After taking a year off from flying I switched to digital and really wanted a 3.5” that could perform like a 5”. With new drone laws incoming and the added weight of a Caddx Vista, I figured it was time to design the micro quad of my dreams.
NAKED VISTA: First things first, going from using an analog Rush nano VTX to a Caddx Vista is a considerable weight change for a micro quad so I stripped the Vista down to save about 10g. You can fit a fully cased vista in this frame but it’ll lack in performance compared to a naked one. Seeing the issues that people have had with O3, I decided to wait to design a frame around that platform. This frame fits nano cameras only.
MOTORS: I’ve been flying micro quads since about 2017 and I’ve played around with the majority of the various micro motor sizes that have come out over the years, with a 250g limit, the T-motor 1604 is the motor that I’ve been waiting for. Whereas a lot of micro motors feel like they’re either compensating for size with power or just too weak for the job, the 1604 actually feels like a scaled down 5” motor (2306ish) and allows a quad of the right weight to really pop and stop on a dime. Honorable mention to the Brother Hobby 1504.5 as they have nice pop and fling but don’t seem to be powerful enough to slow down a 3.5” prop as effectively as the 1604.
FRAME: Having flown micro quads for a couple years, I’ve grown to have standards for frame weights. My favorite 3” quads have always been in the 30g range and when I got back into flying, some of the the more popular 3.5” frames were 50g+ which felt excessive to me unless maybe you were using a 2003 motor or something in that range. This frame weighs about 40g with standoffs and no TPU and if you build it similar to the above suggested setups you’ll get a really special flight experience. Some of the things considered and tested in designing this frame are distance between standoffs and effect on handling, location of HD camera in correlation with the center of gravity of the quad in relation to battery distance from HD camera, True-X vs Stretched-X, standoff height, disc loading/ unloading, battery strap management, toilet tank battery option, Sbang ability, ability to capture smooth HD footage. The baseplate itself is somewhat inspired by the Vosair Sinew which I used to fly and my 3” Full Tilt toothpick frame that I designed a couple years back. The truss arm design allows for great vibration management and great prop wash handling. After tuning my filters, I got the cleanest black box logs I’ve ever gotten from a quad. I chose to go with a unibody because all of my favorite micros have been unibody and I think that having a frame with a bunch of different pieces is more of a hinderance if not managed well.
FC/ESC: AIO toothpick style boards have also been a game changer for micro quads, if you want to keep it light, I’d definitely suggest using an AIO. But if weight isn’t you main concern, you can still get great performance out of 20x20 stack and if you’re running 6s, having a separate ESC may be a good idea.
Props: At first I was flying the HQ 3.5x2x3 and 3.5x2.5x3 props and they’re smooth and not bad props but after trying the Dal 3528 I realized how much more prop the 1604 motor could take. I ultimately landed on the Gemfan 3520 for freestyle and use the Dal 3528 for carrying the Gopro Hero Bones.
Batteries: GNB all day. It’s important to note that the 6s 380mah weighs less than a 4s 660mah and either will keep you under 250g with the setups mentioned above.
For my Sbangers: One of the main reasons I designed this was to have a quad small enough with enough power to Sbang around a park without upsetting people. If setup with linear rates you can really huck this quad around. With 20mm standoffs and anAIO fc/esc, you can fit the Vista directly over the top of the FC, they are holes in the top plate for this if that’s the sort of center of gravity that you prefer but I initially designed this so that the naked Vista would be in the rear and whether you have a 20x20 stack or an AIO you can use your battery position to negate where the balance point of the quad is. Something else that I tested, specifically for Sbang was 25mm stand offs which results in better disc unloading and something that feels like “ stretching out the height of the center of mass” as the battery is further from the center of the frame but ultimately feels more even during things like inverted tricks. 25mm standoffs also helps keep props out of view at lower camera angles. I’d siggest trying both 20mm and 25mm to see which you prefer.