This page is about the adventure of building the world’s lightest brushless FPV quadcopter:
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.
You want to fly one of my recent prototypes? Join the pepperF1SH world tour!
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!
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…
In order to build one pepperFISH you will need the following parts:
- my tinyFISH FC
- my tinyPEPPER 4in1 ESC
- 4x Racerstar 1103 Motor (8000KV)
- VM275T camera / vtx combo
- custom frame (released soon as open hw)
- custom cam + battery mount (released soon as open hw)
- M2 nylon screws + bolts
- 4x Ladybird propeller
- some 32 AWG wire (black)
- a hand full of Turnigy nano 1S 200mAh batteries
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.
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 😉
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.
- pepperFIISH + Avan props + indoor Location = Envy^3 (9/19/2018)
- Tutorial: Replacing stiff motor wires with flexible ones — no more breaking wires [BR1103B] — Episode 2 (9/16/2017)
- Tutorial: Replacing stiff motor wires with flexible ones — no more breaking wires [BR1103B] (9/8/2017)
- A new pepperFIISH is born — Successful reproduction by jaap (8/26/2017)
- 70g HD-CAM VS 29g Drone — no way! (6/11/2017)
- pepperFIISH — new frame design for 0703/0705 motors (5/29/2017)
- pepperF1SH — 3D printed camera mount released! (5/28/2017)
- tinyOSD — 0.4g / full betaflight integration / early preview demo (5/24/2017)
- tinyFISH FC & tinyPEPPER ESC — Where to buy?! (5/9/2017)
- Racerstar F3D8 VS fishpepper tinyFISH FC (3/31/2017)
- pepperFIISH — 2S prototype thrust testing video (3/12/2017)
- pepperFIISH — 36g copter and 288g thrust (8:1), anyone? (3/11/2017)
- pepperF1SH — time to grab some Frames! (3/1/2017)
- pepperF1SH — some 1S fun in an deconsecrated church (2/16/2017)
- pepperF1SH World Tour — current status overview (2/6/2017)
- pepperF1SH World Tour (1/22/2017)
- pepperF1SH – Part XV: new prototype teaser (1/17/2017)
- pepperF1SH – Part XIV: dying shapeways polyamide (1/7/2017)
- pepperF1SH – Part XIII: round bumper design (1/6/2017)
- pepperF1SH – Part XII: lunch break, wind, no rain, no snow (1/5/2017)
- pepperF1SH – Part XI: camera and battery mount received from shapeways (1/5/2017)
- pepperF1SH – Part IX: another bumper design (1/2/2017)
- pepperF1SH – Part IIX: a new frame and bumper design (1/1/2017)
- pepperF1SH – Part VII: a new 3D printed camera and battery mount (12/28/2016)
- pepperF1SH – Part VI: new prototype & testing some flips (12/26/2016)
- pepperF1SH – Part V: Numbers, Numbers, Numbers! (12/22/2016)
- pepperF1SH – Part IV: 3D printed camera and battery mount (12/21/2016)
- pepperF1SH – Part III: new frame (12/19/2016)
- pepperF1SH – Part II: (preliminary) MAIDEN! (12/18/2016)
- pepperF1SH – Part I: Frame & Motors (12/16/2016)
A while back I built a pepperf1sh. I got a little busy and never got time to set it up and fly it. Over the last couple of days I’ve been trying to fly it with no luck. I set it up and made sure all the blades were spinning in the right direction but every time I try to fly it it just goes crazy in any direction. I can not get it to just hoover nicely. I should mention I am new drones. What I’m trying to figure out is if they are just that hard to learn to fly or if I probably have something wrong with the build/config/setup. Should it be pretty easy to just have it hover if everything is correct?
Did you set the board yaw orientation to 45°? This should fix it 🙂
If your FC does not know that it is mounted rotated the control loop will go crazy trying to control the copter 😉
Hi @ all,
does anyone have good PID values for the flight controler?
For me the default settings worked quite well. However that was on older bf. I am not sure how good the new defaults are. Do you have any problems with them?
Wow, thats light! My 50mm 0703 1s quad actually weights 32g with battery… I’m doing something wrong.
To begin, whats about your FPV antenna? It looks very nice. Is it just one cable?
Very nice quad!
Yes, just a short cable cut at the correct length. Not really ideal but does it’s job for close proximity flying 🙂
You’re missing Part X from your list of updates 🙂
Despite looking nice, it was way to unstable to survice real crashes 🙁
Hi i would just like to ask you. If you could build me one pepperfish like on picture on top how much would it cost. I would just lime to know price. Thank you.
Sorry I can not build those on request. I just do not have time for that. For the 1S version the boldclash clone is quite similar to the pepperfish even though it uses weaker motors.
hope you are all well. At the moment I m really struggling getting my new Pepperf1sh to work. What I did was that slaughtered my “old” Bwhoop 05 and grab four BR0703 (shitty stuff) fitted on the older 83mm 0703/0705 frame. BTW while I did the conversion I killed the esc ( a little part crack of because I treat it a bit ungentle). I then flashed the new esc and the old FC onto the newest version and set everything up in BF. Everything looks quite fine so far except the behavior of the drives. When I try to test the motors manually via BF´s motor test mode they are just shaking slightly after a while the classic BLheli beep sequence comes up and they stop shaking at all!
Funny part is that I experience exactly the same strange behavior with the Bwoop 05 before and this was one reason why I slaughtered it apart from a broken frame.
So this means to me that this fault is some how related to the tinyfishFC/betaflight (?) because everything else is new except the FC.
If you guys have any idea or suggestion it would be more than welcome.
Much appreciate your help.
Thanks in advance.
Hard to diagnose from here. Do you use DSHOT or is it set to pwm or oneshot output?
i follow your website a while and thats really cool stuff.
I thought of using your tinyFISH FC and tinyPEPPER ESC and put it on one big a PCB which works as a frame.
Do you think this is reasonable and light? I thought it might be pretty cool to have onlye one PCB with the motors and a AIO cam.
A pcb as frame is not a good idea. Every time it bends during acceleration or de-acceleration when hitting obstacles you will have a lot of stress on the solder joints. you will get microfractures and spurious failures.
Curious timing on this comment, I have in fact just completed a maiden flight of an ‘ESC frame’.
I’ve made a new PCB layout for your tinyPEPPER schematic so the 4-in-1 ESC is the frame. I’ll write a post up on my blog (which has been sorely neglected for too long) and link it so you can have a look in spite of your reservations about the idea.
Cool! Let me know how it turned out and how many crashes it survives 😉
I got my blog post up about the ESC Frame design. It’s still going strong!
I think it’s a neat idea and am quite pleased with the result even if the practical realities might catch up sooner rather than later.
Thanks for your great ideas and projects.
That looks really cool! Let me know how long it survives! Maybe adding a 1mm cfk plate to the bottom could help. Thanks for sharing!
Posted a frame on thingverse to print a pepperfish frame 😉
Thats looking very cool! What is the frames weight?
The frame need about one meter of 1.75 Pla. This give about 30g
30g? That’s a whole copter! Did you print it with lead solder as filament? *g* You probably meant 3.0g!?
greetings from Germany.
Are there any news for the bumper design or plans to release it in the near future?
It proved to be to weak for any serious impact… You got more bumper damage caused repair times than damages you get by flying without it 😉
I finally got all the parts for peperF1SH and assembled it. Thanks for all your hard work!
Even if they are fragile, would you mind releasing the bumper strut plans on thingiverse anyway? I fly indoors, and am having the hardest time as I crash on the slightest clip against anything. I don’t fly very fast, so I’m not looking for super robust bumpers.
Hi Simon, I want to try flying the pepperF1SH with a cell phone. What would be a good place to start to add WiFi capability to the tinyFISH FC to connect to a phone? I’m thinking of something similar to the Wifi module of the PixRacer https://pixhawk.org/peripherals/8266
If the best solution is to develop an add-on board, I’d love to design it and post the schematics here 🙂
Hard to say. Its probably too laggy to be usable. Bluetooth might be better. But I have no idea if someone ever tried that.
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
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) 🙂
Banggod seems to carry higher KV 1S motors (10k, 15k, 20k). Any idea how these motors would work instead of the 8k motors used here?
I have no experience with those yet… I am testing 0705 motors on 2S right now.
I understand that you’re busy with many things, so I was inspired to make my own camera mount for the camera that you recommended. I used your links and linked it back to this page.
Hopefully the model helps people and you. Thanks for making this project!
Thanks for posting this. I just released my design files as well: https://fishpepper.de/2017/05/28/pepperf1sh-3d-printed-camera-mount-released/
What’s the orientation for the FC?
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.
About the orientation, I almost completed the quad, assembled and flashed ESC’s and FC, but how can I set the orientation of the board to offset by 45 degrees so I can fly in quadX mode instead of +
Simon! I got tired of waiting, and have created these files.
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.
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!
Looks nice! I had no chance to play with those tiny motors yet 🙂
Hey, you have the 3D models? I have everything ready to build. If you dont want to publish, can you email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org?
Sorry I am busy moving to a new house right now. Sorry for the delay.
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?
Sorry for the delay. I am moving to a new house, busy times :-\
Looks like Eachine has been busy utilizing your designs. I am not sure if you have seen it but they have just announced a new product which I am fairly certain uses your FC and 4in1 ESC: http://www.banggood.com/Eachine-dustX58-58mm-FPV-Racing-Drone-BNF-with-F3-4A-Blheli_S-D-Shot-600-5_8G-48CH-VTX-p-1143432.html
Nice find! Looks quite fishy to me 😉
All components are on the way. Except the cam mount…
Got a few ultimakers at work to print with 😀 I left BG a complaint about not giving credit.
Sorry I am busy right now, I hope I get the files uploaded the next days.
I am waiting for Armattan 🙂
Hope you have a good week Simon!
Will the design for the bumper and mounts be available soon?
I am working on it 😉
How are the motors at 1S? I know the DYS BE1102 is listed as a 2-3S motor. Thanks.
Hi fishpepper, great, great work!
Did you maybe try the RakonHeli 40mm props? How do you think they would do?
Any recommendations for On Screen Display to match this 1s lipo project
I do not know about any osd light/small enough. I have some ideas for a lightweight version but too many ongoing projects…
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
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 😉
The motors seem very inefficient. I could make a <25g copter out of those but they seem to have very low power 🙁
The MAX7456 is rated for 4.75V ~ 5.25V.
I suspect all MINIM-OSD uses 7456 clones not rated for 1S Lipo.
I have some ideas to do it without a special osd chip. Would be much smaller… I just need more free time! 🙂
Can I use MPU-6050 gyro instead of MPU-6000 ?
I have few boards I can scavage 6050 from.
No, you will need the MPU6000. The 6050 uses I2C, I used SPI to connect the Gyro.
Where are you getting the frame cut?
A local company in Germany. You can try armattan productions, they do high quality cfk cutouts as well.
I’m starting to build myself on of these and I have a couple questions:
1.) Is there anyway I can get information on the frame so I can order one made?
2.) Do you think this battery would be ok instead:
It is 300mA/h verses 200 mA/h and its lighter, 8 grams verses 10 grams.
By the way great project! I’m excited to get one up and working.
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:
I will probably fly them charged to 4.2V.
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.
Anyone who wants to get PCBs can just order them from the above link.
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. 😉
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I know it’s too early but would you think about 2S support for pepperF1SH ? 🙂
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.
Fair enough 🙂
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 🙂
Keep up the good work!
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?
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 🙂
Also… in case you didn’t know you got an article on Hackaday, that’s how I found this.
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.
I am designing prop guards or let’s say a bumper cage right now. Have a look at my pepperF1SH bumper design post for my previous design. Right now I am working on an improved, round version 😉
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!
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