We haven’t done any real reviews in quite a while… and now feels like a proper time to change that. So, driven by those thoughts I am proud to present you an interesting little drone, something which we rarely feature here at DronesGlobe. This little bugger goes by the name Leader 120 and it’s made by FullSpeed. The 120 stands for its diagonal size which means we are talking about a really small drone. Just for reference, MJX Bugs 2W is a 310mm drone so those numbers simply speak for themselves.
But what’s so special about this tiny little drone that it’s worthy of an in-depth review here at DronesGlobe? Well, for starters – we are talking about the “rippiest” little racing drone currently available on the market. Take that with a grain of salt though – the competition is really tough and there might be several contestants that could go head to head with our little Leader… But if we take just one second to look at its price tag, I’m sure everything will be as clear as day.
However, I wouldn’t like to go all in right off the bat. Instead, let’s take things a bit slower and take a closer look at everything you need to know about FullSpeed Leader 120!
FullSpeed Leader 120 Review
Here’s what you all came for… Enjoy!
FullSpeed is looking damn fine…
I would like to start off by pointing out what a wonderful company FullSpeed is. Among all mini FPV racing manufacturers out there, FS is the one I appreciate the most. And it’s not just me – popular YouTubers such as AndyRC and Nick Burns are also very fond of them. And it’s nothing surprising – FS has an impressive presence in FPV racing community which is a major part of their recent success.
The biggest component of FullSpeed’s recent success is definitely a gentleman who goes by the name Lewis Lee. I’m still not sure what exactly is his role in the company, but one thing is for sure – if it wasn’t for his presence on social networks, unparalleled communication skills, and good old word-of-mouth marketing, I’m sure FullSpeed wouldn’t be at the place they are today.
To summarize – What FullSpeed is doing is called great business practice and many other companies should learn a few tricks this way. Not only are they enjoying pole position on the market but they’re already being called the fan favorite by the community. And for that – kudos to them!
Starting off with the motors, Leader 120 now sports FullSpeed branded 1104 brushless motors rated at 7500Kv. I say now because things weren’t this way last year, right after Leader’s initial release. Due to the fact some users (including AndyRC) complained about flip of death (FOD from now on) issues, FullSpeed seem to have figured out it was due to the motors. Cannot say that for sure though – I haven’t found an official statement regarding this… but word on the streets says the motor upgrade fixed everything.
Some people managed to solve their FOD issues by increasing their idle throttle speed while others simply added a cap and changed the default battery connector from JST to XT30. Nowadays, FOD issues are all gone and Leader 120 is looking sharper than ever. Back to the motors – as far as their quality is concerned, these are one of the best 11xx models on the market. Take RS1106 by EMAX as the top tier example – they are freakishly powerful but I’ve had terrible luck with their longevity. As far as these FullSpeed ones are concerned though, I haven’t had a single issue yet and I’ve already run through 3 Leder 120’s. They’re extremely durable, survived a couple of straight up concrete crashes which wasn’t the case with SunnySky, RotorX or EMAX RS 11xx motors.
Just like motors, Leader’s 4 in 1 ESC board received an upgrade as well. The stock Leader 120 had 20A ESC board which, at least for me personally, worked like a charm. However, I really did notice a difference with this new 28A ESC on all battery types (more on that down below). The drone itself feels a bit more snappy which I really like. Still, take that with a grain of salt since I haven’t tested the old and new Leaders side by side to be able to tell you for sure. The board itself supports Dshot 600 and more importantly, it has 35A max current burst.
Just like I mentioned above, we will further discuss all viable battery options for this fancy little fella. First of all, you need to know which battery it comes with. Well, it’s actually a pretty solid FullSpeed branded 500mAh 30C 2S LiPo pack. In terms of raw performance, this pack stands somewhere on the middle ground. However, if you are looking to make your Leader 120 rip a bit harder, my warm recommendation is to go for GNB 550mAh 80C 2S Lipos. Heck, I’m running my Leader 120 on GNB 550mAh 80C 3S packs and it’s a proper beast. The ripping is strong with this one, mark my words!
Keep in mind though – Leader 120 is not made for 3S batteries. I am aware that by continuously running it on 3S I am risking burning the motors out. 3S Leader 120 users have frequently reported busting motors on 3S which is not surprising considering they are rated pretty high at 7500Kv. If you really want to turn Leader 120 into a fully fledged 3S beast, you might want to change the motors to those with slightly lower Kv value.
Leader 120 flight controller sports OSD
For an impressively small amount of money Leader 120 by FullSpeed comes running on a flight controller that supports Betaflight OSD. More precisely, it’s an Omnibus F3 board sporting 5V 3A BEC and running on STM32F303 CPU. It allows on-the-fly PID adjustments and works with 2S-4S Lipo batteries. It is connected to the ESC via 6-pin connector. However, LiPo voltage goes through a separate wire running straight from the LiPo positive to the designated LiPo connector on the FC itself. Don’t make a mistake here and connect both wires as it will most likely burn your stack down.
Good CMOS camera
A good FPV camera is the base point of every outstanding racing drone out there. As far as Leader 120 goes, you can rest assured that it sits on a fine FPV solution. Unfortunately, we are talking about a CMOS camera albeit a very good one. I said unfortunately becuase I know lots of you swear by your CCD cameras. No worries though – RunCam Micro Swift 2 can be force fitted in this frame pretty easily. If you don’t like doing things by force, you can 3D print adapters which will work just fine and serve as an extra layer of protection.
As far as my personal opinion goes, I’d say the stock camera is actually pretty damn good, even though it’s a 600tvl CMOS sensor. Image quality is surprisingly good even during sunsets, which is a rare occurrence with such small CMOS sensors. The thing I like the most about it is the FOV. I am not sure what’s the exact number but it’s pretty damn huge. I tried using Caddx F1 and RunCam Micro Swift 2 with my mini quads… but their FOV just isn’t for me. It’s too narrow and I don’t feel like I have full control over my quad. Leader 120’s camera, however, feels absolutely great and can be tuned to perfection as far as angles are concerned.
FullSpeed Leader 120 comes as BNF and PNP package. Bind and fly will let you choose between FrSky, FlySky and DSMX receivers to pair with the corresponding transmitter. On the other hand, if you already own one of these tiny receivers, chances are you’ll want to go for PNP package which doesn’t come with one. You’ll save a couple of bucks and that’s always a plus in my books.
Keep in mind though – some online webshops might sell older versions of Leader 120… so if the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is. For the newest version, I warmly suggest you buy Leader 120 via FullSpeed official website. That’s where you’ll certainly get the best deal and won’t have to worry about getting an outdated version.
If that’s not enough for you, wait till you hear about this! You can leave a note if you wish an extra level of customization to your newly purchased drone. Mainly, I am referring to bootup sounds. Star Wars Theme Song, Darude Sandstorm and stuff like that – good folk over at FullSpeed will get you covered!
As far as build quality is concerned, Leader 120 doesn’t fail to deliver. Instead of opting for an aluminum upper frame like some of its competitors (FlyEgg series by LDARC for example), this little bugger is completely made out of carbon fiber. Actually, that’s not quite true since it sports a 3D printed camera mount as well as horizontal standoffs on each end of the frame. Most importantly though, the main frame (3mm thickness) and stack protection frame (2mm thickness) are both made out of carbon fiber and will absorb most of the blows on hard crashes. Trust me, I’ve had quite a few of those and didn’t have many breaks. The first thing I always break with these little buggers are those screws holding the printed standoffs. It’s just screws though – nothing much to worry about.
General performance of Leader 120 is absolutely amazing straight out of the box. Lewis Lee from FullSpeed makes sure that the PIDs are set up perfectly, making this little bugger rip straight out of the box. And that’s another huge plus for FullSpeed, at least in my books – the fact that they pretune their quads and make life easier for beginners is praiseworthy, to say the least. As far as modding goes, the first thing I would do if I were you change the battery connector. JST is far too weak for this little fella which makes XT30 a must for every serious user.