Home Drone Review: Walksnail Moonlight VTX/Camera Kit – Alternative to DJI O3 Air Unit?

Review: Walksnail Moonlight VTX/Camera Kit – Alternative to DJI O3 Air Unit?

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Review: Walksnail Moonlight VTX/Camera Kit – Alternative to DJI O3 Air Unit?

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The Walksnail Moonlight digital camera/VTX equipment emerges as a direct competitor to the favored DJI O3 Air Unit. Providing stabilized 4K recording and a strong efficiency that rivals, and in some facets, surpasses the DJI O3, the Moonlight equipment presents itself as an fascinating possibility. This overview delves into my private experiences with the Moonlight, evaluating it head-to-head with the DJI O3.

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New to Walksnail FPV system? Study extra on this article: https://oscarliang.com/setup-avatar-fpv-system/

Nonetheless questioning which FPV system it’s best to get in 2024? Take a look at my purchaser’s information: https://oscarliang.com/fpv-system/

The place to Purchase?

Get the Walksnail Moonlight digital camera/VTX equipment from these distributors:

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Unbox Accessories

It comes with the next equipment:

  • 1x Spare screws for mounting
  • 1x Wire harness for firmware improve
  • 1x Wire harness for connecting the flight controller
  • 1x ND8 Filter
  • 2x Antenna
  • 1x Guide

Specs

  • Firmware title: AvatarMoonlight_Sky_X.X.X
  • Transmitter Energy: FCC:<1000mW; CE:<25mW
  • Picture Sensor: Starlight sensor
  • FOV: Max 160°
  • Aperture: F2.1
  • Shutter: Rolling shutter
  • ISO: 100-25600
  • Recording decision: 4K@30/60fps,2.7K@30/60fps,1080p@100/60fps,720p@60fps
  • Max Mbps: 150Mbps
  • Video format: MP4 (H.264)
  • 3D DNR: Help
  • Gyroflow: Help
  • Constructed-in EIS: Help
  • Vast Energy Enter: 7.4V-25.2V
  • Energy consumption: [email protected], [email protected]
  • Reminiscence card kind: U3 MicroSD, Max 256G
  • Digicam measurement: 19.6mm*19mm*24mm
  • VTX measurement: 15.3mm*34.5mm*34.5mm
  • VTX Set up gap distance: 20*20mm/25*25mm (M2)
  • Weight: 38.5g(Antenna not included)
  • OSD: Canvas mode
  • Latency: Common delay 22ms
  • Antenna: 2 (IPEX)
  • Filter: ND8
  • Antenna Polarization: LHCP
  • Antenna Common Achieve: 1.9dBi
  • Antenna VSWR: <1.5
  • Antenna connector: IPEX-1
  • Antenna Dimension: 15x45mm (with out cable)
  • Antenna Weight: 2g

Moonlight is suitable with the next FPV goggles / receiver module:

It’s not suitable with DJI Goggles.

What’s the Moonlight Package?

Just like the DJI O3, the Walksnail Moonlight is a digital camera/VTX combo that provides 4K recording capabilities whereas streaming HD dwell movies again to the FPV goggles on the bottom. This equipment doubtlessly eliminates the necessity for extra motion digital camera on the drone, simplifying setups and decreasing total weight and price.

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit

The Moonlight not solely information in 1080p, 2.7K, and 4K resolutions but in addition options digital picture stabilization (EIS). The digital camera settings enable for handbook management, together with shutter velocity and ISO, which is essential for capturing high-quality footage in numerous lighting circumstances.

You may be taught extra in regards to the DJI O3 right here: https://oscarliang.com/dji-o3-air-unit-fpv-goggles-2/

Design and Construct

The Moonlight has a strong construct, with a sturdy steel shell that serves as a heatsink. It’s barely bigger and heavier than the DJI O3 air unit, weighing round 43g with out ND filters, in comparison with the O3’s 40g. Nonetheless, the Moonlight provides higher mounting flexibility with each 20x20mm and 25.5×25.5mm M2 mounting holes, enabling direct mounting onto most drone frames available on the market.

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Heatsink 25x25mm Mounting

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit 20x20mm Mounting

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Install Fpv Drone Video Transmitter Frame

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Antenna Ufl Connection

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Power Voltage Fc Uart Tx Rx Connection Bind Link Button

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Sd Card Slot Usb Connection

The Moonlight digital camera has a 19mm width identical to any normal micro digital camera. It’s simpler to mount than the O3’s non-standard 20mm measurement, although it’s considerably longer entrance to again. The yellow silicone spacers within the mounting holes assist to dampen quad vibrations, defending the built-in gyro.

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Lens Size Compare Dji O3 Air Unit

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Lens Back

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Lens Side Holes Mount

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Install Fpv Drone Lens

Whereas the Moonlight additionally incorporates a twin antenna setup for constant sign, the antennas are particular person, in contrast to the DJI O3’s extra handy 2-in-1 design. The antennas could also be a bit difficult to plug in, fortunately you in all probability solely want to do that as soon as.

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Install Antennas Ufl

The digital camera is linked to the VTX through a MIPI connector and it’s removable.

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Install Lens Module Mipi Cable

The digital camera cable lengths and antenna lengths are related between the O3 and Moonlight.

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Size Compare Dji O3 Air Unit

Dimensions and Weight Comparability:

Moonlight O3
Weight 43g 40g
VTX Dimensions (mm) 34.5 x 34.5 x 15.3 30.5 x 30.5 x 14.5
Digicam measurement (mm) 19.6 x 19 x 24 20 x 20 x 21.2

The Moonlight digital camera’s starlight sensor boasts a 160° FOV in a 16:9 facet ratio, with an f/2.1 aperture and a powerful ISO vary of 100 to 25600. It helps 4K recording at as much as 150Mbps and is suitable with micro SD card as much as 256GB.

It comes with an ND8 filter which is well attachable and removable, provides lens safety however is over 2 grams heavier and significantly bulkier than typical O3 ND filters. It might probably presumably be obstructed by the entrance standoffs, making it troublesome to make use of in sure FPV drone frames with out modifications. Anyway it’s good to have it included within the equipment. I want ND16 can be included, for shiny sunny day and snowy days, however ND8 must be fairly versatile for a lot of conditions.

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Lens Nd Filter Install

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Lens Nd Filter Nd8

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Install Fpv Drone Lens Nd Filter

The absence of a USB port on the Moonlight VTX means SD card removing is important for footage switch and firmware updates, which is likely to be much less handy in comparison with the O3.

One other benefit of the DJI O3 is its 20GB inner reminiscence. Whereas it could not appear vital because it solely holds about 20 minutes of footage, it might probably prevent from going dwelling empty-handed if you overlook your SD card. I want the Moonlight supplied an analogous characteristic.

Moonlight’s digital camera cable is about 12cm lengthy whereas the antenna wires are about 5.5cm (excluding the plastic tube half).

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Cable Wire Length

Latency and Flying Expertise

The Moonlight gives a flying expertise just like different Walksnail Avatar VTX and cameras, with the added benefit of onboard recording.

When it comes to latency, the Moonlight matches or barely outperforms the DJI O3, significantly within the 60fps mode. Whereas the latency in 30fps mode is a bit larger than 60fps, it’s notably higher than the O3 additionally, providing a extra manageable flying expertise. The O3 performs the most effective in 100fps mode, however then your recording would even be in 100fps, which isn’t ideally suited in some circumstances.

Because of Moonlight’s starlight sensor, the system’s low gentle efficiency is especially spectacular, outperforming the DJI O3 in difficult lighting circumstances. Its means to seize clear and detailed pictures in near-darkness is a major benefit for night time flyers.

I’ve seen that the Moonlight is simply as prone to jello because the O3, if no more. To fight this, guarantee your FPV drone is well-tuned and take into account soft-mounting the digital camera if attainable. For steering on tuning your quads, try my tutorial: https://oscarliang.com/fpv-drone-tuning/. Gyroflow appears to be fairly efficient in minimizing jello in order that’s price a strive.

Picture High quality and DJI O3 Comparability

The Moonlight was examined utilizing the most recent firmware on the time of publishing (37.42.3).

The Moonlight digital camera provides handbook settings that may attraction to skilled pilots, at present you may alter the next settings:

  • Decision / Body Fee
  • Sharpness
  • Publicity Worth
  • Saturation
  • White Stability
  • ISO
  • Shutter Pace

Nonetheless, it’s price noting that in contrast to the DJI O3, the Moonlight lacks flat shade profile or 10bit recording functionality and doesn’t supply a local 4:3 mode on the time of testing. Having native 16:9 means the video is extra zoomed in after picture stabilization is utilized in put up (equivalent to Gyroflow).

When it comes to picture high quality, it’s fairly subjective. The Moonlight impresses with clear contrasts and sharpness, the benefit is very noticeable in low gentle.

Right here’s a side-by-side comparability between the Moonlight and O3, each set to 4K 60fps with auto settings. Each cameras produce very nice-looking pictures; the Moonlight seems a bit sharper and hotter, whereas the O3 has barely much less distortion and a touch wider area of view (Vast setting).

Walksnail Moonlight Testing Compare Dji O3 Image Quality 4k

In night time time circumstances, the Moonlight is the clear winner in low gentle. It helps ISO settings as much as 51200, in distinction to the O3, which maxes out at 6400. Though the Moonlight excels in low-light situations, the excessive ISO can introduce noise and graininess, doubtlessly making flight difficult.

Walksnail Moonlight Testing Compare Dji O3 Image Quality Night Low Light

One level of critique is the auto shutter velocity’s publicity adjustments, which may appear a bit unnatural. Hopefully, this may be addressed in future firmware updates. Right here’s a brief clip from the Moonlight digital camera capturing a gray winter day, with Gyroflow utilized.

Modular Design

Disassembling the Moonlight VTX reveals a twin board design just like the O3. One board features because the video transmitter and the opposite because the video recording board. Caddx has designed it in such a means that the 2 boards may be separated. This makes restore more economical as you solely want to switch the broken board, not the entire unit.

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Top Pcb Teardown

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Bottom Pcb Teardown

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Dissemble Pcb Boards Internal

Based on Walksnail, in spring 2024, they plan to launch a record-only unit (it contains solely the Moonlight digital camera and recording board). This may be linked to any Walksnail Avatar VTX, providing a modular strategy that reduces prices and simplifies replacements.

Walksnail Moonlight Modular Board Design Recording Pcb

Walksnail Moonlight Modular Board Design Recording Pcb Separate Vtx

Firmware Updates

Throughout my testing, Walksnail had launched 4 firmware updates, showcasing their dedication to enhancing the Moonlight digital camera. Whereas it was a bit bit annoying for the reviewers having to retest it each time, hopefully when it will get to the shopper’s hand, a lot of the points would have been addressed.

The firmware replace course of is barely cumbersome as a result of want for a particular cable to bridge the 2 boards. Firstly, it will be arduous to achieve these tiny connectors in case you have a good body, which in all probability means you’d must take the drone aside each time you need to replace the Moonlight. Secondly, you can’t lose this tiny cable otherwise you received’t be capable to replace.

Walksnail Moonlight Vtx Camera Kit Update Firmware Usb Cable

Energy Consumption Testing

25mW Output Degree

Enter Voltage Not Recording 1080p 100fps 4K 60fps
7V 1.6A 1.8A 2.0A
9V 1.3A 1.4A 1.55A
12V 0.95A 1.05A 1.2A

1000mW Output Degree

Not Recording 1080p 100fps 4K 60fps
7V 1.8A 1.95A 2.3A
9V 1.4A 1.55A 1.8A
12V 1.05A 1.15A 1.35A

Energy consumption checks at numerous output ranges present that the Moonlight attracts vital present, particularly when recording in 4K. The distinction in present draw between the minimal (25mW) and most (1000mW) energy ranges isn’t substantial. For security, a 9V BEC with at the very least 2A, ideally 3A, is advisable.

An essential be aware: the VTX underreports the enter voltage by about 0.4V. This discrepancy is just not a problem when powered by a BEC with fixed voltage, however in the event you energy it immediately from a battery, it might probably make you need to land sooner than it’s best to.

Use

Connecting the Moonlight VTX to the flight controller is strictly the identical as different Walksnail VTX. You energy it from a BEC or immediately from the battery, and join RX/TX pins to a spare UART on the FC.

Walksnail Moonlight Wiring Pinout Connection Buttons Diagram

Within the goggles’ menu, you may choose the specified decision and body price for recording. The FPV system’s body price setting impacts the accessible recording resolutions.

  • Setting body price to excessive, solely 1080p 100fps/60fps/30fps can be found.
  • Setting body price to straightforward, you get 4k 60fps/30fps, 2.7K 60fps/30fps in addition to 1080p60fps/30fps (100fps is just not accessible).

Walknsnail Moonlight Menu Vtx Record Settings Resolution

By default, urgent the DVR report button on the goggles begins each the VTX and goggles recording.

Digicam settings like body price and backbone take about 4-5 seconds to reboot after adjustments.

Constructed-in EIS (picture stabilization) is simply accessible in 2.7K decision, not accessible in 1080p / 4K. Stabilization is utilized within the recorded video immediately. No gyro knowledge is recorded when built-in EIS is enabled.

However when Constructed-in EIS is disabled, the VTX information gyro knowledge in a separate file together with the video (.gcsv) which you’ll be able to import in Gyroflow for picture stabilization in put up, which I consider yields higher end result than the built-in EIS. Subsequently I like to recommend disabling built-in EIS and use Gyroflow for picture stabilization.

In Gyroflow, digital camera and lens profiles are mechanically detected and loaded if you import footage.

  • 4K 60fps bit price: 150Mbps
  • 2.7K 60fps bit price: 100Mbps
  • 1080p 100fps bit price: 100Mbps
  • 1080p 60fps bit price: 80Mbps

Greatest Settings

Walksnail appears to be nonetheless refining the firmware for the Moonlight, changes to settings and the introduction of latest options are ongoing.

Subsequently, I’ll maintain off on publishing my most popular settings for the Moonlight till a secure firmware model is launched, provided that adjustments are anticipated previous to that.

Conclusion

The Walksnail Avatar Moonlight digital camera/VTX equipment is a powerful contender within the HD FPV market. It provides 4K recording, spectacular low-light efficiency, and versatile digital camera settings.

Buy the Walksnail Moonlight digital camera/VTX equipment from the next distributors:

Whereas it reveals promise, the Moonlight nonetheless has areas for enchancment to match the DJI O3, such because the addition of a flat shade profile, 10-bit shade, a neater firmware replace course of, and the inclusion of inner reminiscence and a USB port. The O3 maintains an edge as a extra refined and highly effective digital camera. Nonetheless, for these looking for a lighter Walksnail FPV drone with out the necessity for a heavy digital camera like a GoPro, the Moonlight presents a compelling different.

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