DarwinFPV BabyAPE II Review

All of our content is written by humans, not robots.
Avatar photo
Written by
Reviewed by Kristen Ward
Updated on
Reviewed by Kristen Ward

RChobby Lab experts have years of firsthand experience testing the products we recommend. Learn how we test and reviewWe may earn money when you buy through our links.

FPV drone flying has exploded in popularity over the last few years. The ability to put on a pair of FPV goggles and experience the thrill of flying from the drone’s perspective is exhilarating. However, high-quality FPV drones can be quite expensive, putting them out of reach for many beginners.

That’s where the new DarwinFPV BabyAPE II comes in. This budget-friendly FPV freestyle drone starts at just $140, making it an affordable way to get into the world of FPV.

In this in-depth review, we’ll take a close look at the BabyAPE II to see how it stacks up to more expensive options.

Overview of the DarwinFPV BabyAPE II

First off, let’s get acquainted with this quadcopter. The BabyAPE II is DarwinFPV’s latest ready-to-fly FPV drone aimed at beginner and intermediate pilots looking for a cost-effective setup. It’s available in both 4S and 6S versions, giving you the flexibility to choose the power system that fits your needs and skill level.

Some key specs of the BabyAPE II:

– Motor: 1504 3600KV (4S version) or 1504 2300KV (6S version)

– ESC: Bluejay 48KHz 3-6S 30A

– Flight Controller: F411 with MPU6500 and AT7456E

– Frame: 3.5” wide X-style frame, 156mm wheelbase

– Size: 126mm x 150mm x 50mm

– Weight: Under 250g with 4S battery and HD system

– Flight time: 6-8 minutes (4S 650mAh battery)

This drone comes completely built and just needs you to bind your radio receiver, and it’s ready to fly. It’s also available in ready-to-fly kits that include everything you need like goggles, transmitters, batteries, etc.

Unboxing and Contents

I purchased the analog 4S version of the BabyAPE II for testing. Inside the box, you get:

– 1x Darwin FPV BabyAPE II airframe

– 1 set of HQ 3.5x2x3 propellers (only 1 set in the basic package)

– Battery strap

– Some spare screws and rubber grommets

That’s it! Like most RTF kits, you’ll need to supply your own receiver, battery and any other accessories.

The build quality is very good out of the box. The 3.5” frame has a nice wide stance for stability, and the 30A 4-in-1 ESC has plenty of power for the small motors. The 600mW VTX provides good penetration through objects, and the Caddx Ant camera, while basic, captures decent video.

One thing to note is that the drone comes pre-wired for SBUS receivers. So if you plan to use a different protocol like ELRS, you’ll need to swap out the pins on the flight controller or do some resoldering. Not a big deal, but something to be aware of.

Features and Hardware

Let’s take a closer look at some of the components and features that make up the BabyAPE II:

Frame and Motors

The BabyAPE II features a 3.5″ wheelbase X-frame made of durable carbon fiber. This semi-stretch X design provides a good balance of strength and weight while still giving sufficient space for all electronics. Despite the small size, the frame actually has plenty of room for building and maintenance.

The included 1504 3600KV motors strike a nice balance of power and efficiency for 4S batteries. They have enough grunt for punchy throttle response and flips/rolls, while still delivering 8+ minutes of flight time. The larger 1504 stator size helps improve low-end torque compared to smaller 1303-1306 size motors often used on 3” quads.

F4 Flight Controller

At the heart of the BabyAPE II is a F411 flight controller paired with an MPU6000 gyro. It’s not the latest and greatest, but the F411 chip has more than enough processing power for this size drone. The flight controller includes all the standard features you’d expect like Bluejay 32 ESC passthrough, onboard OSD, 5 UARTs for peripherals, etc.

The only slight downside is the FC is still running an older version of Betaflight rather than the latest Betaflight 4.2.7. But the included defaults and tuning are spot on, so flashing to BF 4.2 is optional and not strictly required.

30A 4-in-1 ESC

Powering the motors is an all-in-one 30A 4-in-1 ESC capable of running up to 6S batteries. The 30 amp rating provides a good power buffer for the small motors, ensuring crisp throttle response and the ability to run heavy 5″ style props if desired.

The ESC runs the latest BLHeli_S firmware and can be updated via the Betaflight PASSTHRU tab. All the normal BLHeli_S features like ESC/Motor synchronization, demag compensation, etc. work flawlessly out of the box. No complaints with the ESC performance!

600mW VTX

The video transmitter (VTX) is integrated into the rear of the drone, making for much simpler wiring. It runs at 25/200/600mW power levels, although 600mW is overkill for a tiny drone like this. The VTX has all the standard features like pitmode, band/channel selection etc.

My only gripe is that it only has a linear whip antenna. For improved video reception, a circular polarized antenna works better. So I’d recommend replacing the stock linear antenna with a compatible CP antenna like the Foxeer Lollipop.

Analog and DJI HD Versions

The BabyAPE II comes in both analog and HD digital versions. The analog variant I’m testing includes the Caddx Ant camera. It’s a basic 600TVL CMOS camera but the image quality is pretty decent, with good color and dynamic range.

If you want HD video and don’t mind the extra cost, the DJI HD version comes with the excellent RunCam Hybrid. This camera uses DJI’s digital HD low latency transmission for incredibly clear video free of interference. The main limitation is that it only works with DJI goggles.

Overall Component Choices

For a budget drone kit, the components used on the BabyAPE II are very sensible. There are no fancy bells and whistles here, just simple parts that get the job done reliably. The F411 FC, Bluejay_32 ESCs, mid-range motors and basic Caddx camera make up a no-frills but well-rounded package. Experienced pilots may want to upgrade a few parts here and there, but overall the stock components totally fit the budget price point.

Setting Up the Quad

Since this is a ready-to-fly kit, there isn’t much to do in terms of assembly or soldering. But you will need to go through the standard drone setup and configuration steps before your first flight:

Radio Receiver

As mentioned above, the BabyAPE II comes pre-wired for FrSky SBUS receivers. If you’re using a different protocol, you’ll need to either re-pin the flight controller UART pads or directly solder your receiver wires. Just be sure to disable Serial RX on the UART1 pad in Betaflight if switching to a different serial receiver.

Binding Radio

With the receiver wired up, the next step is binding to your radio. Just plug in a LiPo, and put your radio into bind mode. The quad will enter bind mode and pair to the radio. I’m using the excellent Radiomaster TX16S which immediately recognized the BabyAPE II and allowed me to set up my switches and modes.

Betaflight Setup

There isn’t much to do here since DarwinFPV has provided a nearly perfect default Betaflight setup. I just made sure to:

– Activate arming via an aux switch
– Set up beeper and battery alarms
– Assign modes to channel switches
– Tweak the OSD layout

If you want to update to the latest BF 4.2.x, that is totally fine and will work correctly. But you will likely need to redo your OSD layout afterward.

That’s about it for the initial setup! Just be sure to fully charge your batteries, and you’ll be ready to hit the field.

Flying the BabyAPE II FPV Drone

Now for the fun part – flying this pocket rocket! Here are my impressions after multiple battery packs flying the DarwinFPV BabyAPE II:

Power and Handling

With the 4S motors, the BabyAPE II is not the most powerful microdrone out there. It hovers around 50% stick, which feels a bit high for a dedicated freestyle quad. This motor/prop combo prioritizes efficiency and flight time over raw power. But it still has enough punch for respectable freestyle maneuvers. It won’t win any races but has a very nice blend of agility and floatiness that makes it a joy to fly smoothly or just cruise around casually.

Despite the mellow power delivery, the BabyAPE II can still rip around pretty quickly. The relatively heavy 4S battery mass helps it punch out of dives and remain stable in windy conditions. Flips and rolls come easily thanks to the brisk rates and snappy throttle response. This is definitely not a slow or sluggish drone by any means.

I could still pull off power loops and split S maneuvers despite the modest motor output. The flight controller’s tuning is dialed in perfectly out of the box. No oscillations or weird vibes whatsoever in acro mode. Just smooth, locked-in handling exactly as you’d expect. Major props to DarwinFPV for nailing the defaults and rates right off the bat.

HD Video Feed

For the analog version I’m reviewing, video quality is quite good with the Caddx Ant camera. The 600TVL resolution provides a sharp, low-latency picture suitable for FPV. Colors are rich and saturated, with decent dynamic range handling highlights and shadows.

As with most CMOS cameras, some amount of jello is visible during hard throttle punchouts. But during normal flight it’s minimal. Overall the camera holds up great for this class of micro drone.

The VTX puts out up to 600mW of power, giving excellent range through objects and around obstacles. For better penetration, I’d still suggest adding a CP antenna like the Lumenier AXII. But even with just the stock whip, range was impressive.

If you want an HD system, the RunCam Hybrid on the DJI version is in another league for video quality. You pay a premium for it though, so for many the analog will be the better value option.

Flight Time

The low-KV 4S motors sip power, allowing 8+ minute flight times on a single 650mAh pack. My flights ended up in the 5-7 minute range since I was flying full throttle for testing. More relaxed stick inputs will stretch the battery life considerably. This quad can hang in the air for a really long time compared to higher KV micro-quads!

For maximum flight times, a 4S 850mAh battery is probably ideal. But the extra weight will impact agility somewhat. I prefer the punchiness of the smaller 650mAh packs. It’s a trade-off you’ll have to make based on your flying style and needs.

Final Verdict

After many packs through this micro FPV drone, I can easily say the BabyAPE II hits a sweet spot of affordability and capability. For only $140 it includes everything you need to hit the skies and start ripping around in acro mode. Let’s break down some of the pros and cons:


– Incredible value and very affordable entry point into FPV
– Available as plug-and-play or full RTF kits
– Smooth, locked-in flight characteristics right out of the box
– 8 minutes of flight time from 4S 650mAh packs
– Surprisingly good video feed range and image quality
– Spacious frame for building and repairs
– Capable of basic freestyle maneuvers like power loops, split S’s, etc


– Comes pre-wired for SBUS only, so some soldering may be needed for other receivers
– The HD version with RunCam Hybrid is quite a bit more expensive
– Could use a bit more power on 4S setup (upgrade to 6S for more speed)
– No extra props included in the basic kit

So in summary, while it’s not a speed demon, the BabyAPE II makes up for it with impeccable handling, long flight times, and loads of capability given its tiny size and price. It’s by far one of the best ready-to-fly FPV drones under $200.

For anyone looking to get started with FPV flying at the lowest possible cost, this DarwinFPV micro quad is an absolute no-brainer. It will provide countless hours of enjoyment flying around your local park or backyard. Highly recommended!

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your BabyAPE II

To wrap up this review, here are some tips to help you make the most out of the BabyAPE II and enjoy it safely:

  • Fly it stock first – Get a feel for how it performs out of the box before attempting any modifications. The defaults work great.
  • Add a circular polarized VTX antenna – Upgrade the linear whip to a CP antenna like the Foxeer Lollipop for better video penetration.
  • Tune PIDs if needed – The BF defaults are solid but you can further tune roll/pitch rates and D term to match your preferences.
  • Upgrade to 6S for more power – If you want quicker acceleration and punch outs, move up to a 6S battery and 2300KV motors.
  • Buy spare props – Crashes happen, so have a few sets of replacement props on hand for when you need them. Gemfan 3142 are excellent.
  • Use prop guards – Adds protection when learning to fly. You can remove them later once your skills improve.
  • Fly at low rates at first – Master the basics on low rates/expo before cranking the rates up and attempting acro tricks.
  • Check motor screws – Occasionally check motor screws have not vibrated loose, and add some blue Loctite as insurance.
  • Mind your batteries – Exercise proper LiPo safety, and monitor cell voltages closely when charging/discharging to maximize battery lifespan.
  • Have fun! – Relax, start slow, and simply enjoy the thrill of seeing the world from above through your FPV goggles! The BabyAPE II is an awesome way to get started.

So get out there and start flying! The BabyAPE II is waiting to give you a wildly fun ride. Just take it one step at a time, fly safely, and you’ll be zipping around the field like a pro in no time.

Happy flying!

Did you like this article? Rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Photo of author

Written By Danielle Ellis

I'm Danielle Ellis, an avid FPV drone pilot with over six years of experience and a fervent storyteller at heart. My mission is simple: to inspire others with my passion and the magic of a unique aerial perspective. And occasionally i do a review about camera gear or drop a vlog for you to enjoy.
RChobby Lab