3.5" DigiPick

By Davidpe on May 05, 2021

23  1,121  12

I had a number of favorites last year but the two that really stand out are my Naked Vista Mod-L 3" and BabyTooth. I love them for different reasons. The MOD-L can be thrown around in my backyard or in a park. It's great on 3s and even more fun on 4s. And, it has the DJI Vista that continues to blow my mind. The Babytooth has an AUW of 58g and is the single best platform I've ever flow when it comes to weight vs performance. It is so much fun!

So when I set out to build this DigiPick, my goal was to create a 'Babytooth' performing HD super light platform. It started as a 3" and I decided at the last minute to change to 3.5" based on the power of the new FPVcycle.com 1304 motors. I actually had the 3" frame already cut and had to reorder a 3.5". Fortunately Nick at CNCmadness reacted pretty quick.

A 'decased' Vista build always takes some time but it's completely worth it! The 1304 motors are fantastic. I've always loved the FPVcycle.com 1303 motors that Bob Roogi sells and the slight increase in weight (.6 grams) is well worth the power increase for a +120g Toothpick. I was shooting for and AUW of 125g with the Infinity 3s 450mah Lipo and almost nailed it. Flight characteristics are TP3-like but with amazing HD video feed. In fact, it feels very similar to my 105g analog TP3's. It's exactly what I was looking for and it will likely be go-to choice for backyard flying and definately the prefered travel quad. Hit me up with any questions.

Build Notes:

  • TBS Crossfire RX is between the frame and the FC
  • Motors have a 2mm shaft but HQ 3.5" props only come with 1.5mm holes. Requires careful drilling but does not need prop screws on the 2mm shaft. Bonus!
  • Use a toothbrush and IPA to clean the blue thermal paste off the board. Protect connection points with tape as you clean
  • Must remove the connductive metalic mesh on top of the Vista board connectors as they pose a risk. I removed and covered with Kapton tape just in case.
  • I removed the stock rx and dji plugs on the FC. I direct soldered both.
  • Print the canopy with more infill as it needs to be decently stiff. I used 90% with Sainsmart Flex-Clear.
  • Had to customize the rubber grommet spaces to provide just the right clearance for boards. From experience it's better to have enough space for air to move over the decased vista boards.
  • I always wire my Vista units directly to the vbat. (even though this FC has dji ready pads)
  • TrueRC Antenna is tiny and is the perfect length for this application. I use a dab of E6000 right around the top of the antenna hole to keep it in position and avoid any issues with the fragile u.fl vista connector.
  • I use black liquid tape on either side of the camera connector on the board . It ensures it stays connected with just little on each end.

Credit: Bob Roogi for Toothpick innovations, Alexandre Arvinte for the PickPick 3.5" frame design, @sweebee for the digipick canopy and inspiration



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Jodie Froster   May 09, 2021  

So fresh, and so clean!

Davidpe   May 09, 2021 

Thank you! It was a fun build.

DannerD3H   May 06, 2021  

Really clean build!

Did you notice a significant speed increase going to 3,5" props?

Davidpe   May 06, 2021 

This thing is fast! Substantially more powerful than my TP3 3" with 1303's. In fact, I'm really interested to replace the 1303's on my TP3 3" with these so I can do an 'apples to apples' comparison. Will report back when I do.

DannerD3H   May 08, 2021 

Okay thanks for the info!
I just build my own 3" decased quad with top mounted bat. It weighs 84g dry, so 124g with GNB3s450. I also feel it is a biiit under powered on Robo1204 from flywoo. I have some 1303,6 apex motors I might try on 3,5" now then. If they do not work well I guess I have to try the FPV Cycle (love his motors) I just hate the 2 mm shaft..

How do you drill your props and did you ever have noise issues as result of bad drilling?

Davidpe   May 08, 2021 

Ya, Bob's 1304's are great. I'm impressed. The 1303 apex motors should work well too. Funny you should ask about prop holes. Bob sells a jig but it's perpetually out of stock. I found a similar printed version on Thingiverse and it does a a great job. I just put up some pictures on Thingiverse at this link. it makes the process super easy. https://www.thingiverse.com/make:933719

fw42   May 07, 2021  

Thanks for sharing! Looks really awesome. I wish there were a good way to get a lower center of gravity. Stacking three boards and a camera on top seems like a bit much to me (haven't tried it yet though so who knows).

Davidpe   May 07, 2021 

Ya, I was curious too. After 20 flights I can honestly say that i don't even notice it. Keep in mind that it's 82grams dry and 124grams AUW. 40 of those grams are battery below the frame. it feels very similar to my analog TP3 3" but measurably faster.

Wrongway Feldman   May 06, 2021  

Nice article, and it looks like a great build. Having recently done something similar (a 3" decased vista build), I have a few questions. Do you notice any difference between battery below the frame and your previous 3" where you mounted the battery on the upper deck? Also, why do you like using vbat for the vista rather than the regulated power on the FC? We almost went with 3.5" props on our build also, so I'm curious about your thoughts on the bigger props and what you saw in terms of pros and cons. Do you have a video yet? Congratulations!

Davidpe   May 06, 2021 

Thank you for the comments! Much appreciated. So this is my third decased vista build with the other two both having top mounted batteries. I've traditionally liked the top mounted batteries better up until the Toothpick evolution. I honestly don't have a huge preference anymore as this new build has a great COG and it's super light. In fact, I'm so used to flying micros that I might even prefer the bottom battery position. There was a point when I transitioned from top to bottom where I had to think about the rotation and purposely tell my brain to compensate. I don't ever do that anymore. And particularly not with something this light. Just my thoughts, I know some of my flying buddies have different opinion.

As it relates to the power situation for the Vista, I had some issues with one of my first cased vista builds where the FC manufacturer claimed 9V of regulated power but was not the case. Through lots of trial and error, I moved to vbat and it Immediately solved the problem. That was over a year ago so I suspect this board would be just fine on the regulated power.

The 1304's are super powerful for the additional .6 grams each versus the 1303 version.. As noted above, the 3.5" setup on top of the more powerful motors are really make for a great powertrain. It's super fast and hovers, (without any setup changes) at about 20%. I personally think there's a point were the standard TP3 3" feels sluggish based on weight. For me it's 110grams. And that's the reason I was excited to build this new on with the 1304's. With that, I also thought that the 1304's might be too much for my analog TP3 3"'s that are both at roughly 105grams. I don't know yet because I haven't tried it but will report back when I do.

Video to come!

daich   May 06, 2021  

such clean.
love how you used the 20x20mm m2 holes for managing vista's power wires

Davidpe   May 06, 2021 

Thanks! Ya, the 20x20 holes worked out great. Made it a little cleaner. Still couldn't figure out how to route the rx wires 'internal' but that's just my own OCD problems. ;)

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