ZAX Build

As some of my friends might recall, I often enjoy flying these small few-day-use copters that have gotten so popular in the past few years. Recently, I decided to step up that hobby and jump into building, in addition to flying, with FPV as the first major goal.

Legally flying FPV and controlling at ranges greater than a room, requires a HAM radio license, which was my first milestone. (See my previous post) While studying for the exam, I began reading quadcopter how-to articles, videos and forums. Soon after I started ordering parts. Here is the list I ended up with:

Radio: Taranis X9d Plus

Yes, it is a bit costly but, from what I read, it packs features far more expensive radios do not have. I’ve used it for a few days now and I can say – I absolutely love it. While the learning curve is steep, all features are design with such forethought that in many cases they felt intuitive. A great piece of technology. I have only scratched its surface and am eager to learn.

Core Quadcopter Parts:

  • Frame: YKS DIY Full Carbon Fiber Mini C250 Quadcopter Frame Kit for FPV Mini Quadcopter Part (Easy to assemble and quite sturdy. Looking back, I wish it had spacers for mounting the ESCs in between the bottom plates.)
  • Flight Controller: CC3D by ARRIS (I spent a lot of time considering between Naze32 and CC3D. Almost flipping a coin, I ordered CC3D and have no regrets. The software is well written, the board was easy to mount and configure and the copter flies great. I have ordered a Naze32 since, for my next build, but I believe I am rooted in the OpenPilot camp.)
  • Motors: EMAX MT1806 KV2280 (One of the motors arrived defective, I ordered another set. When working, the motors are great. Plenty of power.)
  • Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC): EMAX SimonK 12A Brushless (One was running hot, but I have since read that it is normal for the one providing power to the rest of the 5v gear. It is on my TODO to address that with a dedicated BEC, as I keep adding components)
  • Power Distribution Board (PDB): Lumenier M-PDB 4Power Mini Power Distribution Board (Good manufacturing quality and very inexpensive. While not absolutely required, it did simplify the build and made it much easier to expand since.)
  • Radio RX: FrSky D4R-II (Tiny, inexpensive, 8 channels in PPM, built-in telemetry and fail-safe, this board is absolutely brilliant. Hope FrSky never stops making it.)
  • Propellers: Gemfan 6045 6045R 2-Blade Multirotor Nylon (Cheap but sturdy. Yes, I’ve broken a few since but most of the time they survive a few serious smacks before dying. I am wondering if the Nylon flexibility is not causing oscillations during flight tho.)

Battery and Charger

  • LiPo Battery: 3S 1500Mah 35C, since then I’ve also acquired a 3S 2200Mah 25C
  • Charger: SKYRC iMAX B6AC V2 (A bit of an investment considering, but like the Taranis, I have no regrets in hindsight.)

I took some photos during the build and created an imgur album.

Update (9/26/15) I realized that I did not include any instructions. I spent a week before the build looking at videos and reading how-to tutorials. Here are some links:

Here is the final result: