The iFlight Protek25 drone is a first-person view (FPV) cinewhoop that is well-built and quite capable for its size. Even when carrying a full-fat GoPro camera, it is very smooth to fly.
However, its starting weight lets it down on safety points.
I’ve been using the Protek25 for several months now in a variety of environments with very few issues.
What is this drone designed for?
Cinewhoop drones are being used more frequently in mainstream media to capture unique footage, from house tours to flying through cars.
The Protek25 is an FPV cinewhoop drone manufactured by established FPV drone manufacturer iFlight. Their Nazgul 5-inch drone has been a popular off-the-shelf option for FPV drone pilots.
Like other FPV drones, the Protek25 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.
The Protek25 has 2.5-inch diameter propellers. The Protek design also comes in two larger models, the Protek35 and the Protek60.
The base price of the iFlight Protek25 is $221 for the analog video version without a control link receiver. The analog version set up with a TBS crossfire control link (a popular control link amongst FPV pilots) retails for $249.
With the current price of hardware for FPV drones, this price is pretty reasonable, especially considering the build quality of this drone.
It also comes with adhesive foam padding for the exterior of the frame and some spare propellers and battery straps in case of a crash.
Specs and options
The Protek25 that I have for this review comes with analog video transmission and ELRS 2.4GHz control link. The Protek25 comes with 2.5-inch (65mm), 3-blade bull-nose propellers.
This propeller configuration is common across many other cinewhoops of this size.
The Protek25 is also available in other FPV video transmission options, including the DJI FPV V2 video system, and the price is scaled accordingly.
The drone is not designed in a traditional square “X” configuration, with the motors equally spaced apart, but rather the motor spacing is squashed in the pitch axis, with the front two motors and the back two motors having minimal separation.
This does affect the balance of the drone on pitch when carrying heavier cameras toward the front of the drone.
iFlight includes a GoPro-style mount for securing a camera over the front end of the drone.
There are also mounting holes further back on the top plate that could be used for a larger mounting plate to help shift the weight of a heavier HD camera more towards the center of the frame.
iFlight has come up with a unique design for the propeller guards on this drone, moving away from the typical rounded duct-style design of other cinewhoop drones.
I think the Protek25’s square-edge aesthetic looks great, however it does make fitting the foam padding tricky, especially in the middle recesses of the skeletal frame.
That being said, the plastic propeller guard frame structure has a somewhat soft touch to it anyway, although I wouldn’t want to bump into any paintwork without the padding.
The Protek25 without a battery weighs in at 184g. This is now on the heavy end of the spectrum for cinewhoops of this size.
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 that 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 Protek 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.
The camera has small mounting pads to help secure it in the frame, however these are shaped to fit this particular camera, and it would have been nice if iFlight had made the mounting pads more generic to fit other FPV cameras.
The flight controller in the Protek is an F411 flight controller. Whilst it is a good budget flight controller, the F411 chip has limited performance and can only support a couple of serial devices.
That being said, it has enough performance and feature support for a cinewhoop.
The motors on this drone are iFlight’s Xing (read “Zing”) 1404 5500KV 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. 5500KV defines the peak RPM of the motors at 5500 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 is it like to fly?
Out of the box, the Protek25 is reasonably well-tuned and has stock rates in the 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 belwo.
Without the payload of an HD camera and only carrying a 650mAh 4S battery, the Protek25 is smooth to fly, and the motors don’t get warm in flight.
However, once a GoPro Hero 10 with battery is mounted, with a 650mAh battery, the drone doesn’t feel quite as locked in, and the motors do get quite warm to the touch.
This can be alleviated by tuning the PID controller gains in the firmware on the pitch axis of the drone to account for the additional weight of the HD camera on that axis.
I note the GoPro Hero 8 and 9 cameras can be powered reliably from a USB-C to LiPo adapter, saving around 30g in weight which does help with flight performance when carrying a GoPro on this drone.
Like many FPV drone hardware manufacturers, iFlight has had some complaints about its electronics in the past. However, the electronics on my iFlight Protek25 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 Protek25 hardware have been fine.
That being said, I did have a loss of radio link when flying in the rain once after some rainwater was propelled into the plug for the radio receiver.
I’ve since put some tape inside the frame to cover that plug, so I can fly in the rain without that being an issue again.
This drone has also taken a quick dip into a freshwater stream, and all of the electronics still work without issue.
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 mud, grit, and water with no maintenance.
The Protek25 is only really let down by its initial weight. It is too heavy for this class of cinewhoop in 2022. This is now the bruiser of 2.5-inch cinewhoop drones.
The F411 flight controller on board this drone is also a letdown because some serial inputs aren’t compatible with certain video transmitter control protocols, which can make wiring up new components like radio receivers and certain video transmitters a challenge.
The stock propellers also make a horribly loud noise, which is to be expected for a cinewhoop. However, the pitch at which it makes this noise makes it seem noticeably worse than other cinewhoops I’ve flown.
The foam padding that comes with the drone could also be improved to either be in two parts per side or have stronger adhesive, because after a while, it starts to peel away from the middle recesses of the propeller guards on each side.
In comparison to other cinewhoop models available in 2022, like the GEPRC Cinelog 25, Foxeer Foxwhoop, and even iFlight’s own Protek25 pusher, the Protek25 standard model is noticeably heavier.
These other cinewhoop models can be kept under 250g regulatory weight limits more easily. However, in certain cases, like flying outdoors in windy conditions, the weight of the Protek25 can be advantageous.
Some of these lighter cinewhoops may also struggle to carry a heavier HD camera like a GoPro.
Modifications I’ve made
As I already mentioned, the Protek25 comes with 3-blade bull-nose propellers, which I have swapped out for 6-blade propellers. Whilst it seems to fly better on 3-blade propellers, the 6-blade propellers help improve the sound of this drone.
The 6-blade propellers have more of a “hand dryer” type sound, as opposed to the “dentist drill” sound of the stock propellers.
Either way, cinewhoops are loud in general, especially when they’re on the heavier side and need more throttle for them to hover.
Other than that, I have tried to save a bit of weight with some of the 3D-printed parts on this drone. However, there are only marginal gains to be had here.
In summary, I would recommend the iFlight Protek25. Although it is heavy, it is very robust and has been dependable to date. I’ve chased cars with it, flown it over water and it hasn’t caused me any problems.
However, with sub-250g drones becoming more popular, I think the iFlight Protek25 needs to go on a diet, and I would like to see iFlight come up with a version two with similar styling and less mass.