a different (better) camera on a 3-axis gimbal and several other improvements that I didn’t even know it needed! I've been flying it for a while to test, and here are my thoughts on this $1000 RTF quad.
As before, the AP Combo includes everything you need to go flying: prebuilt quad, camera/gimbal unit, transmitter, battery, and charger. It also has a few extras not found in the previous version, such as an 8GB micro-SD card for the camera and a USB programming cable for configuring the onboard firmware. As before, you’ll also find a spare set of props in the box.
Blade includes a quick start guide that covers the basics of operation. You’ll want to download the full manual to keep as a reference. I found the video tutorials on Blade’s YouTube channel to be especially helpful.
The 350 QX3’s new camera is an eyeball-like unit called the CGO2. The camera is an integral part of a 3-axis gimbal. This gimbal stabilizes the camera in the pitch, roll, and yaw axes, but only the pitch (tilt) of the camera can be commanded by the pilot. The camera is capable of 16MP stills and 1080p video at 60fps, which is a significant boost over the CGO1’s 1080P frame rate of 30fps.
Power for the camera is provided by the flight battery, so you don’t have to worry about managing a separate battery for the camera. Other than tilt of the gimbal, the camera functions can only be controlled via the CGO2 app on a smart phone or tablet with 5.8 GHz Wi-Fi.
The only other obvious change to the 350 QX3 is the relocated GPS antenna. It is now on a flip-up mast on the top of the quad. This new location helps to isolate the antenna from electronic noise created by other components which could negatively impact GPS reception. Some Go-Pro Hero3 users have indicated that the camera’s wi-fi system can affect GPS reception on multi-rotors. Although the CGO2 negates the use of a GoPro on the AP Combo, other versions of the 350 QX3 will accept it. Time will tell if the hinged mast is a structural weak point.