Saving a Lotus T580+P (Part 1)

LotusRC-T580P

A little background first.

Multi-Rotors are cool, after playing with the blade 350QX and my DJI based Hex I thought I wanted a larger, more stable camera platform.   I thought I wanted a Carbon Fiber frame.

Clearly I didn’t do enough research when this thing was acquired.   If you search the interwebs you’ll find some pretty glowing reviews of this flying turd.  If you search harder you’ll find some more honest reviews.

It’s a turd.

I kind of, sort of knew this going in, but I also figured worst case scenario, I’d just gut it and use the frame.  After all the price was right, it was cheap.

Well turns out, that’s what I’m going to do.   Actually that’s what I have to do because out of the box, this thing didn’t even make it off the bench before showing it’s true colors.

This is a larger Quad that swings 14” props, via some Large 400KV motors.

So it comes pre-assembled, all folded up in the box.

photo

All you really need do is slap a 4 channel or better receiver on it, a battery and go.    So that’s what I did, only if you dig around the net, you’ll find out these things have a ‘flip of death’ problem.   This thing is not going to survive a hard crash, it’s just not that stout.

Simply during testing on the bench w/o props, I could get a motor to lose sync with the ESC.   A proprietary 4 in 1 ESC.   So there’s really no point in even trying to get it off the ground.

Under the lid is a really, really poorly put together 4:1 ESC, and flight controller.

T580P UnderCover

A flight controller and ESC you have absolutely no control over.  As in none it is not user tunable.   For a copter that was originally supposed to be in the $500+ range but can be had for $300 this is still a POS.   (There are I think, 3 versions of this each claims to fix the ESC flip of death issue, but obviously that’s not the case).  There are better frames and components to be had, which probably explains why they don’t really make these or even have them on their website anymore.   They can be found on eBay and some sites, but save yourself the trouble and bypass this.

So what are we going to do?

We have a decent frame, not great but decent.   It’s billed as foldable, but you still need tools, to remove the landing gear in order to fold it.

It has motors, that seem decent, although it’s possible that it’s not the ESC and could be a motor that’s bad and if so, I doubt I can get a replacement and I’d have to replace all 4 so that they match.   The motor mounts are weak, and will likely pop in even a modest crash.  If it really needs a motor, this things will get cut into CF pieces to be used elsewhere and then at that point, even a the low cost of entry it will still be a loss.   One of those life lessons.

So we’re going to try and make this air worthy.

We’ll replace the ESC, in fact I’m going to use this one:

41JNpZwBCjL

The build has started:

T580-ReDo

I’m on the fence as to what flight controller to use.   I really like the Afro Acro Naze32 that’s mounted on my Armattan CNC 355 Quad.

But for something this size for use with a camera or photography (read a docile flying machine, non acrobatic).  I’m pretty sure I want GPS assist for loiter mode and other features.   So I’m considering a FULL Naze32, or maybe even another APM or Pixhawk setup.

The later is kind of pricey, about $400 all said and done just in flight controller, GPS, and telemetry radios.  But if the experiment fails, well I can fork lift that to something else.    I should be able to do the same with the Naze for about 1/2 of that perhaps less.

Maybe I’ll just toss a $25 afro acro naze, on it, fly it a bit and if it survives that then I’ll upgrade it.    I really don’t expect that it will take much of a crash to completely destroy this frame.

So currently the build is stalled waiting for a flight controller to free up.  A Naze is on order for now, but we’ll see.    I’ll post an update when this project progresses.

Happy multi-rotoring and remember; “Friends don’t let Friends buy LotusRC products”.

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