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LOS Training…new Line of Sight Quad

In the background, I have been flying FPV a lot. And enjoy the freedom of flight from that point of view. However, it’s always great to watch the speed and acrobatics from a third person perspective. To recapture that fun, I have built up the Drone Art AeonQX6 quad as a line of sight acro. So much fun and the LED makes all the difference in maintaining orientation. Even in the daytime when the sun is shining.

And LED at the arm ends help orientation so much. Difference between recovery and ditch for me.

The TPU arm guards help keep the carbon ends from delaminating. Easily replaceable or removed. And does wonders to keep the motor from having a premature end of life. You can find the STL for printing on Thingiverse: Aeon HD Motor Protector

All modern aircrafts need lights! And the more the merrier. :D

Kevlar reinforce lipo strap together with the slightly tacky lipo pads helps to keep the lipo retained for hard flying acrobatics.

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Runcam Micro Swift

Thanks to local drone shop, NewBeeDrone… I was able to get my hands on the new Runcam Micro Swift. It’s a small, 5.67g CCD camera. Usually all the small cameras are CMOS based. And aren’t ideal with how it handles light and shadow transitions. Or how well it operate at night.

Looking forward to use these new Micro Swift on my upcoming builds. I hope they perform as well as the mini Swift, Swift 2 or other HS1177 type FPV camera.

The regular Swift and Mini Swift are both about 12g. New Micro Swift is 5.67g. Should be good for the 130mm class fpv drones.

The front mounting bracket is metal and takes M2 screws. The sensor legs are epoxy in, so that should help make it more robust.

The rear is a piece of plastic. No doubt to keep the weight down. I am glad to see the standard three wire connector and the two pin one for OSD menu joystick to connect to.

As of right now, I know NewBeeDrone and CatalystMachineWorks has them in stock. Runcam does as well, but shipping usually take longer from my experience. And don’t forget BangGood.

Categories: Drones, FPV, MultiRotor
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FuriousFPV Piko BLX Flight Controller

Check out this flight controller and PDB combo: FuriousFPV Piko BLX. Not only does the FC+PDB integration makes sense. but it’s a F3 with SPI gyro in a 20×20 mounting format. Made for micro multirotor frames. And supports quad or hex configuration.

Since FuriousFPV came on the scene, I swear it feels like there’s finally a company that have looked into my lab or can read my mind. ;) Thier recently released electronics, are looking really sweet.

How it compares to the small AfroMini or CC3D Atom board I have used on my other builds. Yet it is F3 with SPI gyro, BetaFlight and RaceFlight ready…with built in PDB and transponder support. As well as LC Filter.

More and more frames are being designed around the 20mm mounting holes. Here is the rest of the dimensions in case you guys are wondering.IMG_9383-195 IMG_9466-199 IMG_9466-198

For those frames with 30.5mm flight controller mounting holes, you can print an adapter such as this. (Thanks to slovenian6474 for sharing)piko_20_30_5_adapter

I printed an alternate version in TPU and pulled the nubs through. So I don’t need to use screws at the 20mm holes.piko_20_30_5_adapter_SCX200

My recently completed QuattroVolante Q-Carbon is the first quad I built with the Piko BLX FC. It made the wire runs so neat. And the PDB integration help to keep the weight down and build process easy. I soldered the 5v tolerant 200mw VTX directly to the 5v rails on the Piko FC and it was noise free. Perfectly clear video feed.

I am looking forward to the Kombini, their bigger, 30.5mm version with built in current sensor and PDB that can handle higher current. Their pipeline is also full with many upcoming releases that FPVer will love. However, for the smaller frames that need high amps… there is a seperate PDB that can stack with the Piko BLX.


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vGood FireFly 32bit ESC

Nowadays, there are a couple of ESC firmware that multirotor guys are flying with. It’s generally either KISS or BLHeli enabled ESC. So it’s nice to see another company producing ESC with the ease, simplicity of KISS with great performance and smoothness…while being very receptive to feedback from the community. You can find their test thread here on RCGroups…and their representative does a great job of relaying wants/bugs/issues back to the engineers.


What I like about the vGood FireFly is that it’s 32bit and drives the motor very smoothly. It’s size is also very small for the number of amps it can handle. On my recent Q-Carbon build, I went with the 10a ESC because they are slightly smaller than the other ESC I had on hand. Including a 12a KISS one. And in these micro builds, every millimeter counts IMHO.vGood_FireFly_10a_front_back LittleBee_KISS_vGood_FireFly

Great weight for the smaller builds where every gram matters.

A mock up of how it looks on the arms. It was much easier to solder the motor wires with the extra room versus say the LittleBee 20a which sits right next to where the motor wires exit.

The vGood FireFly 10a and the FuriousFPV Piko BLX FC makes a perfect combo for the 130mm Q-Carbon frame.

The list of things I like about the vGood 32bit ESC:

  • The fast 48mHz 32bit processor with dedicated gate drivers AND hardware PWM, makes for very smooth running ESC. Similar to my KISS ESC.
  • It’s ability to adapt timing keeps desync issues at bay, including high KV motors. No guessing on what timing to set, helping keep KISS-like simplicity.
  • Active braking is enabled by default. And it has anti-stall protection to prevent the motor from burning up the ESC should it detect that the props are blocked from spinning.
  • I has an easy to use motor reversing feature. If you want your motor to spin the opposite way, you plug in your battery. And before you arm…you simply rotate that motor/prop in the direction you want it to operate. The ESC will beep signifying that it has updated it’s settings. No need to cross wires or plug in a USB flashing stick to do this simple thing.
  • Latest protocol ready and aware. OneShot and MultiShot auto detection.
  • Lastly, awesome price to performance ratio. The price is on the low end of the spectrum…yet top end performance. Nice.


Where to buy

From vGood directly
or as rebrands from

GetFPV (Silk 20a and 30a)

HobbyKing (MultiStar 32bit ESC)


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QuattroVolante Q-Carbon 130mm build

I, like many friend in this hobby, started out flying a little brushed quad that we received as a gift. That was the gateway…and from there, we kept building bigger and more powerful. Faster. Eventually, we find that we can not fly our fast FPV quad everywhere… so we look for something smaller that can retain that feeling of speed and excitement of flying from the pilot’s seat that FPV’er crave.

Many of us look for and build smaller quad that looks more like shrunken version of our 250class racer. There are many of them out there to choose from. So it’s refreshing to see a small 130mm brushless quad that dares to be different. The QuattroVolante Q-Carbon130 is one such quad.

Here it is, built with vGood FireFly 32bit 10a ESC and 1104 4000kv motors. Spinning RotorX 3020 props.


Here it is with the top off…


Ready to fly weight without the lipo…

The FuriousFPV Piko BLX flight controller has a PDB integrated, as well as a host of other features. It makes the build process go so easily and keep everything tidy. Highly recommended.

q-carbon_piko_blx_vgood_10a_esc quattrovolante_q-carbon_red_side

The RCTimer 200mw Raceband ready VTX is super small and lightweight. It fits perfectly back here. I simply solder directly to the Piko FC’s 5v rails and I get no motor noise. Super clean video. You can see how I removed the pigtail and solder on a clover leaf antenna directly. Right above that signal/ground solder joint, I solder to the big ground point to keep any stress off the smaller signal/ground pad. Then I ziptie the antenna to the frame to give more strain relief. The push button on this VTX makes channel switching very easy.

The Q-carbon flies amazing. I flash the Piko FC with Raceband and using Multishot protocol for the ESC. I am finding myself reaching for this little quad more and more…and flying in places that I felt was too small for the bigger quad. The low noise and non threatening sound puts everyone at else.


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Airwolf RX-F801 and RX-F802 vs X4R-SB

Got some new receivers in that are compatible with the FrSky protocol. No doubt thanks to midelic’s work on RCGroups. Hoping the sqaurish format will allow me to bury it into micro FPV quadcopter builds. It was difficult finding a location for the regular FrSky X4R-SB.

The RX-F801 and RX-F802 were purchased from BangGood.

I will be updating it with the new firmware versions midelic made available. Linked to below. It now supports telemetry and PPM and SBUS.




Some pictures of the RX-801 as I took off the outer plastic casing. The F802 came in a similar case.






Discussion on RCGroups: DIY FrSky TX/RX Modules

Places to buy:



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ZMR-X Custom ZMR Build

As FPV racing matures, new rules and classes are put into place. One of the rule is the “250” size racing quads need to stick with 5″ props. To breath new life into those of use who has the popular H-style ZMR250 frame, I came had an epiphany and learn that you can configure it to have the motors in an X style configuration. Where roll and pitch are exactly the same.

Beyond that…I had a few wish list items I challenged myself with. I wanted all the weight shifted to the center of gravity as possible. Including the lipo…which is the holy grail IMHO. And one day, frame designers and engineers will take this concept more seriously. In the case of us local guys that is racing with the ZMRX…it’s a 4S 1000mAh pack. For me, I like agility for racing tight tracks…so a 3S 850-1000mAh LIHV is ideal.

So begins the next step of the ZMR Lite build

I think more fun to come up with a design where others can easily follow along with their own frame. So I played with where the existing holes lined up into a perfect X. And then figured out how to cut so it’s easy for others to do. In the end, you essentially “connect the dots” for the most part.


Prototype #1.


Messed with it some more in SolidWorks…


Frame currently looks like this now. Fellow local Team WarpQuad squad is building one. Will update with final build pictures of his and mine at a future date.


Here’s a photo I took before the new antenna plate. Figured it would be easier and more robust with 3D printed antenna mounts.

Some ppl have been asking about my arm mounted ESC treatment…so here’s a closer look on how I do it now. It consist of mylar tape in the color of your choice. I like red. It’s thin, so I feel the FETs can exhaust the heat quicker through this type of covering. Follow by a CF vinyl weave. I use my Silhouette machine to cut it out. The ESC is secure mounted to the arm with Scotch Exterior Mounting Tape. Then cut a strip of Self fusing silicone tape. I wrap the wire/soldered joint and around the arm. The silicone tape only sticks to itself. Holds strongly. And I can easily remove to access the ESC for repair/maintenance.

And a couple of shots from the second ZMR X I put together…

Built with parts I have on hand. So a rev2 AfroMini 32. The new AfroMini 32 rev3 that I used on my ZMRX #1 is even easier to use.daryoon_zmrx_afromini_fc

A look at the the rear where the plugs come out of. The receiver and VTX are attached vertically to the XT60 on the 10mm standoffs. The XT60 mounting board can be purchased at BangGood for $1. Or $1.99 with the XT60 soldered. I like the bare plate and solder on my own black, XT60.
I plan on designing a top plate that doubles as a action cam mount for GoPro or Xiaomi Yi camera. This will put the camera at the COG, so you can record your flight without making the quad’s handling too bad.

LED light ring. Color selectable via dip switch on the board.
ZMRX_light_ring__hacksmods_red_LED ZMRX_light_ring_LED

1st rev of the antenna mount… may add more features to it.

One without the VTX since the current build recommendation has the VTX antenna sticking straight out the rear. So it’s protected by the arms. And still give a good video feed during fast forward flight.

CAD and STL file download:

Update to add (2016-02-08) MultirotorMania has their Switchblade FPV quad frame design that I recommend to those who doesn’t have existing ZMR50 frame…or don’t like to mod their own frame into a X configuration. Perhaps built it with the ZMRX concept would take it to the next level.

Here’s a video of me cutting the plates in realtime to show you the amount of effort it takes so you can make a better decision to tackle this project.

Categories: Builds, Quadcopters, ZMR
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FVT LittleBee 20A (MRM ZEUS 20) VS KISS 18A ESC

The new “Favorite” FVT LittleBee 20a arrived into the HacksMods lab. So it’s time to take some clear shots of them and compare with the Flyduino KISS ESC. Which is still one of the highest performing multirotor electronic speed controller. The small size and light weight are great for putting on racing quads. Or burying inside heavier aerial photography equipped quadcopters, or “drones” as the media likes to call it.

In the USA, the Little Bee 20a are known as the MRM Zeus 20. Brian (punkindrublik on RCGroups) of  MultiRotorMania help finance and brought these new ESC to market. So they secured the rights as the sole distributor in the USA. However, the ESC should soon be available from some of your favorite multi rotor online stores.

Continuing in the same small by mighty form factor that the Flyduino KISS ESC brought to market, the FVT LittleBee 20 are about the same size. 12.5mm x 23mm x 3mm. Versus the KISS (v1.1) 12mm x 24mm x 3.81mm

What makes these new FVT LittleBee the current popular ESC is that recent test are showing them to perform similar to the KISS ESC. (Here’s one by QuadMcFly) This is in part due to the use of the SilLab F330 MCU. Which has a faster clock speed than the popular ATMEL chip used on most competing ESC. Add to that dedicated FET drivers and it’s performing quite well. This is what BLHeli creator Steffen has to say about it:

Then there is a very promising little ESC, the FVT Littlebee 20A:

This ESC has a good design with fast dedicated driver chips, which gives excellent freewheeling and exceptional braking.

Initial stress testing on 4S with a Cobra 2208/2000 with 6×4.5 prop, doing repetitive immediate accelerations from low rpm to full throttle went well.
During the initial acceleration, this setup pulls about 100A, so it’s a tough test for a small ESC (and can break other small ESCs).
Hopefully this indicates that the ESC will prove to be a reliable performer.

And so far, this is the closest performer to KISS that I have seen in this size.

Very clean layout and manufacturing placement of components on the PCB. Definitely KISS quality for sure. It seems like they used higher temp lead free solder. My Metcal MX500 soldering station usually makes quick work with lead free solder. But I admit, it took a split second longer with the solder joints on these Little Bee 20. This may be to prevent overheated MOSFET from desoldering itself like what appears the DYS SN20a are doing in some of the recent batches. Also, keep in mind that having to flow the solder at a higher temp usually slows down the manufacturing process. This, along with how clean the ESC looks and components are laid out…continue to signify a high level of quality control. So kudos to Favorite and MultiRotorMania.

favorite_FVT_littlebee_opto_20a_mrm_zeus_20_closeup_sidebysidefavorite_FVT_littlebee_opto_20a_mrm_zeus_20_macro_signal_wire_side favorite_FVT_littlebee_opto_20a_mrm_zeus_20_macro_mosfet_side

Weight of the FVT LittleBee 20a as it came out of the package is 6.73g.

Weight of the FVT LittleBee 20a without heatshrink and wires is 2.12g. I know some of you guys want to know things like this. I know as a hobbyist, I do. So very similar to the KISS 18a which I weighed here. And about .70 grams heavier than the ZTW Spider 18a Opto Lite.

Signal wire polarity in case someone needs this info in the future. (That’s would usually be me.)favorite_FVT_littlebee_opto_20a_mrm_zeus_20_amp_polarity

I have a few new frames I’d like to use these LittleBee on. Can’t wait to see them fly.

Some of my favorite places to buy from that carries these FVT LittleBee/MRM Zeus 20:
MultiRotorMania: MRM Zeus 20 Amp ESC
BangGood: FVT LittleBee 20 Amp ESC

BoltRC: Little Bee 20A ESC

BangGood: FVT LittleBee 20 Amp ESC
MyRCMart: RCX 20A (Little Bee) Mini BLHeli Multirotor ESC

MultirotorParts: Favourite Littlebee 20A
Supreme FPV: Littlebee 20a esc 2-4s

More info can be found on RC Groups discussion thread:
Little Bee and MRM Zeus 20AMP ESC’s

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ZMR 250 Lite Build

daryoon_zmr250_flight_controller_access_hatch daryoon_zmr250_flight_controller_programming_header daryoon_zmr250_fpv_pod daryoon_zmr250_fpv_pod_front daryoon_zmr250_fpv_pod_front_angled1 daryoon_zmr250_fpv_pod_fronttop_angled

daryoon_zmr250_fpv_pod_tilt daryoon_zmr250_lipo_battery_connector_and_distribution_center  Dimon372_599791_zmr250_bumper_big_side_shielding  ZMR250_KISSPDB_KISS_ESC Daryoon_ZMRLite_250_LED_inside_afromini_amaze Daryoon_ZMRLite_250_FrSky_X4R-SB ZMR250_KISSPDB_SN20a_ESC

Alternate configuration with the battery plate. Allows more space to hide things.

Categories: Builds, Uncategorized
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ZTW Spider 18a Lite vs KISS ESC

With DYS/RCTimer SN20a and BL20a possibly having a bad manufacturing batch. Plus, you lose about 10% thrust versus competiting ESC. One of the new ESC some of us have started buying instead are the ZTW Spider 18a Opto Lite as some retailers are calling them. Performance seems good so far. We’ll learn how their fare in crashes and general abuse as more and more people use them and report back.

The BLHeli firmware to use are BS12a or BS20a. either hex will work fine according to sskaug (Steffen), BLHeli creator.

Mine came with the SimonK bootloader. And I was able to use my USBASP to flash BLHeli bootloader on there. Here are the ISP pad locations for your reference:


Weight as they come out of the package. I took off the heatshrink and it was about .2g lighter.

Heatshrink is thin, clear and shiny. Same types they use on many battery packs.ZTW_18a_Opto_Lite_out_of_package

Weight of the naked ESC.

Here’s a shot of the ZTW Spider Lite on the far right. Next to it is the new KISS 30a. And to the far left, is the KISS 18a.


Picture of the MOSFETs and a peek at the soldering. I don’t see any left over solder splashes/balls.

KISS 18a on the left. ZTW Spider 18a Lite on the right side.KISS_18a_vs_ZTW_18a_Opto_Lite_MOSFET_pads

Side by side with the KISS 18a v1.1. Which is simply about 1mm longer than KISS 18a v1.0. You can see that the ZTW Spider 18a is slight shorter. And also thinner.


A look at the opposite side.

Here’s the Spider 18a Lite mounted in the lower plate of the Aura 250 FPV quad.aura250_afromini_spider_lite18_esc

And a couple of closing shots of the Aura 250.

I modified the top plate so I can slide in a 4S 1400mAh lipo pack.auro250_5045bullnose
The links below are my favorite places to buy:


Readytoflyquad: 18a Spider Lite Series ESC
MassiveRC: MassiveRC OneShot125 18a ESC

BangGood : ZTW Spider Series 18A Lite

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