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The HGLRC Petrel 120x Pro looks like a Furious Angry Bird and flies like a SpaceX rocket. Beginning with my first flight test I was impressed with the flight performance of this little Thootpick style 3″ FPV drone.
In a nutshell, a “Toothpick” is a very lightweight micro FPV drone, usually under 100 grams and without a battery. They are powered by small 2S and 4S LiPo packs and run with 2.5-3″ propellers. Toothpicks are small but powerful quadcopters meant for serious acro outside, in limited spaces (like backyards), where larger drones would be clumsy. Commonly, their take-off weight remains under 250 grams and can be flown legally without special registration in most countries.
Compared to its predecessor (non ‘X’ Petrel 120Pro), it has a redesigned frame, improved hardware, a better FPV camera, and 3″ props instead of 2.5″ ones.
HGLRC Petrel 120x Pro hands-on review
Disclosure: I received this 3″ ripper as part of a product review collaboration with HGLRC. Product specs and quality may vary according to the manufacturer’s reliability, so I cannot guarantee that you will get a drone that performs exactly the same as seen in my article.
Before getting into details I have to apologize for the delay in publishing the article, but I had to finish two other drone reviews first.
I requested to be sent using standard Chinese shipping, but by mistake, they sent it with FedEx. Luckily, everything went smooth and I received it in front of my door without any extra fee.
The HGLRC Petrel 120x comes in a small box without the props installed. The following accessories are included: two sets of GEMFAN 3016 propellers, a bag of screws (10pieces of 2x7mm), and two battery velcro bands. There are also included some stickers for HGLRC fans. Upon my request, the FrSky R-XSR was pre-installed and wired to the flight controller.
At a glance
Despite that is using 3-inch props, it looks two times smaller than any of my 3″ CineWhoops. The true-X frame has a 120 mm wheelbase (diagonal motor-to-motor distance). The 3mm thick unibody carbon fiber frame is reinforced by front and rear bracers. The frame has 16x16mm, 20x20mm, and 25.5×25.5mm mounting patterns. The hard ABS canopy can accommodate 14 mm cameras and allows angle adjustment. Its design remembers me of the naughty angry birds. Out of the box weighs just 88 grams and with a 4s 650mAh battery 178 grams.
In the center of the frame is a single stack HGLRC’s Zeus25 AIO flight controller with integrated 4-in-1 25A ESC. The wiring is not super clean, but at least most of the cables are inside the canopy. I suggest you zip-tying the battery cable to the frame, otherwise, it could be ripped off from the FC during a crash. The battery can be attached to the frame using a rubber band or the included velcro strap. You can mount it in both directions (straight or perpendicular).
The short Hummer antenna is quite flexible, not likely to break during accidents. Initially, I thought that the shark fin on top of the canopy is just part of the design, but during my tests, I found out that helps in Turtle mode (Flip Over After Crash).
I have always a problem to store and transport my drones. I don’t know if they calculated or not, but if you remove the protective foam from the original box, the drone will fit perfectly inside with the propellers attached. There is even room for two batteries.
Price, availability, and options
You can order the Petrel 120x Pro PNP version (no radio receiver) for $159.99. With on-board CROSSFIRE Nano RX you will need to pay $32 more. There is also an option for FrSky+, R-XSR, R9mm, FlySky A8S V2, or AC2000 receivers. In case you don’t need the extra performance of the ‘Pro’ edition there are other 3 versions of this Thootpick – A detailed comparison can be found at the end of this review.
FPV rig (Camera & VTX)
HGLRC opted to equip this 3″ Thoopick with the Caddx Ant camera that measures 14x14mm and weighs just 2 grams. The camera’s angle can be adjusted to match your flight style. The tiny ANT is an excellent budget FPV camera that has the quality of many bigger cameras.
The 5.8Ghz analog real-time video transmission is achieved using the Zeus Nano VTX. Featuring multiple mounting options it can be used in most actual racing flight stacks. Broadcast power can be toggled between 25mW, 100mW, 200mW, and 350mW. It has a low-power ‘Pit’ mode as well. As the ‘Function’ button is hardly accessible (being under the canopy), VTX settings must be done via the BetaFlight configurator.
If you wish, using a higher canopy you can probably extend the flight stack with a DJI FPV compatible Caddix Vista digital VTX.
The HGLRC Petrel 120X Pro is very nimble and well-tuned out of the box. The lightweight design paired with the large motors generates lots of power. On the same day, I tested the Pavo30, a 3″ CineWhoop. In terms of flight performance, there is a huge difference between them. The Petrel 120X Pro flyes almost like a big 5″ race quad. Wind kills the fun when you are playing with Whoops, but this Toothpick takes wind gusts with no problem. With a 4S 650mAh battery, you can have about 5-7 minutes of flight time.
Being curious how much weight can lift this little devil, I planned to hang a beer on it. Until I went to the fridge and looked for a rope it stayed connected with the battery. It took less than 10 minutes but it was fatal. It became so hot that the RF capacitor melted down. During the initial BetaFlight setup I noticed that the core temperature goes easily over 70°C, but couldn’t believe that this is possible to make such damages. Now, when I power it on just beeps randomly. Under the BetaFlight configurator, the flight controller seems to work properly, it even communicates with the radio receiver. Probably, one (or more) of the power MOSFET is gone.
AIO flight controllers like the HGLRC Zeus25 are small and light-weighted, just perfect for small drones. The problem comes if something goes wrong. For example, if an ESC channel fails, you need to replace the entire board that costs. In this case, it costs $69.99. I already removed the FC from the Petrel 120X Pro to see if a component is blown. If nothing is visibly damaged, I will order a new mainboard because I can’t wait to play more with this drone.
The Petrel 120x Pro is a great addition to my HGLR arsenal. Due to its small size is more for FPV flights than LoS flights. It has lots of power, almost like a 5″ quad. With a 4S 650mAh battery, it weighs just 180 grams and has 5-7 min flight time.
User Review( votes)
What’s the good
- Small and ultra-light (you can stay under 250 grams easily);
- Outstanding flight performance;
- Long-range capabilities with the right receiver and battery pack;
- Multiple power versions (1S/2S,3S, 4S, and 4S/6S);
- Good quality FPV rig (CADDX ANT + 350mW VTX).
What’s the not so good
- It heats up quickly if the battery is connected but you don’t fly;
- AIO flight controller (costs a lot if you need to replace it);
- No onboard recording (DVR).
HGLRC Petrel 120X series comparison
As you can see in the comparison table below, the ‘Pro’ Petrel 120X has some significant difference compared to the other model of the series. It has a 3mm thick frame, more powerful ESC, bigger motors, and 3-blade propellers.
|Petrel 120X 1S/2S||Petrel 120X 3S||Petrel 120X 4S/6S||Petrel 120X Pro 4S|
|Frame||120mm/2mm thick||120mm/3mm thick||120mm/3mm thick||120mm/3mm thick|
|Flight controller||Zeus5 AIO 1-2S||Zeus13 AIO 3-6S||Zeus13 AIO 3-6S||Zeus25 AIO 3-6S|
|Motors||1202.5 KV11600 (1S)
1202.5 KV8000 (2S)
|1202.5 KV5600||1303.5 KV4500 (4S)
1303.5 KV2500 (6S)
|Propellers||3″ 2-leaf||3″ 2-leaf||3″ 2-leaf||3″ 3-leaf|
|VTX||Zeus Nano 350mW||Zeus Nano 350mW||Zeus Nano 350mW||Zeus Nano 350mW|
|Camera||CADDX ANT||CADDX ANT||CADDX ANT||CADDX ANT|
|300-520mAh 3S||450-650mAh 4S