Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Quad weights

So here are some of the full loaded weights to the quads I have.

Armattan F1-5 - 407grams
RCX2205s 2350kv
LittleBees 20amps
Naze Rev6 (betaflight)
D4RII Transmitter
H1177S Camera
3D Printed parts
PVC tube arm protectors

Tweaker 180 - 327grams
DYS1806 2400kv
LittleBees 20amps
Naze Rev5 (betaflight)
D4RII Transmitter
ET200 600tvl 127 degree camera
3D Printed parts
PVC tube arm protectors

N-Trepid - 210grams
DYS1306 3100kv
4-1 ESC 12amp (blHeli)
Naze Rev5 (betaflight)
D4RII Transmitter
3D Printed parts (skull with red led lights .... very cool )
PVC tube arm protectors

Monday, November 9, 2015

Armattan F1-5 Build

Side Note : A huge thanks and shout out to the crew at Armattan (Chris & Natasha) I had a small issue with the frame that was sent, Not really Armattans fault and the customer service I got from the Armattan team was excellent, Fast response and fast resolution to the issue. I  was so impressed by the service and the quality of the frame I went and ordered a F1-4.
So a huge thanks to the Armattan team.

Armattan F1-5 Frame build

After looking for my next build I wanted to get a X style frame, you know the next best thing since sliced bread, after doing my research it came down to an ImPulseRC Alien or the Armattan F1-5. 

I decided on the F1-5, the drivers were unit cost, shipping cost and lifetime frame guarantee. I also really liked the arm design.  After ordering and waiting for the package to arrive which was about 10 day international shipping if finally arrived.

Heres the completed build is its first shakedown flights

Parts I used in the build

  • F1-5 Frame with PCB
  • Naze32 Rev6
  • LittleBee 20s
  • RCX 2205 / 2350s
  • ET200 VTX
  • Sony HS1177s camera

All part are  individually plastic wrapped and come in a surprisingly small package.

The package contents. 
The carbon is super high quality and the cuts the best I have seen. very impressed.

Interesting as its not clear in the online shots that the bottom plate uses press in nuts which makes for a super clean look and easy construction.

The green button head bolts that are supplied are a little long, probably due to the change in the bottom plate going from nylon nuts to the compression nuts.

Testing out the layout of the ESCs and the 2205s

The new PDB that was shipped as part of the current deal has polo integration build in for 5v supply, I used straight header pins and some 3M double sided tape to mount the polo in place. 
After I had it all soldered in I realised I could have mounted internally for even clear look. 
(I indeed did this as I had issues and this polo was swapped it out)

Pins soldered to the PDB, polo ready to be stuck in place and then soldered. 

Checking to make sure that the 5v pads were getting 5v.

All done

Bolted down to the frame

FC nylon stands installed, 12mm supplied as pat of the kit.

Naze test fitted, the Rev6 Black looks good, black on black.

Time to prep the ESCs, I stripped back the heat shrink to allow the desoldering and resolder of the motor leads. I then used rubber bands to hold them in place while I cut and solder the power leads to the PDB. The only thing was that the LittleBees power leads were opposite to that of the PCB if I wanted the motor pads facing up. Not a biggy, but visually a little more untidy.

All ESCs power leads soldered.

Next it was time to strip off all the motor leads

The new RCX2205 / 2350s mounted ready to have the their leads cut to length and soldered to the ESCs

Motors all done, I use the blheli motor reverse to get the motors turning in the right direction. that way I can make the motor leads nice and tidy.

The Naze32 rev 6 test fitted on to plan out the 5v power supply and where to put the motor pins. The motor pins were soldered on the bottom of the Naze facing inward, This hides the ESC plugs and makes for a cleaner build.

I soldered on a JST to the 5v pads to supply 5v to the motor 6 pins on the Naze.

Next I fitted one of my stripped down D4RIIs. Check out how I did this in my other builds here. I mounted it on the rear lower plates of the f1.  I hard soldered a servo lead to the Naze for PPM to plug into the D4RII, I also hard soldered the D4RII telemetry leads to the Naze. 

I hard soldered a buzzer to the Naze, I just bent the pins so they fitted into the buzzer holes. I had to make sure this was done after I added the telemetry and vBat pins as the buzzer hides the holes. Once all wired up I used a dab of hot glue to give extra support. 

I soldered a JST plug to the ESC tabs to provide batt voltage to the vBat pins on the Naze. I soldered vbat pins facing out for easy access.. 

Next was the LED, the kit comes RGB 9 LED, that slots just behind the rear standoffs. it took me a while to find what voltage they run but its 5v. I used servo wire to run from the LED to the 5v pads on the PDB and the signal wire to pad 5 on the Naze32 rev 6 (is identified on the naze)

LED cable routed under the transmitter.

LED RGB Signal wire hard soldered to the Naze, I later changed this to a single servo style pin to make it easier to do maintenance.

I designed some simple frame protectors, since I fly over tarmac 50% of the time I try and protect my frames as much as possible. I designed two, One for the center and one for the end. They both work as landing feet and raise the frame 8mm off the ground this also protects the through bolts and compression nuts on the bottom plate. 

The front protector also acts as a bumper bar for frontal impacts. 

That completed the main frame. All power tested and ready for firmware updates and configuration. 

Next was to mount the ET200 VTX. I like to use pig tails as it provides extra mounting options and also saves the VTX in crashes. I like to have the video system on the top plate, it makes it easier to work on. I used a 5cm RP-SMA pigtail from the built in VTX mounting hole to the ET200 which was mounted just in front of the 2nd set of standoffs. This made the wiring from the ET200 to the camera shorter and simpler. 

The frame is designed to work with the HS1177s camera and you can just use the provided mount screws that come with the camera. But I have had experience with those screw stripping the soft plastic or the camera becoming loose. So I designed a 20 degree ventilated "chair" for it to sit in to hold the angle and the side mount screws only had to hold the camera from horizontal movement. 

Camera sitting in its chair in its new home.

Next I made the wire harness for the ET200 to the HS1177s and power. I like to have the ability to unplug the complete VTX system if required, or more to the point have it unplugged until I am actually doing some FPV.

The camera plug with my RCTime ET200 kit fitted the HS1177s so that made it very easy to make the harness. I just shortened the leads and removed the audio wires. On the plug that goes into the VTX I hot glued and heat shrink wrapped it with a right angle bend to reduce the stress on that plug.  The great thing about the ET200 is that you can power either a 5v or 12v camera which makes for easy wiring.

I got 12v for the VTX system off one of the front 12v pads I soldered on a JST plug to make it easy to plug / unplug the VTX system.

I used the same trick on my other builds using 4mm OD PVC tubing with one side cut to wrap around the arms. this gives the arms great protection from impacts and its an easy, cheap and light way to protect the carbon fiber. I also wick the ends of the arms in CA glue.

You can see in this view the 3d printed feet and front and rear bumpers for additional frame protection.

Once the ESCs were all wired up the rubber bands were removed and the ESCs were 3M double sided to the frame and then wrapped in good quality electrical insulation tape. I also found  cool superman and  bright orange duck tape that I used to add some colour and humour to the build. 

Overall very impressed with the frame and the quality of the kit provided from Armattan. I would not hesitate in recommending this frame just based on that alone. Yet alone on how it flies..... 


With the Naze32 Rev6 I used BetaFligth (latest release), which is just awesome. I loaded the firmware and configured up the Naze, PPM, Failsafe, flight modes, endpoints, deadband, telemetry, 

I use PID controller LuxFloat and pretty my used the defaults, I increased the P a couple of points, that was it.

The LittleBees were updated to blheli 14.201 with damped light. 

Test flights

Wowsers .... Ok so after I tested the PIDs with no RC rates added, the defaults were rock solid, but I tweaked alittle on the Ps. Once I was happy, I added in my desired RC Rates, with my skill level that is in the 40-50 range. 

I am in love .... this is hands down the best flying quad I have, Now I'm sure thats the complete combo, but the X frame is super strong and with the 2205s / littlebees / betafligh its my fastest with the most punch quad, I am still only a 3s kid, goodness only knows what it would be like on 4s.

So far all flights have been LOS acro, can't wait to get some time to take it FPVing. 

Like I mentioned I loved this frame so much I ordered a F1-4, which I think is the best endorsement of a frame / frame maker. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

HasteRC N-Trepid 180 Build

So after the Tweaker build I've got the 180 bug... they are awesome.

I have always admired N-Armed frames from HasteRC  and New Zealand made so double win, but I had too many 250mm sized quads. But then I heard through the grapevine ... and Facebook teases that HasteRC were also going to be doing a 180.  I bugged Ryan and Gareth and managed to get one of the first production frames.

Video of the first shakedown LOS flights

And here it is. The quality is first class, excellent cuts, 4mm bottom plate, super strong and rigid as you would expect with 4mm CF in a 180mm size beasty. Add to that a 2mm top plate and you have a super strong frame.

It came with blue anodised bolts and 18mm nylon standoffs. I swapped the stand offs to 25mm for this build to fit everything in, due to using the 4-1 ESC.

The ESC I have had for awhile, Its was from http://www.readytoflyquads.com. It was supposed to come with blHeli and damped light set, But it did not. It also came with no documentation and it took me a long while to get all the right stuff to flash them myself. But I finally was able to flash it using a afroUSB tool. It now has blheli 14.102, Damped light, medium timing.

Motors are Dragonfly 1306 / 3100kv. After the DYS 1306 I wanted to try a different brand and see if they held up longer, Since I bent 2 shafts on the DYSs in three flights with mild crashes.

First job was to wire up the motors to the esc, luckily the Dragonfly motor came with long leads that enabled me to braid and connect directly without any patch leads. Below is the test fit up. The esc is held on a self designed 3D printed holder as there are components close to the mount holes that stops you using stand nylon stand offs. Its a real pain but I got it sorted. 

Now with any 180 build space is super tight. So to reduce space I moved the motor pins to underneath the Naze32 and separate power (pin5) ground (pin6) so it was all only a servo lead high. 

All soldered up, yes a little messy from removing the old pins... but working ;)

Next I need to make a patch lead from the esc to the Naze. The ESC has a stupid 6pin plug and only comes with one lead. The last build I used the 4-2 I soldered directly to the Naze, but the ground fatigued and broke and I wasn't able to update the firmware. So in this build I took the time to make a strong patch lead, and the use of servo plugs so I could update blheli as required (Now I finally figured out how to on this ESC)

Patch lead mid construction.

Nearly all done.  I used heat shrink on the 6pin plug to help strength it.

I also used heat shrink and while it was still hot bent the cable to the right angle to help reduce the strain.

Test fitted up looking nice and tidy so far ....

Next was to re-route the power leads. They were out the side but that was just untidy, So I rerouted them out the back. I had to trim my 3d printed holder with a box cutter but that was the only mod.

Much better.

Of course I also needed power for vBat reads off the Naze and 12v for the Video transmitter. I spliced them into the power leads. Over all the power system came out really tidy.

The xt60 was ziptied to using the holes in the rear of the bottom plate.

Naze, ESC, Leads all complete.

Next up was to reduce the size of the DR4-II, I removed all the pins, and the soldered on 3 pins in the reverse direction, this reduced the length without any extra height. I used a normal servo plug. I did this to make it easy for maintenance. 

Then I used heat shrink to cover it all. Makes for a nice compact receiver.

Now with a 180 build space is a premium, So I mounted the D4R to the top plate. This also makes it easy for maintenance for when stuff breaks. 

To give myself a little more room I swapped to 22mm standoffs from the 18mm supplied ones .... then after some more test fits I opted for 25mm stand offs. Thats still a slim frame, the tweaker is using the normal 35mm ones.

Now its was time for the FPV gear ... so I had to steal that from another quad. Here is the donor and the 180, its sooo little compared to the 250.

First up was the VTX a 32 channel Et200. I like these as its very easy to swap channels as it has the LED indicators and its just a push button to swap. They also have 12v and 5v out to power cameras so not need for separate camera becs.

Taken out of its 3d printed case and heat shrinked to reduce the size.

This was mounted to the top plate with a right angle clover leaf. Its on an angle so that the wire harness will be nicely hidden. 

Now since I had mounted the receiver and the vtx to the top plate that did not allow the battery strap any room to run under the top plate. So I had to find a solution. So this is what I came up with. I used thicker zipties through the 35mm space holes on the top plate and ran the battery strap through those. So far it has worked really well. A big crash will be the true test. But its just zipties and easy to replace.

Next up was the camera, this is a cheap bangood special, but plan on getting either a sony or runcam camera next purchase cycle. But this will do for now.

The mount is a 25degree 3D printed mount from HasteRC that is designed for the Sony HS1177, but this camera fitted in it as well, I just used some 3m double sided tape and a zip tie. I just drilled a hole where it matched the hole on the frame.

All fitted.

Now one of those "SH$T" moments, I was trying to fix a zip tie slipped and busted the bind switch on my new D4R..... panic and swear words. But I was able to completely remove the damaged switch, and add some solder to the points. then I just used my box cutter blade to close the circuit to bind and set fail safe ..... pheeww !!!

The top plate is very busy on a 180, starting from the top, ET200 VTX, with a JST plug for power if I want to fly with out the VTX on, Wire harness from the VTX that provides 12v to the  camera, a servo male/female plug to make it easy to swap cameras. The the D4R, thats it and they "just" fit on the top plate.

How it looks just before closing up, Makes it easy to get into everything.

 Top plate completely removed.

Ok so here is the completed weight minus props, So if you soldered everything instead of using plugs like I have and reduced some wire usage you could easily get a sub 200gram using 1306s.

Now once I put on the props, My fav mod of using 4mm PVC tube as a bumper to protect the frame (I fly over tarmac alot) and the battery strap ... I come in at 228grams. 

Like any 180 build you do not have a lot of space, so you have to plan carefully. But the N-trepid has more room than the Tweaker which allowed for a slimmer build. Overall this frame is awesome, I cant wait to get some decent flight time on it. 

I will post video and PIDs after some flying.