Category: FPV Life

SonicModell AR Wing Pro Review

Sometimes history goes in circles. Back in 2018 my first ever wing was good old AR Wing 900 (you can read more here). Two years later almost to date I have a brand new AR Wing Pro on my bench ready to build. Slight larger and slightly different design than AR900.

Is it a wing for Pro’s? Is it the wing for you ?

In this review I will show you my AR Wing Pro build in detail and also take it to my usual flying spots for some flying and

Big shout to SonicModell for sending a sample to me before it officially hits the shops shelves.

Box content and overview

My sample PNP version come with:

  • AR Wing Pro
  • SunnySky 2216 1400KV motor
  • 40A SonicModell ESC with 5V 3A BEC
  • Metal Gear 9g servos
  • 8×5 Prop
  • Additional foam nose inserts and main compartment cover (for DJI FPV gear)
  • Servo attachments and hardware
  • Stickers
  • Manual
  • Carbon Fibre rod

AR Wing Pro comes in 3 main parts including main fuselage and detachable wings.

Main fuselage is made of moulded EPP with plywood sandwiched in the middle for additional strength. This can be visible when looking through the components side bays.

There is a lot of cutouts for cooling inside all compartments.

Plywood GoPro mounting plate installed

PNP version doesn’t come with any components pre-fitted.

AR Wing Pro has 4 main compartment in the central fuselage:

  • Rear one for ESC and GPS
  • Main one at front for Flight controller and battery
  • One on each side for other components like VTX, RX, air speed sensors etc.

Similarly to ZOHD planes/wings there is a dedicated spot for GPS and plastic cover is included.

One of the interesting features of this wing is a wing connector allowing to pass trough 6 separate signals:

Provided servo linkages have metal rods threaded on both ends and ball joints. They are relatively short and servos are flushed with the foam protecting them from all sorts of damages from landing.

Winglets come separate. They need to be screwed in onto wing. Much the same as the AR900.

PNP kit includes 40A ESC and SunnySky 2216 1400kv motor. ESC has bullet connector with motor – this can help changing motor direction without much of a hassle.

Guys at SonicModell have done fantastic job on predicting what would typical wing builder do when building a wing and best example is below:

Underside of the wing has pre-made canals for wires to feed through. Also there is small compartment on the bottom side of both wings where you could for instance fit RX or VTX. Thanks to wing connectors there is 3 signals to utilise for connecting anything from the wings but usually 3 signals will be occupied by servo leaving us 3 for RX or VTX. While its possible to use VTX via 3 wires, TBS Crossfire receivers have 4 wires so bear that in mind.

To sum up wing assembly: it was straight forward with clear instructions included. I had zero issues with it.


DJI HD and HD Cameras

AR Wing Pro has many options for mounting HD cameras. It comes with two covers for main compartment: standard and DJI HD. The latter has a dedicated place for mounting DJI Air Unit. In such configuration DJI camera is fitted in supplied foam nose tip. I am not DJI user but I still used DJI top cover to mount old fashioned (but still cool) RunCam 2 facing rear capturing cool footage from a different perspective.

Wing nose is also a perfect place for GoPro camera. It can take Session or Hero style.

Marc Hoffmann (@b14ckyystech) has designed some really cool nose options and I helped him testing them out. Here’s the one I use with my Session, it’s totally removable and can be swapped for another mount dedicated for a different camera like Hero 7. Very cool stuff:


AR Wing Pro build

Parts used for my build:

  • Matek 722-Wing with INAV 2.5.1
  • TBS Crossfire Nano
  • TBS Unify HV VTX
  • RunCam Phoenix camera

I am huge fan of Matek boards and here I used Matek 722-WING recommended by Mr. Paweł Spychalski (INAV developer) and I normally trust him A LOT 🙂 This is pretty awesome FC with tons of UARTs for pretty much anything you might want to add to wing. Quickly flashed it with latest INAV 2.5.1 and done the ACC calibration before fitting it in.

As for the rest of the parts, I use crossfire so Nano RX was the best option here. Also I went for TBS Unify video transmitter because it always worked for me and I’m the most familiar with it.
When it comes to FPV camera this is important choice because in analogue video feed we can have either very bad video quality or too candy (popping colours). Phoenix fives amazing HDR quality image and I prefer it the most.

I have finished build in one evening. It was THE QUICKEST wing build I’ve ever done hands down.

First started with fitting motor and ESC inside the rear bay. ESC was fixed to the bottom of the bay by double sided tape. Tucked away cables with zip ties.

Flight Controller is fixed to fuselage by 3M double sided tape. Some of the connections to FC have been soldered on the bench because its easier that way. Tucked away wires with zip ties. Cable management – very important thing 🙂

Inside of main bay with Artpack Li-Ion fitted (more on that later)

I have decided to use left side compartment for Video Transmitter and right one for Crossfire. Using small compartments on the wing tips was out of question for RX because we only have 3 wires spare (3 occupied by servo) and crossfire is using 4. I could have move VTX there but wanted better cooling which only side compartment could offer. Fitted Pagoda antenna and used 3D printed attachment to secure it in the compartment cover. VTX itself sits in 3D printed PETG tray so it doesn’t melt foam below if it’s roasting hot:

Cooling for the VTX bay

On the other side I’ve added Crossfire Nano with Immortal T sitting though the left wing on 3D printed plugs which work like a charm. Wire from FPV camera goes through that same compartment into the main bay to the FC:

AUW of AR Wing Pro with GoPro Session and LiIon 6000mah battery was about 1220grams.


Artpack

I wouldn’t have done any of AR Wing Pro flights without my “Artpack”. What is it? Well, its my hand made 4S2P Li-Ion pack. I have made quite few 2S packs for ZOHD Drift but never pack of this size which is 6000mah – 8 x LG H2 cells in total.

I’ve spent roughly 2 hours making this pack and worst part was to find some really good instructions for it (here). End product was great and looked even better with a proper label 🙂 It works so well I am in process of making another pack for more fun 🙂


Centre of Gravity

Wing wouldn’t fly well if CG was off the design location. AR Wing Pro has this point marked on both wings by a moulded mark with CG written on it.

After few flights I came to conclusion that if we move CG to about 3-5mm in front of that mark she will fly more stable on pitch axis.

Worth mentioning is the fact that without HD camera in the nose wing wont hit CG unless more weight is added do the front. That’s du to design and the fact that battery sits in one, non-adjustable position inside fuselage. I have bought 5 and 10 grams leads with sticky tape and its easy to adjust CG with them. Whatever works for of course so even coins can be used.


Flying experience / Test flights

Flight 1 / Maiden: Stock PIFF settings, overhead launch in ANGLE mode and she went off successfully. I didn’t have much time before rain came back but at least this flight gave me confidence that build worked and wing flies correctly. I came back home happy after this flight:)

Flight 2: in windy conditions. Side launched. She flew really nice. I tested landings in a very limited space on the top of the dune and yes, I am a master of it 🙂

Flight 3: Same location as Flight 2, simmilar conditions but this time a little bit of low pass over the dunes.

Flight 4: I called it breakthrough flight because I had big banana smile after that one when I got home 🙂 Nearly 0 wind conditions and I have enabled AUTOTUNE via INAV. Damn, this was smoothie flight and from that moment I started looking at AR Wing Pro in slightly different way, like at the wing you just really want to fly when you’re going for some FPV

Flight 5: Very breezy conditions this time but I have experimented and flew it with 9×5 APC Sport prop. Fantastic performance. I was blown away with performance in such conditions. I literally didn’t expect such stable flight in such wind. I have made my mind after this flight.


Conclusions

Here’s my list of things worth mentioning to those considering buying AR Wing Pro. There is A LOT of points I like about that wing but not everything is always perfect and here’s what I found out.

Pros:

  • Comes in small-reusable box
  • Very well thought with big attention to detail. Seems like it was made by pilot who knows what people normally need and do with new wing build
  • Detachable wings
  • Wing 6-pin connectors are super handy – no more messy wiring
  • Tons of space inside for components
  • Very good ventilation inside the fuselage
  • Multiple camera nose options for mounting GoPro or any other HD cameras at the front
  • Designed to work with DJI Air Unit out of the box with supplied second main bay cover
  • Dedicated cut outs on both wings for fitting Radio Receiver or Video Transmitter + pre-made canals for wires
  • PNP kit comes with very efficient motor, good quality ESC and fantastic servos
  • Very quiet during flight with PNP motor and prop. Ideal if you (like me) fly in the area where dog walkers can take revenge on you for being noisy! 🙂
  • Large Li-Ion packs can be fitted without any issue. 4S 7000mah Li-Ion, even 4S 5200mah LiPo fits without a problem
  • Very nice flight characteristics. Even better after INAV autotune
  • She flies very will in pretty much *any wind conditions (*not hurricanes of course!)

Cons:

  • Supplied servo push rods are little bit too long making it a slightly difficult to add reflex to control surface because it’s impossible to screw plastic attachments more. Easy fixable, but worth pointing that out
  • I thought that box AR Wing Pro came with can be used to store it once wings are removed but it isn’t the case. It wont fit the box with motor and winglets attached which is a bummer if you (like me) go on holiday in your car filled up to roof and planning to take a wing as well 🙂
  • Winglets are thin and they chip easily from landing. Mine already lost a bit of foam
  • Winglets tend to detach or even rip the plywood bit off on landing unless they are glued or secured by tape etc.
  • Plywood plate that is meant to hold HD cam can crack after few landings

Final thoughts

Enough with bullet points. Time to tell you my own personal opinion about AR Wing Pro.

So short answer is: Yes, I like this wing. And here’s why.

It is very well engineered product. SonicModel has listened to pilots, they checked their preferences, their typical build techniques etc and made this wing in such a way that when you build it you’ve got a lot of things already done for you and you only have to worry with decisions like: “should I fit VTX in the wing, or in the bay, if so, left bay or right bay?” , stuff like that.

Personally this made me super happy because finishing wing build in one evening is a huge achievement, again, because of good design.

Another thing is options. You’ve got two top plates for either DJI/HD Cam or just plain cover. You can use different types of GoPros or any other HD cams in the nose. You can choose from many different batteries to use and they should fit making it a good option for ultimate long range, DJI HD “eagly eye” type of cruising wing or fast screamer to burn 10000mah in under 5 minutes 🙂

There is huge amount of space inside for the build. Literally space is the last thing to worry when it comes to building AR Wing Pro.

She also flies very nice. I was lucky enough to test her in different flying weather and apart from the maiden I was super happy with every flight. I didn’t like maiden because CG was possibly knocked by a bit and she didn’t fly as nice as during next flights.

I am by no means a fanboy here, just genuinely think it’s a good product, even for beginners (if they can side launch a wing !).
There is always room for improvement (see Cons list) of course and I am sure that SonicModell can do their best and address those issues in the future.

Hopefully my review will give you few answers about this wing.
If you want to discuss it more head over to my YouTube channel and stay in touch!

Miniquad guy flies FPV Wings

Miniquad guy flies FPV Wings

I thought about this article for a long time now. My idea was to tell the story, explain the reasons for choosing to fly FPV Wings and to describe the process of switching. Hopefully my journey will shed some light for those who want to start flying FPV on an aircraft that has (usually) just one motor 🙂

Why on earth one would want to fly wings?

My reason for wings was simple – I was never into flying quad between flags and gates. Partially because of lack of time for constant practice sessions, also it become very boring to me over time. I even stopped watching racing clips on social media etc. Boring boring boring.

What I wanted to do was to fly in its purest form which is – straight forward 🙂 Flying mini quads is kind of pushing the pilot to change flight direction all the time, to do lots of YAW movement, to flip, to roll, to go through gaps, to the point where it becomes more of a „jumping in the air” contest or „trick show”.

Flying just for sake of flying is actually very enjoyable and relaxing. It’s pure chill, also I could fly for longer distance and just enjoy the views.

Before I decided I wanted flying wing I looked at the last strong argument – drones are not always positively recognised in places where we normally fly. Fixed wing aircrafts on the other hand make people more curious and less angry. Old school RC flying was all about planes and not multi rotors, drones, whatever you call it.

I decided to go for it and I built my first wing.

My First wing choice

There is many wings to choose from. I wanted to utilise mini quad parts I already had and was looking for something to buy in UK shop upfront. I’ve chosen AR Wing sold by HobbyRC. Aircraft cost was around £50 with postage. Plan was to use the following parts:

  • ZMX 2207 2140kv motor with 6×4 prop
  • Aikon 30A BlheliS ESC
  • Matek F405 FC
  • TBS Unify HV
  • TBS Crossfire
  • GPS
  • RunCam Swift V2
  • 2 x MetalGear 9g Servos
  • 1300/1500mah 4S lipos used in mini quads

AR Wing has lots of space inside for electronics. Also I was able to push ESC, 5V Servo BEC inside bay in front of the motor. It didn’t look pretty (see photos) but worked. I was able to fit 2 x 1300mah 4S lipos in parallel too.

First attempts

It was almost year ago in November 2017 and we were heading with kids to Scottish highlands for the weekend. My wing was ready and I decided to take it with me for a maiden in epic location.

During my first launch what the wing did was just going own hitting the ground with the nose. Each throw was unsuccessful. The more I was throwing the more damaged it caused to the front section. Decided to put the wing down and fly quads instead. Later on I checked that prop was put incorrectly on the motor.

As a result there was no push and wing didnt fly because it couldn’t fly without any thrust 🙂 Lesson learned the hard way. Back to the bench for repairs.

Next try was month later after our local FPV race. My each throw was cracking the aircraft frame, also I nearly lost both wingless as a result of that. This time I’ve asked someone to throw the wing for me because I still couldn’t do it.

Wing launched and I flew! It flew for about 20-30 seconds before someone turned on his quad and instead of being my wing I saw his FPV feed in my goggles 🙂

Maiden footage:

My next try was during quick lunch session. I launched it myself. I was in LOS for a moment when my phone rang and I got distracted. Lost control and went straight into ground. Wing cracked almost in half and I destroyed the front HD camera attachment.

Back in business

After that unfortunate flight I have glued the wing back and left it for months only to come back to action during summer 2018 during my holidays in Poland.

I gave it a try again. There are some nice open fields 50km east of Kraków where we’ve got a house.  Weather was nice and I tried to launch it again and again till I got it right. What was crucial was COG (Centre Of Gravity). I have set it correctly by putting the small stones to the front of the wing 🙂 It worked!

Footage:

 

Wing flew very smooth. I tried ANGLE mode first but then ACRO (with gyro) and that’s how I fly it now.

Few days later my mate managed to record our 6am chase video with his quad: Wing chase

During visit to my parents house I flew my wing there too. Even got it stack on the tree 🙂

Those successful summer flights got me thinking that wing was a good choice. It suits my flying style, it gives me a lot of fun and satisfaction from flight.

I’ve made a small cut at the bottom of my AR to allow for better grip when launching. I still don’t know how to launch a wing by holding the actual wing as weird it may seems. I only toss it by holding the bottom of fuselage.

 

I watched a lot of YouTube footage from folks flying bigger wings. What appealed to me was that bigger wing meant more stable flight, even in windy conditions.

My AR was perfect on a calm day:

With the strong wind my flight was like this one:

 

That was enough reason to build another one 🙂

Second wing

One would say: „With bigger wing comes bigger responsibility” and that’s the truth 🙂 Those are a different pair of shoes. Also I couldn’t use my mini quad parts there any more which brought some challenges because of my lack of knowledge of parts that were not in mini quad world 🙂

After speaking to Greg on FPV Scotland he suggested checking new wing from E-Wings (local Scottish manufacturer) called Vortigaunt. At first I couldn’t even spell it’s name and quickly started referring to this wing as Vorti.

I’ve ordered a kit incuding everything required to build it and also got the laminate to make it nice. Ewan – Ewings owner is a very helpful and nice chap. Him and Greg talked me over the parts needed for this project and the final part list looked like that:

  • Vorti wing
  • Turnigy SK3 3536 1450kv motor
  • Graupner 8×5 prop
  • YEP 60A ESC
  • Matek F450 wing FC
  • Turnigy MG 12g servos
  • RunCam Eagle 2
  • TBS Crossfire
  • 1.3Ghz for video (Partom from BG)
  • Multistar 5200mah 4S battery

I entered totally unknown territory when it comes to parts, also this wing required assembling which was totally new to me. AR wing didnt required that much of work.

Also I used 1.3Ghz for video here so needed to make a ground station with 5.8Ghz repeater to my goggles:

 

It took my over a week, working on Vorti in the evenings when kids were in beds 🙂 I watched Gregs video about assembling Vorti. He has made the whole series: E-Wings UK Vortigaunt FPV Build Series | Part 1 | Fuselage & Wings

Vorti was laminated, glued, and made nice. I’ve gotten few 3D prints with the lipo tray and camera „nose”. It was a long process required a lot of DIY.

What I liked about this wing was the separate bays for FC/ESC etc and the lipo bay. Vorti offers tons of space for building – another advantage of bigger wings.

TOP TIP: for laminating you can just use your house iron set to lower temperature.

First big wing flight

Maiden day came through. Conditions were nice, all systems working in place, servos passed „high five” and I was mentally ready to launch that thing of beauty into the sky.

And I did. At least I tried, because what happened was this:

The core of the failure was that I set throws too much .They were wayyy too much and even my slightest stick movement was causing wing to be very unstable – impossible to fly properly. Vorti was smashed during landing upside down and one wing was slightly detached.

I’ve done necessary repairs and was ready for second try a week after. This time I have adjusted servo throws, added expo and reduced servo rates. All seemed to work on the bench. During second flight it launched properly but I have had an impression that motor wasn’t producing enough trust at all (compared to my AR Wing). I launched it regardless and after 20-30 meters it didnt have power for more lift and smashed the ground hard.

Damaged was eyesore:

After conversation with Ewan (Vorti designer) we came to conclusion that lack fo trust was the biggest failure here and that was caused by the ESC default setting which is „HELI” setting allowing for different throttle curve, called „slow start”. At the moment I am in the process of repairing Vorti and once thats done will have third take and I am expecting nothing but good from that wing 🙂

THIS ARTILE WILL BE UPDATED AS THE STORY CONTINUES 🙂

Flyduino KISS 25A 2-5S ESCs (single and 4in1) review

I’ve been flying Flyduino KISS products ever since I bought their first Flight Controller (V1) and 24A Race ESCs back in 2016. Last year I have tried their newer products: 32A ESC and KISS FC V2, so I’ve got good knowledge regarding their flying properties and performance.

This time I will take a look at the latest ESCs from Flyduino:

  • KISS 2-5S 25A single
  • KISS 2-5S 25A 4in1

Testing samples were kindly supplied by Flyduino.

KISS 2-5S 25A

Main features

  • 12 x 26mm and weights 3g
  • 32-Bit-ARM Cortex M4 MCU running at 80 MHz
  • Supporting 2S to 5S LiPo
  • Max continuous current 25A, protective current limiting of max 40A
  • Dshot 100-2400, Oneshot42 and Oneshot125
  • Turtle mode, 3D mode and rotation direction change supported
  • sinHybrid for smoother performance
  • Motors „talking feature”

ESCs come without any wires, so you might need to purchase them separately to avoid surprise. That’s how it always been with KISS ESCs.

25A ESCs are noticeable smaller than previous generations: 24A and 32A which shared the same form factor. New ones are better suitable for compact builds or frames with thing arms.

At closer look

New ESCs are made from a separate PCBs stacked together as it appears on the photos. Soldering pads are small but still comfortable enough to solder. 3 FETs are at the bottom along with current sensor.

 

Compared to 32A ESC?

All features of 32A are incorporated in 25A ones apart from the obvious continuous current value. Form factor change is the biggest difference as far as I can tell.

32A versus 25A (heatshrinked)

Depending on the thickness of wires soldered to ESC the weight reduction between 25A and 32A, considering the size difference was around 1g.

KISS 2-5S 25A 4in1

New 25A 4in1 is essentially four single 25A ESCs fitted on one PCB. Features are the same between single and 4in1 version.

4in1 weights around 12g.

 

At closer look

25A 4in ESC has XT-60 pigtail pads, motors signal pads and socket allowing for connection with KISS FC and also soldering pads to motor signals plus additional VBAT pads.

Motors are numbered as per KISS standards meaning front left is 1 and rest follows clockwise. Numbers are written on the board so it has to be installed in a specific orientation.

I am not aware if it is actually possible to remap the motors on KISS though. M3 holes spacing is 30mm exactly so when this ESC is fitted into the standard frame using 30.5 you might want to use a file to make the holes little bit bigger.

It is the same as with KISS FC where holes never match perfectly because of that 0.5mm difference.

 

Installation

I used my current build based on DemonRC Blaze frame and fitted 4in1 in there. Apart from the mounting holes adjustments there was no issues. I used longer screws to make sure there was enough thread for the soft mounting bobbins and stacked KISS FC V1 on top.

To connect ESC signals with FC I used supplied harness, although it is (unnecessarily) pretty long wires so I had to fly them in-between ESC and FC. VTX power was taken from directly from ESC Lipo pads and FC power from VBAT pads.

Initial power-on revealed that ESC is flashed with the voice firmware, so it „talks” when you power the quad on.

Flight performance tests

KISS 25A single ESC was fitted in the 6” Reverb

Specs:

  • ImpulseRC 6” Reverb
  • ImpulseRC ReverbPDB
  • NorthAero 2207.5 2450kv
  • KISS FC V2
  • KISS 25A ESC
  • TBS Unify
  • TBS Crossfire
  • RunCam Swift V2
  • Turnigy Graphene 1300 4S
  • HQ 5.5x4x3

It is a great cruiser quad and previously it did have KISS 32A esc installed.

I have tested various props but found that HQ 5.5” are the best for smooth footage. New 25A escs fit Reverb arms so much better than previous 32A and nothing was sticking out of the arm.

So how was the flight performance? I won’t going to lie – it was great.

Very smooth since the first second in the air. I didn’t even have to re-adjust pids (which were only increased slightly from stock). Performance was „sharp”, rolls and flips had no bounce backs. I feel that KISS ESC performance has the best out of the box effect compared to any other ESCs and firmwares I’ve tried over the years.

KISS 25A 4in1 ESC was fitted in 5” DemonRC Blaze

Specs:

  • DemonRC Blaze
  • NorthAero 2207.5 2650kv
  • KISS FC V1
  • KISS 25A 4in1 ESC
  • TBS Unify
  • TBS Crossfire
  • RunCam Sparrow Micro V2
  • Turnigy Graphene 1300 4S
  • HQ 5×4.5×3 V1S

I had HelioFC and Blheli32 ESCs installed on the machine prior to this test with KISS. It was never performing as I would hoped for. Ive had all sort of oscillations and weird things going on.
ButterFlight works well on my 7” cruiser but here I simply couldn’t get it to work or I was doing some user errors with filter settings etc. I don’t know, maybe it was my fault.

First flight with 4in1 ESC literarily dropped my jaw to the ground – it flew sooo nice. Very „sharp”, no oscillations, absolutely no trace of vibrations in the footage and butter smooth performance.

Please bear in mind Ive had „old” KISS FC V1 installed because I didn’t have V2 spare for this test. Blaze flew great again and I have made few clips from the flight footage to show it.

Flight Videos

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

25A single ESC
Positives:

  • Butter smooth performance
  • All features of 32A ESC but in a smaller form
  • Improved form factor for frames with narrow arms (fits perfect to Reverb)
  • Supports up to 5S
  • ESC telemetry

Negatives:

  • Price. I wish they were a bit cheaper
  • No wires included and they need to be purchases separately (always a case with KISS ESCs)

25A 4in1 ESC
Positives:

  • Butter smooth performance
  • 41in form factor so possible to use with stacked builds
  • Supports up to 5S
  • ESC telemetry

Negatives

  • Price. I wish they were a bit cheaper
  • No wires included and they need to be purchases separately (always a case with KISS ESCs)
  • Included wire harness is a bit too long, I think 5cm would have been enough
  • No plug’n’play solution for powering the KISS FC off the ESC since there is no second socket (similar like on Alien Steele PDB). I had to solder the VBAT to KISS FC directly

New KISS 25A ESCs are a good option for those who want a very smooth flight performance with minimum fuss and configuration required to make it to work.
Smaller form factor is a great bonus, also having 4in1 option is good too.

My biggest complain however is the price still. I understand this is a top quality products but competition isn’t sitting tight and ESC proces dropped over the last few years. If it was a bit cheaper that would be a massive bonus.

Also worth mentioning – new ESCs worked well with new Reverb PDB I was testing but that’s for another article 🙂

Testing TBS SourceOne 7″ (Trappy’s quad)

In May 2018 TeamBlackSheep announced an „open source frame” called Source One.
Raphael „Trappy” Pirker offered sending his own Source One 7” version across for testing purposes and in this article I will take you through testing and share my thoughts about it.

Open Source Project

Source One files are available via GitHub

It is very unusual project in FPV world where frame design is basically shared to the people to make it better. At the same time frame at the current revision is being sold under the TBS brand for very cheap  – around £25 in UK – same price as the chinese’s no-name or cloned frames!
Very different approach to the frame design compared to anything else currently on the market currently.
My colleague and fellow blogger Philipp Seidel is the guy who manage this project.

Source One 7” RTF

Source One quad I was testing had the following specs:

Frame: Source One with 7” (6mm thick) arms

Motors: TBS Endurance

ESC: Flycolor 30A 2-4S blheli-s dshot

Flight Controller: TBS Colibri Race

Video Transmitter: TBS FPVision with TBS Triumphs

RX: TBS Crossfire Nano with Immortal-T antenna

FPV Camera: TBS ZeroZero (replaced by me with RunCam Swift V2)

Quad came completely ready to fly, so I had to bind my radio with crossfire nano and it was all ready to go. Trappy mentioned during TBS couch episode that he crashed this quad from rather high altitude and I saw the marks on arms ends  🙂 FPV camera wasn’t working properly so I replaced it before my first flight. I can only assume it stopped working after the crash.

Lipo on this particular machine is meant to be attached at the bottom. S1 came with Ethix lipo strap and battery landing protector taken from Oblivion – clever solution. There are also foam pads isolating battery from the frame.

Immortal-T antenna was attached to the underside of the arms by 3D print. Video pigtail antenna was also attached to the frame by 3D print and zip ties. Very neat and functional .

Source One with 4S 2200mah lipo attached weights 664g.  Around 750g with GoPro Session 5 and 3D printed GoPro mount.

Frame quality

I can’t say a bad word about carbon fibre quality in this frame. Top plate is 2mm thick, bottom plate 3mm and arms have impressive 6mm thickness. Plates looks very solid and I haven’t seen any imperfections in carbon fibre or anything that would indicate cheap quality or cutting corners.

Frame is very very stiff thanks to thick arms

Testing

Before flying Source One I’ve added a GoPro mount and TBS GPS puck. I had to make the BST splitter harness.

Also, in addition I’ve added the 25V 470uf caps to all ESCs. It was fitted just in case to remove unwanted electric noise.

Flycolor ESCs dictated lipo voltage I could use and it was 4S maximum. Normally I fly 5S on my 7” Reverb but I gave it a go.

Test lipos:

  • Turnigy Graphene 1500mah 4S and
  • Turnigy (blue, cheap) 2200mah 4S

Firmware: Butterflight 3.5.1 / Betaflight 3.3

Test props:

  • HQ 7×3.5×3
  • HQ 7×4.5
  • Gemfan Flash 7042

In my tests Betaflight performed better actually. Strangely enough quad experienced much less oscillations. Don’t ask me how 🙂 I have flown in both cases with all filters on and PT1 enabled. ButterFlight had fast-kalman turned on.

With HQ 7×3.5×3 quad was shaking pretty bad. There was no jello in the footage, just shakes. PID tuning, filters had no impact on that.

After putting HQ 7×4.5 on I have immediately noticed that shakes were gone and I had a silky smooth footage on that one.

Gemfan 7042 gave me a little bit of visible oscillations (in FPV cam and GOPro footage) but it wasn’t too bad overall.

HQ 7×4.5 (strangely) won this test. On this prop quad was flying „sharp” if you know what I mean. I enjoyed it.

As for flight times. I had 11 minutes from 2200mah pack when pulling 8-10amps and with cruise speed of around 50km/h

I managed to fly 7-8 minutes on 1500mah 4S  pulling the same amount of amps.

Those were very satisfying flight times. Looks to me that it is possible to have 15-20minutes flight time with 3000 or 4000mah lipo. I haven’t got one that big yet, so can’t prove it though.

Flying experience with this machine depends greatly on props used but overall, compared to my other 7” rig I was very satisfied with it. Endurance motors are not super powerful but this is not actually needed in the machine that is made for a mellow cruise and not floppy floppy ripping 🙂

Oscillations are common on 7” builds but the right prop / motor combination can make it to work. Oddly enough I had nothing but just bad experience with HQ 7×3.5×3 on this quad. Maybe there is a weird resonance between frame and that prop on Endurance motors causing it? I don’t know – it simply didn’t work for me.

Flight video will be posted as soon as I get some nice material to share.

Conclusion

I would like to say big thanks to Trappy for sending his quad across to Scotland for testing. This allowed me for first hand experience available before frame even hit the shops.

Overall I was happy with how it flies and there will be more flights (and videos) published here as the summer goes on.
It is great to have a frame at this price point and with such good quality. It may not be to everyones taste when it comes to look but design DXF file is available to download so literally everyone can make it to desired look. Sky is the limit 🙂

To the Source (Infinity) and beyond! / Buzz Lightyear – Toy Story

Getting smooth footage on 7″ quad

I’ve built my first 7” mini quad few months ago. First flights were pretty rough when it comes to performance and fight times. Ever since I built it I tested numerous motors, props and battery combinations and finally found the good solution that gave me smooth footage. One of my colleagues – Kamil Bujniewicz (kbfpv – well known smooth freestyle pilot and absolute genius when it comes to PID tuning) commented my recent video recorded on 7incher „awesome and smooth as far as 7” prop can go goes”. His words mean business 🙂

In this write up I will explain the steps that I took to achieve the satisfying footage smoothness from 7” machine.

My initial 7” setup

InIn  the past I was flying 6” Alien frame with 7” arms. It was just my modified favourite 6incher I used for about 2 years.

This machine was my first 7” experience. I’ve put TBS FPVision with Colibri FC on it + Crossfire micro RX. Motors of choice were ZMX X40 2608 1500kv prototypes I had around for testing.
Prop of choice was HQ 7×4.5 and HQ 7×4 because these two were the only ones available back then. First few test flights was pretty much bumpy ride and it didnt go well.

In the meantime my quad configuration changed few times. Nothing proved to work properly to be honest. There was always some oscillations but also weird yaw twitches I was getting.

I was never happy about how it flew, it seemed like a constant work in progress.

My current setup

After changing pretty much all bits apart from FPVision+Colibri+Crossfire I ended up with this:

  • Frame: ImpulseRC Reverb + 7” arms
  • Motors: ZMX X40 2608 1500kv
  • ESC: Spedix 35A blheli32 2-6S
  • FC: TBS Colibri Race v2 (hard mounted)
  • VTX: TBS FPVision
  • RX: TBS Crossfire
  • FPV Camera: RunCam Swift V2
  • Lipo: 5S between 1500 to 3000mah
  • Prop: Gemfan 7042 (for now)

Let me take you through the choice of components.

FRAME

I have chosen Reverb because it was a little bit lighter than Alien but also it is very robust and stiff construction. Flex is kept to absolute minimum. Reverb has definitely lower profile than Alien but still plenty space inside and easy for upgrades. I have been using ImpulseRC frames for years and I am huge fan of their design work work.

MOTORS

I was lucky enough to be able to test X40 motors ever since they appeared on the market. Huge beasts @ 40g per motor. They are massive compared to typical 2207 motor. 26mm diameter and 8mm stator hight means business. Those motors deliver a lot of power even at low throttle. I  also used some 2206 1400kv motors (TBS Endurance and BrotherHobby ones)  for comparison but they were lacking power on my, rather heavy quad. This was not a case with X40s. I can’t back up my choice by any science but they just felt right on my quad and lack of power was the least of my concerns here.

ESCs

Let’s face it, most current ESC on the market are very similar. I went with well priced Spedix. 35Amps seemed all right. Blheli32 is also very smooth, so my choice was simple. Good performers ? Hell yes. No need for a change.

FC

Colibri wasn’t actually my choice but it came bundled with TBS FPVision. It is TBS own FC running F3. It integrates very well with power cube/FPVision, so I couldn’t choose anything else really. Solid performer despite F3 processor (old tech? nah…).

VTX

As a long term TBS Unify user I didnt change that. FPVision has Unify under the hood with add on of TBS integrated OSD etc. Great piece of kit. Current sensor comes calibrated out fo the box (yeah!) and it also allows for connecting external GPS to get flight info in OSD. Its my favourite piece of kit recently. Worth every penny.

RX

This machine was meant to fly far so I could either choose FrSky R9 or Crossfire. I personally prefer Crossfire because its trusted and simply more reliable system. Choice was simple. Crossfire win here for me.

FPV Camera

Camera doesn’t help with smooth footage but helps with how you see where you fly. I always used Runcams and Swift V2 is my choice and has been for a long time.

Lipo

After using 4S and 5S on the same setup I came to a conclusion that 5S handles heavier quad better. I am getting around 8 minutes on 5S 1500mah and 13-15 on 3000mah. All depends of course how I fly. Those times are for fast cruise @ around 60-70km/h and around 10A current.

Props

I have tried new Gemfans Flash 7042 after recommendation and looked no further. Those are twin blades (easier to carry), super quiet, almost like a stealth mode when flying around and give best footage. I may try different props and probably will, but for now gemfans blown me away. Can you imaging I am still on their first set and been for over 3-4 months now ? 🙂 I have never ever balanced those props. They even have few chips on them!

Tricks for smooth footage?

There is few things that made my quad flying smooth and improved the footage.

1./ ND filter

It’s not a secret that ND filter helps with jello on the flight cameras. It simply worked in my case too. I get very little jello in the footage. Because of my 3D printed GoPro mount I could only use stick on filter and I ordered few ND4 and ND8 from GetFPV. I use ND8 at the moment.

2./ Hard mount FC

It is hard to believe but that made the biggest difference actually. I can’t back it up with anything other than my flying experience, so don’t expect me to explain you why it made an improvement on my machine. I honestly don’t know. I’ve replaced soft mounts under the FPV vision with just nylon standoffs. No more weird yaw twitches and usual oscillations. All gone. 

3./ ButterFlight

ButterFlight is known for a smooth performance it gives. I tried it as well and it made huge difference to my quad too. Pretty much stock PIDs, all filters OFF and adjusted rates. I have set 8K/4K and Q at 1400. That’s all. The feel is different compared to BetaFlight – pleasure to cruise.

4./ 48Khz PWM frequency

This setting made a difference in flying. In blheli32 suite I’ve changed it from 24Khz. Much smoother performance.

5./ Smooth fingers 🙂

That helps too. If you’re notoric jumpy racer or someone who change flight direction every half second you would never get a smooth lines. Patience is a key here. Don’t over compensate the quad, let it go, be gentle and just feel the flow. It helps. Maybe I am talking bullshit here, who knows. It works for me 🙂

Result?

When higher throttle is applied (above 50-60%) my quad still gets some oscillations. I set TPU at 0.4 but oscillations are still there. It doesn’t actually affects me that much because during my cruising I never go above 50% throttle to save some battery juice. Low end throttle on 7″ has plenty of speed too.

Jello is no more. I have tested my setup in cloudy and sunny conditions. Jell is not present there!

Also no more yaw twitch and any of the shakes I had in the past on 7″ props. Now it’s time to conquer some hills in Scottish Highlands this summer!

Video from the cloudy day: 

Video from sunny day:

Hill dive: 

 

UPDATE Summer 2018Since the article was originally written I don’t actually own this particular 7″ Reverb any more.
I’ve had to downsize my quad fleet since I move onto wings recently.
I still have 7″ Cruiser but it’s is TBS Source Once with the following specs:
– BrotherHobby SpeedShield 2207.5 1750kv
– KISS FC V1
– KISS 32A ESC
– TBS FPVision
– TBS Crossfire

This machine flies even better smoother than my old Reverb.

NorthAero Typhoon and Phoenix motors review

Over the recent weeks I was testing two new NorthAero motors: Typhoon and Phoenix. Motors are designed by Sean Cox of NorthAero and manufactured by BrotherHobby.

In this article I will put down my thoughts about them.

Unboxing

Motors are packed in standalone boxes and have their specs printed on the label. Typhoon and Phoenix come with a set of four high quality M3x6 screws and a lock nut. They come with wires of approximately 17cm long which is very generous.

NorthAero motors are „bottomless” which means that there is less protection from the bottom but on the hand it is easier to keep the motor clean.

Design is all black with silver markings with cooling fins at the top of the bell. Shaft is held by a screw instead of C-clip.

Specification

  • 2207.5 2650kv Typhoon
  • 2207.5 2450kv Phoenix
  • Stator: 0.2mm Kawasaki silicon steel
  • Titanium Alloy hollow shaft
  • NSK 9x4x4 bearings
  • N52h arc magnets
  • 16x16mm screw holes
  • 34g of weight with long wires (around 31g with shorter wires)

Both Typhoon and Phoenix share the same specs apart from KV.

Build quality

NorthAero motors are manufactured by well known BrotherHobby and their build quality doesn’t disappoint. Windings are neatly done and there is no vertical play in the shaft. Just another well made motor.

Motor Testing

I was extensively testing both motors on my favourite freestyle quad:

  • Impulse Reverb frame
  • KISS V2 FC and KISS 32A ESCs
  • TBS Unify VTX
  • Crossfire RX
  • RunCam Swift V2 camera

Typhoon

I had very high hopes for this higher KV motor and I was not disappointed. Typhoons have a very smooth throttle response. There is a lot of torque at the lower and but when the punch is needed there is a very good top end here. I was blown away with the speed of those motors. Pretty insane.

As for battery life I was getting solid 3 minutes of flying on 4S 1300mah graphene lipo which is not bad at all. Lipo was a little bit warm at the end. I guess its because those are high KV motors that can actually squeeze every juice from the battery.

Little clip from on the first flights is here:

Phoenix

Lower KV option, should in theory give better efficiency and thats exactly what I noticed. Phoenix motors had loads of torque on lower end of the throttle but also top end wasn’t bad either. Lipo battery didnt sag as much as with typhoons and I had nearly extra minute of flight time making it 4 on my testing rig which. Of course, no two flights are the same but just take it an indiction.

/Flight video will be added later here/

Conclusion

NorthAero motors are pretty powerful. In fact, they are actually the most powerful motors I have personally tried so far.

On a negative side, they are little bit more expensive compared to competition. I have also managed to damage the shaft screw during bell removal. Somehow the thread disappeared and I couldn’t remove the screw.

Both Typhoon and Phoenix impressed me a lot. Excellent build quality and generally smooth performance is making them a very good choice.

Shopping link 

Motors can be ordered directly from NorthAero @ https://www.northaero.uk/shop