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Quadcopters

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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.
FuriousFPV_Piko_BLX_flight_controller_daryoon

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.
FuriousFPV_piko_BLX_FC_KISS_AfroMini_Naze_size_comparision

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.
q-carbon_piko_blx_vgood_10a_esc

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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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.

ZMRX_center_plate

Prototype #1.

daryoon_ZMR_racerX

Messed with it some more in SolidWorks…

ZMRX2

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.

Daryoon_ZMRX

Here’s a photo I took before the new antenna plate. Figured it would be easier and more robust with 3D printed antenna mounts.
daryoon_zmrX_1000mah_3s_lipo_hacksmods

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.
daryoon_hacksmods_esc_arm_treatment_wrap

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.
XT60_mount_and_wiresdaryoon_zmrx_weight
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.
daryoon_zmrx_pdb_version

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.
zmrx_antenna_mount

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.
zmrx_antenna_mount_no_vtx

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
39 Comments on ZMR-X Custom ZMR Build

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.

favorite_FVT_littlebee_opto_20a_mrm_zeus_20_versus_KISS_18a_esc
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.
favorite_FVT_littlebee_opto_20a_mrm_zeus_20_6.73_grams_total

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.
favorite_FVT_littlebee_opto_20a_mrm_zeus_20_no_wire_heatshrink_weight_2.12_grams

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:
USA
MultiRotorMania: MRM Zeus 20 Amp ESC
BangGood: FVT LittleBee 20 Amp ESC

Australia
ImpulseRC: FVT LITTLEBEE 20A ESC
BoltRC: Little Bee 20A ESC

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

Europe
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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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:

ZTW_18a_Lite_pinout

Weight as they come out of the package. I took off the heatshrink and it was about .2g lighter.
ZTW_18a_Opto_Lite_weight

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.
ZTW_18a_Opto_Lite_weight_without_wires

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.

KISS_18a_vs_30a_vs_ZTW_18a_Lite

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.
KISS_18a_vs_ZTW_18a_Opto_Lite_MOSFET_side

 

A look at the opposite side.
KISS_18a_vs_ZTW_18a_Opto_Lite

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.
emerald_aura_quad_lit

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:

USA 

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

China
BangGood : ZTW Spider Series 18A Lite

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Mini CC3D board

I have a CC3D board that I hope to build a second ZMR250 with. So I can play with OpenPilot and compare to the Acro Naze 32 flight controller board running CleanFlight. I always like small, lightweight components on my mini and micro quadcopter builds. So it’s with great interest to see the mini CC3D Atom board.

 

BangGood_mini_CC3D_SKU215141-18

I like that it comes with the protective casing. And you can choose between straight pins or right angle pins soldered on for you. Plus it also comes with cables, double-sided tape, a isolated dampening platform. As well as an Antenna mount and instructional flyer helping you to hook up a Satellite RX.

Here is a photo I took of it side by side with the AfroMini Naze board. (After I remove the case of course.)

CC3D_Atom_versus_AfroMini

Weight of the FC without the protective case that it came in.
CC3D_atom_flight_controller_weight_bare_nocase

Categories: MultiRotor, Quadcopters
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Official SunnySky x2204s 2300kv versus BangGood’s

I purchase some nicely priced SunnySky x2204s 2300kv from BangGood for < $16. However, I believe they are fakes.

Here’s a photo comparison against the x2204s purchased from SunnySky’s official US distributor: BuddyRC.com SunnySky x2204s CW version

I see that the one from BuddyRC uses thicker motor wires. And are generally neater wound versus the one from BangGood. The BangGood one has a thicker bell cross section, so you can’t see the magnets like you could with the original from BuddyRC. It also seem to use more glue to keep the magnets in place. I am not sure if this is in response to reports of magnets coming loose…especially those who are running these motors on 4s lipo.

comparision_sunnysky_x2204s_buddyrc_vs_banggood_windings_top_down_view

The BuddyRC motor has a slight sheen to it. With crisp lines and a reflective, copper/light gold logo. While the BangGood motor has the SunnySky logo in a matte white, with a slightly different font. The motor bell is painted a more matte black. And the line noted in the picture below wasn’t as refine.

comparision_sunnysky_x2204s_buddyrc_vs_banggood_logo_difference

I also noticed that the BangGood motor has a shorter threaded motor shaft. This is interesting because SunnySky x2204s motors are known to already have a slightly shorter shaft than comparable motors. i.e. Cobra 2204.

comparision_sunnysky_x2204s_buddyrc_vs_banggood_threaded_shaft_height_difference

At the bottom of the motors, the BangGood version has very obvious concentric rings.

comparision_sunnysky_x2204s_buddyrc_vs_banggood_baseplate

Another obvious change between the motors is the use of a metal washer in the BangGood motor. Compared to the plastic one.

comparision_sunnysky_x2204s_buddyrc_vs_banggood_plastic_brass_washer_difference

Another top view of the motor windings, looking into the stator/magnets.

comparision_sunnysky_x2204s_buddyrc_vs_banggood_top_view

And the same thing from the bottom of the motor.

comparision_sunnysky_x2204s_buddyrc_vs_banggood_bottom_windings

 

In either case…my own opinion is the older SunnySky has a more premium look to them than the one from BangGood. On that merit alone, I would consider some of the other competing 2204 2300kv motors at the moment to ensure you don’t get a fake. Or purchase from official retailer such as BuddyRC.com.

*update June 29, 2015: I got a SunnySky x2204s 2300kv from ReadyMade RC and it looks more like my first edition. With the only updated change being the CW or CCW label on the bell, since SunnySky now produce reverse threaded prop shafts. So this gives me more reason to think the ones sold by BangGood are copies rather than the real deal. I have yet to use my BangGood version of the SS2204s. 

Categories: New Gear, Quadcopters, Test
12 Comments on Official SunnySky x2204s 2300kv versus BangGood’s

AlienWii Flight Controllers Lands

Check out the AlienWii FC from Lance.

They run MultiWii and has MOSFET that can handle direct driving 8.5mm brushed motors without blowing up.

Here are pictures of the latest shipping AlienWii boards:
AlienWii32u4-Back

AlienWii32u4

Here’s a shot with the LemonRX Satellite receiver installed. Plug and play.
Brushed_MicroWii_AlienQuad_LemonRX_Sat_installed

You can get them and the awesome Chaoli motors from Micro Motor Warehouse.

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Soma’s WarpQuad

Just gonna share photos of the acro quad I am building. Thanks to Soma for coming up with the WarpQuad. Looks the best out of all the acrobatic quads out there.

Here’s the center frames. It sandwiches the 4mm carbon fiber legs.

soma_warpquad_center_plate_ninja_stars

 

I switched out some of the hardware. Such as the aluminum washer below. And used power cables that comes attached together. For a neater run of the brushless motor wires to the center of the WarpQuad.

soma_warpquad_motor_wire_routing

 

Another change from the standard build out. I added 1.72mm washers so I can run the 22guage motor wire underneath the top plate.

 

soma_warpquad_flat_motor_wires

 

Then I modified the XT60 lipo connector so that it can be sandwiched between the frames. Filed down the connector so it can conform to the curve of the top plate.

soma_warpquad_XT60_connector_location

 

You can see where the power distribution harness will solder to and subsequently run to each of the ESC.

soma_warpquad_XT60_connector_location_topdown

Those were the early photos. These upcoming photos are where the WarpQuad build out is at now. It took forever to source red aluminum washers with the same bevel as the blue ones I had on hand. Still not perfect but very close. The aluminum TeeNut that the frame is resting on is just to temporary hold the arms in place. And make it easy to disassemble without tools. This frees up my hand to ensure the cable runs are neat and nothing is pinched.

I switch to button head screws. Red aluminum 5mm. The hex size will take the same allen wrench to be consistent with the rest of the screw head used on this quad. The four button head should be strong enough to secure the motor.

daryoon_soma_warpquad_build_motor_6mm_red_aluminum_button_head_screw

 

Here is a closer shot of the red washers and where I intend on placing the ESC. In the center of the quad instead of on the arms like the reference build out by Soma.

daryoon_soma_warpquad_build_countersunk_screw

 

A look at the cable run and how it meets up with the brushless motor. I created a stagger cut because I didn’t want to seperate the wires to fit heatshrinks. The stagger will keep the wires from shorting. As extra precaution, I applied Liquid Electrical tape to insulate. Then follow by a larger heatshrink to cover up the area. To dress up the heatshrink…I used chrome tape and nail art tape. This brings some blink down to this end of the arms.

Additionally, I hope the chrome take will help reflect some of the LED lights up to the props once I place one there.

daryoon_soma_warpquad_build_motor_wire_dressed

 

Here is a look at the stagger cut I mentioned before. Some folks have asked why I choose to use four motor wires when brushless motors only require three. The simple answer is for symmetry once it gets to the center of the frame and have to go to the left and right of the screw.

daryoon_soma_warpquad_build_motor_wire_stagger_cut2

 

The quad is ready for the ESC to be soldered on. Easy to do. However, I need to figure out how I want to route the power wires and still have room to fit the Flight Controller between the frame. There’s really no room for both. :)

daryoon_soma_warpquad_build_frame_red_aluminum_washer_sunnyskies

 

added August 13, 2014: Check out the complete rev1 build here… http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2176239#post28508149

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Hobby King HKing 10a Brushless ESC

Lovely spring weather means I am antsy to build and fly again. I am planning on using this Hobby King HKing 10a brushless ESC in a 230mm size acro quad. Not sure if it will be able to endure SunnySky 2204 2300kv with 3s lipo but I like the physical size…so I will give it a try anyways.

HobbyKing_HKing_10a_amp_brushless_esc_actual_dimensions_measurements

Anyways, the dimensions on Hobby King is incorrect (23mm x 18mm). Here are the actual values as measured with the digital caliper. The bare ESC as pictured weighs 2.59g.

It arrived with 20guage silicone wires for the main power. And 22gauge silicone wires for the motor leads.

Missing from the photo is the electrolytic capacitor (100uf 16v). I took it off so I can use a tantalum SMD capacitor with the same values. It’s much smaller physically. Hopefully it works out. :)

What I like about this ESC is the fact that it’s BLHeli compatible. Plus, it uses all N-channel MOSFET. And it was reasonably inexpensive at $5.78. Here’s an inexpensive BLHeli programmer, and another another. You will need one of these for flashing the firmware or updating the parameters of the ESC using the BLHeli Suite software. Unless you already have an official SilLabs Toolstick. Then you can follow this guide for modding it for the same function.

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Sizes of Quads Compared

We’re talking mixing and matching quads parts to build “FrakenQuads” on the RCGroups thread: Blade nQX FC board on mQX & Ladybird size quads

I know there lots of newbies looking to do this, but wasn’t sure of the relative sizes when we talk about mQX size or Ladybird size. We use those terms because the Blade mQX is the first on the market in that type and size. And the Walkera Ladybird was the first on the market in that relative size.

The nQX is thrown in there because the topic of the thread is to use the nQX flight controller (FC) on top of the mQX, Ladybird style frame. Plus, the nQX has a unique frame. In that the motor distances sits somewhere between the LadyBird and Hubsan X4 (aka Traxxas QR-1), yet the prop guards give it a visual silhouette of a slightly larger bird. Which I find helps me in orientation once it’s a good distance from me.

Anyways, hope that helps. I took the mm size distance between prop center. Then converted it to a pixel value. So the 155mm mQX becomes a 155px on the screen. :)

main_comparision

Categories: MultiRotor, Quadcopters
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