In this video I show a bit more how to connect things on the F3FC Tricopter board. A complete build video for the Tricopter v4 is coming soon, in which more of the F3FC build is going to be shown. Sit tight, the video should be up next week.
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.
To take the servo apart you need a tiny T5 torx screwdriver. So we got some of those as well.
Here is the updated setup video which includes F3 based flight controllers (such as the F3FC) and showing the new tail tune features.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 board should be released 2-3 weeks, so keep an eye out!
We will very soon be running out of the Naze32 Tricopter frames and we will not be re-stocking them, as we will release our own F3 based tricopter frame in 2-3 weeks. More information on the new frame will be posted very shortly.
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.
After working together with the manufacturer of the square arms, we finally worked through all the manufacturing problems. We just got the new shipment of square arms in and all kits will be shipped with the square arms once again.
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.
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.
Quick update. The Mini Tricopter Electronics kit will now come with the LittleBee30A ESC’s. After testing them properly it’s evident that they are more robust and better performing than the SN20A’s on the Mini Tricopter. They are slightly heavier but the benefits they bring, in my opinion, outweighs the small weight increase.
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.
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?
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.
Finally! After months and months of testing different motors, ESCs and props, I’ve finally found the optimum combination of components
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.
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.
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.
Also included in the kit are 3 – 432mm long 18 gauge power and servo wires, the perfect length for the Tricopter V3.5.
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.
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!
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.
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!
I’ve been working on this for quite a while. I hope you guys enjoy it!
For those who are interested in how things are made, I’ve just finished up a over 100 picture build log on the Duck from Hell. Please don’t try this at home though as you could very easily burn your house down.
(Go to a friends house) No but seriously don’t do it. For educational purposes only 🙂
After searching and searching after the perfect tricopter V3 motor I ended up getting custom ones made. The results on the test bench were spot on! So I decided to build Tricopter V3.5 from scratch with the new electronics and while I’m at it, why not make a build log as well.
I’m on the FT after-hours podcast again. In this massive 2 and half hour long podcast we cover tech questions, rant about the FAA and Swedish regulations and talk about our best full-scale experiences.
Listen to it through Itunes or download the MP3
Air bears is an absolutely awesome organisation dedicated to connecting RC pilots and local authorities to help in Search and Rescue missions of missing people.
It’s a volunteer based system. If you have a multirotor or fixed wing platform that you can keep on standby to help the local police or fire department in your area, you simply sign up on their website (there is a onetime fee of $25 to cover the registration process and you get a T-Shirt). You’re now registered on their global network of pilots. An online map will help the local authorities that need help, find the closes pilot and quickly get in contact. You can also help spread the word to your local authorities by giving them this brochure.
The goal of Air Bears is to have global coverage of standby ready volunteers to help reunite missing people with their families. If you don’t have an aerial platform that you can have on standby you can help out by donating to the cause.