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Mar 12, 2013, 05:17 AM
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Discussion

INFINITY T3 - DIY Carbon Fibre Tricopter



Welcome to the Infinity T3 project – an open source do-it-yourself carbon fibre tricopter. The T3 is a high performance multipurpose T-copter developed for multi rotor scratch build enthusiasts. The tricopter can be used for aerial video, FPV, aerobatics & general flying. The plans are free to download.



The Infinity T3 is a little bit different to other tricopters. Most tricopter kits have been designed specifically for shooting aerial video usually with the GoPro camera in mind. This tricopter is more of a multipurpose machine that is not limited to one particular role. The T3 platform was originally designed for aerobatics and that's where it excels, but at the same time it is equally as good for FPV flights and shooting smooth HD video. The light-weight rigid frame provides excellent stability & handling and it even looks like an expensive commercial kit with the use of carbon fibre, hidden wiring, clean lines and clever design features. The tricopter arms fold back for compact storage and this feature combined with the twisting motor mount design provides some added crash damage protection against minor impacts. There is a pre-determined breaking point in the front arms for heavier impacts which helps prevent damage to the motors or other parts of the tricopter. One of the best things about the Infinity T3 is the efficient power setup. When the tricopter is built up using the recommended parts you can expect long flight times between 12-15 minutes.

T3 Features:
  • Light-weight carbon fibre frame.
  • Excellent stability & handling.
  • Inexpensive & easy to repair.
  • Folding arms.
  • Efficient setup.
  • Resizable frame.
The video below was shot using a T3 with a GoPro3 suspended underneath the frame. No post stabilization used (aerobatic video coming soon).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=436uNs74aa8I

One of the big advantages of the T3 compared to other tricopter designs is the use of a "T" shaped frame. The "T" greatly improves orientation for line of sight flying. Other designs like the "Y" shaped tricopter, or the "X" shaped quadcopter for example are fully symmetrical. The longer rear arm of the Infinity T3 makes it much easier to maintain visual orientation and this feature makes it perfect for aerobatics and also great for heli novices. The "T" frame has some other advantages too. When using different sized battery packs or when adding/removing components such as cameras or fpv gear, correct CG can be kept by simply adjusting the position of the flight battery along the spacious rear arm. When shooting aerial video, a wide angle camera can be positioned towards the front of the "T" without the propellers in shot. But best of all, for fpv use the long rear arm allows you to add vital separation between components for improved video quality and a reliable r/c link.

The Infinity T3 has a default size of 80cm (motor to motor distance) which is ideal for a multipurpose tricopter. An 80cm motor to motor distance offers excellent stability and a good balance for fun flying and aerobatics. The T3 frame is an ideal platform for customized setups and can be easily modified or re-sized to suit your needs. For example the Infinity T3 can be built up as a small tricopter with a motor to motor distance of 50-60cm which would be better suited for aerobatic performance. Check the Downloads section for the Frame Size Guide which provides alternative measurements for different sized tricopters.


Australia Day Weekend 2014 (4 min 39 sec)


The pics below are of the first three T3 development models. The design has been refined since these copters first flew and continues to change. The prototype model shown in the middle has undergone quite a few changes and has now turned into a super fast aerobatic night flying copter which also doubles as an fpv ship.



All of the parts for the T3 can be purchased from HobbyKing for around $200 USD. The build requires basic tools and skills such as cutting, drilling & soldering. Here on this thread you will find everything you need to know to build the tricopter from start to finish including a comprehensive part list which eliminates all of the guess work associated with scratch built gear selection. Please see the Downloads section and start by downloading the latest Build Instructions.

I would like to acknowledge some of the other open source multi rotor projects that have inspired me to create the Infinity T3. Signguy's Build a Tricopter, Tim's Model T-Copter, David's RCExplorer Tricopter V2.5, KapteinKuk's Flight Controller & Alex's Multi Wii Copter are excellent sources of information that have helped open up the mysterious world of multi rotor aircraft. A special thanks goes out to Kahnx for his contributions towards this project. I look forward to seeing your own version of the Infinity T3 and watching this project evolve with new build ideas, improvements and suggestions.

Cheers,

Stunt Double

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Last edited by Stunt Double; Feb 03, 2014 at 06:34 AM.
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Mar 12, 2013, 05:18 AM
Registered User
NEWS

Jun 9th, 2013 - Buddy Codes added.
Jun 2nd, 2013 - Part List prices updated, Frame Size Guide updated.
Mar 12th, 2013 - Infinity T3 plans released.
Last edited by Stunt Double; Jun 09, 2013 at 02:26 AM.
Mar 12, 2013, 05:19 AM
Registered User
PHOTOS

Tricopter photo gallery.

Name: infinity t3 demo 2.jpg
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Description: Demo model before maiden flight.Name: infinity t3 demo 1.jpg
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Description: Demo model. Large 80cm frame.Name: infinity t3 demo 3.jpg
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Description: Demo model in flight.Name: t3 build 1.jpg
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Description: Demo model work in progress.Name: t3 build 9.jpg
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Description: Internal wiring - run a single wire on one side of the bolt, with the other two on the opposite side.Name: t3 build 5.jpg
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Description: Infinity T3 yaw mechanism using a heli style  blade grip holder, custom carbon fibre skid and a Hitec HS-82MG servo.Name: t3 build 2.jpg
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Description: Drilling M3 & M8 holes into the carbon sheet.Name: t3 build 3.jpg
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Description: Frame components ready.Name: t3 build 7.jpg
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Description: Drilling holes into the front arms.Name: t3 build 6.jpg
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Description: Finding CG location, measured from the front of the lower frame plate.Name: t3 build 8.jpg
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Description: Custom carbon fibre motor mounts.Name: t3 build 4.jpg
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Description: Carbon fibre frame components weigh in just over 40g.Name: t3 1.jpg
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Description: Development models - 80cm All rounder with heli canopy, 80cm FPV model & 70cm Aerobatic model.Name: t3 3.jpg
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Description: Infinity T3 prototype - 70cm aerobatic model with removable heli canopy.Name: t3 2.jpg
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Description: Custom carbon fibre motor mounts shown with RCTimer 750kv motors and GWS 9x5x3 props.Name: t3 4.jpg
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Description: Tricopters folded up - 80cm fpv model, 70 cm aerobatic model.Name: t3 6.jpg
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Description: Roger's dedicated fpv model - 60cm frame, super light-weight.Name: t3 5.jpg
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Description: Lee's 80cm all-rounder with heli style canopy and an old school KK board. This was the third T3 built.Name: t3 8.jpg
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Description: Micky's aerobatic model with canopy. 60cm frame with HK MultiWii 328, auto-level ready, rcexplorer style yaw.Name: t3 9.jpg
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Description: Demo model complete. The red shrink tube is very pink.... maybe I should have gone with yellow instead.Name: t3 7.jpg
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Description: Infinity prototype modified - chopped down to 60cm, 900kv ntm motors, blheli flashed ESCs, rear LED & rcexplorer style yaw mount.Name: t3 10.jpg
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Description: Changes made to demo model - rear ESC mounted on top, BLHeli flashed ESCs, extra carbon tubes added to front side section to hide wiring and provide more real estate & invisible props fitted.Name: t3 11.jpg
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Description: Stunt copter fitted with 1000kv motors. Very fast & extremely agile. This thing is awesome with FPV gear fitted.Name: t3 12.jpg
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Description: Cutting the frame plates and motor mounts with a dremel. No CNC required.Name: t3 13.jpg
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Description: Gav with his T3. Maiden flight.Name: t3 14.jpg
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Description: Gav's custom 75cm T3. External wiring, dowel inserts inside carbon tubes, rcexplorer style yaw.Name: t3 15.jpg
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Description: Two T3's on the build bench.Name: t3 16.jpg
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Description: 75cm T3.Name: t3 17.jpg
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Description: Mini XXS T3 40cm motor to motor.Name: t3 18.jpg
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Description: Flight controller / ESC setup.
Last edited by Stunt Double; Jul 24, 2013 at 10:38 PM.
Mar 12, 2013, 05:19 AM
Registered User
VIDEOS

Coming soon...
Last edited by Stunt Double; Jul 24, 2013 at 07:32 PM.
Mar 12, 2013, 05:20 AM
Registered User
FAQS

Q. Why is this tricopter called the T3?
A. "T" shaped frame running 3 motors = T3. There are future plans for an Infinity T6 Coaxial Tricopter using a similar DIY carbon fibre folding frame design.

Q. What motors/ESCs/props/servo do you recommend?
A. NTM 2830 750kv, Turnigy Plush 18A, GWS 9x5 3 blade, Hitec HS-82MG. Links to these items are included in the Part List spreadsheet.



** Update ** There are many reports about NTM motors with poor quality bearings and vibration issues. I've had a few problems with these motors myself. I'm not so sure about recommending them anymore and might change the part list. The RCTimer HP2217-800kv is a good alternative.



Q. What flight controllers do you recommend?
A. The MultiWii 328P, MultiWii NanoWii or any other MultiWii based flight controller such as the Paris, Quadrino, Crius, etc would be my first recommendation. MultiWii boards offers excellent stability and advanced tuning options which make them perfect for aerial videography and the best option for multi rotor aerobatics. Setting up a MultiWii board can be more difficult compared to some of the other common boards available as it requires a PC link, downloading & installing correct drivers & software, and there are numerous options for configuration and tuning. For a simpler setup that still offers good flight performance I would recommend the KK2.0 board from HobbyKing.



Q. Why is the T3 so unstable using a multiwii board with default settings?
A. Gyro sensitivity + carbon fibre frame. A carbon fibre frame is not very good at absorbing vibrations, and any excess vibrations from poorly balanced props will be passed back to the flight controller and reduce flight stability. MultiWii boards using the ITG3200/3205 or MPU6050 gyros are affected however there are a combination of settings to overcome this problem. The Low Pass Filter settings are the key to a stable tricopter. For the ITG gyros you must uncomment the line #define ITG3200_LPF_20HZ and for the MPU6050 you must uncomment the line #define MPU6050_LPF_10HZ. These settings make a huge and very important difference to overall stability. Combine these settings with increased THROTTLE EXPO & RATE EXPO for a smoother tricopter.

Q. The part list shows Turnigy Plush ESCs, isn't it better to use ESCs with SimonK flashed firmware?
A. Yes. At the moment there are no SimonK pre-flashed ESCs available to purchase at HobbyKing so we will make do with the Turnigy Plush series for now. They still offer good performance and stability, however there is no doubting that SimonK flashed speedies offer extra smoothness & stability and are more forgiving when using slightly out of balance props & motors. If you want to buy pre-flashed ESCs, the SK-20A SimonK ESCs from RCTimer are a good alternative to the Turnigy Plush.

Q. Can Turnigy Plush ESCs be flashed?
A. Yes. The older Plush series with Atmega processors can be flashed with SimonK firmware. See the RCTimer/Turnigy/Hobbywing ESC DIY Firmware Flashing thread for more information. The newer Plush series with Silab processors can be flashed with BLHeli firmware (which is similar to SimonK firmware). See OlliW's Tutorial for more information. This is a very simple procedure that uses an Arduino Nano. Basically you upload code to the arduino, identify the correct 3 ESC pads, temporarily connect the ESC to the arduino, power the ESC then run a program to flash the new firmware. For help identifying the correct Turnigy Plush ESC processor, see the ESC Spec Spreadsheet.

Q. What motors do you recommend for increased power (better aerobatic performance)?
A. NTM 28-30S 900kv. These motors on 4S running GWS 9x5x3 props make for a very fast tricopter! Perfect motor for aerobatics.



Q. What flight batteries do you recommend?
A. Turnigy nano-tech 4S 2650mah 25-50C. Any 4S battery from 1600mah to 3300mah would be suitable. It is possible to fly the tricopter using bigger heavier batteries however performance & stability will drop off and it might not necessarily provide longer flight times.



Q. Can I use 3S flight batteries?
A. Yes. A 3S setup can work just fine however the recommended 4S setup will provide more power and greater efficiency too. Amp draw with a 3S setup will be higher compared to a 4S setup so it will require bigger ESCs such as 25-30A, thicker silicon wire (which will not fit inside the carbon arms) and motors with a higher kv rating.

Q. What other servos do you recommend?
A. Hitec HS-85MG or Hitec HS-225MG.



Q. Do the frame components need to be cut with a CNC?
A. No. The carbon fibre sheet is easily cut using a rotary tool such as a dremel. Its easier than you might think.

Q. How do the front arms stay open & locked in position during flight?
A. There is enough clamping force between the two carbon fibre frame plates to keep the arms secure during flight. There is no need to lock the arms in place using bolts, zip ties or other means. There is just the right amount of force to keep the arms open during flight yet allow them to swing back and reduce crash damage after an impact.

Q. Can I make the frame smaller/bigger?
A. Yes. The "T" frame can be easily resized for different motor to motor distances. See the Frame Size Guide for more information.

Q. Will the carbon fibre tubes break easily?
A. Yes & No. The folding arms and twisting motor mount design helps to reduce crash damage. However the carbon fibre tubes can split after a heavy impact as there is a weakened area surrounding the frame plate bolts. This is a pre-determined breaking point and will help to reduce damage to the motors or other parts of the tricopter. If the carbon fibre tubes are lightly damaged they can be fixed using thin CA. The front arms are inexpensive and easy to replace anyway, and it is recommended to make up a spare set of arms when building the tricopter. The rear arm of the tricopter is very strong and should survive even the heaviest impacts.

Q. Is the Infinity T3 suitable for beginners?
A. No not really. The tricopter arms can break too easily after a heavy impact and would require frequent repairs. This tricopter is more suited for people with some heli experience. Beginners can use the T3 design but replace the carbon tube with something like 12mm oak.

Q. Why does the template only show hole markers for one frame plate?
A. The frame plate with the hole markers will be used as a drilling template for the other. The two frame plates will be temporarily joined together, the second set of holes will be created by drilling through the existing holes into the plate below. This will ensure greater accuracy for alignment and assembly later on.

Q. Does a "T" tricopter fly differently to a "Y" shaped tricopter?
A. No. The flight performance of any tricopter comes from the combination of flight controller/radio setup, prop/motor balancing, power to weight ratio, correct choice of motors/ESCs/props/batteries, a smooth slop-free yaw mechanism, correct CG balance and build quality - not from the frame layout.

Q. Why don't you recommend a digital servo for the tricopter yaw?
A. In my opinion this is the biggest myth surrounding tricopters as an analog servo is perfectly capable of doing the job properly. Digital servos can offer better speed and resolution compared to an analog, but a good quality analog servo already has more than enough speed and resolution at a much cheaper cost too. A metal-geared analog servo such as the Hitec HS-82MG is ideal but most importantly it offers the strength and reliability required for optimal yaw performance.

Q. Can I attach the motors without using the motor mounts shown on the template?
A. Yes. To simplify the build the motors can be attached using "X" brackets or bolted directly onto the arms. However it is recommended to use the motor mounts as they provide some added crash damage protection by twisting upon impact.

Q. How can I attach a GoPro?
A. See the Modifications section for a simple GoPro mount.

Q. Do I really need to use Shoe Goo (Goop)?
A. No not really. The Shoe Goo can be replaced with Epoxy or Medium CA wherever it is called for. However Shoe Goo is a better option as it can be removed easily during repairs or modifications.

Q. Will the carbon fibre interfere with the R/C link?
A. No. Issues with carbon fibre and R/C link loss usually only occur when a receiver and its antennas are fully encased in a carbon fibre fuselage. ie. composite sailplane. Make sure that the antennas do not touch any piece of the frame as the carbon fibre is conductive.

Q. How can I build the tricopter cheaper?
A. Start off by checking the buddy code website http://rcsearch.info/hobbyking/buddy. To further reduce costs you could use cheaper motors, cheaper bolts, a cheaper yaw servo and leave off the landing gear.
Last edited by Stunt Double; Jun 12, 2013 at 05:56 AM.
Mar 12, 2013, 05:21 AM
Registered User
MODIFICATIONS

V-TAIL REAR END

Here are some pictures of a 60cm frame with a modified v-tail rear end.

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Description: V-tail mod.Name: mod v-tail 2.jpg
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Description: V-tail with LEDs.Name: mod v-tail 3.jpg
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Description:

The v-tail is fairly simple to construct. This example has a 30 degree shaped V. Two plates which form the V were cut out of 2mm carbon sheet. Some 8mm wooden dowel was inserted into the ends of the tricopter rear arm, also a piece of 12x12mm oak was glued and bolted to the bottom end of the arm. Central holes were drilled into each wooden piece. This creates 3 points for attaching the V. The first V frame plate was glued and screwed onto the end of the arm taking care to align it properly. Then the arms of the V were sandwiched together using the second frame plate and held together with 3mm bolts. The motors were attached to the arms using the same style motor mounts shown in the tricopter plans. The V arms were cut just long enough so that there is about 2cm of prop clearance.

This one was setup using HK F-30A SimonK flashed ESCs, RCTimer HP 2217 800kv motors & GWS 9x5x3 props. The flight controller is a HK NanoWii. The MultiWii v2.2 firmware has a v-tail config and this thing flew very well on default PIDs. Since then a few changes have been made to the Roll/Pitch P value, increased RC RATE with some EXPO added too.

So far this design has held up well. A few small splits have appeared in the V arms after a number of hits but they will be quite easy to replace later on. As you can see from the videos below it flys extremely well.

20130716 - fpv vtail quad with rearwards facing gopro3, park st (2 min 15 sec)

FPV V-TAIL QUAD - Smooth Park Flight (4 min 34 sec)


FPV GEAR

The addition of fpv gear to the T3 is probably what most people will use this tricopter for. Here is an example of an fpv ready T3 with a 60cm frame, 900 vtx gear, clover leaf antenna and #16 key chain fight/hd cam. Extremely light weight setup with long flights off a 4S 1800 lipo. (Thanks to Kahnx)

Name: mod fpv 1.jpg
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Description: Fpv gear on a 60cm frame.

Here are some pics of removable fpv setups that can be swapped around between copters.

Name: mod fpv 2.jpg
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Description: Removable fpv system.Name: mod fpv 3.jpg
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Description: Removable fpv system - camera, vtx, antenna, harness.

YAW MECHANISM

Alternate yaw mechanisms can be fitted to the Infinity T3 frame. Here is an example using the RcExplorer.se style steering wheel mount block. (Thanks to Micky)

Name: mod yaw 1.jpg
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Description: RCExplorer.se style yaw mechanism.Name: mod yaw 2.jpg
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Description: RCExplorer.se style yaw mechanism.Name: mod yaw 3.jpg
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Description: RCExplorer.se style yaw mechanism.Name: mod yaw 4.jpg
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Description: Steering wheel pivot block yaw with a Hitec HS-82MG servo.Name: mod yaw 5.jpg
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Description: Simple and strong RCExplorer style yaw.

This design has been working better than the heli blade grip holder method and will be incorporated into future instructions.

HELI CANOPY

A 450 size heli canopy is a nice fit to the Inifnity frame. They help improve flight orientation especially for aerobatics. This example is held on with magnets. (Thanks to Lee)

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Description: Heli canopy for orientation.Name: mod canopy 2.jpg
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Description: Removable heli canopy held on with magnets.

GOPRO MOUNT

This is a very simple GoPro mount using some leftover carbon fibre sheet, a GoPro J-hook mount and a piece of sorbothane. So far this setup has been working very well for jello free video. The mount is loosely zip-tied to the tricopter frame.

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Description: Simple GoPro mount using carbon fibre sheet and sorbothane.Name: mod gopro 2.jpg
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Description: GoPro mount ready to be attached with zip-ties.Name: mod gopro 3.jpg
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Description: GoPro suspended from bottom of frame. The mount can go up on top of the frame too and be moved around front to back.Name: mod gopro 4.jpg
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Description: GoPro mount with 1.5mm carbon sheet, j-hook, 3mm bolt/nut and green gel.

FLASHED SPEED CONTROLLERS

Flashing the ESCs with multi-rotor firmware (SimonK) is just about the best thing you can do to improve the overall stability and handling of the Infinity T3. I was always under the impression that Turnigy Plush ESCs could not be flashed with SimonK firmware. It turns out that only the older Plush series with ATmega processors can be flashed with SimonK firmware but the newer ones with Silab processors cannot. However they can be flashed with BLHeli firmware which is similar to SimonK. Following OlliW's BLHeli Tutorial you can easily flash the newer Turnigy Plush ESCS using nothing more than an Arduino Nano and a servo extension cable.

Start by connecting the Arduino Nano to a computer then run OlliW's program to upload the flashing software to the device. Then remove the plastic housing from the female end of a servo extension cable to expose the 3 pins. Connect the cable to the Arduino. Press the 3 cable pins against the relevant ESC pads (bend one of the cable pins for a precise connection). Power the ESC then run the second piece of OlliW software to flash the ESC. It is so easy! The tutorial explains all the steps in detail and has a link to a PDF to identify the correct Turnigy Plush pads.

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Description: Preparing an Arduino Nano to flash BLHeli firmware to a Silabs processor Turnigy Plush ESC.Name: mod flash 2.jpg
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Description: Flashing BLHeli firmware to a Turnigy Plush ESC.

DOWEL INSERTS / EXTERNAL WIRING

Some 8mm pine dowel was inserted into the carbon tubes for this build. All the wiring was attached externally.

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Description: Wooden dowel inserts to strengthen the carbon tubes.Name: mod insert 2.jpg
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Description: External wiring for the front motors.

The dowel helps strengthen the carbon tubes, especially the front arms. This is a very worthy mod and will be included in the plans soon. The external wiring is no big deal and looks ok when covered with wire mesh guard.

REAR ESC ALTERNATIVE PLACEMENT

The rear ESC can be mounted on the bottom or the top of the frame. If it is mounted on top it frees up the underside of the tricopter for gear placement such as suspending a GoPro. This picture also shows the addition of carbon tubes to the front of the rear arm to hide the ESC wiring.

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Description: Rear ESC mounted on top and side pieces of carbon tube added to hide front wires and create extra real estate.

NIGHT FLYING

LED strips and a 5V 3 LED attached to this T3. The rear LED is working out very well and will be included in future plans.

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Description: Night flying copter with LED strips and a 5V LED at the rear.
Last edited by Stunt Double; Aug 26, 2013 at 08:30 PM.
Mar 12, 2013, 05:21 AM
Registered User
LINKS

WEBSITES

PARTS

TOOLS

RESOURCES
Last edited by Stunt Double; May 16, 2013 at 05:48 AM.
Mar 12, 2013, 05:22 AM
Registered User
BUDDY CODES

Send me a PM if you have some HK buddy codes to share here.
Last edited by Stunt Double; Jul 24, 2013 at 05:58 PM.
Mar 13, 2013, 02:27 AM
Cleared for take off...
WitnessOnly's Avatar
I've personally seen these Tri's flying in various incantations, and I've also seen them take some pretty solid hits, as yet though I've not seen one of them broken, and trust me I've been wanting to for some time alas... still waiting
Mar 13, 2013, 11:29 PM
Emress
i learned my lesson from drilling into HK CF 10mm square tube for my quad. VERY BAD IDEA. CF must be clamped in the base plate or have some sort of metal casing around the bolt holes to stop splitting. the first method is the only one that will last.

but im not saying its a bad idea. implement the clamps and
Mar 14, 2013, 04:23 PM
Registered User
sirbow, do you use a drill press and a sharp drill bit??
Mar 14, 2013, 07:46 PM
Emress
yes...
Mar 30, 2013, 03:08 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by WitnessOnly
I've personally seen these Tri's flying in various incantations, and I've also seen them take some pretty solid hits, as yet though I've not seen one of them broken, and trust me I've been wanting to for some time alas... still waiting
Went down maybe 4-5 times yesterday and the crash relief design worked very well. Each time i broke props and the servo arm twice but the frame remained strong, didnt even split an arm. One time i was flying flying along minding my own business, nek minnut a little quad flew straight into me. Know anything about that WitnessOnly??!!?!?

A few of us met up for an fpv session on Good Friday with 2 Infinitys in action. My Infinity is the big 80cm one and it was used with a GoPro3. The little one is a 60cm compact fpv travel version that flys so beautifully using a multiwiicopter paris board. Shoots HD with a key chain cam this is also the flight cam too. Check this out:

youtube.com/watch?v=oMR6f7maFqM
Last edited by Stunt Double; Jun 02, 2013 at 12:36 AM.
Mar 31, 2013, 11:42 AM
Registered User
gonna have to try this one!

I'm going to use spruce for arms and 3mm lite ply for the body, RCExplorer style. I allso haven't had good luck with drilling carbon arms.

Oh, and going to use DT750's

Cheers
Dion


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