Le Pigeon 3.0

By Straw Hat Sam on Apr 06, 2022

15  3,879  5

To purchase this frame kit visit www.strawhataerial.com

If you are looking for the best possible flight experience with a cinema FPV platform, then you have come to the right place. Le Pigeon flies like a simulator and with an AUW of around 1.6kg including battery and lens, you are no longer restricted in your flight maneuvers. Unlike a normal cinelifter which weighs around 3500g or more, Le Pigeon is an absolute joy to fly and opens up doors for your creative potential. This is the culmination of 3 years of my dedication toward the pursuit of the ultimate cinema FPV rig.

Many advancements were made since the original "Le Pigeon" drone I designed. The biggest of which is my upgraded naked BMPCC4K cage kit that contains 5 flexible PCBs that drastically improve the workflow and interface with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

Another big milestone is my new H layout for the frame. It's still a 7 inch quad, but with my intergrated damping of the arms and special attention to minimizing torsional weakness inherent to H frames, this frame has much less vibration and can be used with a wider variety of propellers and motors.

MOTORS OVERVIEW:
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The following assesment is very subjective and is limited to the scope for use with Le Pigeon only. I have personally flown all the motors described in this list. In summary, most people will be very happy with any of these six recommended motors with a 6S setup. My personal favorite is the Xnova 2808 1350kV and that's what I'll be using on jobs and my own videos.

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  • The Xnova 2808 1350kV is the best all around in my opinion for Le Pigeon. Despite the smaller 2808 stator, it seems to have the same torque and overall power as the 2810 motors. This is probably due to three factors. One, the air gap is extemely tight and much thinner than any of the other motors. Two, the stator volume is greater than other 2808 motors because there is less space between the bearing and the iron core. In other words, they have a more efficient use of space. Thirdly, the stator laminations are very thin. Most of the other motors have 0.3 - 0.35mm laminations while the Xnovas are extremely thin probably closer to 0.15 - 0.2mm. The result is, these motors are the bomb sauce! Surprisingly smooth considering they only weigh 56g and can wrangle the heaviest of 7 inch props without issue (very little propwash). The kV is just right with a top speed of 90-95mph depending on whether you use the HQ 7x3.5x3 or HQ 7x4.5x3. Despite being plenty fast, this is one of the most efficient motors out of the bunch. With an 1800mah battery I was getting 6 minutes while lazily cruising around. With a 2600mah I got 8:30 flying the same way. And for agressive acro with a 2200mah battery, a flight time of 4 minutes is very acheivable.
  • The Brother Hobby 2810 1500kV motor is what you want if you need ultimate speed and power. Because it has a larger stator, it still maintains smooth control especially at the top end of the throttle range. Like the Hyperlite 2807.5 1322kV motors though, it does get a little bobbly during snappy low RPM maneuvers. The flight feel is amazing with these motors and if you want a cinema drone that flies like a simulator then this is the one! A top speed of definitely not over 100mph is quite achievable with this motor. But there is a cost... These motors run hot, so if you always fly in 90F weather or hotter, then I would take a pass on this one. Also they are also not the most efficient.
  • The Hyperlite 2807.5 motors are actually 2808 stator size measured with calipers. I flew the 1322kV variety and I really enjoyed the flight feel. The throttle/thrust curve is perfect and it makes Le Pigeon feel intuitive and natural. They are a good balance of all the attributes and most people would be very happy with this motor despite the "eco" price tag. Because of the smaller stator they do get some bobbles when attemping aggressive, high-throttle-fluctuation maneuvers.
  • Bob's big green motors work quite well especially at the top end of the throttle range if using the 1450kV variety. The control feel at top speed is wonderful. Where it is lacking is actually on the low end of the throttle range with bobbles and propwash during sharp split-S manuevers and hockey stops. The efficency at low speed is not great, but at higher throttle values you get respectable efficiency. I would highly recommend this motor for people who chase fast vehicles for long distances and don't do technical acro maneuvers very often. These run pretty cool too in contrast to the BH 2810 1500kV motors.
  • The Brother Hobby 2810 1180kV motors are the smoothest out of this bunch. This is because of the combination of lower kV and large stator. It is also very efficient at lower throttle ranges because of the low kV. It is the smoothest motor because it plows through the air and wind like a bulldozer and eats propwash for breakfast. If you are looking for smooth and easy throttle control for lower speed proximity stuff and technical maneuvers, then this is the motor for you. The flight feel at the low end of the throttle is unreal. Maximum control. The drawback is that they are heavy and slow. Top speed is only around 80-85mph max.
  • The T-Motor F100 was slightly disappointing because I was expecting great things with the "cinelifter" marketing. The most obvious characteristic of this motor is the poor efficiency, both at low and higher throttle ranges. It just feels like the motor is wasting energy by putting crazy amounts of torque into the prop to eliminate propwash. Yes it is one of the smoothest, but it is also surprisingly slow compared to the other motors with the 1350kV rating. Lastly, a big issue for me was the flight feel. The throttle curve on this motor is a bit wonky. There is too much power and thrust on the low-end and this makes it difficult to fly proximity or close to the ground. And on the top end, there is not enough power so it feels loose at full speed.
  • I highly recommend against the Brother Hobby 2808 motors as they have a defect of some kind and magnets slip like crazy. Out of 5 motors I tested, 3 of them slipped a magnet just during my tuning process. I have heard reports of the same issue from about 5 other cinelifter pilots.

RECOMMENDED ESCs
The best ESC I have tried personally is the Aikon 55A V3 (the longer one). It is smooth as crap! It is a huge ESC so I made sure that Le Pigeon frame can accommodate its dimensions. The next contender is the Foxeer Reaper 65A 3-8S ESC. I have used 3 of them and had no issues at all and they all flew smooth. I have also had 100% success rate with about a dozen Hobbywing 60A ESCs so those are usually a good bet. I have not tried the T-Motor 55A ESCs, but I have heard great things about them. Now if you want to go overkill or perhaps want to experiment with 8S, then I can recommend the iFlight 80A 4in1. I have tested two of them for experimental rigs and subjected them to a lot of abuse and had no issues and they seem pretty bomb-proof. As far as capacitors go, I recommend a 50V 1000uF or higher cap soldered to the battery tabs of the ESC using shortest possible lengths of 18awg motor wire. The diameter should be around 12.5mm and the longest it can be is 37mm to comfortably fit inside the frame. How do you find a low ESR capacitor? Watch my guide here:

BL_Heli 32 SETTINGS
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I recommend 24kHz for most of the motors I mentioned before with the exception of the BH 2810 1500kv. At 24kHz, the 1500kV motors run too hot and it is better to run 48kHz and increase the PIDs a bit to compensate for the reduced power at low RPM. With 24kHz, all these motors fly like they are on rails when you let go of the sticks and let it cruise on its own.

FLIGHT CONTROLLERS
The best flight controller I have tested is the Foxeer F722 V2 because not only does it have the MPU6000, but also a larger 3.3V regulator which offers cleaner supply power to the gyro and other components. I do not recommend the Matek F722 HD because they are having batch issues with their MPU6000s and some of their FCs are getting massive noise only on the pitch axis. I can recommend the Aikon F7 HD flight controller because is has the MPU6000 and Aikon is a solid manufacturer. I have not actually tested this FC myself though, so be aware of that. I have also used the Rush Blade F722 FCs and I recieved one that was DOA, but the ones that worked were easy to tune. I have not tested the Hobbywing convertable FC yet because it has the ICM20602 gyro, but I bet you it would work just fine because Le Pigeon is such a low resonance frame.

PID TUNING
I may make a PID tuning video with Le Pigeon in the future if I have time, but for now you may use the screenshots below as a reference point. These PIDs and filters are with the Xnova 2808 1350kV motors (on 6S voltage) with HQ 7x3.5x3 propellers.
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REGULATORS
The best setup is to have two Pololu BECs. A 9V 2.6a one for the DJI air unit and a 12V 2.4a one to power the BMPCC4K. There is also a 12V 4.5a Pololu regulator that you can use to power both the air unit and the camera, but I like the redundancy of separate BECs for each purpose. I always solder a small 35V 220uF capacitor to the INPUT pads on the boards to further filter the power coming into the regulars and protect them from any voltage spikes that may cause them to shut down. I do not recommend relying on the flight controller 8-9V BEC to power the DJI air unit because this is a higher power build and the FC probably doesn't have enough filtration to protect the air unit from voltage spikes that can cause it to glitch out or even reboot.

PROPELLERS
As of 11/23/2021 the best propeller for Le Pigeon by far are the new HQ 7x3.5x3 durable transluscent gray ones. They are the best 7 inch FPV propeller ever made in my opinion. So smooth and free of propwash despite it weighing a hefty 8.8g. They are extremely well balanced and seem to have the least amount of vibes. In addition they are fast enough for me yet get better flight times than the old HQ 7x3.5x3 props. The thrust curve on it is also very linear and predictable (a valuable trait for cinelifters). Lastly, they are actually durable and you can a hit rigid obstacles and stay in the air if you can recover right away.

The new HQ 7x4.5x3 macroquad props are decent and fly similar to the pure polycarbonate version mentioned previously, but they are faster and will eat your batteries quickly. Also they are not as well balanced and may cause some minor vibrations. They are not as durable and will explode if you hit branches due to the glass/nylon composite material.

The DAL cyclone T7056C used to be my favorite, but someone with a V1 Pigeon had one explode mid flight for no reason so now I feel sketched out by them.

The new Gemfan "Cinelifter" 7035 carbon polycarbonate props don't work well on Le Pigeon. You can distinguish these because they are glossy and come in both black and white. I think they would be well suited for a 7inch GoPro rig with motors that are only about 1100kv for long range use. Under the extra weight of Le Pigeon, they sound like they are straining (only weighing 4.3g each) and the noise they produce is quite unpleasant. At the uper 95% throttle with 1350kV motors, the Gemfan 7035s begin to flutter, causing the loud BRRRRRR sound when they reach their RPM and/or load limit.

Now Gemfan also has 7035 and 7037 carbon nylon props which are quite a bit stronger and stiffer. In addition, they have gray polycarbonate 7037 props too. These props are not tested by me yet, but do seem promising and deserve a link below.

BATTERIES

  1. My top pick so far is the CNHL 2200mah 70C . It has more capacity than the other 2200s by a small margin and it has the least amount of sag in real-world aggressive acro flights. 2200mah in general is the best size battery for Le Pigeon for all around use.
  2. My RDQ 1800mah batteries have been serving me well for a year now and they still have quite a bit of punch. 1800mah means shorter flight times, but with that lighter weight, Le Pigeon really becomes quite the rocket and you can pull off some crazy maneuvers that are just not possible with a cinelifter.
  3. Remember Hobbyking? Yes, well they are still around and the Rhino 2200mah is actually a surpisingly good battery. Not quite as punchy and long of flight times as the CNHL, but they are easier and cheaper to get in the US and that 50C rating is probably a lot more honest than other LiPos out there in the same class. They are exactly the same size and weight as the CNHLs so maybe the same manufacturer, but different LiPo cell grades?
  4. The GNB 2600mah is a good battery for longer flights, up to 8:30 if you are mostly hovering and slowly cruising around. It has a lot of punch so you can throw it around without worrying too much about sag. It is heavy though and I don't like to use it for acro because of this.
  5. My friend let me fly some of his old and puffed Tattu 1800mah batteries and they actually performed pretty well despite a year of extremely heavy use. So I imagine some new ones would work quite well for freestyle stuff where it is advantageous to be lighter weight. These batteries are going out of stock so maybe they are being phased out...
  • The rest of these batteries I have tried, but steered away from for personal reasons, but you may still want to consider them. First off is the Pyrodrone Graphene 2200mah which wasn't very punchy actually and suffered a bit of sag. In addition the power leads are only 14awg which I found a bit worrisome. Lastly, but most importantly, the XT60s are not genuine AMASS connectors so they can be extremely difficult to unplug the drone which poses a safety issue.
  • The Auline 2000mah LiPo has plenty of punch and flight time, but the fat body makes it a little awkward fitting onto the camera cage between the struts (it's a tight fit). The bigger issue though is that the voltage drop-off at the end of the flight is quite sudden. There is no wiggle room. Once it goes, it falls off the cliff and you will have to make an emergency landing if you aren't close enough to the home-point.
  • The Max Amps 1800mah was quite disappointing. The $100 price tag makes this little guy seem like the silver bullet for a perfect Pigeon, but it's a rip off. Sure it's an extremely light battery and the C-rating seems incredible, but their specs are wildly inaccurate. First off, the capacity seems less than 1800mah for sure. Secondly, the C-rating is much lower than 100C. "True 100C" is what they say, but that is 100% untrue. These batteries experienced the worst sag and came down hot and puffed.

LENSES
I have personally used the following five lenses that I recommend on this page. My favorite is the Laowa 7.5mm (ultralight red version) because it is so wide, crisp, and makes your flights seem dynamic and exciting. My only gripe with this lens is that it could be even lighter and also the rectilinear stretch, although favored over the fisheye effect, noticeably distorts the image at the corners. The best ND filter for this lens is the NiSi pro 46mm which screws directly into the front and causes minimal vignetting due to its slim outer ring.

I used to recommend the SLR Magic 8mm because it is so light and inexpensive, but the issue with it is that it is difficult to get a perfect image out of it. The sweet spot for aperture range is narrow (around 5.6-8). In addition the rear element is quite small because it is not a "fast" lens. This means that if you stop down the aperture too much, any tiny speck of dust is going to cause glare or blurry spots. If the aperture is too wide, then the image gets soft around the edges. Also, the front lens element bulges out and may touch your filter even with a step up ring so that is a whole problem to figure out in itself.

I have used the Samyang 12mm and it's on the heavy side at 255g. You can do a lot with this lens, but the flight performance and efficiency may suffer a bit. I love the image though and it is great value for the money.

A better alternative to the Samyang is the Olympus 12mm, but at $700 you really pay for it. I got mine used for $400-500. At 130g it is one of the lightest lens options and its low light performance is spectacular. 12mm is too tight for most FPV style shots, but I always like to keep a narrower lens for getting "closer" to the subject if need be.

I used the Laowa 9mm zero-D cine lens once on set and the image is fantastic, but it is still on the heavy side at 247g. The compact form factor does help with optimizing the center of gravity though. I think 9mm is the ideal focal length for most people if they had to choose just one lens.

The Laowa 10mm lens is a popular choice for Le Pigeon, but I have not used it myeself. A known issue with this lens is compatibility issues with the BMPCC4K due to the firmware on the lens. It's a crap shoot, you may get lucky and get one with the correct firmware which is compatible with your pocket 4K. Or you will get a lens that does not communicate with the camera and all the functions like aperture and focus are disabled. To fix this, you have to send it back to Laowa and they will either replace it or load new firmware and send it back.

Lenses I have used:

Other lenses to consider:

Le Pigeon Build Overview


Frame Assembly Guide

Le Pigeon Frame Design

BMPCC4K Cage Design


BMPCC4K Disassembly

BMPCC4K Naked Cage Assembly

Photos

Part List

Frame

BMPCC4K Naked Cage Kit (2 builds)
Strawhataerial.com
$499.00

Frame

Le Pigeon Frame Kit
Strawhataerial.com
$179.00

Flight Controller

T-Motor F7 HD 30x30 Flight Controller for DJI (19 builds)
Pyrodrone.com
$62.90

Flight Controller

T-Motor F7 Flight Controller - 30x30mm (6 builds)
Pyrodrone.com
$62.90

Flight Controller

Aikon F7 V2 30x30 Flight Controller for DJI
Pyrodrone.com
$58.00

Flight Controller

RUSHFPV Rush Blade F722 Flight Controller For Analog - 30x30mm
Pyrodrone.com
$50.29

Flight Controller

Foxeer F722 V2 3-6S Flight Controller
Getfpv.com
$46.99

ESCs

T-Motor F55A Pro II 55A 3-6s BLHeli32 4-in-1 ESC (9 builds)
Pyrodrone.com
$93.90

ESCs

Hobbywing XRotor Micro 60A 6S 4-in-1 BLHeli32 ESC (84 builds)
Getfpv.com
$84.99

ESCs

Aikon AK32 V3 55A 4in1 6S ESC - 30x30mm (11 builds)
Pyrodrone.com
$74.99

ESCs

iFlight SucceX 80A 2-8S BLHeli_32 Dshot600 4-in-1 ESC - 30x30mm
Pyrodrone.com
$199.99

ESCs

Foxeer Reaper FPV 3-8S 65A BLHeli_32 30x30 4-in-1 ESC (4 builds)
Getfpv.com
$125.99

Motors

T-Motor F100 2810 1350Kv Motor
Racedayquads.com
$35.90

Motors

Xnova 2808 Freestyle Smooth Line Motor -1350kv
Pyrodrone.com
$31.99

Motors

BrotherHobby Avenger 2810 1500Kv Motor (4 builds)
Racedayquads.com
$28.99

Motors

FPVCycle 30mm (Choose Kv) - 7"-8" Motor (7 builds)
Fpvcycle.com
$28.99

Motors

BrotherHobby Avenger 2810 Motor - 1180KV/1500KV
Getfpv.com
$28.99

Motors

4 x Hyperlite 2807.5 E-Series Long Range & Cinelifter Motor - 1322KV (3 builds)
Pyrodrone.com
$67.96

Propellers

Gemfan 7037 Reinforced Carbon Nylon Tri-Blade 7" Prop 4 Pack - BlackDefault Title (2 builds)
Racedayquads.com
$6.99

Propellers

Gemfan 7035 Reinforced Carbon Nylon Tri-Blade 7" Prop 4 Pack - BlackDefault Title
Racedayquads.com
$6.99

Propellers

Gemfan 7037 CL Cinelifter 3-Blade Propeller (Set of 4) - Polycarbonate
Getfpv.com
$3.69

Propellers

HQProp 7X3.5X3 Light Grey (2CW+2CCW)-Poly Carbonate (2 builds)
Pyrodrone.com
$3.59

Propellers

HQ Prop J75 7x5x3 Tri-Blade 7" Prop 4 Pack - GrayDefault Title
Racedayquads.com
$3.59

Propellers

HQ Prop MacroQuad 7x4.5x3 Tri-Blade 7" Glass Reinforced Prop - CCW (1PC)
Pyrodrone.com
$3.20

FPV Camera

Caddx DJI Digital HD FPV Air Unit Kit (165 builds)
Getfpv.com
$199.99

FPV Camera

Caddx Polar Micro Digital FPV Air Unit Camera Kit - Silver (2 builds)
Pyrodrone.com
$174.00

Antenna

TBS CROSSFIRE IMMORTAL T ANTENNA V2 - EXTENDED (14 builds)
Pyrodrone.com
$5.95

Receiver

TBS Crossfire Diversity Nano Rx - FPV LONG RANGE DRONE RECEIVER (91 builds)
Team-blacksheep.com
$49.95

Batteries

GAONENG GNB 22.2V 2200mAh 120C/240C 6S Lipo Battery XT60U-F Plug for RC FPV Racing Drone
Usa.banggood.com
$64.99

Batteries

Tattu R-Line V1.0 22.2V 1800mAh 95C 6S Lipo Battery XT60 Plug for FPV RC Drone
Usa.banggood.com
$51.99

Batteries

RDQ Series 22.2V 6S 1800mAh 100C LiPo Battery - XT60 (6 builds)
Racedayquads.com
$44.99

Batteries

CNHL G+PLUS 2200mAh 22.2V 6S 70C Lipo Battery
Chinahobbyline.com
See Site

3D Printed

Free CAD Designs, Files & 3D Models | The GrabCAD Community Library
Grabcad.com
See Site

Misc Parts

Silicon Power 128GB CFast2.0 CinemaPro CFX310 Memory Card, 3500X and up to 530MB/s Read, MLC, for Blackmagic URSA Mini, Canon XC
Amazon.com
$77.99

Misc Parts

Pololu - 9V, 2.6A Step-Down Voltage Regulator D36V28F9
Pololu.com
$22.95

Misc Parts

Pololu - 12V, 2.4A Step-Down Voltage Regulator D36V28F12 (2 builds)
Pololu.com
$22.95

Misc Parts

Pololu - 12V, 4.5A Step-Down Voltage Regulator D36V50F12
Pololu.com
$21.95
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Discussion

Sign in to comment

jdmkramer   Apr 15, 2022  

Incredible work! I've been thinking about doing something like this with my camera, but seeing what you've done has given me more confidence for sure. Will you offer the BMPCC4K cable kit for those designing their own mods?

butcher51   Apr 14, 2022  

Very nice and clean work, awesome!

Jodie Froster   Apr 09, 2022  
1

This is insane! True blending of a camera drone and FPV, in a way most only imagine, or play at.
Quad-porn to the extreme
Makes me want to build one SO bad!!!

recon   Apr 08, 2022  
1

God level post Sam. Great work. Great writeup. Love the drone.

Heloaddict   Dec 23, 2021  
1

I'am literally drooling over this!!! I like the added features you've included for 3.0 with the carbon around the lense and sensor, the flex cables etc.. So I've watched all your tutorials and i have my BMPCC4K waiting for transplant, now how do i get my hands on one?!?

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