What’s new in the Tricopter V4;
You can now choose the RCExplorer F3FC Tricopter flight controller (with integrated Power Distribution). 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. Read all about it here.
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 hookup. 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.
A carbon fiber bottom board is now also available. Increased stiffness, reduced weight (25% less) and über cool looks.
The camera plate has been redesigned and improved. It is now 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 Tricopter V4 is designed to be as light as possible without compromising strength or stiffness. It only weighs 201 grams including Flightcontroller, power distribution, arms, tilt mechanism, motor mounts, screws, landing gear and vibration dampened camera mount! Yet it’s stiffer and more precise than previous versions.
The Tricopter V4 is designed to be easy to build and repair. The landing gear and tilt mechanism are held on using zip-ties, just like in previous versions. These zip-ties acts as “mechanical fuses”, absorbing energy and protecting important pieces in a crash.
Tired of the how easily extruded carbon fiber booms crack and loose their torsion strength, I set out to find a better alternative. Many, many hours of searching I found a factory that could make 10x10mm carbon fiber square tubes to the specifications I was looking for. These woven carbon fiber square tube arms are incredibly stiff, strong and lightweight. The torsion (twisting) strength is unparalleled which results in a crisp and precise flying experience, even with high power setups. Unlike extruded carbon fiber arms, these arms can take abuse without cracking. They are also 33-40% lighter, have more room inside to run wires and are stiffer in all aspects. The kit includes 3 arms with predrilled 3mm holes, so you don’t have to drill it yourself.
The kit also includes a vibration dampening camera/battery tray made from 2mm thick matte 3K twill weave carbon fiber, giving maximum stiffness while reducing weight. The tray is suspended underneath the main body using 4 1.5mm thick crescent-shaped pieces of piano wire.
The wire comes pre-bent (which saves a ton of time and frustration). This vibration dampening system was created specifically for the large flight envelope of the tricopter. The vibrations created by the motors and props spinning only has one way of reaching the camera, and that is down through the thin curved shaped wires. Since the camera plate is stiff, the whole camera tray has to vibrate for the camera to vibrate. With the heavy battery and camera mounted on the tray, a lot of energy is needed to get it moving. The thin and stiff piano wire has a high resonance frequency and low-frequency vibrations will have a hard time to travel down to the camera plate. The small amount of high-frequency vibrations that do make it down has so little energy that they are easily absorbed by the heavy battery and camera. Resulting in buttery smooth footage. The main benefit of this system compared to many soft vibration dampening solutions, is that it doesn’t move or wiggle during fast forward flight or a quick change of direction. This system you can whip around like a maniac and still get perfect video.
Just like the previous tricopter versions, this design is also foldable. This makes transportation easier, but it also help prevent damage in a crash. The arms simply fold back and absorb some of the energy. The arms are held in place by friction, which means that you don’t have to use a tool to fold or unfold, simply grab the arm and push or pull it.
The kit includes the new upgraded version of the tilt mechanism is made from fiberglass reinforced black Nylon which was forged in the fires of Mt. Doom, making it almost indestructible. (It’s the same plastic used by high-end propeller manufacturers). This tilt mechanism is designed to be as simple, precise, light (only 10.6g), durable and with as little air resistance as possible. The design features a spline directly integrated into the part. The recommended servo simply slides right in and gets tightened down by the same screw that is used as the pivot point. Simple, strong and easy to assemble. You can also use any servo with a maximum distance of 8mm from the bottom of the servo body to the bottom of the spline using the “attached servo horn” method, just like on the V2.5 build. (See build-videos on the tilt mechanism product page)
- Empty weight: 198 grams (G10), 201g (F3FC + CF boards)
- Motor to Motor distance: 570mm
- Size unfolded: W600 x L525 x H160mm (with FPV transmitter post)
- Size folded: W100 x L500 x H160mm (not counting propellers)
- Recommended all up weight: 1100 grams (with GoPro, FPV setup and battery)
- Flight time hovering: ~15 minutes (4s 3000mAh)
- Flight time Hard flying: ~10 minutes (4s 3000mAh)
- Recommended motor size: 28mm outside diameter (up to 33mm fits, 35mm is a little too tight)
- Maximum battery size: 40mm tall, 60mm wide, length not really an issue. Slightly larger batteries might fit with minor modifications, like flipping the screws.
The kit contains:
- 3 x pre-drilled woven carbon fiber arms
- 1 x Tricopter top board of your choice
1 x Tricopter bottom board of your choice
- 1 x Tilt mechanism
- 3 x Landing gear (Large)
- 1 x FPV transmitter post
- 2 x Motor mounts
- 1 x Vibration dampening Camera/battery tray (Carbon fiber)
- 1 x GoPro velcro strap
- 1 x Battery strap
- 1 x Set of Pre-bent vibration dampening wire
- 1 x Set of top wire holders
- 1 x Set of bottom wire holders
- 1 x 12° Camera angle Silicone Wedge
- 1 x Front spacer
- 50 x Zip-ties (2 bags)
- 1 x Screw pack
- 1 x Servo setup tool
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 have lowered the prices.
F3FC setup video:
Recommended electronics: (not included)
Electronics kit from RCExplorer:
- 3 x BE2217 – 1300KV Motors
- 3 x LittleBee 30A ESC’s
- 3 x 432mm 18 gauge power and signal wire package
- 1 x BMS-210DMH Servo
- 2 x Two pack HQ8x5 CCW Propellers
- 1 x Two pack HQ8x5 CW Propeller
More things you might need from the RCExplorer store:
A beeper is highly recommended. It makes the setup procedure a lot easier, and it can be used as a lost model alarm, failsafe indicator, low battery and so on.
6mm Wire mesh for protecting the ESC cables
3mm Wire mesh for protecting servo cables
Male to male servo connectors
XT60 5cm pigtail (if you use XT60 connectors on your batteries)
Other things you will need to get up in the air (Given that you have the electronics and parts mentioned above):
A RC Transmitter and receiver (Such as the FRsky Taranis). Make sure the receiver supports PPM or SBUS (or serial connection)
4S LiPo battery with a capacity of 2500-3700mAh. I personally fly on 4S 3200mAh Turnigy A-spec batteries most of the time. (I change the connector to XT60)
If you want to fly FPV:
A video transmitter. I personally use the Immersion RC 600mW 5.8GHz (Most countries only allow up to 25mW if you don’t have a HAM licence).
A camera. I personally use a GoPro and fly through the video output on that. You can also use security type camera such as the HS1177.
A viewing device, a screen or video goggles. I personally use the Fatshark attitude HD, but there are much cheaper options.
A video receiver. Mine is built into the goggles. You might need a standalone receiver. Make sure it operates on the same frequency bands as the video transmitter.
Antennas, I use the Immersion RC Spironets
This kit requires an understanding of electronics, proficient skill in soldering and piloting skill. To fly multirotors, based on cleanflight/betaflight and similar, you will need to give constant stick input. The copter will not fly on its own (autonomously) nor will not hold its position in the air in standard configuration. It’s designed to give the best flight experience possible with great flying characteristics. A flight controller of the type this multirotor is using is designed to be felt as little as possible, this in order to let the pilot feel exactly what the copter is doing and to allow for precise flying without the feeling of fighting the flightcontroller.
Although tough, the tricopter is not designed as a beginner platform, but to provide the absolute best flight characteristics and performance. It’s possible to learn to fly on it, but I would recommend that you learn on a smaller platform such as the Eflite Inductrix or on a simulator before taking on a multirotor like this.
It is possible to connect a GPS to this platform, but functionality in the firmware is still under development. It is not a turnkey solution and it will not perform like a DJI Phantom. Autonomous flight is possible but it will require a lot of research, tuning and time to get it to work well.
Want to make your own? That’s correct, You can download the design files for free. Even if you don’t have the money to support me, I still want you to be able to enjoy the hobby by making it yourself. Please enjoy and share this great hobby with someone. Click here for the download page.