By le_vinsky on Jun 03, 2020

22  471  7

I'm very late to the toothpick party, but here it is. Harry weighs 64 grams dry (with classic, metal buckle battery strap). I fly it on 3S. I immediately noticed flying this thing in my garden is a serious threat to relationships with my neighbours. I need to barely move the throttle not to send it too fast, too high and too far. Flying it truly is an exhilarating experience. Now I know what the hype was all about. I bought the parts and planned to build this for the autumn of 2019. I bought Foxeer Predator specifically due to it's ability to see in the dark. I wanted to be able to fly on dark evenings after all the work is done and kids are asleep. So far I only maidened it after sunset (in June). It wasn't very dark, but still Predator fared significantly better than cams I have on other quads. So I guess flying in the evenings has become a viable option. That is, after I repair it...

Annnd it's gone

It didn't last long. On the fourth pack I flew into a tree, fell down and saw smoke in FPV feed. I saw similar thing in a video Ummagawd posted recently. It was funny to watch it on YT, but it wasn't funny at all when I ripped goggles out of my face to see bright flame of my quad burning in the grass. Luckily it seems only the ESC burned out, so getting the quad back in the air should not be a big problem.

Notes on "props out" and waterproofing

I guess what happened was a short caused by tree leaves mashed to wet pulp which was thrown on exposed motor wires soldered to the ESC. Running "props out" config protects the cam from anything props catch being thrown at it. At the same time front props throw everything they catch right into the stack. This never happened to me before. But maybe other, bigger stacks I use have more spacing between solder points and it's not as easy to cause a short. And maybe the grass was already wet in the evening. Anyway, I guess it wouldn't hurt to conformal coat at least exposed edges of the stack even if I don't fly in snow or rain.


As with many of my builds canopy was built from 1mm thick polystyrene. It's made of two pieces this time. Bottom piece is held by front stack screws between the frame and ESC board. Top shell is held by nuts on top of rear stack screws. Both pieces are held together with camera screws. This makes it possible to adjust camera angle up and down a bit. I have not flown it enough to say how durable it is. I only crashed into the grass, trees and metal garden furniture a couple of times and canopy was intact. More testing as soon as I will swap the ESC board.

Update 02.07.2020

Annnd it's gone again. Smell of burnt ESC is still in the air (and on my hands) as I am writing this.
I'm starting to suspect that the first crash I had wasn't the cause of ESC going up in flames. I think it may have been a result of a bad motor that caused the ESC to burn. Is that possible? Or maybe this build is simply cursed...
After the first crash I replaced the ESC. And the quad was behaving really strange:

  • It flew all right but at times it would jump to full throttle without throttle input. I had to disarm instantly to stop it going to the moon.
  • When hovering it would roll to one side and drop to the ground. (Dropping to the ground may have been a result of me disarming the moment I noticed it rolls without being told to do so).
  • At connecting battery it would arm normally giving standard beep sequence (ESCs, FC, and beeps after it stayed motionless) but then, sometimes it sounded like it would repeat FC beeps and then it beeped like crazy - I could not recognize beeps. It was some irregular beeping but sometimes it was just going beep-beep-beep-beep-beep... with motors slightly twitching. This is what happened when ESC burned for the second time - no crash this time. Quad was sitting on the ground, battery connected, motors disarmed, beeping and poof - smoke appeared.

I tried to remedy this sudden jumps to full throttle by updating to newest Betaflight (4.2) and resetting PIDs and filters. I tested it LOS doing some flips and rolls. And for the short time it was flying after the update I didn't experience even one burst to full throttle. So I thought all was well and wanted to fly some FPV. But I noticed that I had no OSD in the goggles. When I reconnected the battery the OSD was back. But then the quad went totally crazy beeping and twitching and ESC burned.
It burned on exactly the same side it burned the first time. Could it be that I have a bad motor? Can a bad motor cause a quad to behave as crazy as mine did?
I would be most grateful to all of you more experienced and knowledgeable who could help me diagnose my problem - I want to make it fly without spending a fortune on new parts;) Thank you in advance:)



Sign in to comment

locce   Sep 01, 2020  

I also have a smoked HGLRC 16x16 ESC in my Tomoquads Sonic Nano Build.
After landing in the grass and taking off again, I suddenly had no more picture and after taking off my glasses I saw a smoking quadcopter. After a flash of fire and extinguishing, I feared the worst. But, FC, VTX, and RX are fine.
ESC has two scorched motor pads. I searched for a cause for a long time and came across your report by accident.
A piece of advice to all those who use small ESCs. Seal all connections, especially the motor pads, against moisture! That should help against short circuits!
Thanks again for the description!

Produzilla   Jun 10, 2020  

I like the canopy too! Did you painted it or is the glossy look from the polystyrene itself?

le_vinsky   Jun 10, 2020 

No painting. Polystyrene sheets I use have one glossy side.

Produzilla   Jun 10, 2020 

Ah okay, and you used heat to bend it or just cold forming?

le_vinsky   Jun 10, 2020 

Hot air. I use Portasol gas powered soldering iron with hot air nozzle attachment. Perfect for heat shrink and heating plastic to the point when it is easy to bend:)

-X3-   Jun 04, 2020  

That canopy is a work of art, beautiful toothpick !

le_vinsky   Jun 04, 2020 

Thank you!:)

Guides & Reviews

Jun 21, 2021

AirbladeUAV has done it again and this time they've brought long range to the 5" class! Based on the popular Transformer Mini, the new Transformer 5" Ultralight adopts a lot of the same design philosophies with larger props and more payload capacity. It can fly upwards of 20 minutes on a 4 cell Li-Ion battery pack and in ideal conditions it's got a range of over 4 to 5 miles. In this guide I'll walk..

Read more
Mar 04, 2021

With the release of the DJI FPV Drone cinematic FPV has become a lot more accessible, but you certainly don't want to crash a $750 drone! The QAV-CINE Freybott is a compact, lightweight cinematic FPV drone that can take a hit and keep going. It's a lot safer to fly indoors and around people. With a naked GoPro or the SMO 4k you can capture some great stabilized footage. In this guide I'll show you..

Read more