The Walksnail Moonlight digital camera/VTX package emerges as a direct competitor to the favored DJI O3 Air Unit. Providing stabilized 4K recording and a sturdy efficiency that rivals, and in some elements, surpasses the DJI O3, the Moonlight package presents itself as an fascinating choice. This evaluation delves into my private experiences with the Moonlight, evaluating it head-to-head with the DJI O3.
New to Walksnail FPV system? Be taught extra on this article: https://oscarliang.com/setup-avatar-fpv-system/
Nonetheless questioning which FPV system you must 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 package from these distributors:
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 Handbook
- Firmware identify: 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
- Huge Energy Enter: 7.4V-25.2V
- Energy consumption: [email protected], [email protected]
- Reminiscence card kind: U3 MicroSD, Max 256G
- Digicam dimension: 19.6mm*19mm*24mm
- VTX dimension: 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 Acquire: 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 Equipment?
Much like the DJI O3, the Walksnail Moonlight is a digital camera/VTX combo that gives 4K recording capabilities whereas streaming HD reside movies again to the FPV goggles on the bottom. This package doubtlessly eliminates the necessity for added motion digital camera on the drone, simplifying setups and lowering total weight and price.
The Moonlight not solely information in 1080p, 2.7K, and 4K resolutions but additionally options digital picture stabilization (EIS). The digital camera settings enable for guide management, together with shutter velocity and ISO, which is essential for capturing high-quality footage in varied lighting circumstances.
You may study extra concerning the DJI O3 right here: https://oscarliang.com/dji-o3-air-unit-fpv-goggles-2/
Design and Construct
The Moonlight has a sturdy construct, with a sturdy metallic 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 presents higher mounting flexibility with each 20x20mm and 25.5×25.5mm M2 mounting holes, enabling direct mounting onto most drone frames in the marketplace.
The Moonlight digital camera has a 19mm width identical to any customary micro digital camera. It’s simpler to mount than the O3’s non-standard 20mm dimension, 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.
Whereas the Moonlight additionally includes a twin antenna setup for constant sign, the antennas are particular person, not like 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.
The digital camera is related to the VTX through a MIPI connector and it’s removable.
The digital camera cable lengths and antenna lengths are comparable between the O3 and Moonlight.
Dimensions and Weight Comparability:
|VTX Dimensions (mm)
|34.5 x 34.5 x 15.3
|30.5 x 30.5 x 14.5
|Digicam dimension (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 side 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 definitely attachable and removable, presents 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 tough to make use of in sure FPV drone frames with out modifications. Anyway it’s good to have it included within the package. I want ND16 can be included, for brilliant sunny day and snowy days, however ND8 must be fairly versatile for a lot of conditions.
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 inside reminiscence. Whereas it could not appear important because it solely holds about 20 minutes of footage, it could possibly prevent from going residence empty-handed whenever you overlook your SD card. I want the Moonlight provided an analogous function.
Moonlight’s digital camera cable is about 12cm lengthy whereas the antenna wires are about 5.5cm (excluding the plastic tube half).
Latency and Flying Expertise
The Moonlight supplies a flying expertise much 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, notably 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 perfect in 100fps mode, however then your recording would even be in 100fps, which isn’t ideally suited in some instances.
Because of Moonlight’s starlight sensor, the system’s low mild efficiency is especially spectacular, outperforming the DJI O3 in difficult lighting circumstances. Its potential to seize clear and detailed pictures in near-darkness is a big benefit for night time flyers.
I’ve seen that the Moonlight is simply as vulnerable to jello because the O3, if no more. To fight this, guarantee your FPV drone is well-tuned and contemplate soft-mounting the digital camera if doable. For steering on tuning your quads, take a look at my tutorial: https://oscarliang.com/fpv-drone-tuning/. Gyroflow appears to be fairly efficient in minimizing jello in order that’s price a attempt.
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 presents guide settings that can enchantment to skilled pilots, at the moment you’ll be able to alter the next settings:
- Decision / Body Price
- Publicity Worth
- White Steadiness
- Shutter Pace
Nonetheless, it’s price noting that not like the DJI O3, the Moonlight lacks flat colour profile or 10bit recording functionality and doesn’t provide 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 (reminiscent of 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 mild.
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 slightly wider area of view (Huge setting).
In night time time circumstances, the Moonlight is the clear winner in low mild. 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.
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.
Disassembling the Moonlight VTX reveals a twin board design much like the O3. One board capabilities because the video transmitter and the opposite because the video recording board. Caddx has designed it in such a method that the 2 boards may be separated. This makes restore less expensive as you solely want to exchange the broken board, not the entire unit.
In accordance with 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 related to any Walksnail Avatar VTX, providing a modular strategy that reduces prices and simplifies replacements.
Throughout my testing, Walksnail had launched 4 firmware updates, showcasing their dedication to enhancing the Moonlight digital camera. Whereas it was slightly 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 succeed in these tiny connectors if in case you have a good body, which in all probability means you’d should take the drone aside each time you need to replace the Moonlight. Secondly, you can’t lose this tiny cable otherwise you gained’t have the ability to replace.
Energy Consumption Testing
25mW Output Degree
1000mW Output Degree
Energy consumption checks at varied output ranges present that the Moonlight attracts important 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 not less than 2A, ideally 3A, is advisable.
An vital notice: the VTX underreports the enter voltage by about 0.4V. This discrepancy is just not a difficulty when powered by a BEC with fixed voltage, however in case you energy it instantly from a battery, it could possibly make you need to land sooner than you must.
Learn how 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 instantly from the battery, and join RX/TX pins to a spare UART on the FC.
Within the goggles’ menu, you’ll be able to 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).
By default, urgent the DVR file 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 just accessible in 2.7K decision, not accessible in 1080p / 4K. Stabilization is utilized within the recorded video instantly. 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 import in Gyroflow for picture stabilization in put up, which I consider yields higher outcome than the built-in EIS. Due to this fact 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 whenever you import footage.
- 4K 60fps bit price: 150Mbps
- 2.7K 60fps bit price: 100Mbps
- 1080p 100fps bit price: 100Mbps
- 1080p 60fps bit price: 80Mbps
Walksnail appears to be nonetheless refining the firmware for the Moonlight, changes to settings and the introduction of recent options are ongoing.
Due to this fact, I’ll maintain off on publishing my most popular settings for the Moonlight till a steady firmware model is launched, provided that adjustments are anticipated previous to that.
The Walksnail Avatar Moonlight digital camera/VTX package is a powerful contender within the HD FPV market. It presents 4K recording, spectacular low-light efficiency, and versatile digital camera settings.
Buy the Walksnail Moonlight digital camera/VTX package 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 colour profile, 10-bit colour, a better firmware replace course of, and the inclusion of inside reminiscence and a USB port. The O3 maintains an edge as a extra refined and highly effective digital camera. However, for these in search of a lighter Walksnail FPV drone with out the necessity for a heavy digital camera like a GoPro, the Moonlight presents a compelling various.