BetaFPV brought out their Pavo range of drones earlier this year, which are first-person view (FPV) cinewhoops that are neatly assembled with good quality components.
The Pavo25 drone is well suited for carrying a stripped-down camera like a naked GoPro or SMO 4K camera.
I’ve been using the Pavo25 for several months now in a variety of environments with no issues. However, with a number of featherweight contenders on the market, I’ll be interested to see how this drone stacks up against the rest of the field.
What is the Pavo25 designed for?
Cinewhoop drones are being used more frequently in mainstream media to capture unique footage, from house tours to flying through cars.
The Pavo25 is an FPV cinewhoop drone manufactured by established FPV drone manufacturer BetaFPV.
Like other FPV drones, the Pavo25 has a camera and video transmitter for sending a low latency video signal to a pair of video goggles worn by the operator.
The drone has propeller guards, which help to make the drone safer for flying around people and indoors.
It should also come with foam bumpers, however mine did not. The Pavo25 has 2.5-inch diameter propellers, but BetaFPV also produces a 3-inch version called the Pavo 30.
The base price of the BetaFPV Pavo25 is $235 for the analog video version with an ELRS receiver.
I have this model here, although I have modified it in the time that I have owned it. There are also several digital FPV transmission versions of the drone available.
With the current price of hardware for FPV drones, this price is very reasonable, although the motors aren’t as high quality as I’ve seen on other off-the-shelf cinewhoops.
The frame could also benefit from being stiffer.
Specs and options
The Pavo25 that I have for this review originally came with analog video transmission and ELRS 2.4GHz control link.
It is designed for 2.5-inch (65mm) propellers and comes with 3-blade bull-nose propellers. This propeller configuration is common across many other cinewhoops of this size.
The Pavo25 is also available in other FPV video transmission flavors, including the DJI FPV V2, HDZero, and Walksnail video systems, and the price is scaled accordingly.
This drone has a traditional square “X” configuration, with the motors equally spaced apart.
The Pavo25 has an integrated GoPro-style mount for securing a camera over the front end of the drone. There are no other mounting solutions on this drone for carrying a camera in a different position.
The HD camera mount and FPV camera housing are also all one piece and made of 3D printed TPU. This means that the camera mount can’t really support heavier HD cameras. It is really designed around carrying a naked action camera, specifically the SMO 4K camera.
BetaFPV has found a way to fully integrate the propeller guards with this frame and claims that it is easier to disassemble for repairs as it merely needs six bolts to be removed for the propeller guards to drop away and reveal the components.
The design of the Pavo25 is a bit underwhelming, a bit like an old Volvo – it does the job but isn’t overly inspiring. That being said, it flies well and seems reasonably balanced.
The plastic propeller guard frame structure could be improved by adding some stiffness and stripping out some weight.
The Pavo25 without a battery weighs in at 160g. Add an SMO 4K camera and power leads – now it weighs in at 195g. Using a 650mAh 4S battery or smaller, you can bring this drone down to less than 250g, particularly with the analog version.
However, being slightly heavier does provide a bit of support with throttle management, as the drone doesn’t tend to respond as quickly to changes in throttle input as much as a lighter drone of this size would.
This can make holding a steady altitude a bit easier when flying in manual or acro flight modes.
The analog video transmitter in this drone has a good range of power options and is combined with a high-quality 5.8GHz antenna, which is mounted off the back of the drone for optimal performance.
The antenna mount is also designed to allow the antenna to fold neatly flat for when you need to pop the drone in a bag, helping to prevent damage to the antenna.
The Pavo25 also has a couple of rear-facing LEDs to help with orientation and visibility for your spotter or for when you need to fly line of sight.
The analog FPV camera is a nano FPV camera with a decent image for analog video. It’s still only an analog feed, but it is clear enough and has enough dynamic range to help you see in most environments.
I have since upgraded my FPV setup to the Walksnail avatar system and converted this drone over to this system. It accommodates the Walksnail system well inside the frame but adds a little weight compared to the analog components.
The flight controller in the Pavo25 is an F405 flight controller. The F405 chip has good performance and can support a number of serial devices and advanced filtering features in Betaflight.
However, it has the BMI270 Gyro, which has less hardware signal filtering and may require more tuning compared with previous MPU6000 Gyro-based flight controllers.
However, this will likely become the standard gyro for flight controllers now that the MPU600 gyro has been discontinued.
The motors on this drone are BetaFPV 1404 4500KV motors.
What do these numbers mean?
Well, they define the diameter and the height of the stator of the motor. In this case, 14mm x 4mm. 4500KV defines the peak RPM of the motors at 4500 multiplied by the input voltage, which in this case is up to 16.8V (4S battery).
This drone is designed to be powered by a 4S battery with a capacity range of 650mAh to 850mAh. However, if carrying a lighter HD camera on board, you could fly with a 1000mAh battery.
What’s it like to fly?
Out of the box, the Pavo25 flies really well and has stock rates in the Betalight flight control firmware. I quickly changed the rates to my preferred settings.
Each pilot has their own preferred rates and stick feel, but as a starting point with cinewhoops I would start with low rates of around 400 degrees per second or less at full stick deflection.
For more guidance on this, check out our cinewhoop article here.
With a naked HD camera and only carrying a 650mAh 4S battery, the Pavo25 is smooth to fly, and the motors don’t get warm in flight.
The electronics in my BetaFPV Pavo25 have been very reliable. The solder joints are all solid, and the motors are smooth.
I don’t usually like plug connectors on flight controllers as they tend to be a bit weak and/or the pins don’t make good contact, but the ones on the Pavo25 hardware have been fine.
Although the propeller guards are plastic, I’ve not been able to damage them. That being said, I haven’t been impacting it into anything.
Normally electronics can start to fail due to the high-frequency vibrations generated by the motors in flight. However, the electronics are still working well and show no signs of wear after several months of use.
The motor bearings are also still smooth after exposure to sand and grit with no maintenance.
The Pavo25 tries to be a lightweight cinewhoop and appears to have replaced BetaFPV’s 95x (2-inch) model. However, it is close to being too heavy, as it skirts about the 250g value.
This is a bit of a best of both worlds drone. It can just about get under the 250g threshold but also carries a bit more weight than its competitors, so in certain cases, like flying outdoors in windy conditions, the weight of the Pavo25 can be advantageous.
The FPV camera housing and HD camera mount of the Pavo25 could be improved.
For example, the FPV camera mount claims to support a camera tilt of up to 50 degrees. However, in reality, the camera housing appears to restrict the amount of tilt to less than 50 degrees and closer to 30 or 40 degrees.
The HD mount is also quite weak and wouldn’t support a full-size GoPro camera, especially in a crash. Even tightening the bolt for the mount when mounting a stripped-down HD camera, the mount almost broke where it meets the supporting base.
The plastic propeller guards seem solid, however they are very bulky. They also don’t provide enough clearance from the ground, so if you try to take off with the Pavo on uneven ground, then you may catch a propeller on the ground.
That being said, the frame provides enough clearance to support bulky digital FPV systems. The propeller guards could also do with being a bit lighter.
In comparison to other cinewhoop models available in 2022, like the GEPRC Cinelog 25, Foxeer Foxwhoop, and iFlight’s Protek 25 pusher, the Pavo25 isn’t too much heavier.
However, these other cinewhoop models can be kept under 250g regulatory weight limits more easily.
Changes I’ve made
As I already mentioned, the Pavo25 comes with 3-blade bull-nose propellers, which I changed to 6-blade. However, it sounds a bit nicer and flies much better on the 3-blade propellers.
Nevertheless, cinewhoops are loud in general, especially when they’re on the heavier end of the spectrum and need more throttle for them to hover.
I have upgraded the video system from analog to Walksnail. The Walksnail system adds a bit of weight and fits well into the frame.
The stock analog system in the drone is actually decent, and I managed to fly around several floors of a warehouse without much breakup or interference. The digital FPV options do provide a much more immersive flying experience, though.
In summary, I would recommend the BetaFPV Pavo25, especially if you’re looking for a drone that, on paper, just fits under the 250g threshold that many jurisdictions have adopted.
However, the competitors of this drone manage their weight better. That being said, they also seem less robust. For example, the Cinelog 25 from GEPRC has quite flimsy propeller guards and leaves the FPV camera exposed in order to save weight.
The Pavo25 seems to be a good compromise between lightweight and durability.