quadcopter frame

FlightClub Quadcopter Frame: Let’s Design the Best FPV Quad

In News by Mike Tseng77 Comments

FlightClub Quadcopter Frame

The image above is a design I made last year but never followed through.  I just put up this image so this post will have a picture.  I think the new frame will have a totally different design.  This is NOT the frame I’m working on now.

It’s finally time for FlightClub to start designing and producing quadcopter frames!  This is something I’ve wanted to do even before I started FlightClub.  The goal was always to channel my inner OCD to develop top of the line quad frames and quadcopter parts.

The goal is to design a frame that is strong, provides good protection for components, easy to build/work on and of course fast.  I’ve actually designed several frames in the past but never got past the CAD design stage.  The image above is one of many frames I designed last year and never got around to finishing it.  Something always came up that halted the project.  Marriage, buying/selling a house, business…you know, regular life stuff.  So I wanted to make a public post to give me a boost to actually follow through with this project.

So after building and flying all sorts of quads, I have a good idea of what features are good, bad or suck.  I’ve come up with a list of important features I want to incorporate into the frame.

Goals
  • Sub 80g weight – It’s physics.  A high power to weight ratio means a really fast quad.
  • Strong frame –  I’ll be testing different thickness Carbon fiber and or aluminum to see what works best.  Even though I’ve never broken a arm.
  • Easy to build and work on – An easy to build frame is a really important feature.  If you have a frame that’s too complicated you’ll waste a lot of time doing repairs.  I have quads I never bothered to fix after the maiden flight…ahem, Corgi.
  • X pattern or long X pattern – Of all the frames I’ve flown, the X pattern gives you the best feel.  It works equally well for race or freestyle FPV flying.
  • Design for the HS1177 or similar camera with protection – The HS1177 camera form factor is pretty much the standard camera for FPV racing quads.
  • Built in recording camera mount for the GoPro or Mobius type cameras.
  • Bottom mount battery – this offers the best battery placement for a balanced quad.
  • Maybe a rear facing camera so you can see the quads you left behind?  ha!

As you can see I’m in the very early stages of the quadcopter frame design process.  If you were to have your dream quad, what parts or features would you want?  I want to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  Together, lets design a quad you’ll love.

BTW I’ll be needing pilots to test the frame.  Let me know if you’re interested when I have prototypes.

 

Comments

  1. Looks great, will the fpv cam sit further back? Looks like it may need a little more protection when crashing. I’d like to be a beta test pilot !

     
    1. Author

      oh no. The image is a really old design. It’s just a placeholder for this post.

       
    2. I’m sure you’ll design a sick quad. I too suffer from quad OCD and used your videos to keep it clean. I’d love to test anything you design.

       
    3. Actually on this type of frame the front arms, motors and props tend to protect the cam, had quite a few serious boos with mine, never managed to damage the cam

       
      1. Author

        so you prefer these frames with a short body as oppose to something like the QAV-R or Alien?

         
        1. Yes mate, they are lighter, and have less wind resistance, makes them faste and more agile, also less disturbance of the airflow into the back inside motor on yaw

           
  2. No doubt that with your attention to detail and meticulous builds this will be an epic frame!

     
  3. Hi Mike,
    Some suggestions to look at, of this sort of x-frame I have a qq190, and scx200 cobalt and a shrike v2
    By far the best is the scx, it is quite similar to what you have their, the front vertical carbon bits bow forwards so that the camera mounts further forwards than it would do with straight bits of carbon like you have. Also it has a locking screw mount for the hs1177, however the shrike has a nice tpu solution on thingverse that slots onto the front two standoffs and provide tabs forwards to mount the hs1177 on to, would suggest you consider that as it saves the need to have the cam too close to the pdb to get a good angle, or have a stretched top cover to do the same, it also allows you to use shorter standoffs (20mm on the shrike) which reduces weight and makes it more sturdy
    There is also a rear plate on the scx which is nice as it has a second, thin anti rotation plate, the SMA goes through this and protrudes from the back, saving the SMA from getting broken in a crash, it just folds down

    Strongly recommend you take a look at both of these frames, I can send pictures of mine if it helps

     
    1. Author

      thanks for the input Adam. You always have good comments. It’s funny, this image used in this post is a design I made last year but never got around to developing it. Now I’ve seen so many quads similar to it. My fault for not following through. I think the new frame will have a totally different design.

       
      1. There are some interesting frames coming up using molded carbon where the bottom plate sweeps up over the front and becomes the top plate, seen one already and I know inventorfpv is working on one, principly based on the fact that drag is more of a problem of a racing quad than any other factor other than power to weight, but suspect it has a weight cost.

        Probably lightest is gonna be single bottom plate x quad of the type above. Expensive if you break an arm, but with a good cam mount solution like the printed one for the shrike and 20mm standoffs should be able to get much lower than 80g

         
  4. Can’t wait to see. I like to use all the same parts so I’m down for a frame! Plus your attention to detail means it will be done right.

     
  5. Heck I think you will do a great job in putting one together. I will get to thinking to give some input and would like to be a test pilot.

     
  6. Of my 15 or so racing quads I like my scx best, it is the most agile and fastest, but does have an f4 flight controller and zmx v3 2206 2600kv motors which help.
    For both speed and agility this type of x frame is best, I don’t like the battery hanging out the bottom, and I have to accept that if I want something this light and agile it is gonna get broken at times, it is the price you pay, wantt something indestructible, fly a brick.

    I use a qav210 and a dronewolf pup (similar to alien) as bashers, and both are pretty spiffy as well as taking hits better but they simply lack the agility of the scx or the shrike

     
    1. Author

      yeah I agree. I’d rather not have a bottom mounted battery but it’s best for balance.

       
  7. Super interested in this! New frames nowadays will likely be game changers, I’d love to test a frame if you needed a beta pilot!

     
    1. Author

      sounds interesting but would probably need some kind of drive shaft or belt system. might get too heavy

       
  8. Hey Mike, Mark here. I’m sure any frame you come out with will be a great design. We all know what frames are “good” frames out there. You sell most of them on your page. You have an advantage because you have flown them all. Picking out the good and the bad from each one and I think you will come out with a great design. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say we would love to test anything man.

     
  9. If you are as meticulous with building a frame as you are with your highly detailed builds vids. I’m sure the outcome will compete with the best of them. I’d be interested in testing/providing feedback if needed. Sounds exciting and Good luck!

     
  10. Saw this popup via my email after placing an order for the latest build today and figured id chime in.

    List looks good. It is (as you acknowledged) fairly early in thr planning stages. The only things i didn’t see mentioned were.

    -Propulsion loss due to arm width. (something a few companies are dabbleing in recently) while strength is pretty critical losses due to airflow and drag affect flight speeds as well.

    -Component location/mounting/protection.
    This to is then a balance between ease of repairs and protection of parts and weight…. (And air flow when considering escs on arms, see above point)

    For example as folks enjoy using more durable propa, it makes me think about esc protection. A more durable prop is ok. As long as it doesnt bend and hit/ break a more expensive component in the process.

    Anyway just a few quick notes while i wait for takeout.

     
    1. Author

      Hi Nathaniel, thanks for chiming in. Yes I will take into consideration the arm width. Ideally it would be best to make them thin as possible. I’ll have to make the width thin but also offer enough ESC protection. If it’s too thin the props can hit the ESC and destroy them.

      I’ve got an idea to make it easy to mount components and easy to work on also.

      thanks for the input.

       
      1. Wasn’t just thinking thin, A few designs have rotated the arms 90 deg pointing them in line with the airflow, ESC protection can then done by placing the esc on the backside of the blade rotation.

         
  11. I’m in, let’s do it. I built a QAV-R off your kit with your concise instruction. Its the quad that I’ve learned to shred with and has been my go-to flier for months. But I’m also looking into getting a backup quad so i can start being competitive. Im looking at the same qualities in a quad that you listed. A fast, agile, easy to build, and easy to repair X-frame.

    I was thinking, if the battery is mounted to the bottom, you won’t need much structure above except enough to protect your components. A removable canopy would easily facilitate getting in and fixing/swapping components much faster.

     
  12. Go for it! I’m sure you could generate a good number or pre-orders to get your costs down.

     
  13. I can’t wait. I really like the way you do your builds.. I sure it will be badass. Do something where the motors are up top so you can run lot of prop sizes.everything kinda sites below the property line. Good luck.

     
  14. This could be the start of something epic!!! Looking forward to seeing the result!! Love to be a tester but being over in the UK not sure how that would fair ?

     
  15. Looking at the design i believe it would work great! I know people said the camera should be further back, however, it looks like the arms would protect it very well against crashes therefore minimal to no damage will be made. I have to thank you for helping me with my first proper build as well as tuning! I really enjoy flying now, i have made a few videos, i have to say i have already snapped an arm hence me searching for the best frame that would not snap on the second flight in 4s haha. I have gotten better however, and i would love to test this frame!

    If you are looking to see how i snapped one of the arms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hPkve9y39s

     
  16. What about a qav-x short body type frame with all the features of a qav-r such as the detachable arms! Videos are great.

     
    1. Author

      I’ll probably make two versions, one unibody and one multi-part body. I’ll need to see how much it affects weight.

       
  17. Hi I’m very interested in this project , i like how u r taking suggestions from the public before u start the design process. And i would be very interested in being a beta tester, and maybe helping with some input on design. my pilot handle is mad props and my u tube channel is rotor rejects there r some ok videos i have only been doing this for a couple months and had no previous rc experience so dont judge me to hard please lol . But i have built about 30 quads and destroyed about half of them and i fly alot of hazardous ruff conditions and think im the type of pilot u need.

     
    1. Author

      Yes, it’s important to get everyone’s input. I can’t only trust my own wants. I’m delusional sometimes 🙂

       
  18. I like my Lumenier X out of all my quads. Love your website on getting info and parts. Would like to test if it all works out.

     
  19. HD FPV (e.g Connex) is in it’s infancy, but something to consider when you are designing your frame. The two parts I have broken are the front bumper on several quads and an occasional arm. Reinforce the crap out of your front bumper. Make the arms as easily replaceable as possible. Make sure to check out any new cutting edge components, so that they work with your frame. Good Luck and I will pay close attention to your build. Can’t wait to fly it!

     
    1. Author

      most likely it will be standard quad because I’ve never built or flown a v tail

       
  20. Cool, needless to say hand is in the air if you need testers,
    Suggest you need to qualify it more, no quad is ubiquitous, if you are doing fast and light you are gonna have breakages, if you do quick change you are gonna have extra weight, racers have spare quads all this quick change arm stuff is just gimic

    You thought if using your own motors? The zmx v2 and v3s which were excellent but disappeared are now available as rebrands from Brotherhobby – their returner range. You could release as flight club brand with the frame.

    Also seen the coloured Carbon Armattan are now using?

    And if you really want to go there, hydro dipping kit? You could sell dipped frames.

     
  21. I like the mini quads where the pdb and are in middle of the top and bottom plates, like a sandwich, and bolted down, very durable, and yes I would love to test your build, Thank you, Damon

     
  22. A few things to consider incorporating into the frame:
    – don’t do a hole for the antenna to mount. Most people are running the vtx on the top plate and then securing the antenna to the top plate and bending it around the end. I only use the hole to attach a cable tie. This prevents impact forces from reaching the SMA connector and instead directs it all onto the antenna itself…which is designed to bend!
    – consider the way you’ll run the battery lead and incorporate that into the frame design. If you think the lead will come out the back, leave room out the back for it. If it’s coming out of the side, have a way to secure it to the side. etc.
    – incorporate a way to lock the HS1177 at the chosen angle. Whether that’s with a front plate (like a QAV210) or notches (like an Alien), all the friction in the world won’t lock in the camera angle after a few good crashes.
    – I know power/weight ration is important but don’t ever sacrifice durability OR buildability for weight. I’d rather have a durable 100g frame than a fragile 80g frame. I know a true-X is inherently lighter than a long-X but a long X allows the builder far more choices in components and is easy to build. (I assume that a “long x” is an x frame with a long body, like a QAV-R or Alien).
    – stay away from structurally-integrated PDBs. Let builders choose their PDB, don’t force them into one because it’s part of the frame.
    – Ensure the front standoffs are wide enough to support wider angle lenses. My Bolt Tanto is my favorite quad but I can’t mount a 2.5 or 2.1 lense due to the front standoffs being so close together. (yes, I realize it’s a 3″ and smaller than most).
    – Don’t assume everyone will direct solder ESC leads to the FC. Leave some room for pin headers and servo connectors if you can.
    – lastly, stay away from gimmicks. Funky cross bars between arms, multi-level top plates, etc. just add weight and complexity.

    Good luck! looking forward to seeing this progress.

     
    1. Author

      thanks Kevin. Lots of great tips here. I’ll keep these things in mind.

       
  23. Would it be possible to have the option of LED’s to be able to add on or would that be too much weight.

     
  24. I fly a QAV-R. it is a nice frame but i would like to see the motors equal distance from each other (true x pattern), this just makes acro flight better. other than that i would make the arms and bottom plate one piece like a QAV210. and get rid of the busy rear end of the top plate on the QAV’s, Holes for small zip ties would be great all over the body of the frame as long as it does not compromise durability. If you put a rig like that it would be awesome and i would really like to test fly it and send feed back.

     
  25. I would like a frame that is
    Strong, I yet to find a frame I have not broke
    Can handle above 50° cam angle (which locks so it won’t move after a crash)
    Removable arms
    Good look (come on isn’t that the most important factor, I really like the 5″ shiv from drone eclipse and the shrike from xLabs)
    Carbon fiber, if I was you I would not even mess with aluminum

    Also I would be interested in testing
    Email [email protected]

     
  26. Hi, an X design is a must, up to 60 degrees camera angle and removable/exchangeable arms. Hs1177 must be protected, for example I don’t like the design of Charpus qav-x or it’s clone realacc x210 because fpv cam is too exposed. And you can make hd camera mount as option, maybe not integrated, because it will cost some weight and not all of us use it, especially racers.
    If you need test pilot or review please contact me on my mail.
    And love your videos, I made my first quad following your video guide.
    Best regards
    MLI

     
    1. Author

      thanks for the input. I’m running into a problem of incorporating all these functions but also keep the weight down. I may have to design two frames, each for specific applications, race and fun.

       
  27. Disagree on most of those features, interchangeable arms is a gimmick, almost all racers have a second quad. It adds weight and is just a way to get us to buy the latest gadgetry

    Protection of cam on an x frame is less necessary, the arms generally protect it, unlike a H frame with the camera protruding from the front, on an x going nose first into the ground or a wall the arms take the impact not the cam

    Look at the shrike or scx both of which have won a lot of comps (scx won us open this year, shrike is flown by banni) there is no protection for cam but they don’t really get damaged – I have both and have crashed the hell out of them, wrecked motors and arms, but never damaged the cam

     
  28. Your QAV-R kit was my first build and I love it. It flies wonderfully (Betaflight 3.0) and is almost bulletproof. I did manage to break one arm which was repaired for less than $20. Yea replaceable arms! I built a XHover 200B and R5LX. I really like the way the long X flies but the bottom battery placement is a deal breaker for me now until someone (YOU) designs a way to protect the battery and land the darn things without rolling off the battery! The Kombini flight controller and Piggy OSD leave LOTS of room; use it to protect the battery and provide a stable base to land on.

    Good luck, Mike. I am confident your frame will be a huge success and look forward to flying one.

     
  29. Just replaced two arms on XHover R5LX; two bolts on each arm and two on each motor. Super simple and $24. Also, I used the top plate from the 200B as a skid plate under the battery. It worked surprisingly well. Battery stayed on and connected when I power looped too low and broke both rear arms. Still hard to land without disarming.

     
  30. Love the builds! I have been looking for a way to better utilize my GoPro session for my 250, I want to mount it on top and use the battery in the back to balance it but would a center balanced set up make the quad more responsive to change in direction? How much can weight distribution change the agility of a quad? If it’s balanced but the front and rear are heavier than the sides then I would assume that your PID settings for roll and pitch would need to be different to adjust for power needed to pitch the additional weight of a camera and battery vs roll which would be less power to lift only the arms and roll on its long axis. I it’s a lot of stuff to pack into the center of a quad but it should utilize less power and therefore give more flight time.

     
    1. Author

      if you put more weight on the ends of the quad it will take more energy to move the pitch vs if the weight were towards the center of the quad. you would need to up the P to compensate for the weight on the ends

       
  31. Flight club – while carbon fibre is the go material to build a frame out of, dont close your mind to newer technology. There is a plastic that so impact resistant that they used in the Motorcycle GP body armour (and even the Swiss are looking at making bullet proof armour out of it) It might save you a good chunk of weight

     
    1. Author

      i’m looking at something else besides carbon fiber. what’s the name of that plastic do you know?

       
  32. I fly a QAV-R, X-Hover 200B (true X) and R5LX (stretch X). By far my greatest expense is VTXs and antennas on the true and stretch Xs. I have cut top mounted antennas down to 30mm coax/SMA length rather than running them out over the props. This helps, but I still damage too many antennas. I am going to purchase the Atmospheric Adventures Kratos (stretch X) frame just to try the antenna mount, which ties the antenna under the props.

     
  33. Hey, I’m new here. But I’m a mechanical engineering student at VMI. If drag is an issue why not just rotate your arms instead of your camera to reduce wind drag at high speed? Then add small legs on the front of your quad to ease landing?

     
    1. Author

      then you’ll constantly need to be moving forward for a normal view. when you are hovering the props will be parallel to the ground but your camera will point in the sky and you can’t see anything.

       
      1. isn’t that already the way it is done? props at 90 from horizontal and camera at about 45? you already can’t see when you are hovering. what if you keep your camera flat and rotate your props only 45 degrees from horizontal? then your main body is also flat to the ground reducing drag from forward flight. punching up may get you to scoot a bit forward. these angles are exaggerated but i see a few people putting extensions on their arms so they can mount their motors at an angle. i would only worry about hitting the front props on the ground when landing.

         
        1. If your props are at 45 degrees you are not getting clean air into the rear props, this would reduce their thrust and produce oscillations. Yaw would be dramatically effected as the body would have far more impact on the air entering the rear outside motor, reducing the thrust from that motor and producing not only oscillations but altitude changes (known as yaw jumps), the flight controller would be fighting this by dropping the thrust from the other motors suddenly and unexpectedly.

          This is why the angle mounts for motors tend to only be about 10-20 degrees.

          Since the angle mounts for cams tend to be anywhere up to 60degrees for some of the most insane pilots and the angle the quad travels at is frequently beyond that as the view from the cam is not just perpendicular to the lense but has a field of view well over 100degrees and there is not a fixed angle the quad travels at, it’s angle is constantly changed by the pilot to control the speed, angled motor mounts don’t solve the problem in any way, they just move it from a neutral possition to a slightly offset one for no particular reason

           
          1. Author

            well said. it’s much easier to change the angle of one camera vs trying to change the angle of 4 motors.

             
  34. Would be awesome to be able to use the connex prosight system and have enough room to have a 4in1 esc, pdb and flightcontrol stack in chassis without hampering camera angle tilt. Also would like to have the ability to remove each arm individually in case of repair. Would be awesome if I can be a test pilot if test pilots are needed.

     
  35. Are u fucking kidding me? Your old design is the new lumenier skitzo frame! sue them!

     
    1. Author

      haha, there are lots of frames like that. xhover mbx200, scx200…etc. I designed 4 other frames before i settled on the “fx210”. it was extremely hard to design something completely new. i’m pretty sure there will be many copies of my frame when i release it.

       

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