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Armattan Quadrocopters CNC 258 Quadcopter Review

Custom quality and world-class customer service come together in what ranks as one of the world's fastest and toughest quads! And to think that it all started right here at RCGroups.

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Introduction

Armattan Quadrocopters CNC 258
Span:10.1" motor-to-motor (258mm)
Construction:Laser-cut 1052 1.6mm thick aluminum center plates; 4mm 6061 4mm thick aluminum arms; CNC aluminum landing gear struts with rubber feet; 3mm hex head hardware; laser-cut carbon fiber plate above the control board; nylon hook-and loop battery strap
Flying Weight:25.9 oz (735g)
Required Transmitter:Spektrum or JR 2.4GHz DSM or DSMX aircraft radio, six-channels or greater
Control Board:HobbyKing KK2 programmable multirotor with V1.4 firmware; HobbyKing power distribution board
Receiver:HobbyKing Orange Rx DSM2-compatible six-channel aircraft
Battery:2DogRC 2200mAh 3S 35C lithium polymer
Motors:Four RCX D2822/12 39g brushless outrunners
Propellers:7x4.5 normal and reverse multirotor specific
ESCs:Four F-20 20-amp programmable with SimonK multirotor firmware
Operator Skill Level/Age:Intermediate; 14+
Manufacturer/Available From:Armattan Quadrocopters, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Price (USD):$230 plus $2.50 per each black anodized or orange-colored arm; a DIY kit is available for $200

When you stop to think about it, the power of this site is simply amazing.

Several manufacturers have launched successful businesses related to the hobby right here. Such is the case with Armattan Quadrocopters, or Armattanquads.com, who sold their very first quad on this site and which is mentioned here.

I frequent the blogs quite a bit and saw a post by user "bobepine," aka Chris Leroux, a Canadian living in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan. Chris's blog showed an incredible, all-aluminum bi-level octocopter with a HobbyKing KK2 control board. Since I'd just purchased that very board and some ESCs in order to resurrect my Rotor Concept HPQ1 after its propretary ESC fried out, I sent Chris a private message asking if he'd be interested in providing a frame and motors for a review.

What followed was truly extraordinary.

Chris explained that he sells few frames, preferring instead to sell entire, custom-built quads as either a receiver-ready package or a bind-n-fly for Spektrum/JR users with a HobbyKing Orange Rx Spektrum DSMX-compatible receiver. He insisted on doing the same for me so that I could better showcase both his products and a level of customer service equal to or even exceeding the best in the industry. For that matter, Chris told me that he wasn't interested in the review so much as he was helping out a fellow hobbyist, even going so far as to make an adapter plate so that I could mount my HK electronics on the HPQ1 frame!

We are about to go face-to-face with the incredible Armattan Quadrocopters CNC 258 quadcopter from Armattanquads.com. It's a formidable combination of laser-cut 6061 aluminum radials, laser-cut 1052 aluminum center plates and four 1800Kv 39g outrunners all controlled by the aforementioned KK2 board and 20-amp ESCs already flashed with the famous SimonK multirotor-specific firmware. Each Armattan quad is handbuilt at a rate of roughly five units per week and can be built to order with the user's choice of electronics. Chris then posts a video on YouTube showing the individual unit being test flown. The test video of this review model came in at nearly thirteen-and-a-half minutes and is linked below.

The CNC 258 is not a sedate, laid back camera platform or FPV type of quad. Instead, I found myself thinking of it as the Shelby Cobra 427 of quadcopters. Small package, ridiculously overpowered. Basic flight and hovering are as simple as any quad, even for a beginner. It can even be hovered and flown indoors in a large enough space. It's when the control rates get turned up to "Klingon Disrupter" that things start to happen. The combination of light weight, short arms, high-RPM motors and the incomparable SimonK firmware make this among the fastest, most manueverable quads on the market today. It'll even shrug off some the punishment of the inevitable "unscheduled landing" when flown in this manner.

Fans of the Multiwii platform can order their own CNC 258 - or any Armattan multirotor - with a Multiwii board. This adds self-leveling capability, headlock, altitude hold and optional GPS which needs to be purchased by the end user since Armattan doesn't add GPS.

This was the video which really did it for me. It was shot by some of Chris's friends in Australia and shows the incredible speed potential of the CNC 258:

Insane Quad chopper, rips it up ! (5 min 2 sec)

I'm getting ready for the multirotor ride of a lifetime and all of you are invited to join the fun!

Contents

This is a truly transmitter-ready unit complete with:

  • Pre-assembled laser-cut aluminum frame with CNC-milled aluminum landing struts and rubber feet
  • Pre-installed and programmed electronics
  • Normal- and reverse-rotation hand-balanced props, collets and retaining nuts
  • Receiver binding plug

My unit came with and extra set of props and motor shafts for review purposes, just in case of the unthinkable.

Needed for completion:

  • Spektrum, JR or Spektrum-equipped Futaba computerized aircraft radio with DSM or DSM2 protocol; units may be ordered without the Orange Rx receiver for use with other radio systems
  • 2200mAh 3S lithium polymer battery with Deans Ultra-Plug connector, 40C or better

I knew from the video of the test flight linked below that I was going to be in for a treat, but the video didn't do justice to what I saw in the custom-printed shipping box.

What emerged was a masterpiece of perfectly cut and fitted parts along with carefully routed and bundled wiring. No plastic here; this is a model built of the same aluminum alloys which go into the construction of full-scale aircraft. The only thing which was ever so slightly out of whack was the LCD display atop the control board which had come loose in transit and was easily reattached.

I expected it to be small based on the videos, photos and specs. It is, after all, a model built for speed and not for a payload. There's certainly enough thrust to raise a decent-sized payload based on the size of the motors, but a payload is not what the CNC 258 is about.

Small though it may be, the CNC 258 is 100% hobby grade and is most assuredly not a toy. In fact, I told Chris via a private message that I thought it looked like a piece of industrial art. All of the main components of the frame were black anodized except for the forward arms which were left in natural aluminum. The arms themselves are a new design which greatly increases their torsional rigidity. In other words, though they might bend up or downwards in a crash and easily bent back, they're unlikely to twist which is more difficult to undo.

The Mad Dog batteries from 2DogRC.com had not yet arrived, so I grabbed an old 2200mAh li-po in order to bind the unit to my Spektrum DX6i.

Most multirotors bind not as helicopters but as airplanes, greatly simplifying setup. The CNC 258 was no exception and I used the model memory slot from the HPQ1.

Once it was bound to the DX6i and powered up, the KK2 board powers up in a safe mode with readouts of the self-leveling mode (mine was set for on), battery voltage and if needed, roll and pitch angles which appear blank in my example. Arming the system is done with the throttle/rudder stick moved to full right yaw and zero throttle. Disarming the system is done by moving the stick to full left yaw at zero throttle.

I have a large enough area in my living room to at least check the controls of such a relatively small quad, so I strapped in the battery, powered up once more and armed the system, feeding in just enough stick input to be able to gauge its reaction. Throttle and rudder were OK but unlike the HPQ1, the elevator and ailerons needed reversing.

It's showtime, friends.

Flying

I wanted to get a feel for the Armattan before the video shoot, so I concluded that my front yard was as good a place as any.

Once it lifted off, I felt as if I'd been flying this quad for years despite the slightly breezy conditions. Basic forward flight and coordinated turns were as simple to perform as those on my nano-sized quad and far better than anything I'd experienced on the old HPQ1. What's more, that nano doesn't have the advantage of high-quality discrete electronics with firmware written by a master quadcopter pilot.

Fast forward blasts with quick returns to hover were effortless, but caused some infrequent beeps of the low-voltage alarm thanks to the older battery. Still, "hitting the brakes" in that manner brought the CNC 258 to an almost immediate halt and hover with only minimal compensation needed with the throttle. There's also no problem hearing the alarm over the drone of the propellers. It's both loud and high pitched.

As the beeping became more urgent with each passing blast, I knew it was time to land. My first attempt resulted in something of a surprise.

Contacting the ground with the throttle up caused the self-leveling feature to kick in, revving the motors and causing the CNC 258 to pop back into the air!

A bit of practice was all it took; I simply needed to chop the power as the quad touched down for a perfect spot landing every time.

Before my next few test flights prior to receiving a sample Mad Dog battery from 2DogRC.com, I took a moment to double check the radio settings. It turned out that I'd programmed in some low rates for the HPQ1 which didn't seem to have an adverse effect on performance, but I reset the throws to 100% and left in about 20% expo, at least for the time being.

Here are some specs for that terrific little pack:


Mad Dog 2200 mAh 11.1V 35C High Performance Li-Poly Battery
Available from 2DogRC.com
Weight:170g
Dimensions:103 x 34 x 26mm
Max Continuous Current:77A (35C)
Charging Current:1C (2.2A) to 3C (6.6A)
Connectors:EC3 power connector; JST-XH balancing connector
Price (USD):$33.25

Time to get down for some flying in a place other than my driveway.

Flying

As with most of my reviews, the video shoot took place at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club east of Palm Springs, California. A beautiful August morning was mine for the enjoying along with club videographer George Muir.

Once I strapped the Mad Dog li-po in place and fired up the model, it was time for some fun.

The video shows my first real efforts at flying the CNC 258 in an unconfined area. This is where all of that careful machining and expert programming paid off. The quad immediately showed its pedigree with graceful, fluid motion in response to the DX6i. Simply flying around a bit out over the runway to get the feel of the controls immediately put me at ease. This is as "jitter free" a model as one can possibly hope for.

I didn't want to go with all out speed on such a new model, but I wanted to see what the CNC 258 would do in short bursts of speed.

If seeing a CNC 258 ripping through Australian skies on a YouTube video was impressive, seeing one perform some serious high speed blasts in person was even more so. Dipping the nose and hitting the throttle sent the quad blasting off straight, true and under full control. Again, slowing and stopping were absolutely fluid with no bad tendencies such as brownouts or excessive loss of altitude.

Although there were no beeps from the low voltage alarm as of yet, especially since I was flying a brand new pack, I thought it best to land before I did hear beeps. Large though it may have seemed for this application, the battery came down at ambient temperature.

I've had a lot of fun with a lot of different types of model aircraft, but running a top-drawer quadcopter through its paces was among the most fun I've had. This quad will be going with me pretty much every chance I get to go flying. It's just that much fun.

Is This For a Beginner?

Quadcopters make excellent beginner platforms. This particular quad takes the learning curve into consideration with solid, nearly indestructible construction. In fact, I can't think of any model aircraft so capable of teaching basic flight while having such potential for high speed and advanced maneuvers. Beginners, here's a truly advanced model which you can learn to fly without fear. Regardless of skill level, I do recommend ordering extra props.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

This is the Armattan test video shot in Taiwan...

For Ralph (13 min 26 sec)

...and here am I flying it in California!

Armattan Quadrocopters CNC 258 Quadcopter (2 min 51 sec)

Conclusion

In terms of both construction and electronics, the Armattan Quadrocopters CNC 258 represents the state of the art. Careful building to the individual customer's order results in a truly transmitter-ready or receiver-ready package as good as or better than any one might find on the market. In short, this is about as good as it gets and it comes in at an affordable price. I give it two thumbs way, way up.

My thanks go to Chris Leroux of Armattan Quadrocopters for building this terrific quad specifically for this review. I wish him nothing but success with his new company. Mark Grohe of 2DogRC.com has been a friend and supporter of RCGroups.com for years and he's a pleasure to work with. He's the gentleman responsible for the high-capacity Mad Dog li-po and as always, I cannot thank him enough for his support.

Angela Haglund is the RCGroups.com administrator directly responsible for making sure these reviews get out to you, our worldwide audience. Once more, I invite you to enjoy your stay here at the world's largest online hobby forum!

Pluses and Minuses

There are a ton of pluses to mention:

  • Beautifully crafted
  • Excellent flying characteristics
  • Crash resistant
  • Radials are easily bent back into place after a crash
  • Software and firmware are state of the art
  • Transmitter ready
  • Outstanding customer service
  • Full parts support
  • Fast shipping
  • Fun to fly regardless of skill level
  • May well be among the finest multirotors on the market regardless of price

The only minus?

  • The carbon fiber panel atop the KK2 control board makes the display difficult to see, but the model may be ordered with a transparent panel
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Aug 14, 2013 at 03:13 PM..

Discussion

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Old Aug 15, 2013, 01:49 PM
Fly Fast, Fly Hard, Fly Fun
rexless's Avatar
Canada, BC
Joined Apr 2012
1,434 Posts
What A Great Review

As an Armattan fan and owner of 3 different models, I can back this up with my own experience. My CNC 258 is my favourite - balls to the walls - acrobatic and training quad. Thanks to Chris's designs and support I've gone from V929's to learning (the hard way) how to fly full on acrobatic, high-speed scale and even some stunt flying. This is not your toy store throw-away Quad. This is a real hobby-grade high-performance sport flying platform that truly is perfect for beginners and experts alike.

Great job on this review!
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Old Aug 15, 2013, 02:28 PM
Registered User
United States, NC, Fuquay-Varina
Joined Mar 2006
123 Posts
Armattan CNC258 owner here. I selected Chris to build a quad for me based on his reputation here on the forums and his attention to customer service. Custom Quad's built by Chris result in a video tailored to you and your purchase before he ships it to you explaining your quad.

His build quality is very high and his response time to any issues or questions is great.

I ordered my quad on a Friday evening EST time and he had sent me a build video by 2AM that Sunday morning and had put it in the mail to me the very next day.

Since then, I've thrown my quad into the ground a dozen or more times and my 258 has held up just fine. Out of all of my crashes, only one bent arm.. total repair time was < 10 minutes bending the arm straight against the edge of a desk.

It's amazingly fast, agile and resilient. I can highly recommend Chris's quads!

EDIT:

I should add that my first quad was a little micro... it was fun and entertaining, but unstable in acrobatics. This CNC258 was my first "real" quad and Chris set it up with relatively tame settings on the multiwii for me to start with. A few short flights later, I upped the rates and began flipping this beast... with a little bit of trial and error, I can now easily flip it 3+ times or as low as just a couple of feet off the ground in any direction... it's a very agile beast and docile enough for a 'Fisher Price My First Real Quad' type of experience.

-jbl
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Old Aug 15, 2013, 02:55 PM
Registered User
United States, UT, Herriman
Joined Jan 2012
1,886 Posts
Excellent, detailed review. It's this sort of thing that keeps me coming back to RCG.

As a new quad pilot, my CNC258 has taken more than it's fair share of impacts. Even a couple inverted and under power. I have broken many props, but not so much as bent an arm. This thing is TOUGH. It's extremely agile and fast as well, all while being easy to fly. Any of my crashes are from being so confident in the quad that I try things I'm probably not ready for, with predictable results.

Chris is also very easy to work with. He's gone above and beyond helping people out. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him and his quads to anyone.
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Old Aug 16, 2013, 04:29 AM
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microrcfiend's Avatar
United Kingdom, England, Sheffield
Joined Jun 2012
1,414 Posts
Good review.
I have had a cnc355 multiwii for about 4-5 weeks now and have had around 70-80 flights.
If your looking for a robust quad that can take a full speed hit to the ground and be flying again in less than 10 minutes and usually just a couple props I'd like to add my recommendation. I'd also like to add that I have put this thing into the ground as hard as you could possibly do so and it's still going strong. Snip cable ties, hammer arms flat, remove grass, mud etc from motors and you good to go after a couple more cable ties. 10 firm crashes and I have only rebuilt in once because I wanted to change some wiring round, the rest of the time I have just hammered it flat by eye and kept flying.

I always flown a lot of bouncy micros and love the carefree way you can fly them, learning acro with a quad gives much that same stress free experience that can take a hit has helped me progress much faster than tentatively flying something that is certain of a rebuild should I do something stupid or too brave for my skillset.

At first I was concerned about aluminium arms and vibes but just sticking a keyfob cam to the top plate got way better footage than I even managed on a dji clone frame with endless balancing.

Most of the crashing I do is light tumbles, cartwheels etc and providing you have spare props this will take what you have and keep smiling. Plenty crashes and bashing here if you need confirmation of the above
http://www.youtube.com/user/MicroRCFiend/videos
If you do manage to land on the roof hard then you may have to swap out motor shafts but at around a dollar each and 2 mins to change this is a tiny price to pay for what would have written off most quads totally.

Serious bang for buck, robust no nonsense quad with the silkiest acro performance, even if you weigh it down with a load of lights for night flying. and at a great price with insanely cheap postage. nuff said, buy one.
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Old Aug 17, 2013, 07:17 AM
Registered User
Ireland, Laois
Joined Aug 2013
17 Posts
Thanks for the detailed and informative review. I am new not only to rcgroups but also this hobby in general with some basic experience flying a cheap fixed pitch heli. I wanted to start this hobby on the right foot with a quad above and beyond the usual cheap generic stuff and it was by good fortune that I spotted Chris's for sale thread on the Armattan One Special Edition. It is currently winging its way to me in the post and I can't wait!
It has been an absolute pleasure to deal with Chris (he even made a custom video of my quad flying!) and you can see the passion and attention to detail he has for his products.
I wish him the very best with his venture and I will certainly be back as a future customer.
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Old Aug 17, 2013, 08:25 AM
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Joined Jun 2005
1,031 Posts
I definitely have a strong bias towards the great products that Chris puts out vs the production factory stuff. Why?

First, because that factory does not custom build my quad, test it, film it, and then send me the link to that.

Second, there's really not much to do when it arrives except drop in my receiver and bind to the radio. I don't have to do a lot of calibrating and programming to tune it up; it is already ready to rock.

Third, the components and design are first rate. The odds that I need to order a bunch of replacements (other than props) are almost nil. I've never had to replace anything else on it.

Finally, the bird is just crazy aerobatic but also crazy stable. It responds instantly to my commands and does no more or less than I ask it to. With the KK2 it doesn't have the auto-level active, but on a windless day I can still set the throttle and take my hands off; hovers just fine.
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Last edited by dapple63; Aug 17, 2013 at 08:26 AM. Reason: clarify
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Old Aug 18, 2013, 05:35 PM
Registered User
United States, HI, Paauilo
Joined Dec 2007
257 Posts
I am a total newbie with anything that flies or is otherwise RC. Although I dabble with electronics. I bought a DIY CNC 258 kit since I had to experience the assembly.
It took me 8 hours (with my father humerously saying I'm an idiot and should have given Chris the $20) since I was setting up Multiwii and didn't know what I was doing.
But after a bit of tweaking I have this totally awesome quad that zips about, and is seemingly impossible to break.
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Old Aug 18, 2013, 07:16 PM
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United States, WA, Olympia
Joined Mar 2013
759 Posts
This review inspired me to rebuild my 258. Too many crashes learning to flip and I moved on to the 355. But this makes me miss the little guy.

Chris rocks!
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Old Aug 19, 2013, 08:56 PM
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Joined Jun 2013
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As a newbie that doesn't own an Armattan...YET..., Chris has selflessly helped and advised me on a few things. He's very conscientious about returning messages and with his dedication to quality, and excellent customer service has earned my future business without question. Now, just to get my skills to the point of being worthy of one of these awesome craft. Soon, soon.
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Old Aug 20, 2013, 03:49 PM
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intelfly's Avatar
Ireland, Galway, Galway City
Joined May 2010
109 Posts
Nice review!
Very happy with my CNC 258 ... I also have the Armattan One frame.
Very durable and if you bend it is easy to fix, after 3 months everything is still perfect...

This quad is my first experience with BL Motors... I learned with V929.

The "Customer Services" is excellent, Chris helped for all my questions: about electronic setup, assemble disassemble, tips for welding, how to disassemble motors....
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Old Jan 29, 2014, 03:42 PM
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pshelton's Avatar
United States, WA, Quincy
Joined Aug 2013
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I'll be getting mine soon!
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Old Feb 11, 2014, 09:25 PM
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dlehman's Avatar
Joined May 2008
7 Posts
First Quad: CNC 258 or 355?

I've been flying RC planes for several years, but i'm looking at getting my first quad.

What are the pros or cons of the CNC 258 vs the 355? As a first time quad flyer, which should I be looking at?
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Old Feb 12, 2014, 05:31 AM
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Joined Jun 2011
7,437 Posts
I always recommend the 258 to new comers because it is lighter and smaller. As such, the 258 is tougher when you crash, and we all crash sometimes. It's just new comers crash more often.

That said, with years of experience flying planks, you probably will not find it all that difficult to fly a quad.

I now also offer a carbon fibre version of the 258 and 355. I would imagine the 258 made of cf is still stronger the 355 made of cf, however, both these models are VERY hard to break. As a matter of fact, I have not heard a single report about a broken cf frame. I sold a LOT of these models and I have not EVER sold a replacement frame part for neither of these models. NOT ONE!

One frame even got driven over by six cars and the cf frame itself merely had a few surface scratches.

This to say that if you go for a cnc alumi model, I would recommend. The 258. If you choose the cf frame, then the added visibility of the 355 when it gets away from you is something you may want to consider.

Best,
Chris
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Old May 21, 2014, 07:23 PM
FPVpilots do it remotely
United States, CA, West Hollywood
Joined Jan 2008
2,402 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobepine View Post
I always recommend the 258 to new comers because it is lighter and smaller. As such, the 258 is tougher when you crash, and we all crash sometimes. It's just new comers crash more often.

I now also offer a carbon fibre version of the 258 and 355. I would imagine the 258 made of cf is still stronger the 355 made of cf, however, both these models are VERY hard to break.

Chris
Chris. ABSOLUTELY LOVE the CF 258.. indestructible and I tried, have put more than 20 batteries through it so far and its a blast.!

More importantly, the thing flies like a rock-star out of the box, this is probably the easiest to fly mini-quad out there.

For santa's wishlist. a 258 just as it is, with a bar forward and backwards, not much, just enough to get a little more space for FPV gear. preferably without becoming another mini H quad. ;-)

Awesome - ARMATTAN 258 FPV build (21 min 48 sec)


Armattan revisited (8 min 48 sec)
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