The proven DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus  V’s  the new Walkera Scout X4

Looks are subjective. The “carbon” Scout looks evil and will scare small chilldren and horses. The slightly smaller Phantom is more aeronautical, some would say toy like, but these quads are definately no toys!

The Scout is NOT made of Carbon or Carbon Fibre but a plastic shell with a carbon fiber look sticker on it which started peeling off at the front. The size difference its negligible  – wingspan (prop-span) when we have sat them next to each other is virtually the same, and of note the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus has larger props than the Scout.

UAVsIt all starts with the unboxing. Because the Phantom has been out for some time, it’s imediately obvious DJI have spent some time refining their product and packaging. Many instructions and warnings are included wrapped around various parts making it much easier for the novice end user. The Scout is packaged well, the version I got was protected in a moulded plastic tray and looks imediately impressive, you can also order a version packaged in an aluminium carry case, though from my understanding you need to remove the legs, gimbal and props making it not very functional for regular use, but good for storage and travelling.

Documentation is easy to follow for the Scout, but lacks much detail and has now been found to be incorrect or insufficient in places. For example, the PC software “Mission Planner” doesn’t even get a mention, yet this is required to adjust many of the firmware settings on the Scout. There is no manual or instructions at all for the Bluetooth-2.4g groundstation, it’s only mentioned briefly in the GSC startup guide, so before you even use them the Phantom gets points for being more user friendly. Check out the ever expanding SCOUT X4 GETTING STARTED GUIDE for more details.

The Phantom flew pretty well in GPS mode straight out of the box, however the Scout required flying in the more challenging full manual mode for the first 10 minutes acording to the beta testers – adding more of a challenge first up for beginners. It does fly well in this mode but it demands constant attention as it’s entirely up to user input to keep control.
The Phantom and Naza flight systems should be calibrated before every single flight, where as the APM controller on the Scout should only be callibrated once (unless your moving over 200km away or alter hardware/software) and “learns” as it flies and slowly improves.
Once GPS is locked and has settled on the Scout loiter mode is much the same as the Phantom having flown them next to each other however the Scout runs on for about 10m before settling when you let go of the sticks, whereas the Phantom stops almost instantly.

It has since come to light that MANY modifications and software changes should be done to make your Scout safer and more reliable BEFORE flying, it is NOT “ready to fly” making it difficult to recommend the Scout to anyone – especially beginners as there is a massive learning curve which requires some technical knowledge, skill and plenty of time and patience.

The Scout seems faster and more powerful than the Phantom with the (possible) ability to upgrade to 8x motors to carry a larger payload at the expense of flight time and is certainly fun to fly but that’s in part due to how the software is set up diferently from the factory on each craft which can me modified to suit.

Unfortunately for me, I can testify that despite taking some big hits due to software and hardware malfunctions and admittedly the odd pilot error, the Scout is pretty tough. I’ve heard complaints by others that the legs are weak, but I’d rather replace a $6 leg pipe than have it spear through the body and wreck expensive electronics! The common replacement parts like props and  legs, are pretty cheap and even a body shell or a motor can be had for under $40. The most vunerable and expensive part is the gimbal, the Scout’s G-3D is half the cost of the Phantom’s.

20141202_132342
Repairs on repairs! After this crash it’s time for a body transplant. Luckily no damage to any electronics.

The Phantom Vision+ is equipped with a much better standard camera. The Scout’s iLook has a blue hue, low on red and higher contrast. When 1/4 of frame is sky the ground often becomes very dark and hard to see so you need to point the camera downward for best results. You can only take either 12MP stills OR video and have to land to change modes while the Phantom lets you do both and offers RAW format for better post processing as well as software access to settings like ISO, white balance etc. providing much better results. Both craft do a good job with image stabilization, but the Phantom does a better job out of the box.

We’ve yet to test what kind of load they can carry, I’m considering a Sony RX100 and updated gimbal or a GoPro4 as possible future options for the Scout but would expect flight times to take a hit. I safely get 17-18 minute flights on the Scout, the Phantom will happily fly for around 25 minutes, both with camera and active flying.
The two craft have the radio frequencies set up differently. The Phantom uses 5.8g for control and 2.4g for video while the Scout uses 2.4g for control and 5.8 for video, meaning most camera upgrades for the Scout will also require the additional purchase of a 5.8g VTX.

The Scout has retractable legs, though the servos are a poor design and need to be modified to avoid breaking and potentially shorting out your main board in flight!! – there’s an upgrade kit for the Phantom.
The Scout’s controller is all nicely integrated but the built in screen isn’t brilliant in bright light.
The Scout is brand new and unproven and offers much potential, but so far too many problems are surfacing, there are unresolved issues and there has been a complete lack of support directly from Walkera. Hopefully Walkera will support it and their customers – like DJI have with the Phantom, which has been refined and improved greatly upon since it’s intial launch.

 The Scout looks awesome, offers so much promise but actually delivers very little. It flies well when it does and is slightly bigger and more powerful so should lift a bit more. I dont mind researching, rolling up my sleeves and tinkering with the Scout, it’s been often quite frustrating, at times heartbreaking yet an interesting learning experience, but to be honest – I would rather be out flying and taking photos. After over 60 flights I still can’t trust the Scout so it doesn’t suit it’s intended purpose. I’m now more nervous when I fly it wondering if something else will go wrong and I’m very relieved when it lands.  My mate has had NO problems with his Phantom and is full of confidence in his craft. If I were to choose again with hindsight, I would go the Phantom – or start looking at other options – at least until Walkera lift their game.
UPDATE: 19th March, 2015.
I have now abandoned my Scout X4 and built myself a DJI Flame Wheel F550 ARF Hexacopter kit.
After 60 flights with this new UAV I have not had a single issue and have full confidence in it’s reliability.
Based on my personal experience, I would NOT recommend purchasing the Scout, it is simply not RTF or reliable.

Tone.

____________________________________________________

Mike’s (Phantom 2 Vision Plus Pilot and owner) thoughts on the subject of machine V’s machine

Well, after flying with flying buddy Tone it has been interesting times, and one of the most fun hobbies I’ve been involved in. I’ll say first up it’s difficult for me to come into this part of our site from the perspective that you the reader would have already read what Tone has said above, given the praise he has given the Phantom 2 Vision Plus. But I’ll try to give an overview of what I think so far. And remember this is all just my opinion on what I have seen so far. When flying properly,  the 2 machines fly in a similar manner, but it does seem the Phantom 2 Vision Plus flies a lot more stable. Firstly it still seems the Phantom 2 Vision Plus comes to a much quicker halt when you let go of the sticks, which is what these types of UAV’s are supposed to do.
landing
Myself (Mike) piloting the Phantom 2 Vision Plus back to the landing pad after a 22 minute flight, the battery alarm goes off at the point when you have 30% battery charge left, when I landed I still had 22% battery capacity left. I always bring my Phantom back as soon as the alarm goes off.
From what I have also seen so far, the Phantom 2 Vision Plus can go a lot further away in range and the FPV telemetry seems to transmit at longer distances clearer and more reliably, in the testing we have seen so far. And as I have also mentioned here, the Phantom 2 Vision Plus FPV system in my opinion is a work of art. I purchased a 7inch Samsung Tablet as my screen matched to a highly researched sun visor (made at ICC labs)  – this gave me the option of picking the best screen I could find I liked, adding to this, and this is not a bonus to be underestimated, you can move the camera, change camera settings, use the radar feature and do hundreds of other things on the touch screen! – incredible.
Additional information; Yesterday Tone started to fly a path exactly as I flew on the Phantom 2 Vision Plus,  and the Phantom was able to fly 5 to 10 times further after testing in exactly the same place and conditions. I actually could have kept going without question, so this could be 5 to 20 times the distance as my telemetry and controls were still perfect at the already long range I was at.
hood better2visor off
I have clocked up 14 hours flying the Phantom 2 Vision Plus so far, and not had a single so much as a glitch, and the Return to Land feature (tested once) brought the craft back and gently LANDED IT BACK ON MY 5 x 5 foot landing pad, like a feather after being a long way from the Takeoff and Landing Pad.
As for flight dynamics, personally I prefer the Phantom 2 Vision Plus, it corners cool as, it’s fast and reacts brilliant, when Tones is flying It’s probably not that different other than not being as stable.
I have been low flying my Phantom 2 Vision Plus and barely nicked the ground once  – and even after tilting to about 70 degrees I was able to reactively recover it (I was making low runs at high speed at my stationary action camera for some fun when this occurred, so I will post the footage when I have time) but to add to this, even the Phantom 2 Vision Plus 3D Gimbal was fast enough and accurate enough to film this  amount of tilt during the incident, the footage is amazing and to recover from an incident like this is a credit to DJI and without pushing my own barrow too much the pilot as well (me). I feel I can trust the Phantom 2 Vision Plus in flight a lot, I have flown some very tight and difficult flights as Tone knows, and the Phantom 2 Vision Plus flies with absolute precision. And in my personal experience even in bad winds, the Phantom 2 Vision Plus is as stable as a rock.

The camera on the Phantom 2 Vision Plus

I think Tone has already touched on this topic above, the camera on the Phantom 2 Vision Plus is nothing short of stunning. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Adding to this with it’s many adjustments – when used by an operator that knows how to adjust camera settings it just gets better. There is no doubting the quality of the images coming off the Phantom 2 Vision Plus, they can be used professionally, they are beautifully stunning, it’s that simple. All you have to do is go over to the images page to see the images that have come off the Phantom 2 Vision Plus to see the WOW factor it can produce. I also think the gimbal in my opinion is far superior to Tones. Although I think we all know that if you do crash your phantom (and thankfully this has never happened to me) the gimbal can be damaged and is expensive, however shortly I will provide some links to aftermarket “gimbal savers” that from what I have seen and heard are innovative, clever and do very much protect the gimbal in the event of a crash.
I purchased my Phantom 2 Vision Plus in very late 2014, I am not sure if this has any relevance but I have noted this just in case there is any difference to a Phantom 2 Vision Plus purchased 12 months before mine.

The Look of the craft

Tone and myself differ on this opinion, but as a pilot – I like the look and think the Phantom 2 Vision Plus  just looks more professional as a machine, more aviation like, but this is like art and a subjective topic, I have written a little more about this on my Phantom 2 Vision Plus page and you can read my thoughts more there. And don’t be fooled by the optical illusion, we have sat these machines side by side and the wingspan (prop-span) is so little in difference its not worth comparing size.

Quality, Design and Build Finish

I think Tone can put forward a better overview of the quality and build finish between the 2 craft, but from what I have witnessed and in my opinion there seems to be no comparison.

  • Solder joints, some have failed on Tones, on the Phantom – not a single issue.
  • Inconsistent flight characteristics Tone has reported on the X-4  – from motors starting up at different times to in flight glitches by the many Tony has had, I have had not a glitch or issue on the DJI Phantom.
  • Directional lighting system on the arms, on Tone’s in bright daylight seem invisible, on the Phantom even on a bright day easily visible.
  • The manual – Mine came with a 50 page comprehensive manual, written well – I think Tone’s was a user guide about 25 to 30 pages.
  • Camera quality – as Tone has mentioned, not even comparable, the Phantom 2 Vision Plus generates much better imagery, including RAW still format and can be adjusted like a DSLR, EVEN WHILE IN FLIGHT.
  • A Ground Station/Mission Platform that has so many features too many to list here, integrated into the Phantom that is well explained and thought out that in my opinion is of better design than Tone’s. I have only tested this feature once, a large pre-programmed square on an oval, and this was only about 3 days ago, but the feature worked perfect. Personally I like to “Fly” the craft rather than have a computer doing the flying, but it is a fantastic feature and a feature a lot of users will love.
  • A “Find my Phantom 2 Vision Plus” feature (if you do crash it into bush lands and need to find it) built into the Phantom out of the box, I am not even sure Tone’s comes with this feature.
  • A gimbal lock and lens cap that come in the box at purchase. To protect during transport. I don’t think the Scout x-4 comes with these.
  • On the telemetry FPV screen a Flight Direction Radar Function (a brilliant safety feature by the way), pretty sure Tone’s does not have this.
  • The Phantom came with a rather well equipped tool-kit and spares, including a full set of spare props, I am pretty sure the Scout did not come with these.

Of special note, you have to credit Tone for coming forward with all the info he has experienced with the X-4, and although people like to blame pilot error, I have personally been present and witnessed, after Tone meticulously preparing the craft, waiting large amounts of time for GPS lock and doing everything by the book, only to have his machine fly randomly, even once endangering me while I was walking back from the end of an oval. I was there, it was not “Pilot Error” in my opinion. And failure of solder joints, well how could that possibly be Pilot Error on Tones part I ask?  – once again a credit to Tone for sharing his journey with his craft, and I look forward to once everything is ironed out flying together on many missions.

I’ll end on a positive note for Tone’s X-4, Tone has been patient, and hopefully any issues he is having can be resolved.

Remember, this is only opinion from myself after seeing and witnessing the comparison of the 2 machines, I would absolutely, in my opinion, recommend if you want a machine that is able to deliver professional results both with the Avionics Flight System and Imagery from the camera, I would buy the Phantom 2 Vision Plus.

As I think Tone mentioned also, buy the Phantom 2 Vision Plus.

carry case
A pic of how I transport my DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus…

See more over at my DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus write-up page here….

 – Mike.

 

 

In summary, don’t buy a Walkera Scout X4, look at other options.

Phantom 2 Vision Plus    |   Walkera Scout X4

5 thoughts on “Phantom Vs Scout

  1. Hi guys. Thanks for your thoughts on the Phantom and Scout. A friend and I are looking at exactly this question, in terms of buying some quads. As you say, the Phantom offers a more user-friendly experience straight out of the box. Set against this, the Scout seems to have some functional benefits such as included FPV display, on-controller gimbal levers etc, and possibly better value overall for some applications. We are planning to use GoPro cameras, and would very much appreciate your posting any further tests you carry out.

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    1. Thanks jwemmy, we’ll probably update these pages so often you’ll get sick of us 🙂
      We’ve just started really, I haven’t mentioned the benefit of the Devo F12E transmitter compared to the Phantoms. It’s a good quality all in one controller. The screen can be difficult to see on bright days but as you say, there is an output for goggles or another screen.
      Accessing telemetry requires a dive through the menu though which is a bit clumsy. The Phantom has better default telemetry, the Scout can be upgraded with minimosd telemetry – I have to research this more.

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      1. I haven’t heard anyone yet say anything about interference f12e white lines on the screen or not being able to move the camera around at far distances? although where I have flown there is a big trailer beside me maybe that has something to do with it

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      2. Hi Dale, I generally get very little video interference until the Scout is about 200m away – it seems to have a maximun range with supplied antenna’s of around 300m. I’ve just added an Antenna section towards the bottom of the mods page – still researching antennas but I’ve put some links up on what I’ve found so-far. Hope it helps.

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