We want happy pilots! – We urge you to use the support tickets for contact

We love hearing from you, but being stuck in a build or waiting for stuff or answers is never fun. For that reason we introduced the Support ticket system recently. The system makes sure that questions are filtered so they can be answered the fastest way possible – sometimes the answers can even be found within the FAQ it self to provide an instant answer that lets you continue your build or not having to wait for an answer, or your questions can be added to the FAQ for others to benefit from.

We have implemented this system as David’s inbox was overflowing and e-mails were being overlooked. Having Davids inbox as a single point of contract has turned out to be somewhat of a bottleneck resulting in unnecessary delays, you not getting any response, and claims regarding faulty/broken products, missing items etc to be made void. The support ticket system makes it easier for me to share the load of answering certain questions with David (so that he can focus on his areas of expertise), and to get a better overview of what has been done/said in each issue. This is especially important now that David is away. Please use the support ticket system, we want happy pilots :-)

Regards,
Johanna

Pre-Release of the BabyTricopter is… NOW!

With David all the way across the big pond meeting some of you at FliteTest, this announcement has fallen on my shoulders, and will therefore be shorter and less descriptive than usual. Here goes:Baby Tricopter

 

Baby TricopterA new beast has hatched. Measuring 170mm motor to motor and weighing only 280 grams with electronics and FPV gear, the BabyTricopter is in size and weight really just a baby compared to its older brothers. But don’t be fooled, this baby packs a punch! Be sure that you know what you’re doing before flying this beast…

You can choose between the Baby with it’s custom F3FC racing and power distribution board included for just $99, or  just the Baby Tricopter (without flightcontroller and PDB), for as little as $69.

The F3FC Racing and new PDB can of course
also be bought separately (although you get a nice discount if you buy them with the kit), and you’ll find more info on those product pages.

Shipping will start on Monday/Tuesday so order now!

 

The Baby of course will need some power, and we’re also releasing an electronics kit, with the same EMAX motors as used by the MiniTricopter, but with Aikon 30A ESC’s and three-bladed orange propellers from HQ. This kit is however currently on Pre-Order, ar we are awaiting the arrival of our chosen Aikon 30A ESC’s. You can still order the kit, but it won’t be shipped until the ESC’s have arrived.

 

Have some patience with the product descriptions and info, this is, after all, a Pre-Release! More info will be added, and spare parts will become visible in the store as we’ve had time to somewhat fix their respective product pages.

Out of office – Limited support and email replies for a while

I’ll be jumping on a plane headed for Flite Fest tomorrow morning. During my stay I’m going to have limited internet access and time to answer emails and such. Johanna will be holding down the fort while I’m gone, answering support tickets and shipping out orders just as usual.cropped-FF16_logo_horizontal-01I know I’ll be seeing some of you at Flite Fest. It’s going to be an awesome time! Just hope the Ohio weather cooperates.

After Flite Fest I’ll be joining the RotorRiot crew in Pripyat, Ukraine to do some flying. This means that if you send me an email, you shouldn’t expect a reply until August.

Lowering aesthetic standard (and price) on the carbon fiber arms

Some of you might remember my everlasting battle with manufacturing of the carbon fiber arms. There is a reason why most companies I’ve approached have declined to even try making them. 10x10mm woven square tubes are really difficult to make. Extruded tubes this size is no problem, but they really suck. The arms we sell now are fantastic when it comes to strength, weigh, stiffness and have no warp.

The problem is that the surface finish is almost impossible to get perfect. So far we’ve discarded large parts of batches due to these imperfections and it’s really not sustainable. We at least need to break even on the arms. That would mean either almost doubling the price or lowering the standards, or stop selling them altogether.

Right now the most reasonable thing seems to be lowering the cosmetic standards in our quality checks. To be clear; only the surface finish is effected. The structural integrity and function is unaffected and the arms will be just as strong as before. The difference is that you might get arms that are scratched, have small dimples, have a visible edge of the carbon or other cosmetic impurities. Again, this will not effect the function or performance of the arms.

Since you will now receive a lower quality product we feel that to be fair we should lower our prices. The 325mm arms are lowered by 1USD and the 162.5mm by 0.5USD.

How do you feel about this?

New FAQ and support system

We’ve been testing out a new support system for a while and it’s now time to start using in for real. You will now be able to open a ticket by either going to your account page, or by clicking the FAQ/Support meny tab in the top navigation bar. This system will allow us to help you more efficiently and with less risk of your email getting lost in the river of messages that is my inbox.

The FAQ portion of the page is filled with the most common questions we get. Please at least skim it before opening a ticket.

If you want to contact me directly with stuff that isn’t related to orders or support stuff you can still use the contact from on the “about us” page. But please understand that I might not always answer as I get quite a few. You do not need to have an account registered in order to open a ticket.
Just make sure that you spell your email address correctly, or we won’t be able to answer you. If you have an account you can easily see all your tickets and open new ones from your account page.

We hope this system will let us help you in a more efficient way.

I’ll be on live tomorrow on the “Let’s drone out” podcast

logo-new-jack

I’ll be on live on my friend Jack Nash’s podcast “Let’s drone out” tomorrow at 8pm UK time (Sorry wrote the wrong time at first). We’ll be talking about the Triflight code, the new F3 board and RCExplorer in general. Jump on over to the Let’s drone out website tomorrow and post your questions and generally join the fun in the commenting section.

Here is a link to the episode

F3FC Tricopter frame and Tricopter V4 is now available!

F3F3 Tricopter

Designed based on all the feedback we’ve received since the release of the Naze32 frame. This frame has it all; A more powerful processor, 3A switching BEC with selectable 5/6/8V output, no need for a separate power distribution board, pressure sensor, current sensor, low noise gyro/accelerometer connected via SPI and so much more. Get yours here while they’re fresh out of the oven.

Tricopter V4

The Tricopter V4 has among other things a brand new camera/battery plate made from 2mm thick matte 3K carbon fiber. This increases stiffness, which reduces vibrations as well as saves weight (more than 25% lighter). You can now easily mount RunCam2 and GoPro sized cameras.

Camera Tray Kit

After many requests the landing gear has now been made taller and with a wider contact area at the bottom. The sharp edge has also been removed. The new landing gear is also mounted with 4 zip-ties which absorbs more energy in a crash. As you will need more zip-ties for the build, the kit now comes with 2 bags (~50 pieces).

Landing Gear comparison

The new now only weighs 201 grams including Flightcontroller, power distribution, arms, tilt mechanism, motor mounts, screws, landing gear and vibration dampened camera mount. This means more flight time and a more agile platform. Link to the product page.

Tricopter pins in the store

Tricopter Pin

Look fancy and show your support of tricopters at the same time, with this 25x25mm golden pin. Designed by the extraordinary community member Terje. (Read about the design process here)

Perfect size to wear on a tie or on a shirt just above your heart, where we all know it belongs.

The pin might leave a small hole in the fabric. Please don’t stab yourself or others. Also be careful if you have any metal allergies.

 

New F3 based integrated flight controller frame coming soon!

F3FC-Tricopter

This is our new RCExplorer F3FC Tricopter flight controller/PDB frame. Designed based on all the feedback we’ve received since the release of the Naze32 frame. This frame has it all.

Equipped with a SMT32F303CC processor which runs at a higher clock speed than the previous F1 chip. It also has a dedicated float point math processor to reduce processor load, freeing up resources to run other fun stuff like GPS, RGB LED’s, compass, blackbox logging, SBUS, OSD and such. This processor also allows for 3 dedicated UART’s which vastly improves connectivity. It’s now possible to run GPS, LED’s, OSD, external compass(via I2C) and SBUS at the same time. The board also has a I2C port and CAN bus which allows for future expandability. It also has a direct connected LED pin for controlling those really cool addressable RGB LED’s.

To save weight and make the build easier and more streamlined, the F3FC tricopter frame is also a power distribution board! Instead of having 2 separate boards and wires going everywhere you now just solder everything to one board and no extra wires between the boards are required. It makes assembling the copter easier, as you don’t have to juggle both boards and arms around at the same time while trying to get everything in place.

That’s not all when it comes to power. The F3FC frame also has a built in 3A switching BEC! This BEC can easily drive the servo, flight controller, OSD, UART devices, RGB LED’s without even running warm. It’s super clean and it also has selectable output voltage of 5V, 6V and 8V, the latter mainly used to power high voltage servos. If you have the BEC set to 8V you can, by bridging two solder points power the UART ports via a built in linear 5V regulator, so that you don’t fry your sensitive 5V expecting devices. The components for the switching BEC are well protected in a crash as they are hidden within the front spacer.

Also mounted inside of the front spacer is a MS5611 high sensitivity, high quality pressure sensor. Together with an external GPS the copter can now do position hold. Mounting the sensor inside of the front spacer keeps it out of direct airflow giving much more accurate readings.

Another great feature is the built in current sensor for monitoring mAh used. To me this is huge. It allows for a much more accurate way of knowing how much juice is left in your battery. This information can easily be relaid through telemetry to your RC transmitter together with the real time current draw and battery voltage (which naturally also is built in to the board).

To give the best flight experience the MPU6000 Gyro/accelerometer chip is used. It’s the least vibration sensitive chip commonly available, which means crisper performance due to lower noise. The MPU6000 is connected through SPI instead of I2C, which allows for much higher update rates. This together with the F3 chips capability of running lower loop times also improves the flight performance greatly.

Another huge leap in flight performance is the feedback enabled BMS210 servo. The flight controller now knows where the servo is at all times, which allows it to much more accurately control the tail. The F3FC frame has a dedicated feedback pad straight on the board for very easy hook up. All ESC’s also have surface mount pads straight on the board, which makes for a very clean build and saves a ton of space on the top of the frame.

To clean up the wiring even more there is now through holes that matches the pin spacing of the beeper. You can now solder the beeper straight to the board without any cables. There is also RAW battery voltage pins to power FPV equipment and such on the top of the frame. No more having to run wires on the side of and then in-between the frames.

Lastly the frame has 2 PWM channels, one of which can be used for PPM receivers. Serial receivers can be plugged into any of the UARTs, but UART1 has a selectable 3.3V/5V selector solder bridge for powering 3.3V spectrum satellites or “normal” receivers.

The F3FC frame is a drop in replacement for the Naze32 frame. You can use it with both the Mini Tricopter and the V3.5 without any modifications.

The board should be released 2-3 weeks, so keep an eye out!

The BMS210 servo now comes with feedback wire pre-installed!

BlueBird BMS 210 Feedback

No more modifying your servo! We’ve now redesigned the original BMS 210 servo to include a feedback wire straight from the factory. This wire is used to accurately determine at which angle the servo is positioned at all times. The wire plugs in to the flightcontroller and the information is used by the latest versions of the TriFlight code to vastly improve the yaw performance of the tricopter.

The price for the new RCExplorer 210 DMH Feedback servo is the same as the previous non feedback version.

Note: You don’t have to use the servo feedback wire. The servo will work just like any normal servo if you don’t connect the wire.

All electronic kits now comes with the new feedback version of the servo.

New FPV video! – “Fire and Ice”

Lately almost all my flying has been with the Mini Tricopter. I haven’t flown the Tricopter V3.5 in FPV for quite some time. When I finally found the perfect V3.5 motor I decided to build a really nice, pimped out long range setup and get out there and do some flying, in the style I used to do.

As soon as I took off I fell in love all over again. I had forgotten how smooth and swooshy this thing is. It feels like the air is thicker, smoother and more flowing than when flying the smaller platforms. After landing it feels like you’ve had a 15 minute long hug. Man I’ve missed flying this thing.

New Mini Tricopter motor

Emax RS2205

I really like testing new electronics. Improving the performance, feel and quality is something I continuously strive for. With the new LittleBee30A ESC’s a broader range of power setups are possible and I think I found the perfect combination for the Mini Tricopter. The Emax RS2205 2300kV drew too much current for the SN20A’s that we previously used. I was also concerned that the flight times would suffer with such a tiny motor. But it turned out that hovering flight time actually is the same (~14 minutes) as with the BE2208 on a 4S1800mAh battery. It’s not quite as efficient in the hovering throttle range, but the lower weight compensates for this, and it provides more thrust.

At full throttle this little motor draws 31A, producing 1200 grams of thrust, while swinging a 6×4.5 HQ prop. You would think this would fry the poor little copper strands in the motor, but with its built in cooling system which sucks air through the motor, cooling both the motor and the powerful N52 magnets, it can do this without overheating. This is quite amazing considering that the Emax RS2205 only weighs in at 30 grams with wires! It’s also incredible smooth thanks to the Japanese NMB Bearings, really high quality stuff right there.

With the Emax RS2205 the copter does feel more perky and crisp. The breaking force of the Emax motors are amazing, which gives a very accurate feedback.

If you plan on going over to the Emax setup, I highly recommend using some good quality batteries with high C-rating to feed these power hungry little beasts.

Mini Tricopter Arms back in stock!

The Mini Tricopter arms are finally back in stock, which means that the Mini Tricopter kit is also off backorder. The Full size arms are, according to the tracking, scheduled to arrive on the 31st of March.Mini Tricopter 6x4.5x3

In the meantime I’ve done some tests with 6×4.5×3 props on the Mini Tricopter and it’s pretty awesome! The motors have so much torque that they still come down almost cold. Will do more tests to see how well the setup holds up compared to the standard 6×4.5 which have phenomenal performance. Have any of you tested out any other prop configurations?

Back to the rounded edge carbon fiber arms. Second quality arms available in the meantime.

We’ve run out of arms for both the MiniTricopter and the Tricopter V3.5. The sharp corner arms turned out to be too difficult for the manufacturer to make reliably and the yield was low. (Though they didn’t inform us of this until we put in the latest order). So now we’re going back to the rounded corner arms again. But from the new manufacturer, so the quality will be improved compared to the very first arms we sold. The new arms are being made and will ship out to us soon.

In the mean time we can offer the tricopter kits with “second quality arms” at less than manufacturing cost. A $7 discount is available for the Tricopter V3.5 kit and $5 discount for the MiniTricopter. Use the discount code uglytriarms for the Tricopter V3.5 kit and uglyminiarms for the MiniTricopter while in your cart. For spare arms (both full length and 1/2 length) that are not part of a kit you can use the coupon code uglyarm ($1 discount per arm). Make sure that the coupon code works before proceeding to the checkout page.

By “second quality” we mean that the arms have not passed our usual quality control and may be scratched, somewhat uneven on the surface, of a little bit uneven length/width, or with other minor faults. They are still straight and fully functional (maybe a bit of sanding down of a bump might be needed, but not more that that). These arms are available and in stock even if the “normal quality” arms are on backorder, which means that your tricopter would be shipped without delay. The arms may be of the rounded or sharp edge design, but they will not be mixed. You cannot choose which type you will get.

Tricopter V3.5 Electronics kit

Finally! After months and months of testing different motors, ESCs and props, I’ve finally found the optimum combination of components

V3ElectronicsKit1 copy

The kit contains the brand new, custom wound 2217 stator size, 1300KV motor. Tuned specifically to provide the best efficiency during hover yet still have tons of power for when you need it.

BE2217-1300kv-1cut

The über awesome motor uses a 4mm shaft to better handle impacts and abuse. It weighs 77g with cables, which means it has a lot of copper in the windings which provides mounds of torque to swing 8×5 propellers on 4S, or 9×5 on 3S.
LittleBee30-1crop

To turn the super awesome motors 3 LittleBee 30A ESC’s are used. These ESC’s use the Silabs C8051F390 processor with dedicated gate drivers to achieve super fast switching which increases efficiency, throttle response and thrust generated by the motor. They work on 2-6S and are flashed with BLHeli 14.3 with dampened light enabled by default. They are also Oneshot125 compatible and together with the active breaking they give a really crisp and precise control over the copter.270mmWire2crop

Also included in the kit are 3 – 432mm long 18 gauge power and servo wires, the perfect length for the Tricopter V3.5.HQ8x5CW

A power package is only as good as the propellers providing the thrust. After testing many, many props these are by far the best ones I found. The 8×5 Thin electric by HQ. They are carbon fiber reinforced to provide good stiffness, they are light weight which improves quick throttle response (which makes the copter more stable as the updates from flight controller is executed quicker), They also have the best “out of the package” balance out of the bunch (you should still always balance your props!). They are also very efficient on this setup and they cut the air better than other multirotor specific props.
210DMHRCEx

Lastly, the kit also includes the raining champion of tricopter tail servos, the Blue Bird 210 DMH. Tough, powerful, precise and reliable, this servo performs again and again.

The price tag for the Tricopter V3.5 power package is $150. Get them while they’re hot!

New stuff in the store

Just added some small items to the store, such as;
Some really nice quality 6mm and 3mm Wire Mesh Guard different colours,
A loud 5V active beeper/buzzer to use with the Naze32,
Separate BEC components for when you have a really bad crash, or want to upgrade your non BEC PDB,
Separate pin header in case you accidentally soldered it to the wrong side, or smushed it in a really weird crash.

GreenWireMesh6mm1OrangeWireMesh6mm1BECcomponentsBeeper1

New video! – Remove your props!

Remember that I always say in build and setup videos to remove the props (or not to mount them) when doing setup on the computer while having the battery plugged in?

I though I would do a demonstration video as to why you should do just that.

Charpu had his quad going bananas while doing throttle calibration. His story is very entertaining and a great reminder that it can happen to anyone of us. Watch the RotorRiot episode here:

Have you’ve had any similar experience? I would love to hear about it in the comments!
Stay safe