Naze32 Tri-Copter from

It’s been a while since I’ve done anything with my “Drones” or rather my multi-rotors.    I got pretty darn frustrated with the APM line of flight controllers as well as the PixHawk so I put it all down for a while and am slowly getting back in.

A few months ago I stumbled across a Tri-Copter frame with a Naze32 built in.  The two things I’ve liked most about this hobby, the Naze flight controller, and a tri-copter.

So dumped a TBS Discovery frame with DJI Flight controller on ebay and ordered one up.

It took almost a week to get here from Sweden and I assembled it today with left over parts I had had laying around.   16A ESCs (probably too small), and 3 of my eMax 2213 935kv 2212 Motors.

Ideally, you can run all the cords inside the carbon fiber arms, but I had trouble getting stuff to fit, these carbon fiber arms are literally 1/2 as thick as the wood arms of my simple copter.  I also was at a loss for longer cables for the controller so I ran everything outside for now.   I’ll address that when I get new ESCs.

So basically, no, it’s not as clean as I’d like.

$137 for the tricopter-v3-kit, with Power Distribution board and Naze32 board is a pretty good deal.  I ended up buying some spare arms and a few other bits because I know I’m going to crash, including the server that David sells and recommends.

I already had: 3x Motors, 3x ESC’s, 3x Props, and a Spektrum Receiver, as well as the bits to make the power cord for the battery.

All in all it took about 4 hours from start to finish.   A bit longer because I did a lot of stuff twice trying to figure out how to extend things and what not.

David, the guy at RCExplorer who put this together has a couple GREAT Videos to walk you through the assembly.   Admittedly, setting up Naze isn’t easy for a noob.   But David makes it almost bullet proof to get off the ground.    I flew it for about 3 batteries today tuning it, and it flies GREAT.   Can’t wait to strap the GoPro to it and add some lights for orientation.


There is a purpose built firmware for this board, and an optimized version for tri-copters in general on a standard naze32 using cleanflight (instead of baseflight) and David gets you started with all the right settings.  His walkthrough video is very, very thorough.

Updated with some video of the first 2 camera enabled flights.

The Tri-Copter

So my buddy has one of these, and since I recently smashed up one of my acrobatic quads and broke a speed controller.  I now have 3 of something so a tri-copter seems like a good plan.

I was really impressed with my buddy’s tri.   It was quite acrobatic and stable.   Actually looks like an as-good if not better camera platform than some of the DJI based quads.

So I ordered a frame.    The SimpleCopter 2.0  There’s lots to like about this:

  1. It is relatively cheap, about $50, for the frame and landing skids (with shipping).
  2. Only 3 motors and ESC’s
  3. It’s really light, and the booms are 1/2 x 1/2 pine boards that you can get, oh, at just about any hardware store.
  4. IT folds up for easy transport
  5. Most of the mounting things are simply wire-ties.   So you can break a motor mount, and it costs you less than 10 cents.

My buddy has already made some improvements, he has a nicer 3D printed tail yaw control.   The motors I have don’t have the brackets to mount to it though.  I’ve ordered some.   He also whipped me up a couple 3D printed mounts for my motors for the front arms.  If your motors have the simple brackets you just strap those babies on with wire ties.

I had some time tonight to gut the crashed quad and start on this.

The 3D Printed motor mounts for the front arms which still attach with wire-ties:


His awesome 3D printed rear mount with shiny new Servo:

Power distribution board all mounted up (more of a test fit):tricopter_build_03

Test fitting my Naze32 Flight Controller and RXR:tricopter_build_05

Still unsure about where to put the ESC’s, in between the top and bottom frame parts I suppose.

The motors are 980kv, which are super fine/super fun on a 330/350 size quad with 8” props so I’m expecting to swing 10” props on this and we’ll see how that goes.  If I don’t like it, then we’ll get some 1400-1800vk motors.    But for what I think I want this for, FPV that might work just fine.

I should probably paint this thing to protect it.   Maybe I’ll do that with the next one, cause you know there will be more than one Smile

I’m semi-interested in APM or Pixhawk on one of these too.

More as it develops.

More Multi-Rotor Fun.

First, the weather was mild Thursday Night so I slapped my legacy ContourHD camera onto my Armattan “Sport Quad” for some sunset flipping and rolling.   Working on some acro skills. 

Armattan CNC 355 Quad.

Then after getting home Saturday.  I went outside with Matthew and let him get some stick time on the Franken Quad.   Once he got bored, I noticed the Hex was calling me.   So I fired up Mission Planner and decided to pick up where I left off when I hit the trees.

Plotted out a new autonomous route, verified the feet/meters settings, and let her rip.

No music in this vid, only prop and wind noise. 

DJI F550 Hex, APM 2.6 running Arducopter 3.1.2

Certainly open to suggestions for the Jello video.  It seems EFI related and once you get flying is almost gone, but when the Hex is just sitting there, it’s bad real bad.

Acro Quad Flight

Flying a quad or multi-rotor is a lot of fun.   Flying isn’t really the proper term though.  Like a  helicopter, they don’t ‘fly’ traditionally.   They simply beat the air into submission.

Collective pitch helicopters are hard, multi-rotors when tuned well are not.  But getting this proper tune and balance is hard.

Doing acrobatic maneuvers isn’t simple.   By design, multi-rotors have a flight controller that’s working really hard to keep the thing level and they often limit your ability to Roll or Pitch too far.   You have to turn that stuff off if you want to get jiggly with it.

An upside down multi rotor that’s no longer fighting gravity, and is instead assisting it, usually ends up badly as it plummets into the ground and breaks things.   It also can be really easy to lose your orientation.  If you’re upside down and your right is your left and/or your forward is aft.   Well, that’s generally not good.   The results usually suck.

We had a break in the weather and I finally got to spend some time really tossing my Armattan qaud around.    This thing is awesome.

Chris really makes an outstanding product.

My CNC 355 is using the Afro Acro Naze32 flight controller.   This is just a quad for quad’s sake.  No GPS, No compass, no other smarts other than accelerometer and gyro stabilization which can be turned off and/or tuned.   And fine tuning we will do.

Getting Jiggly with my Armattan CNC 355 Quad


It’s tough as nails.  I’ve crashed it multiple times, usually only losing props, which are cheap.  I’ve bent arms, and you just bend them back.   Might need to take them off to really straighten them but you can just bend them back as you’ll see at the end of the video.

If you have a Blade or a Phantom and you want more performance and don’t want to stop buying plastic parts.   Buy an Armattan Quad.   You won’t regret it.

Building flight skills apparently just takes time.  There is no magic pill.   I think, or at least hope I’m over the hump cause crashing sucks, and crashing you will do when you start doing stuff like this.   Also, trees are still the enemy.

Not even 24 hours later and we have snow again.

But I just had to test the PID and Rate changes I made after yesterday’s fight above.

Freshly balanced props too.   Wow, so much more responsive, pretty easy to flip and roll without losing altitude.

On quad camera, front porch launch cause I’m not dressed for the weather 🙂