When looking for a budget RTF racing quadcopter, the EMAX Nighthawk 280 Pro is our top choice. It’s by no means perfect and if you read on you’ll see why, but for all the negatives we can’t ignore the price and expandability this drone offers for those willing to get stuck in. In this Nighthawk Pro 280 review you’ll learn everything you need to know before making your next big drone purchase.
Table of Contents
EMAX NightHawk Pro 280 Review
- FPV Camera – 700 TVL CMOS
- Video Transmitter – 32 channel, 20/200mW switchable
- HD/Recording Camera – Mount for GoPro
- ESC – 12A BLHeli
- Motors – 2204-2300kV
- Flight time (hover) – 6 minutes
- Flight time (normal use) – expect around 3-4 minutes on a 1300mAh
- Fully configurable via OSD
- Weight (without battery) – 450g
- Size – 280mm
- Check it out on Amazon here
- Angled motor mounts installed as standard for faster forward flight
- Strong but lightweight carbon fibre body
- Available as a true RTF kit, with receiver installed and transmitter included (ARTF – almost ready to fly version also available if you want to use your own receiver and existing transmitter)
- Braided cables provide a professional look
- Cheaper than a lot of other RTF models
- LiPo battery can fit within the frame
- Flight controller integrated into bottom board, which is vulnerable in crashes
- ESCs integrated into bottom board, so not upgradeable/replaceable
- Not friendly for beginners – you have no assistance in the form of GPS or level hold
- Not as much flexibility as a custom build
- Replacing damaged arms means taking the majority of the drone apart
The biggest disappointment is the bottom board with integrated ESCs, which makes upgrades a lot more involved than they would be if you had separate ESC’s and FC. We would like to have seen a more conventional FC and separate ESC setup, so that repairs/replacements are easy. As it is, burning our one ESC means replacing the whole board, which can be bought separately. That said, you can’t have it all at this cost and the option to get a true RTF kit is great to see when most competitors require users to install their own receiver before getting started. The flipside of the compact bottom mounted control board, is that you are left with plenty of space within the quad itself to house your LiPo. Normally LiPos get mounted to the top or bottom of the quad because there is no other room, but by mounting in the centre the battery is protected and brings the centre of gravity closer to the plane of the motors. This should make handling better and allow tighter rolls.
We like that the video transmitter has a selectable power output, so that you can comply with local regulations/race rules if they include a power limitation. The positioning of the transmitter couldn’t be much worse though. Placed at the back end of the quad, practically asking to be smashed in the first crash, it is likely that this is one part of the drone that won’t survive long.
One final observation before we finish, for those looking for something they can upgrade in the future, the traditional FC mounting position in the centre of the body can be used for this and the bottom plate removed. ESCs could then be installed on the arms and for not much cost you have a custom racing quad. Ultimately what we’re getting at is that once you need more power you can beef up the motors and ESCs and install your own FC, all in stages. This makes the Nighthawk great for beginners wanting room to grow.
EMAX NightHawk 280 Pro Review – The verdict:
This is by no means a thoroughbred, but then you wouldn’t expect one for the price. EMAX have produced a great budget RTF racer here. For those interested in getting started, the Nighthawk 280 Pro provides a great option when looking for something to try out without splashing some serious cash. If this EMAX NightHawk FPV Racer review helped you in any way, or you’d like to see other drones reviewed we’d love to hear from you in the comments!