One of our first posts on PropNuts was a build log on the Realacc X210 QAV X Clone Frame (available here) which was built up with a basic spec load out and a custom GoPro Session mount. 3 months on we have decided it is time to step up the game and build a hype spec Pod racer.
For this build we did indeed use a clone of the QAV X frame however modification is required to get it to work with the Pod. We would recommend buying the official Lumenier QAV X frame and Pod to make your day easier and to support the companies who develop these brilliant frame designs. Unfortunately our lack of funds drove us down the route of a clone..
- Frame: Realacc X210 4mm Carbon Frame Kit (QAV X Clone – available here)
- PDB: Matek XT60 PDB
- Flight Controller: KISS Flight Controller
- Motors: Emax RS 2205 2300kV (Red Bottoms)
- Props: RaceKraft 5051 Tri Prop
- ESC: 24A KISS ESC
- FPV Camera: Lumenier CM-650
- VTx: ImmersionRC Tramp HV VTx
- Other: Lumenier QAV X Polycarbonate POD
First thing to note is that the official Lumenier QAV X Polycarbonate POD does not directly fit onto the Realacc X210 clone frame as standard. Our version of the frame (which may differ from others as clone frames are not known for their consistency) had the two holes at the front approximately 3mm too close together and distance from the front to rear holes was around 1mm too small.
To overcome this we drilled out the front two holes from 3mm to 4mm and also used a Dremel (with the grout removal bit) to extend the front holes outwards. This was enough to get the pod to fit perfectly.
To finish the Pod modifications, we also wanted to use the Matek XT60 PDB for tidiness. The Pod however does not have a cutout on either of the sides for the PDB so again we used the Dremel to remove some material for clearance.
Motor / ESC soldering is a chore.. Nonetheless we took our time on a quite night over a beer to do this bit. As usual all the components were first positioned on the frame roughly to measure the lengths of all the wires. After measuring up, the wires were snipped and stripped, tined with solder and connected to the ESC.
The KISS 24A ESCs are very nice pieces of kit and look of very high quality. The plan is to run this setup with DShot 600 and test out the recent hype. The solder pads on the ESC for the motor are pretty short compared to other ESCs such as DYS and LittleBees, however the copper ‘pad’ actually extends through the thickness of the PCB and spans both sides of the board. With this you are able to solder the motor wires inline with the PCB itself. We guess this may be slightly stronger design in comparison to the typical surface pads other ESCs might have as when you tug on the motor wires it is not ‘peeling’ the pad off the PCB but instead pulling inline with the PCB which is probably pretty strong (just a hunch).
The KISS ESC’s come completely unsoldered without any wires at all, so the next step was to solder on the signal and ground wires for communication with the flight controller. There is also a third wire which can be added for ESC telemetry (can provide RPM, Temperature and Current) for motor operation. We have chosen not to use this as we don’t use OSD anyway.
At this stage it is recommended you test the motor spin direction before sealing up the ESC. This is because to reverse motor direction on the KISS ESC you will need to physically bridge a jumper pad using a small blob of solder. Not as easy as most other ESCs which can be reversed through its firmware, but also not very difficult.
If you have read our previous post on What to do when your quad goes for a swim you will know that we like to be prepared for water. In fact my previous fully KISS’d quad ended up in a saltwater puddle near the sea on its first flight resulting in various dead components. To prepare this build we used our usual protection of Nail Varnish over the ESCs before the shrink wrap which is cheap and effective.
This is always where it gets interesting. This setup was actually built and and then re-built 2 or 3 times before we were happy with the layout. Things like wire routings, stand off sizes, VTx and Rx positioning have to be perfect when you build a snug fitting pod racer. So be warned – take your time and it won’t go together perfect first time!
We seated the PDB initially using 5mm nylon standoffs on top of the frame. In the end we actually installed the PDB only 2mm off the frame by using a screw from the bottom side and a nylon nut as a spacer (M3 Screw-Frame-Nylon Nut-PDB-5mm Standoff). The additional 3mm clearance made a difference on getting everything neatly into the pod.
The motor wires were soldered onto the PDB as usual, leaving enough excess length so they reach through the clearance holes on the sides of the pod. Note that the ESCs at this point have servo plugs on them, however we will end up cutting these off as they were direct soldered to the FC to save space on using pins.
Once happy with the PDB and ESC power wires, we direct soldered the ESC wires to the KISS FC and also connected up the power supply from PDB to FC again using direct soldering. Using direct soldering we actually save a lot of real estate which is normally taken up by the connectors and pins themselves. This does make it less convenient to change out components, but we rarely swap out a FC or ESC in the field anyhow so a little bit of soldering isnt a problem. Additionally we reduce any chances of plugs coming undone in flight when we direct solder everything.
To save even more space the RX was stripped of its pins (see our previous post here about slimming down RXs). You can see this gives a super neat little bundle in the photo below here we have the PDB, Flight Controller and RX all in a tidy little stack. To stack the RX as close as possible to the FC we use some adhesive foam pad and zip tie around the stack. Don’t tighten the zip tie too much as this might damage the electronics, just enough to hold the components is what we went for.
The QAV X Pod is made from Polycarbonate plastic which is about 3mm thick with 4x expanding inserts which grip the pod when tightened. The pod has been designed for an HS1177 style camera. It also somes with antenna tubes which slip into holes in the pod, and various cut outs around the pod for VTx, Antenna, USB access to the FC and an XT60 hole at the rear.
We were skeptical at first about how strong a solid plastic pod would be but we were pleasantly surprised when it arrived. It has some give, but feels fairly robust. One of the other PropNuts has been running this pod including thrashing around at our indoor venues where the pod is still holding up to the abuse!
It took a little faffing around to get the ImmersionRC Tramp VTx positioned in the pod nicely. The pod has been designed by the look of it for a VTx with directly mounted antenna jack on the PCB, this would allow you to zip tie it to the pod with the jack/antenna sticking out the hole, there is then a zip tie point around the antenna/jack on the outside of the pod to secure it.
BUT if you have a VTx with a pigtail there is no through hole/bulkhead available to secure the jack to. We found the best solution was to connect the antenna to the jack, pull it through into the pod which allowed a zip tie around the pigtail jack securing it to the pod and then another zip tie around the antenna. To hold the VTx and the NFC components in place we simply used adhesive velcro pads. The Tramp VTx also comes with an NFC feature which allows channels and power to be changed remotely using its ‘Wand’. We stuck the receiver at the top of the pod.
Finally to complete the pod we installed the FPV camera into the front of the pod. We found the pod slightly narrow for the camera, requiring you to bend it a little to get the camera seated. Also for our camera we had to drill out the camera mounting holes to 3.5mm so the posts on the camera casing would sit in the hole. Once in it is snug and the camera angle is adjustable but stiff enough not to move on its own.
With all the components in place it was time to close up the quad. You will notice that we left the wires from the PDB to the VTx and Camera long enough to be able to connect them with the pod off. So closing up is as simple as plugging everything in followed by feeding the antennas from the RX through the holes at the top of the pod.
When closing the pod we made sure that none of the wires were trapped between the pod and frame and slowly nipped up the 4x M3 screws from the underside of the frame.
Once the pod was on the antennas were fed into the tubes and the tubes simply push fit into the holes in the frame. We added a couple of small dods of glue to secure the tubes in place.
And there we have it ladies and gents, a finished QAV X (clone) complete with pod. I would rate this build as moderate in difficulty, it requires direct soldering to save space on pins, there is little space to locate components neatly and modifications were required to get the pod to fit. However it’s not as hard as some of the other builds we have experience (such as the Corgi).
Hope you have enjoyed the read of this build log. We will be sure to post an update soon when we get this little beasty thrashing around a track!