Catalyst Machineworks SuperLight Frame Review

by NoobRC | November 7, 2016 | (0) Posted in Reviews

If you know me (which you probably don’t, because this is the internet and I’m not the social butterfly I once was) then you know that I love my Catalyst Machineworks Speed Addict 210R.  I race with it, I fly freestyle with it, I beat the hell out of it and it just dusts itself off and takes off again.  It’s a kick-ass looking low COG frame that is tough as nails, but not exactly the easiest build and not the lightest frame around (though it IS light!). When Catalyst Machineworks announced the SuperLight and started tossing around some great teaser videos I was stoked.  When I finally saw the frame I knew I had to try it out.  It had the same lines and attitude of the Speed Addict, but stripped down and raw. It was a mean looking aircraft, but could it stand up to the name?  Could it handle the abuse I would inevitably throw at it? Could a noob like me build the darn thing? Only one way to find out!

And it comes in a groovy bag!

If you’re not familiar, Catalyst Machineworks is a “team of corn fed, red blooded, America loving gearheads” from Houston, Texas and is a family run business. In my experience as a customer they use high quality materials and have some of the most detailed build manuals I’ve ever seen.  A while back they set a record for the fastest quadcopter at 128.1MPH with their Stig frame.  That’s damn near going plaid!  Needless to say these guys know what they are doing, and they’re doing here in the U.S. of A.

The Speed Addict SuperLight is a 200mm motor-to-motor stretched-X, or XL style frame where the left and right arms are closer than they are front to back.  This design is said to improve your roll performance and pitch stability.  The frame is made from 3K twill weave gloss carbon fiber, and sports a 3mm bottom plate or you can opt for a 4mm version.  With the frame you get knurled red anodized standoffs and removable arm braces to help protect the craft in a crash.  It can fit most standard electronics, and sports up to a whopping 75 degree camera angle!

Everything in its right place… in my possession

Catalyst Machineworks gives you a few options with this frame that translate into both strength and all-up weight.  If you got with the 3mm bottom plate and no arm braces you are looking at a frame that weighs only 61 grams.  If you’re like me and want something tougher you can go with the 4mm bottom plate and arm braces and still only be at 81 grams.  The top plate is 1.5mm, but they’ve just started offering a 2mm version as well for even more strength.

As far as building goes, it really couldn’t be much easier.  Bottom plate, top plate, to camera plates, standoffs and a couple screws. The only challenge I had was with my flight controller since it was a little unconventional (and to be covered in a later review).  Everything fits together perfectly, and Catalyst Machineworks provides an excellent build guide to walk you through every step of the way from building to wiring.  They even include tips like which corners should be sanded to make sure you don’t short anything out depending on how you mount your electronics and leads.  In spite of its small size I was able to fit everything together nice and cleanish.  I’m still a noob, so I’m sure others could do an even better job.

All done and ready to fly!

The frame fits a RunCam Swift perfectly, and everything just looks nice.  The attention to detail is what makes it.  With 5″ props the clearance is TIGHT – So much so that the VTX antenna mount was designed in such a way to just fit.  It’s an impressive look when all is said and done and reeks of attitude and speed, the way a good racer should.  I opted for the SirinFPV flight controller, XM30As ESCs, and a set of Arris 2205 2600kv motors.  I also got a set of the HQProps clear 5x4x3 props because they look sweet.

So the fame is in fact super light, it builds easy, it looks great, the component quality is top notch, it comes with a few options… but is it tough?  Well, again, only one way to find out.  This time, however, it wasn’t intentional.

I had my SuperLight all ready for the maiden this past weekend at a race and was super excited to see what this beast could do.  Even with a ridiculous 1500mah 60c LiPo strapped on the bottom it was still one of the lightest frames at the field that day.  I set it out a few yards ahead of me, flip the arming switch on my transmitter, and bring it into a hover… at less than a quarter throttle.  That is a lot more power than this noob is used too!

I begin testing the rates before trying anything, flicking the sticks this way and that, getting a feel for the craft.  It obviously needs a tune, but I decide it is flyable enough for a punch out and maybe a few flips.  It is during my first punch out that I realize two things: 1) This thing is going to be stupid fun, and 2) I have a desync issue with one of my ESCs.  The SuperLight comes tumbling down from a few hundred feet above and smacks into the ground a few feet in front of the pilots standing behind me, one of which being the awesome T-Bone FPV, who captured the whole thing on video.

Well crap.

How’d the SuperLight look afterwards?  Well, perfectly fine actually.  The last photo above is post-crash!  oh, and I did it about 8 more times for good measure.  It’s getting late in the season, but I’m going to try and get my electronic issues worked out ASAP and get a proper flight video up.

The SuperLight claims to be “perfect for a professional FPV pilot looking to put down the fastest ever MultiGP UTT time or the new guy just getting into FPV racing…” and honestly I can’t disagree with that.  I AM new, but I’ve been racing for a while now.  It was easy to build, will be easy to maintain thanks to its open design, and is going to be ridiculously fast with properly chosen and tuned electronics.  The carbon fiber and otehr components are high quality, and the 3D printed TPU mounts they provide work great. My only complaint is that they don’t have a camera mount option for RunCam/Mobius style HD cams yet, though they do have mounts for the standard GoPro and Session cameras.  It’s small enough to strap on your flight bag and head out to the race, or even to a park for some insane freestyle.  There’s nothing in the design that shouldn’t be there, and everything that is there is exactly how it should be.  If you’re in the market for a tough, light frame you owe it to yourself to check out the Catalyst Machineworks SuperLight! Heck, they even offer it as an RTF!


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polodu64 on November 13, 2016
Great article, thanks a lot ! :D
I have been flying the 210-R for almost a year now, and I just LOVE it ! :D (It's the only one I fly right now), and I was thinking of maybe building an other quad next year... I had an amazing experience with the Catalyst Machineworks team and products, so the SL will definitely be my next frame !
Have fun with it !
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NoobRC on November 14, 2016
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Catalyst Machineworks SuperLight Frame Review