pepperF1SH — the world’s lightest brushless FPV quadcopter

This page is about the adventure of building the world’s lightest brushless FPV quadcopter:

pepperF1SH

30.7g AUW!

How it all started

When winter was approaching germany I felt the irresistible desire to build something small and lightweight to get some indoor training. The Tinywhoop is nice, but if you are honest, brushed quadcopters suck at the latest when the first motor dies… So I need to go brushless and stay small! My LKTR120 (80g AUW) is nice for flying in the woods but not for indoor. So the target is something in the weight region of my Tinywhoop.

Fly it!

You want to fly one of my recent prototypes? Join the pepperF1SH world tour!

Features

Even though this is the lightest FPV quadcopter on earth, it does not lack any features you would miss otherwise:

  • F3 flight controller
  • Blackbox logging
  • integrated FrSky receiver with telemetry (!)
  • Current- and voltage sensor
  • BLHELI_S with DSHOT (!)
  • 5.8GHz FPV setup
  • and of course it is betaflight compatible!

Different designs

The first design was based on a round shape and ended up with a weight of 32.4g including batteries. You can see design in this post. This frame was something special and looking really nice, however it was not as crash resistant as I wanted it to be. I also wanted to have the option to add a protective bumper cage. After evaluating different designs I decided to go for a classical X frame. I made three versions:

A 70-sized version for 48mm propellers (it is really really small as you can see here). It’s nice for indoor but underpowered and quite inefficient with those 48mm triblades.

The best option is the 83-sized frame depicted at the top. This one is made for 56mm propellers and is the best compromise in size, efficiency and thrust ratio (around 3.3:1). Without the bumper cage you end up at ~30.6grams (!). The bumper cage adds ~2.4grams and really helps to fly in tight spaces.

There is also “the beast edition” with a diagonal size of 96mm. It is good for 65mm props and powerful and efficient as hell. It has the best thrust to weight ratio but is really big, nothing you want to fly in your house…

Parts

In order to build one pepperFISH you will need the following parts:

Right now you can not buy the FC and the ESC as they are custom designs made by myself. However you can use the published documentation, schematics, and design files to build it on your own. Unfortunately this requires some very fine pitch soldering… Sooner or later some chinese vendor will probably pick up the design and bring it to market. If you are such a vendor: Please do so, but make sure to stick to the open hardware license and publish all modifications under the same license and give proper credit. Drop me a note where your product can be bought and I will add a Link to this page.

Rocket science — sounds expensive….

This might sound more complicated as it actually is. Building the FC and the ESC is not that hard — when you have access to the right tools. I use a cheap stereo microscope for soldering. That helps a LOT! Additionally you need a lot of good flux, a good soldering station, and a cheap hot air station. If you have the toolset it is actually less expensive as you might think:
The parts for the flight controller and the ESC can be bought in single quantities for $40 and $20 respectively (e.g. at Farnell). The motors are available for $30, cam and vtx are $24, the frame can be cut for $10, the custom battery and camera mount is $4 on shapeways, and the batteries are $3 each. This sums up to roughly $150. This is less than what the new generation of ready to fly micro brushless copters are sold for right now. Once someone will manufacture the FC and ESC in series those prices will probably drop as well.

Tutorial

I will write a detailed, step-by-step build tutorial soon, so stay tuned. If you have built any my stuff i would be happy to see and hear how it turned out for you — so send me an email πŸ˜‰

Status

The including battery and fpv setup! It flies very very well, more to follow soon! Right now you will have to refer to my current blog posts for more information. Once the testing is finished I will publish more details.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

49 thoughts on “pepperF1SH — the world’s lightest brushless FPV quadcopter

  1. dnicholas

    Hi FishPepper,

    What is the low voltage behaviour of your FC/ESC design? Is it possible to over-discharge a lipo with it or will it cut out beforehand?

    Excellent designs, love them. Planning a 65mm brushless quad at the moment

    Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      Betaflight does not cut off on low voltage, you can fly until the copter drops out of the sky…
      Use the telemetry or set up a timer (or wait for the tinyOSD) πŸ™‚

      Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      I have no experience with those yet… I am testing 0705 motors on 2S right now.

      Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      There is a small triangle. That should face forward. When you hold the FC with the usb port to the right then the front side should face forward.

      Reply
  2. Kevin Austin

    Simon! I got tired of waiting, and have created these files.

    http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2313268

    I hope you find them useful if you have not had the time to create something yourself due to your move! The link to the camera is YOUR link, and I hope you get some clicks off of it!

    You deserve much more credit than you are being given.

    Reply
  3. John Crombe

    Just wondering… what do you think about using the 0703 20000KV motors? The chart shows they can pull 28g at 2.2A so pretty decent (3.4g/w) efficiency, but the key is that they weigh only 1.9g vs 3.7g for the 1103s. With the challenge being to make the lightest brushless quad it seems like you could save 7.2g by switching and not really lose any thrust (assuming 1s)? What am I missing?

    By the way, the fish2 is incredible. I’m going to build one with my son. SO SWEET! THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK!

    Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      Looks nice! I had no chance to play with those tiny motors yet πŸ™‚

      Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      Sorry I am busy moving to a new house right now. Sorry for the delay.

      Reply
  4. Kevin Austin

    I got my frames from Armattan! I’d like to print out the other bits if the files are ready, or am I going to need to draft something up?

    Danke!

    Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      Sorry for the delay. I am moving to a new house, busy times :-\

      Reply
  5. Kevin

    All components are on the way. Except the cam mount…

    packmanfpv@gmail.com

    Got a few ultimakers at work to print with πŸ˜€ I left BG a complaint about not giving credit.

    Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      Sorry I am busy right now, I hope I get the files uploaded the next days.

      Reply
      1. Kevin Austin

        I am waiting for Armattan πŸ™‚
        Hope you have a good week Simon!

        Reply
  6. tracer

    Hi fishpepper, great, great work!
    Did you maybe try the RakonHeli 40mm props? How do you think they would do?

    Reply
  7. avi

    Any recommendations for On Screen Display to match this 1s lipo project

    Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      I do not know about any osd light/small enough. I have some ideas for a lightweight version but too many ongoing projects…

      Reply
      1. Relys

        What about http://www.banggood.com/MICRO-MinimOSD-Minim-OSD-Mini-OSD-W-KV-Team-MOD-For-Naze32-Flight-Controller-p-990556.html weighing in at 1.2g?

        Alternatively there’s this new stack that’s being used on the Aurora90: http://www.banggood.com/Eachine-Minicube-20x20mm-Flytower-Compatible-Frsky-Flysky-DSM2-DSMX-Receiver-F3-Blheli_S-10A-ESC-p-1127223.html?rmmds=search weighing in at 9.4g (Also includes RX of choice+OSD+buzzer). I would really love to see OSD on your open source hardware stack though. :3

        Also, what are your thoughts on the new micro 0703 Racestar motors?: http://www.banggood.com/Racerstar-Racing-Edition-0703-BR0703-10000KV-1-2S-Brushless-Motor-For-6080100mm-FPV-Racer-1_9g-p-1129234.html?rmmds=search

        Reply
        1. fishpepper Post author

          OSD: 1.2g is a lot! We would need something in the range of 0.4g or so…
          The stack is huge, thats 20×20 hole spacing. Pepperfish uses 16×16.
          That stack would make the pepperfish more than 7g heaviere πŸ˜‰

          The motors seem very inefficient. I could make a <25g copter out of those but they seem to have very low power πŸ™

          Reply
        2. aviv

          The MAX7456 is rated for 4.75V ~ 5.25V.
          I suspect all MINIM-OSD uses 7456 clones not rated for 1S Lipo.

          Reply
          1. fishpepper Post author

            I have some ideas to do it without a special osd chip. Would be much smaller… I just need more free time! πŸ™‚

  8. Marek Grapiniak

    Hi Simon,

    Can I use MPU-6050 gyro instead of MPU-6000 ?
    I have few boards I can scavage 6050 from.

    Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      No, you will need the MPU6000. The 6050 uses I2C, I used SPI to connect the Gyro.

      Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      A local company in Germany. You can try armattan productions, they do high quality cfk cutouts as well.

      Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      I will upload the frame soon. Got busy testing the new prototypes…
      No, those batteries are way to heavy! Stick to the turnigy nano 200mAh (5.5g).
      The original connector is a weak spot, it is rated for 1A and you have a drop of >0.1V during flight…
      I will test to swap to the bigger JST 2mm (aka PowerWhoopConnector). Those batteries look nice to me:
      http://www.mylipo.de/Lipo-205mAh-37V-25C-50C-msr-Nano-CPX-QX-HV-435V-TinyWhoop
      I will probably fly them charged to 4.2V.

      Reply
      1. Shane

        Here is a another battery that seems like it would work, its 220mA/h and 5.5g

        You can get 4 of them on amazon for $15.99

        Also I posted the PepperF1SH board to OSHPark. It is $3.10 for 3 boards, pretty good price.
        https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/XXXXXX

        Anyone who wants to get PCBs can just order them from the above link.

        Reply
        1. fishpepper Post author

          I am about to test some cheap aliexpress batteries. One really wants to use batteries with the “new” JST PH2 plug. I modified my turnigy nano batteries to that plug, works quite well. Those are still my favorite. I tested some mylipo batteries but I was not 100% satisfied.

          Please do not reupload my designs to oshpark. I have links to a oshpark project on every project page. This way I can make sure I have the latest revision up to order. πŸ˜‰

          Reply
  9. Pingback: pepperF1SH, the 32.4g Brushless FPV Quadcopter #drone #droneday « Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers!

  10. Marek

    Hi Simon!

    I know it’s too early but would you think about 2S support for pepperF1SH ? πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      There will be no 2S support. My current 4in1 ESC can only handly 1S, going to 2S would require a complete redesign of the FET driving circuit. I wanted to be as light as possible, 1S is more than enough for indoor! I will rather try to reduce the weight even more and probably add more efficient props.

      Reply
      1. Marek

        Fair enough πŸ™‚
        Having an indoor pico quad would be just awesome but to fly indoor a propper bumperr is a must therefore I am more than happy that you started prototyping bumper as well πŸ™‚
        Keep up the good work!

        Cheers!

        Reply
  11. Scanboostar

    Hi,

    Nice project!

    Can you give an indication of the max flight time with the turnigy 200 mAh batteries.

    Did you try the LiHV 1s battery grom mylipo.de?

    Reply
    1. fishpepper Post author

      Hovering time is around 6 minutes on the 200mAh turnigy nano battery I use. I expect real flight times of at least 3 minutes. Those lihv batteries have the same weight and should give you 230ish capacity. Could be an improvement. I did not test those yet, i have a bunch of those 200mAh batteries from my tinywhoop πŸ™‚

      Reply
  12. Tim

    How did I not know your blog existed before?? Pretty much everything on your blog can be described as epic! I never imagined a brushless quad as lightweight as a tinywhoop. I figured they would get as small as one but not as light. Are you planning on designing prop guards? I know they’d be heavier but I think they’d be worth it for bumping into stuff inside.

    Reply
      1. Tim

        I see now, sorry I didn’t look hard enough! That’s awesome! I will definitely be following your blog and building my own brushless microquad in the near future!

        Reply
  13. Pingback: The World’s Lightest Brushless FPV Quadcopter | Hackaday

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*