Quickie on a Stick - Bolt 150 Tanto Build and Review
The story for how I recently went from never having flown a drone to being fully addicted to FPV is my first blog post and reveals that I spent an inordinate amount of time watching YouTube videos to learn everything from flying techniques to build techniques to what parts do what.
One of the first videos I saw caught my attention when I was browsing Bruce Simpson's RCModelReviews channel. He's the creator of one of the best beginner build tutorials I've seen and does great reviews. The one that caught my eye, before I really knew what I was looking at, was his review of a Bolt 210 Race, which he gushingly referred to as "Sex on a Stick."
I hadn't seen many quad racing frames before but this one DEFINITELY looked different...and sexy. I don't know what it was that differentiated it -- maybe the orange stepped standoffs or the matching orange countersunk washers or the smooth lines -- but I liked it.
Fast forward a few weeks and I discovered that, while driving out to a field to fly certainly has its merits, I really like sitting on my back deck and flying around my yard. The dilemma is that I'm not a good enough pilot to keep my 5" quad away from the house, trees, light poles, and mailboxes. I wanted something smaller.
Looking around for something in the 3" range, I discovered the Bolt150 Tanto - which I have appropriately named Quickie on a Stick. I immediately put my order in and started buying parts. Here’s the build:
Frame: Bolt150 Tanto
Motors: Emax RS1306 4000kv
ESC: RMRC 12A 4-in-1
Props: HQ3x3x3, orange (of course!)
FC: Naze32 rev6
Receiver: FrSky XSR-SB
FPV Camera: Foxeer HS1177
Video Transmitter: Foxeer TM200
Antenna: TBS Triumph
Battery: Turnigy Nano-tech 850mAh 3S 45C
The frame arrived in only 5 days from Australia and it comes with a VERY complete build kit. The Tanto uses a single, 2mm bottom plate and top plate. Unique to many BoltRC frames, it uses a carbon center spine plate for added durability and I really like the options it offers for mounting your receiver and vtx. Two camera mounting plates secure the HS1177 perfectly and, in yet another brilliant design, small carbon front and rear reinforcing plates integrate with the top plate.
The frame is held together by BoltRC’s signature orange aluminum stepped standoffs complete with matching aluminum countersunk washers and looooong 12mm titanium bolts. Light, strong, and sexy.
If this were most other frames, that’s where the description would end. But not with a BoltRC frame. The most complete build kit I’ve ever seen also comes tumbling out of the envelope. A wide range of nylon hardware gives you lots of options for mounting your electronics. Nylon screws of different lengths, F-F standoffs, nylon washers, cable ties, double-sided foam tape, a die-cut foam battery pad (which looks great on the top plate!), and even a basic power distribution board completes the kit. Finally, a nice, wide, long battery strap rounds out the frame kit and allows you to wrap the strap completely around the entire body of the quad, further increasing its strength. I will say that the inclusion of a long, thick, high-quality battery strap was a nice surprise!
The frame went together perfectly. The carbon plates fit tightly but not so tight that sanding is required and the whole thing feels solid. My previous exposure to micro quads was a 105mm nylon-printed fully enclosed frame that was a nice idea, but too flexy to make a solid platform. The Tanto doesn’t have that problem. The small size combined with high quality carbon and great engineering makes a quad that can take a beating.
I won’t go through all the build steps because most people reading this are more experienced than I am so, instead, I’ll list some of the highlights.
The Emax RS1306 4000kv motors fit perfectly on the frame with the standard mounting screws. However, because I was using a 4-in-1 ESC mounted below my flight controller, the motor leads weren’t long enough. There’s usually a 25mm ESC on the arm of the quad between the motors and the FC but not on my build. It was easy enough to solder extensions onto each wire.
Because of the now-longer wires exposed on the top of the arms, I took this as the opportunity to adds some protection and, simultaneously, some bling. Orange braided mesh looks great with the BoltRC orange theme and keeps those wires secure. Ready-made RC and Multirotor Mania are good sources for braided mesh. FPV-FlightClub also carries the mesh periodically.
The gap between the camera plates and FC is very small and that’s where the motor leads for motors 2 and 4 need to go. Add the braided mesh and it’s a tight fit but it works and it’s very well protected.
I mounted my receiver directly onto the vertical carbon spine.
The Tanto is so short from front to back that my VTX wouldn’t fit on the spine and still have enough room for the antenna. Instead, I mounted it on the top plate right above the FC. Bolt did a great job making the frame tall enough for all these components and it fit easily.
I didn’t use the antenna mount hole in the back and instead run my video antenna straight out between the rear aluminum standoffs. It basically bends slightly around the carbon spine and then out between the standoffs...perfect fit and VERY secure in a crash.
A bit of double sided foam tape and a cable tie holds my VTX to the top plate and a second cable tie secures my antenna. This prevents any crash impact from stressing the vtx or SMA connector. Instead, inverted crashes only bend the antenna -- which is designed to bend anyway!
I soldered my battery lead directly onto the 4-in-1 ESC and towards the front of the quad. I again used some braided mesh and fed the battery lead out the side of the quad between the ESC and the FC. It easily clears the props.
The RMRC 12A 4-in-1 ESC is a nice idea for a micro quad. Placed under the flight controller, where you’d normally put a PDB, it makes for a clean, light build. However, it also creates some minor challenges. Notably, because the ESC replaces a PDB, it also needs to function as a PDB but doesn’t make that very easy. There are no voltage pads anywhere visible on the PDB except for the vbat attachment. That means the power for my FPV gear and vbat monitoring had to come off the vbat leads and that made for some tricky soldering of multiple wires. I ended up using some heat shrink to hold the harness together before soldering it to the ESC board. I then added the vbat wire for monitoring directly to the + lead.
As built, with no battery, the Quickie on a Stick weighs 180g. An 850mAh 3S 45C battery results in an AUW of 255g. The same battery in 4S ends up at 277g.
In the air :
The Bolt 150 Tanto has two different personalities, depending on the battery you choose.
On 3S, it’s smooth, deliberate, perfect for close proximity backyard bashing -- which is exactly what I built it for. With the camera angle lowered to about 15 degrees, I can explore the dense woods around my house and shoot the tight gaps between trees and over branches. The spot between my mailbox and the shrub? No problem. Through the columns on the front porch? Easy! Between the railings on the deck stairs...er...that’s why you buy spare props!
But on 4S, the Bolt Tanto is a ripper. Snappy rolls, just a few feet off the ground are easy and it has power to spare when pulling out of dives. I honestly prefer 3S for the type of flying I do but the way the Tanto handles 4S means it’s a truly versatile quad.
But the most impressive thing, for me, is the durability. I’ve had plenty of tumbles through tall trees, into a streetlight pole, against a rock retaining wall, and skittering across my cul-de-sac. The frame still looks brand new...save the mounds of grass clippings that have built up inside. The light weight and solid design combine to form a quad that can take a fall without showing any damage.
If I only had one quad to fly, I’d grab my Tanto and a pile of 850mAh 3S and 4S batteries and I’d be perfectly happy.
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Last edited by krachall; Aug 30, 2016 at 07:28 PM.
Nice build! Those 4-in1s are nice and tidy but they are more fragile. I broke the signal wire harness off 2 different boards (rmrc 12&15) in my hellbender 122. Both times were sharp hits (one of which was my own car lol). Seems like it should have been repairable but both times it wasn't.