Thank you Rotor Riot for letting me come on this trip. I got some crazy memories that I will never forget.
At the end of last month I was fortunately enough to travel with the Rotor Riot crew to Ukraine. It was a crazy cool experience. We got to fly at Chernobyl, Pripyat, around Kiev and craziest of all; The Antonov 225 (The largest airplane in the world). I join up with the FT Afterhour crew to talk about this amazing experience.
My first selfie
Click to listen. The Chernobyl experience starts at the 58 minute mark.
Image credit; Wayne Griffith. Wayne Griffith photography.
This was the 3rd annual FliteFest and it was my first chance to attend. Rolling in the first day I was hit by how absolutely massive it really is. The flight line was at least 1km long, there were hundreds of RV’s and tents, and there were a ton of vendor tents. One thing that is very different from any other RC event I’ve been to is the 3 huge build tents. When I say huge I mean huuuuuuge. There were so many tables for people to set up on and build, repair and hangout you wouldn’t believe. This was by far the best thing I’ve seen at an event. It enabled people to help each other out and connect and make new friends. Foam was free so you could build as much as you wanted. 2 guys in the corner had 2 CNC’s set up that were running constantly spitting out free kits for people, and they did this for free! Amazing to say the least. The tents also let people get out of the sun (or rain).Continue Reading
I’m finally back from my travels and will now be able get started on the Baby Tricopter build and setup videos. But in the meantime to get the guys that already received theirs up in the air, here is a full build log of the Baby Tricopter.
The 100 picture log should contain most information that you’ll need to be able to go out and race like a maniac. Good luck on the build and happy flying!
The Triflight 0.5 has moved out of the Beta stage. Now rebased on Cleanflight v1.13 which makes flashing easier. It also supports BLheli 4w interface for BLHeli passthrough among with many flight performance updates.
Here are some new features compared to Triflight 0.4
- Rebased on Cleanflight v1.13.
- Support for servo reversing (alpha)
- Dynamic yaw output based on tail motor speed, replaces TPA for yaw (beta 3)
- Tail motor acceleration/deceleration produced error estimation and correction (beta 3)
- Support for wired servo feedback signal for accurate position measurement (beta 1, beta 2)
- Unarmed tail tune mode for setting up servo end-points, center position and speed calibration (beta 1)
- More precise in-flight tail tune (beta 1)
- Many small improvements.
- Defaults are tuned for RCExplorer Baby tricopter (170mm sized). Should work okay for larger copters as well. Specific tunes for the Tricopter V4 and Mini Tricopter coming soon.
- Display feature has been disabled for NAZE and CC3D targets due to memory constraints.
- Best thing to do is a full chip erase doing flashing.
- Please redo the servo setup / tail tune after flashing otherwise things might not work as they should.
We would love to get your feedback on how the official 0.5 release works for you. We’ve had great success with it so far. People have reported that the feel of this release has improved greatly and the tail handles even better.
Use the link below to jump over to the forum and give your feedback!
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 🙂
A 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 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.
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.I 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.
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.
How do you feel about this?
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.
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.