40 min+ Mini Quad Flight Time! - Build

by Vaidotas | April 3, 2016 | (0) Posted in Projects

My name is Vaidotas, I am originally from Lithuania but I am currently living in Norway. I was hooked on RC hobby 1,5 years ago and I like it very much. 

I love mini quadcopters - they are very mobile and portable, you can take them when you hiking or climbing mountains, they can go through tight spots and if you race in a forest it feels like you are in one of the Star Wars movies, BUT the battery does not last a long time… That was quite annoying for me for a while so half a year ago I started THE project. Project goal was to have long flight time but still use robust frame and not think much about crashes, use shelf products and make it from reasonably priced parts.

So I started with a balsa frame and a couple of 1806 2280KV motors from Ebay, 12A Emax ESC and ncr18650b batteries. It did fly but it was more or less ground effect and it was quite a disappointment. It did fly well on 3000mah 2s RC battery (did 20min) but balsa is not for quadcopters.

Previous Attempts

For the second attempt I made a frame from 8x6 carbon fiber square tubes and used rctimer 1806 1450kv motors. It did fly quite well on ncr18650b’s but it handled crashes quite badly. After one flip on the ground I destroyed it, but the search still continued.

For my third attempt I bought a frame from Ebay and switched to even better batteries – ncr18650GA

(Thanks Panasonic!) 

My Eventual Solution

And finally this setup did the job very well. I had enough power for reasonable speed and climb rate and of course long long flight times on robust mini frame. 

For this build the parts and right combo are THE key. Final setup and links to where I bought it:

RCTimer 1806 1450kv Motor 

Carbon fiber 7024 T-Style Propeller 

Favourite Sky 3 Quattro 4 x 6A Brushless Quadcopter ESC  

N32+ Flight Controller




Without battery, the quadcopter weighs ~175g (3s 3450mah battery - additional 165g).
I used a battery box to protect my batteries but it weighs like 23g!!! 

So I will get rid of it in future. As a build goes it is very easy. All you need to do is use one bottom plate of a frame and screw two bolts per leg. I also kept the metal bolt on from the original frame set instead of a plastic one per leg so if a crash happens (oh it will happen) it will bend and absorb more of the impact.

Next is to get rid of plastic boxes, just get rid of those! and glue everyhing on the frame: ESC on top, FC in the middle and receiver on lower part. Keep wires short by cutting them and soldering. I still used a receiver socket since I plan to use this receiver for different purposes. 

 Also I had to use some spacers to fit 7” propellers that obviously cost some minutes on efficiency.

Few things to keep in mind when repeating this type of project:
1) Spend time on planning and calculations. Robust long time flying quadcopter require juggling between weight and power. Test your motors and batteries on load because 18650 batteries have quite huge voltage drop. In general try to keep your frame 70-100g. range and make sure you can support 7 inch props and use components above and you will also be flying 40min.

2) Use quality parts and materials. If I would start this again I would skip balsa and ebay motors, that was a huge mistake that I regret now. Use carbon fiber propellers, they are more expensive but not as much but they cut air very nicely and are very light.

3) Never give up! Not always things go as planned, to achieve wanted result sometimes you might need to build more than one prototype but at the end you will be happy and smiling. Biggest smiles require biggest effort.

I am quite happy with the results and I wish to inspire you to do it better and have better flight times and more fun! 

My 40+min hover test: 


bred on April 29, 2016
What does normal flight look like?
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Vaidotas on May 2, 2016
Its not super fast quadcopter and props don't have enough pitch for that but it has enough power for easy flying around. It is very nice to take it on a hike since it weighs nothing but have plenty of flight time on one battery.
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Azobe on August 28, 2016
Whats kind of thrust measurements are you getting and what do you reckon the power to weight ratio of your machine is? I'm planning on doing a similar build except using my own custom single piece frame, and making everything waterproof (that means using an enclosure). I think my quad is gonna weigh around 500-600 grams. What do u think a good setup for this would be?

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Chris2012 on April 30, 2016
I enjoyed the project! These projects are a lot of fun, have you tried the e-calc resource? I managed to come across a particular kind of prop (Aero-Naut e-prop) that saved my 4lb quad a minute of additional flight time. Those who fly FPV quads know that a minute adds up nicely.
What kind of spacers did you use? Also, did your props overlap like the video suggested?
Thanks, CJ
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Vaidotas on May 2, 2016
Thanks! I use e-calc for other projects but for this one I could not find good combination for components so I relied on charts found on internet . As for prop it is probably only component of quadcopter that relies on aerodynamics and it is not straight forward as it looks, there are quite a lot of different designs there and thanks for suggestion I will try e-prop.
I have put font legs on bottom of middle plate and rear on top of middle plates, and I used nylon m3 nuts as a spacers for m2 screws. I needed this for prop overlap it is not much but sadly it is not perfect. Best way would be to make custom cnc frame but cost for this project would be significantly higher(probably 40%) more. But I will try to find better frame for it in future that support 7" propellers and weighs less than 70g.
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NuttyGeezer on May 18, 2016
Very nice. You should put one of the 3g FPV cameras on this, that would be amazing
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Vaidotas on February 27, 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1syxoz2cQUI&t=1072s had 30min of flight.
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funckmeister on August 7, 2017
Hi Vaidotas. Awesome build. Fooling around with some stuff myself, so tried to find you on the forum for a PM. Could you get back to me?
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quetiano on September 24, 2018
Hello and good day to you Vaidotas.
I have come across this and I was amazed, I really do want to build but I require your help on the esc, as there isnt any stocks of the esc which you specified as a link, and I wanted to use another flight controller instead of your specified one so that all my parts can be purchased from one store, that is rctimer.com.
I reside in South Africa, Durban, so ordered stuff takes very long to get here as this country has absolutely incompetent workers at the post office, customs, etc.
I have searched for an esc and wanted to query if I could use this esc instead for the drone tutorial above...

And can i use this flight controller instead of yours...
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necessaryevil on October 9, 2018
Hi, can you provide a new link for the frame? It's sold out and I'm not completely sure which frame you use, it looks different than the one I found based on your discription. Did you remove the top bit?

Outstanding build by the way!

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40 min+ Mini Quad Flight Time! - Build