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Tweaker

The Tweaker is a 180mm micro racing quad with built-in camera tilt and plenty of room for electronics. 

Ryan Gury of Dronekraft had been getting after me for months to design a micro, and I kept resisting for several reasons. One, I hate pico fpv gear. Two, I don’t feel the need to design a simple carbon H quad just to have an entry in a category. Three, you need a microsurgeon’s skills to build one of them. And four, I wasn’t convinced that they fly as well as 250’s, which I think have the perfect blend of power for agility and inertia for smooth carving.

Then my friend Josh started showing up to the field with an Armattan Morphite, and as he worked out the kinks over a few days of flying and tuning I noticed that it was getting faster and faster. Then one day we ran a couple of impromptu laps just before my battery died. I let him start in front thinking I’d get some nice video of him first, then pass him with ease – I had the Fast Forward and a couple years flying experience on him, should be no problem, right?

Well, much to my surprise I never got in front of the Morphite, and as I calmly congratulated Josh I started to freak out inside. How could that tiny little toy with 1306 motors beat my Fast Forward? Did he just invalidate my design? 

I watched the video later in a cold sweat and was relieved to find that Josh and I hadn't agreed on a course, and he was skipping a pole that kept putting me behind. Still, the Morphite was extremely quick in the turns, only losing ground in the straightaway. It would be faster than a 250 on the right course. Maybe I should design a 180 after all?

I set down some parameters. It had to take normal components: full size FC, 200mw VTX, and at the very least a FatShark 600tvl fpv cam. It had to be easy to build. It should have some fpv cam tilt built in, I hate it when cam tilt is treated as an afterthought. And it had to take 1300 as well as 1800 motors, and maybe even 2200’s for the freaks.

My first thought was to cut it all out of 1.6mm carbon. The arms would be doubled up so that they’re 3.2mm, and the second layer would be attached by the motor screws at the ends and standoff screws in the middle. I hoped that this would be lighter and possibly cheaper to manufacture.

The frame’s small enough so that it only needs 6 standoffs, and with the body at 36mm (the same width as the FC) the middle standoffs would have to be offset fore or aft of the FC. The rear arms would run straight across and use the screws on the rear standoffs, while the front arms would sweep back to use standoff screws just in front of the FC. I did a quick sketch.

Happy with the look, I next drew it up for real in Illustrator – it’s a simple 2 layer quad, no need to visualize it in 3d, and Illustrator has Bezier curves to make beautiful lines. I did use Sketchup to map out a 20 degree tilt cam mount. It’d be really cool to be able to figure it out with just trigonometry but I tried for a few minutes and got a headache so I just drew it instead.

Pretty close to the sketch, eh? The cutouts in the arms are just for one of the arm layers.

Pretty close to the sketch, eh? The cutouts in the arms are just for one of the arm layers.

I got a quote from my Chinese CNC supplier and it came in at a great price, low enough for me to charge a reasonable price for the kit. Just out of curiosity I asked how much it would be with a simple 3mm lower plate and much to my surprise it was cheaper. Seeing how it would be stronger, simpler, and cheaper as one layer instead of two I had no choice but to abandon my original idea.

Now, the front arms were swept back just so they could be bolted on in the middle using the middle standoff screws. If I was designing a simple 3mm unibody plate I’d probably have chosen some other shape, but now that it was done I’d fallen for its aesthetics, so I didn’t change the design. I realize that it’s similar to the Inversion and the EVO300, but there’s just only so many ways you can suspend four motors in space.

My CNC guy is so good the tilt mount sits between the plates perfectly flush. 

My CNC guy is so good the tilt mount sits between the plates perfectly flush. 

Initial testing with 1806’s was fantastic – ridiculously fun to fly, incredibly point and shoot, giving the pilot greater ability to fix mistakes at the last second. It’s how you first felt flying a 250 coming from a 400 all over again – you're suddenly twice the pilot. Naturally my maniac clubmates immediately demanded 2204 compatibility.

I built this adorable Rasta themed Tweaker for Ryan and of course he instantly puts black props on it and covers the arms in black heat shrink. I really like vertically mounting the vtx at the back for easy access to dip switches. The triple stack of rx-pdb-fc saves tons of space too.

I built this adorable Rasta themed Tweaker for Ryan and of course he instantly puts black props on it and covers the arms in black heat shrink. I really like vertically mounting the vtx at the back for easy access to dip switches. The triple stack of rx-pdb-fc saves tons of space too.

The original design had 24mm motor mounts, and 2204’s are 27mm across. My original thought was to draw up 1.6mm carbon motor guards to be added to the bottom of the arms for those using 2200 motors, but then it occurred to me that I could bring back my original 2-ply arm idea. Now the arms can be 4.6mm arms thick and have motor protection as well, an extra beefy configuration that leaves the original design light and elegant for those running 1300’s or 1800’s.

The arms are back, now extra wide at the end to protect 2200 motors.

The arms are back, now extra wide at the end to protect 2200 motors.

Clubmate Frank mentioned that it resembled a gingerbread man, which I shortened to Ginger in honor of my dog. Almost no one liked the name, so I thought I’d pay tribute to my club by naming it the Addict. Shane made a joke about tweakers and she got her name. Tweaker, and FPV Addiction edition Tweaker for the 2200 version.

And a sweet logo from a friend.

And a sweet logo from a friend.

You can pre order both versions now.

V2

Aaaand there was a hiccup. I wasn't happy that the motor leads on 2200 motors would come out at 45 degrees to the arms on the FPV Addiction Edition Tweaker. Normally this is no big deal (it's standard practice to have 1800's be offset 45), but with the stubby arms of a 180 this makes a mess of the motor/esc connection. After some thought I decided that 2200's needed a dedicated version, with non-offset motor mount holes and stouter 4mm/2mm bottom and top plates. 

No compromises now, much better.

No compromises now, much better.

Here's a hydro dipped beauty by Alex Walsh:

Here's @shane_fpv flying his proto.

And here's Ryan.

Dammit Ryan's getting really good, I gotta practice!