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EagleTree V3 Flight Data Logger Review

December 13th, 2008 · No Comments ·

Rating:

Price As Tested: $212 (includes sensors and LCD PowerPanel)


If you’re a guy (or a gal) who likes to have all the latest gadgets and get the most from your RC helicopter, airplane, car or boat, then you’ll definitely want to check out the V3 data logger from Eagle Tree Systems.

The Eagle Tree data logger is an in-flight data recorder that can record all the vitals of your RC helicopter and is jam packed with features, options and available sensors.

The V3 data logger will work with anything that’s battery powered, though data loggers or eLoggers like this one are primarily used for electric powered RC vehicles, though they can also be used for nitro, gas and turbine powered birds.

The unit is small and portable and will fit on pretty much anything (except for the most micro mini RC toys) because it’s small in size and weight – only a mere 20 grams.

It’s also extremely portable – just stick some Velcro to the back of the Eagle Tree and you can easily move it around from model to model.

In stock form, the Eagle Tree’s main function is to measure and record your battery voltage, current and compute the wattage used. All data is stored on the logger’s internal memory and can be downloaded to your computer via USB and viewed live on your PC or the available PowerPanel LCD display for analysis.


Tricked out with the available and affordable sensors, it will measure and record other things like temperatures and RPM’s all the way down to altitude, speed or GPS coordinates.

The V3 Eagle Tree Data logger comes in 3 available options.

1. 100 amp version with integrated deans plugs – street price: $70

2. 100 amp version with wire leads – street price: $70

3. 150 amp version with wire leads – street price: $90

My suggestion, get the unit with the wire leads – it will be easier to plug in and move from model to model. Plus you can solder on whichever type of leads you’d like.

I also went for the 150A logger because some of my larger heli’s have brushless motors that can spike at 100A+. Even though the 100A logger is rumored to be able to handle spikes well above 100A, it wasn’t worth risking it and the welfare of my heli to save $20.

Here’s the specs:

Dimensions: 2.25″ x 1″ x 0.5″
Weight: 0.7 ounces (20 grams)
Voltage: 5 to 70V
Amperage: Up to 100 amps
Temperature: 0 to 424F
RPM: 100 to 50,000

Why would you want a electronic data logger anyways? There’s a lot of reasons actually.

Maybe you want to measure your headspeed on your heli to make sure it’s not bogging or know how hot your motor is getting.

Maybe you just want to see how many amps you’re pulling to make sure your ESC and battery are up to it.

Or maybe even you want to test the efficiency of different pinions to see what gives the longest flight times.

Whatever the reason, if the eagle tree has something to measure it, it will do it for you.

Another reason I like this Eagle Tree data logger is because it’s so easy to use. Just plug it in, and that’s it. In fact, each time you connect the power to the data logger, it creates a new session which is nice because you can use it on back to back flights and easily differentiate between them.


Everything plugs into logical places which are easily labeled and most of the sensors can be used at the same time. Fot example, you can have 3 temp sensors plugged in, a RPM sensor, a throttle sensor and the LDC display as well as the GPS sensor at the same time. Though to use two RPM sensors at once, you needed to make a small modification to the orientation of the servo pins by swapping the position of the red and black wires going into the servo plug.

The only thing I didn’t really like about the V3 data logger is that it didn’t come with a printed manual. There was one on the included CD that you could print out, but it’s nice when things come with a hard copy. Not everyone may have access to a computer or printer and it’s always nice to have a hard copy that you can browse right away instead of having to print out your own. All of the sensors I received did come with printed manuals.

The V3 data logger has 4 times the logging capacity of the former V2 Eagle Tree Data Logger which is retained to a permanent memory so it’s not lost when the power is removed and you want to take it home for analysis on your PC.

PC Software

The Eagle Tree can be used right out of the package without any setup necessary, though it is best to configure and customize on your PC using the software that comes with it. The software is fully compatible with Windows Vista, 98SE, ME, Win2K and XP.


For ease of use, I installed the software on my office PC as well as a laptop I can take to the field if I wanted.

Once the software is installed, the wizard will guide you through the configuration and allow you to setup which parameters you want to view and how you want to view them.


Once the data is collected, it is extremely easy to extract. Downloading the data from the logger over the USB link takes just a few seconds and can be saved for later comparison or viewed in real time or show maximum values on your computer.

The desktop software can be used in playback mode to play back a previous flight, in peak mode to display peak value or in live mode, where all parameters are displayed in real time on your computer.

All recordings can be graphed for visual analysis. The graphs can also be easily customized and you can choose which parameters you want to graph


You can setup which parameters you want to record and how often to log them (from 1 – 10 samples per second). Your available recording time will depend on how many parameters you’re logging and how often you’re recording them per second.

Things like engine RPM or your helicopter headspeed you may want to record 5 – 10 times a second to get the most accurate results because it’s constantly changing, but then other things like battery or engine temperatures can be recorded just once per second since they’re slow to change. As a minimum, you should get at least a half hour of recording time no matter how you set things up.

PowerPanel LCD Display

The PowerPanel discplay is a super thin LCD display that lets you get your peak and live data displayed without a PC.


It’s fully programmable on your computer and has the ability to display four sets of information on two different pages which alternate every two seconds for a total of eight parameters. This includes things this like voltage, current, wattage, RPM’s, temperatures and so on. It comes from the factory displaying volts, amps, milliamp hours and temperature.

It’s small and light enough that you can attach it right to the side of your helicopter, or bring along in your field box instead of lugging around a PC.

When the V3 data logger is coupled with the PowerPanel LCD display it will easily and conveniently replace your old clunky watt meter and/or voltmeter.

The PowerPanel sells for $40 and is an indispensable tool and upgrade for your data logger.

Sensors

There are a whole bunch of sensors available for the Eagle Tree V3 data logger and are new ones being developed all the time.

While the Eagle Tree works great on it’s own to record things like volts, watts and amps, you won’t get to brandish its full functionality without some of the additional sensors.


Additional sensors include things like RPM sensors, temperature sensors, GPS modules, servo current loggers and so on. Some of these extra options go for as low as $5 and as much as $150 for the GPS module.

Though, if you’re on a really tight budget, you don’t need to get any of the extra options, though they are certainly nice to have and allow you to utilize the full functionality of the logger..

RPM Sensors

There are three different RPM sensors available for this system.

The first is a magnetic unit which requires the installation of a sensor and magnets on a spinning surface (ie. Your rotor blades)

The second RPM sensor uses an optical sensor which reads alternating light / dark areas on a spinning part. I thought this would work similarly to a handheld optical RPM sensor that I use for my heli, but it needs to be within half an inch of the spinning surface to work, so you won’t be able to use to measure your heli’s headspeed.

If you want to measure you’re RC helicopters headspeed, you can use the third type of RPM sensor. This one works electronically and connects to one of the wires going from your ESC to your brushless motor. If you use the bullet connectors, you don’t need to strip any wires or do any soldering – just stick it the female end of the bullet connector and sandwich it in with the male counterpart.

It measures the signal from the ESC and when you input some info on your computer (number of poles in motor and gearing ratio) it will calculate the headspeed of your helicopter. This is especially useful to see if your head is bogging or your governor is working as advertised.

Temperature Sensors

You’ve got two to choose from. One is a loop that can wrap around your inrunner brushless motor, LiPo battery or ESC – just make sure it’s touching the surface. The other is just the sensor at the end of a wire and can be taped down in a more permanent position.

The temp sensors are a nice feature to make sure things are keeping cool and within their operating range, though they can’t really be used with an outrunner brushless motor. An infrared temp sensor would be nice to see in the future.

Other Available Sensors

In addition to the sensors mentioned above, there is an altimeter, an airspeed sensor, a servo current meter, a GPS module and a Spektrum / JR interface cable available.

The only one of these I got was the servo current meter, so I could see how much juice they were using.

While an altimeter, airspeed sensor and GPS module would all be nice to have, they wouldn’t really serve much of a practical purpose. It would be sweet to see how high I’m flying or how fast I can go, but it’s not necessary for any functionality other than curiosity – maybe something to upgrade to at a later date.

I also don’t fly with a Spektrum / JR radio or receiver, so the interface cable wasn’t necessary. If you do fly with Spektrum or JR receivers, you’ll need to make sure it has a data port to use the interface – it will record things like failsafes, lost frames, antenna fades and so on.

The GPS module will track the coordinates and plot a course as well as allow you to calculate other things like the ground speed or GPS altitude. It can also be used in conjunction with Google Earth for lifelike plotting.

The altimeter sensor will calculate the altitude in 4 ft resolution and save it to the logger.

There’s also a Wireless Seagull Dashboard available which will transmit all the data (up to a mile) which can be viewed in real time either on the LCD receiver or on your laptop. If you already have the Eagle Tree data logger, you can upgrade to the wireless option for $200, or buy the pro version of wireless dashboard which includes the logger and a bunch of sensors for $500.

Overall the Eagle Tree V3 Data Logger performs as advertised and compared to some RC things I’ve used in the past, it’s quite easy to use. In fact, you can take it out of the package, plug it in and it will do its thing. Though of course if you choose to, its options and available customization will fit almost any project and I’d highly recommend it as a welcomed addition to any modeler’s bag of tricks.

It also makes a great gift for the RC heli flyer who has almost everything.

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