Betafpv Pavo Pico Review: Is the Smallest Cinewhoop with DJI O3?

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RCHobby Lab’s Author: Daniel Henderson
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Reviewed by Kristen Ward
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Reviewed by Kristen Ward

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The advent of digital video transmission systems has opened up the possibilities of FPV flight in smaller drones. Traditional analog systems limited the quality and reliability of tiny whoop-style quads. But new options like DJI O3 offer an enticing blend of performance, image quality, and compact form factors.

Today we’ll be taking an in-depth look at one of the smallest cinewhoops on the market that manages to fit full-size O3 capabilities: the BetaFPV Pavo Pico. In just 102 grams, it packs an impressive punch – but does it deliver on smooth footage and reliable flight when shrunk down to this 85mm size? Read on for our complete hands-on review.

Overview and Key Features

A few standout specs make the Pavo Pico worth paying attention to:

  • O3 Air Unit support: Accommodates full-size O3 components and offers 4K 60fps video recording.
  • 85mm frame: One of the smallest frames that can carry an O3 system. Even smaller than a traditional cinewhoop.
  • Under 250g weight (with battery): Qualifies for relaxed regulations in most jurisdictions. Some allowance for additional gear.
  • Carbon fiber frame: Provides strength to carry O3 gear without too much flex or vibration issues. Most quads this size would use plastic frames.
  • ~5 minute flight times: Decent endurance from the 450mAh battery, with room to use a 650mAh option.

At around $200 for just the BNF Pico itself, it’s one of the more affordable ways to get into HD recording on a micro quad. However you’ll need to factor in the cost of an O3 Air Unit ($190) and 450mAh batteries. Even so, it remains a lower-cost HD platform compared to building a similar custom one.

Initial Impressions and Build

Fresh out of the box, the BetaFPV Pavo Pico makes a good first impression thanks to its clean design:

A few nice touches stand out compared to other pre-built quads:

  • The electronics are well protected by ducted prop guards. However they are easily removable if you wanted to run it without.
  • Frame hardware is hex-head and looks to be good quality. An upgrade over the frail Phillips-head hardware found on cheaper quads.
  • Foam padding under the battery strap prevents rubbing against the fragile O3 camera. Nice attention to detail.
  • There is very little wiring since the ESC, receiver, etc. are all integrated on an AIO board. Clean build with less stuff flopping around.

One downside is that the O3 Air Unit itself doesn’t come pre-installed. You’ll have to mount it into the plastic cage and attach wiring yourself. But the plug-and-play nature makes installation fairly straightforward.

Step-by-Step O3 Installation

Here’s a quick walkthrough on getting O3 installed in the Pavo Pico:

  1. Start by removing the whip antennas if using the stock O3 antennas instead. Just gently wiggle and pull them out.
  2. Feed the O3 wiring and antennas through the slots in the plastic mounting frame.
  3. Position the O3 in the middle of the frame, resting on the isolator bumpers.
  4. Install the 4 corner screws with isolators underneath to vibration-proof the mount.
  5. Route the O3 camera cable underneath and use the included hardware to mount the camera to the frame. Make sure it’s positioned where you want – you can angle it up or down.
  6. Attach the fragile camera wire to the frame in a few spots using zip ties. Prevent snags.
  7. Carefully connect the plug from the Pavo Pico wiring harness to the O3 board. Small latch clicks it firmly into place.

That covers the basics of getting the O3 integrated mechanically and electronically. The whole process takes maybe 5 minutes.

One suggestion if you do buy a Pavo Pico – pick up some camera double sided foam tape. Adding a bit under the camera mount helps ensure the angle stays put. The screws alone didn’t hold it reliably during crashes.

Overall the O3 mounting method is secure even if not fancy. With everything buttoned up you’d be hard pressed to find a smaller drone capable of carrying DJI’s HD system. Nice job by BetaFPV packing it in there!

Pavo Pico Review – Flying Experience

With O3 fully installed, it was time to see if the tiny Pavo Pico could deliver a solid flight experience along with great video. I equipped it with TBS Crossfire to ensure a reliable control link, then headed out to a nearby multi-rotor playground.

Disclaimer: The following flight footage was recorded directly from the Pavo Pico’s O3 system. Performance is representative of the craft itself along with O3 transmission/recording capabilities.

Flight Characteristics and Control Response

My first impressions flying the diminutive Pico were highly positive:

  • Controls felt sharp and precise enough for comfortable flying
  • Power felt adequate from the 1102/14000kv motors
  • Handling was relatively smooth without too much “twitchiness”

Being used to 5-inch and larger quads, it did take a few packs adjusting to the nimble characteristics of the 85mm setup. But any experienced pilot should feel right at home quickly.

Speeds are by no means crazy fast – that’s not the purpose of micro quads like this. But it zips along happily at moderate velocities. Pushing the throttle to 100% produces a 65mph top speed by my estimates.

The Pico won’t win races against traditional “rippers”, yet remains plenty quick for cinematic footage. There’s enough capability to follow along a bike path or zoom over moderate distances.

Video Transmission and Recording

Since high quality video is the main reason for strapping an O3 to the tiny airframe, I paid careful attention to transmission stability as well as recorded results:

Video Feed: Rock-solid, glitch-free footage and latency on par with DJI’s reputation. O3 operates extremely well even at 200-300m distances. No surprises or concerns here whatsoever.

Recorded Footage: This is where compromises potentially show up in a small platform, especially with high resolution 60fps recordings. Vibration or jello effects can slip into the video if mechanical isolation from the motors isn’t adequate.

I was pleased to discover great looking footage recorded by the Pico though:

  • Crisp detail in 4K resolution
  • No discernible jello or shaking
  • Exposure and colors appear accurately

There is a tiny bit of background noise visible in shadows/dark sections when viewed in post-production. But you have to pixel peep to notice it. I’d chalk that up primarily to the limitations of digital noise reduction in the O3 itself when tasked with high resolution, high framerate capture.

All in all, I’m comfortable using the Pico’s onboard recordings for professional client work or Youtube videos. It delivers better and more detailed footage than a GoPro would in this form factor. Another win for O3!

Review – Additional Flight Characteristics

With a good taste for general flying, I wanted to explore some other key handling characteristics relevant to cinematic uses:

Low-Speed Control

Buttery smooth low-speed capability is imperative for tracking shots, proximity flying, or navigating cramped environments:

The Pico excels here with stable and consistent behavior even hovering or creeping along:

  • Hover hold works flawlessly with barely any stick inputs needed
  • Minimal bobbling or dancing around

This sort of performance demonstrates excellent PID tuning considering the size. Impressive flying for slower video shots!

Indoor Agility

What about poking into nooks and crannies where larger quads can’t reach? The 85mm frame should be able to scoot through fairly tight gaps:

I found the Pico to blast confidently through cluttered interior spaces:

  • Zips through doorway transitions with zero hesitation or wall-sucking issues
  • Makes quick turns and changes of direction with minimal loss of stability

Pretty hard to rattle this tiny guy even at faster indoor speeds. Nice stability from the well dampened airframe. You can dash it around interior areas much like a tiny whoop.

Overall Agility and Pushability

To wrap up a general evaluation of capabilities, I put the Pico through some reasonably aggressive test maneuvers. How much can you toss it around before things get squirrelly?

  • Fast forward flight feels locked in even at full throttle punch outs
  • Flip and rolls come out clean although rates could be a bit snappier for freestyle
  • Bloom effect from prop wash is present but not terrible if throttle is managed

The Pico won’t rival a dedicated ripper for hardcore acrobatics. Yet it remains impressively solid given its size and weight. You can confidently push this little guy to fairly aggressive extremes within reason. It won’t fall apart on you. Nice!

Additional Review Notes and Modification Potential

With multiple packs flown, I wanted to summarize some other useful notes from testing the Pavo Pico:

Prop guards – the ducted guards help maintain prop integrity and probably aid stability. However they add weight. I didn’t test removing them but it’s an option. Just be prepared to destroy more props!

Crossfire mod – The unit I reviewed was modded with Crossfire. But ExpressLRS would also work great. Just be very careful with the small receiver antenna wire as it seems fragile. Maybe add reinforcement if needed.

Camera angle – adjusting camera tilt takes some trial and error. I ended up angled slightly up which gained a nice perspective. Fully horizontal resulted in a “nose high” angle most of the time.

6S power – the ESC on board supports up to 6S if you really wanted to unlock more power. But flight times would be measured in seconds rather than minutes! 2S 450mah gets the job done with less risk of burning up motors.

AUX LEDs – there is an option to wire up additional LEDs to the backsince the stock ones can’t been seen under the ducts. Handy for maintaining orientation.

Future-proof – We’re still early in the world of HD micro quads. But BetaFPV smartly designed the Pico to accommodate either DJI or Walksnail systems. Nice flexibility.

Final Review Thoughts

After multiple batteries worth of putting the Pavo Pico through its paces, how does it stack up to the hopes of being a usable HD recording platform in a micro form factor?

The good:

  • Solid reliable flight characteristics that belie its tiny 85mm size
  • O3 video feed never missed a beat even out to 300+ meters
  • Onboard 4K video is impressively detailed and smooth
  • Frame feels rigid and well-tuned to isolate from vibration
  • Clean build for easy maintenance or mods down the road

The less-good:

  • Barebones pricing seems attractive but doesn’t include O3 ($190+ itself)
  • Camera angle tricky to adjust properly and stays put stubbornly
  • Receiver antenna connection worrisomely fragile
  • Range understandably limited versus larger builds (~600 meters max)

The verdict:

BetaFPV managed excellent integration creating one of the smallest O3-capable quads available. It flies wonderfully, transmits HD footage reliably, and captures stable 4K video without jello or noise issues.

A few minor nitpicks don’t dim my overall enthusiasm. Considering everything involved, they made remarkably few compromises shrink-wrapping DJI’s system into an 85mm frame.

Pilots looking for high quality recording and reasonable flight endurance from a sub-250g platform should feel confident with the Pavo Pico. It packs an amazing amount of capability into a tiny airframe without breaking the bank.

I’m excited to see this segment continue pushing boundaries on small HD drones. The Pico provides a thrilling taste where things might go in the future. It earns strong recommendation, especially for pilots needing to stay discreet and portable.

Give this micro machine a look if you want big functionality from your small ships!

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Written By Daniel Henderson

My name is Daniel Henderson and I'm an avid FPV pilot and videographer. I've been flying quadcopters for over 5 years and have tried just about every drone and FPV product on the market. When not flying quads, you can find me mountain biking, snowboarding, or planning my next travel adventure.

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