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New invisible FPV drone: BetaFPV Pavo360 and Insta360 SMO 360 naked 360 camera

BetaFPV Pavo360 and Insta360 SMO 360
BetaFPV Pavo360 and Insta360 SMO 360

BetaFPV has released a new invisible 360 drone called the Pavo360, and a naked 360 camera for FPV called the Insta360 SMO 360.  Here are its specifications, features and how it compares to the Newbeedrone Invisi360.  UPDATE: hands-on impressions here.

BetaFPV has released a new invisible 360 cinewhoop called the Pavo360, confirming all of my predictions.  However, what I did not expect was that BetaFPV would be also releasing a new naked 360 camera for FPV.

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen several invisible 360 drones — drones designed to use a 360 camera to capture a 360 video, which can be reframed to any view after shooting, while also having a frame that is slim enough to fit between the lenses of the drone, making the drone appear invisible in the video.

Whereas earlier designs were larger and designed primarily for shooting outdoors, a few new invisible drones have been compact enough to fly indoors.  The Newbeedrone Invisi360, for example, is about the same size as a traditional 3-inch cinewhoop.  In fact, I have used it to shoot a flythrough video for a client.

The Invisi360 has an excellent design but it is incredibly underpowered because of very low kv motors.  That flaw created an opportunity for BetaFPV to create their own version of the Invisi360 — with apparently more power and a few other benefits.

Just as with the Insta360 SMO 4k camera, BetaFPV collaborated with Insta360 for this drone to create a naked 360 camera, and an invisible drone around it.  The result is the Pavo360 and the SMO 360.  Here’s their launch video.

BetaFPV Pavo360 specs

BetaFPV Pavo360
Frame typeCinewhoop with low profile ducts
Number of propellers4
Prop size3 inches
Prop shaft1.5mm
PropellerGemfan D76 (5 blade)
Recommended batterytwo 3S 850mah batteries in series (acts as 6S). Maximum dimensions: 60 x 31 x 26mm
Battery connectorXT30
Motor2204 2400KV 6S motors
Motor orientation and directionPuller, Props out
Flight ControllerF7 6S AIO 35A Toothpick Flight Controller
ESCF7 6S AIO 35A Toothpick Flight Controller
ChipF722 (?)
FirmwareBetaflight
ESC firmwareBLHeli_S
UARTs6 full UARTs
BEC5V, 3V
Barometernone (?)
Blackboxnone (?)
VTXDigital: Caddx Vista
Analog: A02 800mw
CameraDigital: Caddx Polar
Analog: Caddx Ratel
Camera angle0 to 60 degrees
Receiver optionsTBS Crossfire
PNP
Cable for naked camera?Cable for SMO360
Flight controller connector6-pin DJI connector
Dry Weight (excluding camera)Analog: 316.7 grams
Digital: 335.6 grams
Under 250g?no
DimensionsTBD
Wheelbase168mm
PriceAnalog: $319 without receiver
Digital: $469 without receiver
SMO360: $399

SMO 360 specs

Pavo360 uses the new SMO 360 naked 360 camera
Pavo360 uses the new SMO 360 naked 360 camera

The Pavo360 uses the SMO360, a “naked” 360 camera that is similar to the Insta360 One R but has been stripped down to make it as light as possible.  It has no internal battery and no touchscreen.  Instead, it is powered externally through a cable connected to a drone’s battery.  The SMO 360 also has a larger distance between its lenses (compared to the One R).  The larger distance means that it’s easier to ensure the Pavo360 will be invisible.  However, it also means that stitching errors are theoretically more visible.

  • Video resolution: 5760 x 2880 at up to 30 fps; 3840 x 1920 up to 50 fps, 3008 x 1504 up to 100 fps.
  • Aperture: f/2
  • Distance between the two lenses: 40mm (vs 34mm for Insta360 One R)
  • Shooting modes: video, HDR video, timelapse. I don’t recommend using HDR video because you’ll be moving and you could end up with strange artifacts.
  • Weight: 55 grams
  • Dimensions: 40mm×49.6mm×52mm
  • Power supply voltage: 6V to 27V (2S to 6S)
  • Connector: SMO 4K 4-pin SH1.0 connector
  • Memory: Micro SD card up to 1TB.  Must be V30 rated.
  • Wireless connections: 5G Wi-Fi, BLE 4.0

BetaFPV Pavo360 vs Newbeedrone Invisi360 comparison

Although the Pavo360 and Invisi360 share many similarities including their basic design, each one has several advantages over the other.

Pavo360 Advantages Over Invisi360:

  1. Pavo360 has a lot more power.  Pavo360 has larger motors with higher kv and uses higher voltage batteries.  Pavo360 has 2204 2400kv motors powered by two 3S batteries in series, which act as an 850mah 6S battery.  Invisi360 has 2004 1750kv motors powered by 4S batteries.  It is possible to convert the Invisi360 to 6S by wiring it for series but you’d have to solder the power cables yourself.
  2. Option to use 4S.  Although the Pavo360 comes as a 6S quad, it is possible to use it as 4S simply by using two 2S batteries, with no need to change the wiring.  With Invisi360, the batteries are wired in parallel to fly it as 4S and I haven’t seen 6S batteries that would fit it.  You can convert it to series but you’ll have re-solder it yourself.
  3. Pavo360 has a retractable landing gear.  The landing gear can protect the bottom lens on the 360 camera during takeoff and landing.  The landing gear is toward the rear of the quad so that the quad can be launched forward from this position, like a racing drone.  The landing gear is made of TPU and is replaceable.
    Pavo360 has a retractable landing gear
    Pavo360 has a retractable landing gear
  4. Batteries are easier to plug in.  It seems that the Pavo360’s batteries are easy to insert and the plug seems easy to keep away.  By contrast, the Invisi360’s batteries are a bit fiddly to insert in the frame where the plastic jacket of the battery has a tendency to snag in the frame, and the balance lead has to be carefully inserted or else it will pop out of the frame and ruin the video.
  5. Pavo360 has an analog version, while Invisi360 is only digital.
  6. Pavo360 has a thicker frame that may be more durable than Invisi360’s frame.
  7. The Pavo360’s foam-padded ducts are less likely to scratch soft targets than the Invisi360’s bare carbon fiber frame.
  8. Protected batteries.  The Pavo360’s batteries are surrounded by the ducts.  The Invisi360 batteries are very close to the props and in a serious crash, it’s possible for the props to hit the batteries.

Invisi360 Advantages Over Pavo360:

  1. The Invisi360 uses the standard Insta360 One R 360 mod and core.  By contrast, the Pavo360’s SMO 360 doesn’t use a touchscreen and its settings cannot be changed without the Insta360 app.  Moreover, the One R can be used as a 360 camera without the Invisi360.  The SMO360 is designed to be used only with the Pavo360
  2. Smaller parallax error.  The Invisi360 uses the One R, which has lenses that are 34mm apart.  The SMO 360’s lenses are 40mm apart, which means it should theoretically have higher chance of stitching errors.  However, the sample videos show no noticeable stitching error.  It’s not clear whether Insta360 Studio desktop app has a separate stitching mode for the SMO 360.
  3. Getting your video may be more convenient on the Invisi360, which has a passthrough USB port that lets you transfer the videos out of the One R.  This means it’s not necessary to remove the One R.  The Pavo360 has no passthrough USB port for the SMO360 (which doesn’t have a USB port).  It is not clear whether the SMO 360’s SD card is directly accessible without having to remove the camera from the drone.
  4. More battery options: As long as the battery is 18mm height and up to 32mm wide, it can be used by the Invisi360.  Batteries for the Pavo360 have a maximum height of 26mm, width of 31mm, and length of 60mm.  Besides the BetaFPV 3S 850mah, another battery that can fit is the Tattu 3S 850mah.
  5. Invisi360 is lighter.  Although the Invisi360 uses the One R, which is heavier than the SMO360, the all-up weight of the Invisi360 is lighter than the Pavo360.
  6. The Invisi360’s flight controller has a USB Type C port, while the Pavo360’s flight controller uses an older Micro USB port.
  7. Replacement cost.  If the One R 360 mod gets scratched, it costs $200 to get a new one.  If the SMO 360 gets scratched, it is $399 to buy a new one.
  8. Invisi360 has no ducts.  I prefer quads without ducts.  Although they are less efficient, they seem to be easier to control and are less likely get pulled toward walls.

Price and availability

Pavo360 starts at $319 for analog without receiver up to $489 for the digital version with Crossfire.  SMO 360 is $399.  The Pavo360 and SMO 360 are now available on Betafpv and will soon be available at major FPV online stores.

Impressions (based on specs only)

I love my Newbeedrone Invisi360 because of the amazing videos I can get with it, but it is woefully underpowered.  One time, I was descending at a moderate pace and I couldn’t arrest the descent even at full throttle, leading to a crash.  I haven’t tried the Pavo360 but my impression from specs is that it will be a lot more powerful than the Newbeedrone Invisi360.  On the other hand, it’s not clear how well it can fly slowly indoors.

I also don’t know how invisible the Pavo360 really is.  The Newbeedrone Invisi360 has to be modified a little bit to make sure it is truly invisible.  Hopefully the Pavo360 is invisible without modification, although I’m a bit worried that the Crossfire antennas might bend down and become visible.  I’m also worried about the larger distance between the lenses (compared to the One R).  Will it result in noticeably more stitching errors?  Finally, I’m wondering about the SMO 360.  Is it reliable (naked cameras are more fragile)?  Is it a little hard to connect to the app like the Insta360 SMO 4k?  Meanwhile, I plan to order the Pavo360 and SMO 360.  When I get it, I’ll update this post.