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
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
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
Fully loaded 10x4.8 prop: Amps 20-22/ Watts max 240
Basic set up 9x5 props: Amps 15-18/ Watts max 210Update: 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.
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.
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.
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,
My Tricopters first true maiden flight weighing in at 49oz fully loaded with large payload.
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.
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
Building a 6061 Tricopter
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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