The $100 tri-copter

We’ve seen lots of budget tri-copters, but $100 seems like a heck of a deal to us! Watching this video, you can see this home made tri-copter is incredibly agile and seems to handle quite well. Whats amazing is that [hallstudio] claims that it cost roughly $100. That price is really good compared to even the cheapest multi copters out there.

Much of the manufacturing cost associated with this kind of thing has been removed as the body is just cheap wood from the local hardware store. He even did an admittedly sloppy rig for his tail rotor, not that it looks like it has hurt his performance.  One cool feature is the fact that you can fold the front arms backward, allowing for the tri-copter to be shoved into a bag for easy transportation.

You can find a complete parts list on his video, but it looks like maybe his cost doesn’t figure in the cost of the radio controller. There are no build instructions, but a quick google search leads us to the rcexplorer tricopter which seems to be the template he used. There are full build details there.

 

[via Hackedgadgets]

Comments

  1. addidis says:

    Would love to see some one kitize something like this.

  2. William says:

    Could we please have a multi-copter section?

    Pretty neat for something that has mostly parts from HK.

  3. Ren says:

    Nice video… cool build…
    I can see where a 3-D printer could build the body parts, maybe make it more streamlined, and maybe stronger.

    How involved is it to “balance” the blades as he mentioned?

  4. Circuitmage says:

    Please…someone take this to production! The flips are a nice bonus.

    Needs some running lights for night flying.

  5. Lee Shelton says:

    RC Newbie here — So would this be 2 channels? One for throttle to all-three motors and one for the rear servo?

    • Grovenstien says:

      4 channel is minimum as with standard aeroplane. Quads fly like a cross between a plane and a heli.

      My setup is something like this:

      Channel 1 Throttle Up – Down (Collective)
      Channel 2 Pitch Tip forward- backward
      Channel 3 Rudder (Yaw) Rotate around Z axis
      Channel 4 Aileron Tip left – Right

      Loads of info on the web to build and fly quads. Do to low cost, rugidness and autolevel capabilities they are much easy to get started with than 3D flybarless heli’s.

      • Gabe says:

        Never played with radios… But with the prices of processors, why anything would need more than one digital channel?

        Price delta from 2 to 8 channels is absurd in those controllers.

    • Grovenstien says:

      Edit: Its the same with Tri, X, +, Hexa, H, Octo etc.

    • Derek says:

      Hey,
      No, this is 4 channel. Aileron (roll), Elevator (pitch), Throttle, and Rudder (yaw).

      If you use a board with multiple flight modes (like any that use auto-level) it would require an additional channel making it 5.

    • Derek says:

      The $100 price does not include the remote (knows in the RC world as a transmitter). That is generally another $100+ unless you use a non-computerized remote. A non-computerized remote makes it harder to tune the controls to be less sensitive (known as Dual Rates and Expo). This is simplified, but there is lots of info that this article does not explain.

    • Derek says:

      Parts/price list for the cheapest build from the parts he listed:
      Motors: 2830-8 $18.99 each
      $43.96 + shipping for 4 motors
      ESCs: HK-SS20A-HW $7.80 each
      $31.20 + shipping for 4
      Flight Controller: HobbyKing Multi-Rotor Control Board V2.1 $14.99 plus shipping
      USBasp AVR Programmer $4.95 plus shipping
      10CM Male to Male Servo Leads (JR) (10pcs/set)
      $4.75 plus shipping
      14AWG (1mtr) RED wire $1.39 plus shipping per meter
      14AWG (1mtr) BLACK wire $1.39 plus shipping per meter
      Low Voltage Alarm $1.92 plus shipping
      Wood for the frame $???
      Screws/bolts for frame $???
      Glue for frame $???

      Minimum price plus shipping plus frame materials is: $104.55
      This does not include a battery.
      This does not include frame materials.
      This does not include a transmitter (remote) and receiver.

      • Mr Name Required says:

        Appreciate you jotting down a listing of components mentioned, many thanks!

      • Steve says:

        *Your math confuses the heck outta me… Firstly, you say 4 motors, 4 ESCs (THIS IS A TRICOPTER!)

        Also, for the motors you say:

        Motors: 2830-8 $18.99 each
        $43.96 + shipping for 4 motors

        18.99*4 = 75.96….. not 43.96

      • Derek says:

        @Steve, you are correct. Sorry, I have been building quadcopters for the last year, I just automatically think 4 motors.
        Because its a tri-copter, you will also need a servo.

        The motor cost, I used the total provided by the RCTimer shopping cart and didn’t think to check it. The motors are on sale. $18.99 is regualr price.
        Sorry about that.

        Here is the fixed price list:
        Parts/price list for the cheapest build from the parts he listed:
        Motors: 2830-8 $10.99 each
        $32.97 + shipping for 3 motors
        ESCs: HK-SS20A-HW $7.80 each
        $23.40 + shipping for 3
        Flight Controller: HobbyKing Multi-Rotor Control Board V2.1 $14.99 plus shipping
        USBasp AVR Programmer $4.95 plus shipping
        10CM Male to Male Servo Leads (JR) (10pcs/set)
        $4.75 plus shipping
        14AWG (1mtr) RED wire $1.39 plus shipping per meter
        14AWG (1mtr) BLACK wire $1.39 plus shipping per meter
        Low Voltage Alarm $1.92 plus shipping
        Wood for the frame $???
        Screws/bolts for frame $???
        Glue for frame $???
        Servo $????

        Minimum price plus shipping plus frame materials and servo is: $85.76
        This does not include a battery.
        This does not include frame materials.
        This does not include a transmitter (remote) and receiver.
        This does not include the servo got the rear motor.
        This does not include propellers.

  6. loopingz says:

    Interesting low cost build. The guy is riding for the first day so I guess he was already pretty good controlling RC flying stuff…

  7. +1 Bard says:

    I keep throwing money at the screen but nothing’s happening!

  8. TacticalNinja says:

    Nice agility, and I super like those flips.

  9. sneakypoo says:

    Why do I get the feeling that this isn’t the first heli this guy has built and it therefore seems much more straight forward than it actually is? Are these things really that forgiving (thinking about how he drilled holes crooked and so on)? Or, is it his experience flying the things that lets him compensate?

    • mesh says:

      He is clearly a good pilot, but a wonky copter will be no harder to fly than a well-built one.
      They are that forgiving because the control board does all the work of keeping the copter stable. It runs simple PID (usually PI, but P works too) control loops, and doesn’t care if the copter is a bit asymmetrical or heavier on one side.
      These things will impact performance to a degree, but not basic airworthiness and stability.

  10. j450n says:

    I am currently building one and hope to finish it this weekend.
    I have a template hosted on thingiverse
    http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:12553

  11. Kevinm says:

    Tricopters are definitely the future.

    • Cynyr says:

      i wonder if a quad with 2 pivoting would prove interesting. I also saw a quad with collective pitch on the rotors a while back. This let it fly upside down and removed the need for speed controllers.

  12. Matt says:

    I went to the site , and here is the cost details

    Quantity Stock Product description Price Weight
    OK DT750 – hexTronik DT750 Brushless Outrunner 750k.. $34.80 237
    OK TR_P18A – TURNIGY Plush 18amp Speed Controller $35.70 102
    OK BMS-385DMAX – BMS-385DMAX Digital Servo (Metal Gear) 4.. $61.44 114
    OK T2200.3S.25 – Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 25C Lipo Pack $17.98 454
    OK GWS-prop-RD-1147 – GWS EP Propeller (RD-1147 279x119mm) (6p.. $5.76 93
    TOTAL: $155.68 1000g

    It does not include the Receiver and TX.. it would around $190 total for everything he menetioned in his video.

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