BeeRotor’s HoneyDrop antenna is based on open-source Pagoda antenna (thanks Maarten Baert) and the Pagoda antenna has received good reviews regarding their performance.
The Pagoda antenna is an omnidirectional circularly polarized antenna. It has good axial ratio resulting in an impressive multi-path performance where it will shine if used at places with a lot of obstacles. The Pagoda antenna excels in rejecting reflected waves.
So if the Pagoda design is so good, why is the HoneyDrop antenna so bad? They are based on the same open-source Pagoda design by Maarten Baert, so did he hide some secret sauce? Did you sir? ;p
The answer is of course NO, it’s an open-source design remember?
Straight to the point, BeeRotor did something wrong when assembling their HoneyDrop antennas. They have removed the coaxial shielding between the two PCBs at the top of the antenna. The spaces between the top PCBs as per the original design is 3.65mm, this means that the core signal cable has been exposed for that same length.
Referring to the assembly guide by Maarten Baert (Pagoda designer), it shows the shielding within that space shouldn’t have been removed (circled in yellow). Joshua Bardwell has recently reviewed the HoneyDrop antenna as having bad reception, but Bruce also just recently reviewed another Pagoda antenna as very exceptional, even better than the mighty TBS Triumph. So this clearly shows that supposedly a Pagoda-based antenna should have a good performance, but not the HoneyDrop apparently.
These steps are what i have done to improve the HoneyDrop’s performance:
- Crack that honey open 😉
- Heat the top solder pad while slowly removing and pushing out the top PCB. Don’t force it. Be patient, if you don’t have good soldering iron, don’t force it on the PCB 🙂
- Use smallest gauge cable that you have, strip it to some length and coil it around the bare coaxial cable. In this process i used 18AWG, but Maarten has adviced to “use extremely thin wire so you can match the dimension of the coax exactly. At 5.8 GHz, every tiny detail matters. Even little things like the amount of solder used is relevant“. So if you want the best performance out of the HoneyDrop antenna, you might want to replace the coaxial cable.
- Cut the excess cables and solder it together. Make sure the coiled cable is also soldered together with the bottom PCB.
- Slide back the top PCB into the coaxial cable and solder the core signal to the top PCB.
Its not necessary to solder the shielding to the top PCB, but if you’re feeling adventurous, why not. Opps my bad…it is actually important to solder the shielding with the top PCB as it is meant to be connected to the shield along the entire circumference said Maarten.
That’s it, done, happy flying and hopefully you have a better reception with the improved ‘HoneyUp’ antenna.
EDIT: some contents of this article have been edited based on comments from Maarten Baert the designer himself. He noted from these pictures that there are other changes made by BeeRotor on the HoneyDrop antenna different to the Pagoda design that have contributed to the bad performance. Thanks Maarten for the comments, most appreciated 🙂