The ETFD - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales
Thread Tools
Jan 16, 2011, 06:39 AM
ArduVidRx Creator
etheli's Avatar
Build Log


ETFD = ET's Flying Disc

Here's my creation, a flying EPP foam disc that uses three 64mm EDF units. It can float and move about; with flight characteristics similar to a fixed-pitch helicopter (like a Blade mSR). A lot of my inspiration came from the RCExplorer Tricopter, and the transmitter setup is very similar.

The disc is quite durable; I've had to crash it hard to do any damage to it. It's fun in that it can safely bump into other objects, and I try to do things like roll it horizontally along walls. It's surprising how well the disc flies, and it gets a lot of attention.

See here for a gallery of pics.

Here's a video of the ETFD in action:

Four gyros are used for stability -- one for each EDF unit, and one for the yaw (rotational) control. The thrust on the EDF units controls the angle of the disc in all directions, and the rear unit is rocked left and right to achieve yaw (rotational) control. While rotating, the disc stays at the same angle in the air because of the gyro compensation.

The disc is 24" in diameter, made from two layers of 9mm 1.9# EPP foam. On the bottom are three legs made of 4 pieces of the foam (7mm x 4mm x 4mm). The EPP "fins" on the back help to maintain orientation while flying. For glue, I used mostly UHU-Por during assembly. Weight without the battery is about 20oz.

The ETFD makes a great sound while flying, with the three EDF units whirring away. It sucks down a lot of power -- 30 to 75 amps -- and can fly with a 3S or a 4S lipo in the 2200 to 4000 mAh range. I've found that it flies best with a 4S 3000-3300mAh 30C-40C battery (more available thrust), but the speed controllers run hotter with 4S. Flight time is 3-4 minutes.

I put six carbon-fiber strips into the disc for reinforcement, glued in with CA (3 on top, 3 on bottom; see pics). The front two EDF units have foam "collars" that make their mount positions a little higher and more even with the rear unit.

The rear EDF unit is held at the two pivot points, and its opening is elongated to leave room for it move. The EDF housing has some pre-drilled holes at the right locations, but they are oval (not circular). I found that it worked better to drill new holes.

The bottom pivot is just a machine screw epoxied onto the foam. For the upper pivot, the EDF housing is attached directly to the servo arm via the mounting screw. A longer screw is needed; I think one of the HXT900 servo-mounting screws works. I also put in a washer. Putting a second screw through the housing and into the servo arm prevents it from rotating. One thing to watch out for is to have the EDF pivot-position centered when the servo is centered. The servo will be run by the gyro, so there's no way to adjust the center point after it's all assembled. You have to angle-in a screwdriver to tighten the screws (unless you remove the EDF motor), but it's not that hard to do.

Before mounting the EDF units, it's good to disassemble them and then reassemble with thread-lock on the screws. After taking out the screw on the front on the rotor it pulls off, and then the motor-mounting screws are accessible. It's also good to test each EDF unit with an ESC before installation. I applied dabs of hot glue to hold them in the disc.

The ESCs are Hobbywing Pentium 30A. At one point I tried using Hobbyking SS Series 40-50A ESCs, but their response time seemed to be too slow and the disc would wobble uncontrollably. The Pentium 30A ESCs would overheat, so I added extra heat sinking made from aluminum soda can material. I put some on the top and bottom, cutting away some of the existing heat shrink and putting in heat-sink compound. I re-wrapped them with a bit of 30mm heat shrink. The 5V power inputs coming from the ESCs are tied together, which works fine because their BECs are the linear type (not switching). The Hobbywing Pentium 40A ESC might be able to stay cool enough without modification.

The battery mounts with velcro on the bottom and plugs into a Deans connector. I also run the main power through a pair of 4mm bullet connectors on the top side of the disc. This way I can turn it right-side-up, power it up by plugging in a bullet connector, and leave it still until the gyros initialize. The power wiring should be 12 or 10-gauge, as it needs to carry a lot of current. I use a battery monitor to warn me when it's time to land; otherwise the ESCs may cut out at different times, resulting in a crash.

The center gyro is an HK401B, which operates the pivot servo for yaw (rotational) control. I have its travel limit adjustment at its minimum setting (so that the pivot servo doesn't bind).

The three "motor" gyros are piezo-type Telebee/Zoom units that I salvaged from old helis. The HK401B gyros could be used for the motors, but there may be an issue with ESC arming (as described in the RCExplorer Tricopter article under "Tricopter V1.5"). The Turnigy GR302 gyro might be another good candidate. The gain inputs from the three "motor" gyros are connected together and plugged into a single receiver channel.

For the transmitter setup, the starting point is to configure for a CCPM heli like a T-Rex 450. The RCExplorer Tricopter article "Setting up your own Tricopter" was very helpful. On the disc, the three ESCs take the place of the three cyclic servos on a CCPM heli. The standard throttle-output channel has no use on the disc, so it is decoupled from the throttle stick by setting the throttle curve to a flat line. The receiver channel can then be used for gyro gain. On my transmitter setup, I set the throttle curve to a flat 50% line and use a programmable mix (offset) to set the gyro gain.

It was a big help during the initial setup to connect servos to the "motor" gyro outputs (as described in the RCExplorer setup article). I ran into a strange issue where the piezo-type Telebee/Zoom gyros would not setup correctly when their gain inputs were plugged into the modified throttle channel. When plugged into the "gear" channel (Futaba channel 5), they worked correctly. The HK401B worked fine with either channel, so I plugged it into the modified throttle channel.

The three "motor" gyros need to configured for "rate" mode, not heading hold (aka AVCS) mode. This is done in the transmitter gyro setup. The pivot-servo gyro should work in either mode, but heading hold is generally preferred (like on a heli tail setup).

I use a Futaba 9C transmitter (with a Spektrum DM8 module); here are some of the settings:

AIL(ch1), ELE(ch2), PIT(ch6) reversed
SWASH AIL -40%, ELE +40%, PIT +75%
PIT-CURVE 0%, 40%, 50%, 65%, 100%
THR-CURVE 50%, 50%, 50%, 50%, 50%

If I were building the ETFD again, I might put the pivoting EDF unit at the "front" and have two EDFs units in the "rear". That way, during forward flight, a single EDF unit (and ESC) wouldn't have to run harder than the other two.

Here is a parts list:

9mm EPP Foam (1.9#) 24"x36" 11-405 $11.50 (qty 2)

EDF64 with ADH300 Motor Assembled 252W(4300kv) EDF64-ADH300 $19.99 (qty 3)

Hobbywing Pentium 30A Brushless ESC 25g $16.50 (qty 3)

Hobby King 401B AVCS Digital Head Lock Gyro HK401B $11.99

OrangeRx Spektrum DSM2 Compatible 6Ch 2.4Ghz Receiver ORNG6 $7.95

HXT900 9g / 1.6kg / .12sec Micro Servo $2.69

Turnigy 3300mAh 4S 30C Lipo Pack T3300.4S.30 $28.29

Turnigy 3000mAh 4S 40C Lipo Pack T3000.4S.40 $35.53

Turnigy nano-tech 2650mah 3S 25~50C Lipo Pack N2650.3S.25 $19.49

HRPoly-X Lipo Low Voltage Warning Device 335444 $27.99 (auto cell count)

Hobby King Battery Monitor 4S HKing-4S $3.49 (cheaper)

EDF64 Impeller for 64mm (6 Blade) system EDF64-FRTR $2.94 (spares)

Turnigy Pure-Silicone Wire 10AWG (1mtr) BLACK B10A1780-06 $2.99

Turnigy Pure-Silicone Wire 10AWG (1mtr) RED R10A1780-06 $2.99

Last edited by etheli; Jan 22, 2011 at 02:20 AM.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Jan 16, 2011, 01:29 PM
LSF 004 - AMA 5055
bobandris's Avatar


Hi ET,

It looks great. Very original! Have you tried flying it outside in the wind? I've had a traditional tricopter for years (the 3 carbon fiber arms with a small blue-pad in the middle for the RX and battery) and found it very susceptible to wind. Please let us know if you try it.

Jan 16, 2011, 02:38 PM
ArduVidRx Creator
etheli's Avatar
It can handle some wind -- the weight of the big battery on the bottom helps. :] It's hard to quantify exactly how much wind it can take. I can say that I fly the disc off my back porch on a regular basis.

One thing that's great is that the disc can take a pretty hard landing with no damage.

Jan 21, 2011, 06:34 PM
The lunatic is on the grass
ridgewalker's Avatar
Thats pretty cool!

The sound it makes is "out of this world" !!

Can you fly it like a out in a big circle and back,does it track well?


Jan 21, 2011, 09:25 PM
ArduVidRx Creator
etheli's Avatar
Originally Posted by ridgewalker
Thats pretty cool!
The sound it makes is "out of this world" !!
Can you fly it like a out in a big circle and back,does it track well? loops?
Thanks -- yeah, it flies more like a helicopter than a plane, but it can certainly do large circuits of forward flight. One of these days maybe I'll try taking it up really high and giving the elevator stick a good yank to see if it loops around. :]

Last edited by etheli; Jan 22, 2011 at 02:09 AM.
Jan 22, 2011, 12:30 AM
The lunatic is on the grass
ridgewalker's Avatar
Well you certainly have provided all the info needed to build one...hmmmm...

I might have to build one down the road...spring...i like the the climb outs....kind of draws me to the way the sound of a nitro draws me to it.

Did i mention i like the way it

Looking forward to seeing some of those "off the back porch" videos!

Can you imagine a 6 foot round one with lots of led lights!!!

Jan 23, 2011, 06:05 AM
Registered User
lipoflyer's Avatar
thanks for the detailed parts list and build log. quite interesting
Jan 25, 2011, 05:49 PM
Registered User
RCvertt's Avatar
Very nice. Thanks for sharing.
Jan 25, 2011, 09:56 PM
ArduVidRx Creator
etheli's Avatar
Would love to see others build flying discs like this one or a variation; please post something here if you do. Let me know if you have any questions.

Feb 27, 2011, 12:07 PM
ArduVidRx Creator
etheli's Avatar
Here's a video I took with a FlyCamOne2 mounted on my ETFD; in the Auburn, MA sports dome on 2/25/2011.
Oct 30, 2012, 07:46 PM
Registered User
kahloq's Avatar
I know this is old...just adding it to my subs list so I can find it again
Jan 05, 2013, 07:59 PM
ArduVidRx Creator
etheli's Avatar
I've created the next version, the ETFD2, a 24" EPP disc with four 8" props, using the KK2 board. For a build description and more info, see my writeup at

Jan 11, 2013, 11:31 PM
5,200 Led Lighted Bike-Bob P.
**neons**'s Avatar
Watched you fly at the Auburn Dome today. Very impressive. There is a lot to learn to put one together. I could probably do it but still need direction while moping along. The CF cross mounts are one problem getting or making them. I think CF arrow shafts blanks would be useful in the frame also. Flashing ESC's is another problem. But I seem to think it probably may not be necessary. There is a lot of hurdles to overcome for the newbie in this type of modeling.

I think I may be back next week again. Will watch it again if you are there.
**Neons** Bob
Jan 12, 2013, 02:51 AM
ArduVidRx Creator
etheli's Avatar
Hi Bob; thanks. The first quad I built was an SK450KK2 (see build page here) -- it's easier to make a standard quad from a frame kit for a first foray into multicopters. Of course the super-easy way is to get the pre-built Turnigy Micro Quad. :]

Jan 12, 2013, 10:24 AM
5,200 Led Lighted Bike-Bob P.
**neons**'s Avatar
Yes, I believe you are correct here with a good start off quad in the SK450KK2. After looking over your parts list and watching the vieo I saw many more instructiomal videos there. I just picked up on a 3 part video om this particular SK450KK2. With the out of the box all the way to flight instructional here
and the rest of the part2-3 come in at the end. Very informative and I believe within a genaeral hobbyists scope. He was not impressed with the Auto Leveling and the alitude settings if it had it or not.

The only thing is that the transmitter settings were not to explicit in the whole operation. Is the transmitter set to Acro or Heli? What happens when the transmitter is moved using options like servo reverse, expo, trim mems, servo trim tab, or anything in general moved around? I realize he does all the settings on the KK2 module in the videos. But moving the transmitter settings surely may conflct I would think? What are your views?

I have been flying planes an do particularly care for helicopters . I look at the quad for a camera platform. I have no idea if I would gain control of one of these in flight.
**Neons** Bob

Thread Tools