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FPV Tricopter Project

The Tricopter has been around since the first helicopters started flying
 in the late 1940's and recently have become popular among RC Aerial Photography and FPV pilots.
 In the past they where extremely complicated machines but with new cheaper and better gyros, computer RC radios, lighter weight lipo batteries and powerful brushless motors
 they are much more user friendly.
They are easier to fly then a standard collective pitch (CP) RC heli and
just a little harder then a beginner co-ax.
A Tricopter can handle the same payload as a 500 class heli but with out the expense or risk to ones self or others. Repairs can be as cheap as a price of a Slow Flier prop which this and all the above will make a great AP/FPV RC helicopter.


Jan. 2010
   The Tricopters frame is 6061 T6 aircraft aluminum and 5052 U-channel aluminum for the booms. From what I gathered most are built from wood of fiberglass but I want a strong reliable Tricopter and the 6061 frame is 25 grams lighter then wood ones (375 grams vs. 400 grams) ....besides how many helicopters are made of wood?....,. I considered using Carbon Fiber but it's not as forgivable as aluminum and also it tends to crack/splinter when stressed from a crash making it harder to repair where aluminum can just be straightened most if the time if bent from a crash. This is why it's a good choice for RC because sooner or later it will crash.....



My set up for FPV. Updates below
1 FPVpilot's 6061 T6 Tricopter aluminum frame.
1 3S 3600mah Turnigy Lipo (10x4.8 prop) or 2650mah with no data logger or OSD/10x3.8 prop. Now 9x5
3 Update: RCtimers 650kv Multicopter flat outrunners
3 RC timers 30 amp ESC.
4 KK Multicopter
Black control board
1 Futaba 9654 servo. Update: Hitec HS-85mg
3 10x3.8 Slow Flier Prop or 9x3.8 SF with lighter payloads and longer flights
1 GoPro 1080p HD camera. Recording HD onboard and using video output for FPV downlink
1 900MHz 800mw Video TX (HobbyKing.com)
1 3S 1000mah Turnigy Lipo (video system power (45-60min.)
1 AVM-100GF Anti-Vibe GoPro Camera mount
1 HobbyKing simple OSD.


Weight No battery and FPV basic system (cam, TX, tilt). 32.oz
Weight with 5000mah pack and complete FPV system 50oz/1490grams
Weight with 2650mah pack and basic FPV system. 45.6oz/1250grams

Data:
Fully loaded 10x4.8 prop: Amps 20-22/ Watts max 240
Basic set up 9x5 props: Amps 15-18/ Watts max 210


Update: 9-15-2010 swapped to RC timer 840KV motors and 9x5sf prop. Longer flights now and even more stable.
Update: 5-2-2011 Added KDS Flymentor Stabilizer.Flies awesome once you get the Flymentor dialed in.
Update: 7-8-2011 Now using HK/KK board. Easy setup no Radio mixing needed
Update: 10-03-2011 Flying best with KK board. RCtimer motors are working flawless with none failing.

The latest HK/ KKmulti-controller that has been factory made and fully populated. It uses the Murata piezoelectric gyros which have been incorporated into the board design for robustness. The Yaw gyro assembly is also slot mounted for extra robustness. These gyros have proven to be the most vibration resistant of all the gyros we have tested so far.
In System Programming (ISP) header to enable easy firmware updates . The on board Atmega168 chip gives users the extra space to load expanded firmware with higher refresh rates to enhance stability.
  The three adjustable potentiometers increase or decrease gyro gain for all three axis (Roll, Pitch and Yaw) and can be used to calibrate the ESCs and reverse the gyro directions if necessary during pre-flight setup.
 The board also has six ESC/Servo headers which allow multicopter configurations from 2 to 6 rotors. There are also headers for thee aileron, elevator, throttle and rudder connections from your RC Receiver(RX). The board comes with a 4 x 3 pin jumper cables to connect your RX to the board quickly and easily with male to male servo connecters.

There's variety of firmware available for this controller, you will have load them due to your needs, only the Tricopter program is loaded by default. More Info on setting up the HK/KK multicopter control board. Comes pre-programmed as Quad + and can be changed to QuadX or any 3 to 6 motor multicopter. The HobbyKing Green board and the KK 5.5 Black board are the same made by the same company. You can also use the KK 5.5 firmware instead of the HK if you like. Some parts on the HK board are different only because HobbyKing request this.


Flying the 6061 Tricopter is a lot of fun since it doesn't have the "twichy" flight a standard CP helicopter might have but with the same type of control feel. Flies like a sporty Co-Ax heli with better forward flight. Tricopters are more responsive then other multicopters that use more motors like a Quad, Hexa, etc...


 



My Tricopters first true maiden flight weighing in at 49oz fully loaded with large payload.






Tricopters can use all standard CW props unlike Quads or Hexacopters because the servo controlled Yaw has lots of authority to counter the rotating props keeping the Tricopter from spinning but if possible one CCW (Pusher) can be used which can ease the work of the Yaw control like in the above diagram

The motors ESCs connect to the KK boards M1, M2, M3 and M4 is for the Yaw servo. To Reverse Yaw Servo use M5. The KK board is easy to connect and uses male to male servo wires run from the RC radio RX to the control board using Aileron, Rudder, Throttle and Elevator.



Building a 6061 Tricopter

There's not much to a Tricopter as it's pretty simple with the idenical set up goes for three motors. First I put together the 6061 Tricopters top and bottom plates with a single centered spacer, nut and bolt. This keeps the frame together and properly spaced as the next step is to attach the booms.

  

  
The booms come with the bushing needing to be along with the inner sleeve must be installed.
 Then I place the booms between the two main frames and run the bolts through to secure the booms.
The booms are completely isolating the vibrations from the motors. Also give a little crash or bump resistance. One of the bolts can be removed and the boom arm swung back towards the rear allowing for easier transporting.

 
With the booms attached the next step was to mount the outrunner motors.
The ESC is mounted on the aluminum booms with no velcro/tape allowing the heat from the ESC to be transferred to the boom.
Taller Landing gear allows more clearance for under slung camera mounts.

 
Simple metal Yaw mount can survive most crashes and hard landings. If it becomes bent it can be re-straighten.
Angled front extended landing gear help with orientation.

 



With the Frame, booms, ESC and motors installed next it was time for the electronics. The KK board can be placed any where in the middle with anti-vibe foam tape just keep in mind the CG for later. It's important to keep the multicopter control board arrows facing forward.

The motors ESC connect to the KK boards M1, M2, M3 and M4 is for the Yaw servo.
Once all the gear is mounted correctly and leaving the props off power the Tricopter and check rotation of the motors making sure they match the props being used by slightly raising the throttle. When rotation is varified  put tricopter in hand go ahead and put throttle at mid range allowing the motors to run and keeping the tricopter level. Check the multicopter board is working by banking (Roll) dropping left or right boom arm) of the tricopter. The lower motor should speed up and the opposite should slow down. A could way to do this test is to do the movements quickly. Do the same test for the pitch and yaw.

 When completed install props and do a test hover flight. To arm the motors and control board you must move throttle/rudder stick down in to the right for 3 seconds. If it doesn't arm then use trims until it arms. When armed put trims back to there location (to disarm put throttle all the way down and to the left for 3 seconds). Add throttle and lift off to about 2' off the ground.  If the Tricopter is "Twitchy" on roll or pitch adjust the corsponding pot on the multicopter board. Less gain (counter clock wise CCW) removes this. Make slight adjustments. If the Tricopter is hard to fly wanting to flip over then give more gain until it becomes a little twitchy. At this point turn down the gain slightly until the "twitchyness"  is gone. This should give the Tricopter the best performance and stabillity.
Always check the CG which should be in the center where the 3 boom lines meet. This is also where the center frame mounting bolt/nut are located.

                                                                                   ****Disclaimer: ****

Use of the information on this site is at your own risk. Radio Control hobby can be dangerous and can cause injury or even death. BE SAFE!!!** R/C models should be flown under the supervision of an experienced adult pilot. This sites authors are NOT responsible for any personal injury, death, property damage, or financial loss resulting from using the published information in this web site. For your protection and others Do not attempt to do anything published on this site. FPVpilot.com, FPVvideo.com, Overhead Remote Video Productions LLC 2004-2012 All rights reserved