Believer Twin-tractor 1960mm Mapping /FPV Plane - full review / mods / owner's thread - RC Groups
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Nov 07, 2017, 06:27 PM
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Believer Twin-tractor 1960mm Mapping /FPV Plane - full review / mods / owner's thread


Hello everyone, I am starting a new thread for my review of the Believer, because there is a lot of info and photos, and they will not fit in just the one post I have at the beginning of the other thread.


The full review, as well as a full parts list, can be found in my blog: ArxangelRC.blogspot.com

When I first saw the Believer I couldn't help but compare it to the X-UAV Clouds I already had, but boy was I wrong! Granted, they do share a similar design, and to be completely honest the Believer could be taken as a Clouds V2, but when you look closer you will realise they have very little in common, other than being V-tail and being made out of foam!

The Believer is a lot more mapping oriented than the Clouds, but it is quite possibly the best designed plane for this purpose that I've seen! When you get the KIT and start looking at the parts it quickly becomes obvious that a lot of thought, and possibly experience, has been put into designing and manufacturing this plane! You have to admire that, even if you are not going to use it for mapping, but for FPV.

Using it for FPV would require some mods and DIY though, but honestly... I am willing to suffer through that, because the plane offers so many other conveniences! The tail fins and wings are very easy to remove and put on, and yet the locking mechanisms are secure and stiff enough for a heavy plane! The layout of the plane and the overall design are conveniently oriented towards mapping, and the internal space in the main compartment is just HUGE, and allows a lot of freedom when deciding where to mount your gear! And those landing cushions really make a difference and protect the foam from damage!

When it comes to flight... there is a chance this one might be quite efficient, especially with the gear I have initially chosen. The same battery that keeps the EVE-2000 in the air for 90 mins just might be possible to keep this one up there for close to 2 hours! At a first glance... the Believer looks quite promising!

Best designed mapping platform I've seen - Believer 1960mm Twin tractor plane (9 min 27 sec)


SPECIFICATIONS
Wing span: 1960mm
Wing area: 51dm2
Length: 1070mm
Fuselage height: 180mm
Flying weight: up to 5.5kg (around 3500 grams for the current configuration)
CG: 15cm from centre of front spar


ARRIVAL STATE

So, despite the size of the box, this time it arrived in a relatively good state! The box had some damage on it, thankfully that had not transferred to the plane! The plane itself had a few scratches and marks here and there, as well as a very lightly up bent tail... but the scratches are nothing worth mentioning anyway, and funny enough the bent on the tail was fixed without boiling, but simply by gluing on the plastic bits on the tail, so no harm done!



Overall the plane was in a very good shape without the need for repairs out of the box, and I've gotten planes in a worse state!


WHAT I LIKE


A word of warning... there is going to be A LOT in this section!

After opening the box the first thing that really attracts the attention is how many bags there are of all sorts of stuff related to the plane! You get the wing connectors, locks, bolts, screws, cables, plates, covers, horns, push rods, bits and bobs! From a first glance it was obvious that the Believer was not like other planes I've had and built!



These are the quick locks for the top hatches! Best thing is... at least for now, none of the hatches have flown off in the 5 flights the plane has!



You get more screws than you know what to do with... literally! Most of these stayed unused after I completed the build!



A good amount of servo extensions and power wires were also included, although the thickness of the latter suggest a 6S setup, as they might be just a tad thinner for a 4S one. There is even a back with pre-cut heat shrink pieces!



The battery plate and the hatch lock holders are, for a change, not plywood but plexiglas, which will not split and get damaged after a continued use with the self-adhesive velcro on it.



The motor/ESC nacelle covers look well made and the plastic is flexible and not brittle. On the other hand the EVE-2000 doesn't even have covers for the nacelles, so I had to cut the foam in order to get to the ESCs and wiring in there.



There are even a few velcro straps, and cable spiral for tidying up messy wiring!



In addition, you also get 2 full tubes of unbranded foam-safe Chinese glue to help you put the plane together. I, however, will be using the glue I trust for this job the most - the Moment Classic! Will still use the provided glue here and there, but the main bits will be for the one I trust!



There are also two sheets of stickers, and while one is just the standard generic logos, etc., the second one is the more interesting one, and certainly not something I have ever seen included with another set!

It has stickers to put on the servo cables, so you would know which one is which, and also there are stickers for the different hatches and the motor nacelles, just to keep people working around the plane informed what is there, and to keep their hands away from the motors for instance! I am ecstatic about this sheet and will put these stickers on as soon as I know the plane flies reliably!



Now moving on the main stuff. You get two spars with the KIT, one for the front and the back of the wings. These are some of the stiffest spars I've had contact with, even though the walls on the tubes are not too thick! Seems to be quality stuff.







And now the interesting bit, that makes this plane really easy and quick to pull apart, put together, and transport - the tail and wing locking adapters!

The adapters for the tail have only one lock, but like the main wings the tail fins also have two carbon rods running through them, which makes them super stiff and solid. However, unlike the main wings, here the servos are mounted on the fuselage, and there is a special servo horn adapter that connects the servo to the push rod and the control surface when you mount the fins, so no need for power connectors here.





This adapter should be glued to the fins, and you can see it comes with the servo horn adapters pre-installed. That, and the locks themselves are the ONLY things that come pre-assembled on this plane. Everything else is completely raw and awaits your skilled touch to complete it!



These even come greased up to prevent the plastic from wearing out and creating slop.





The main wing adapters again have only the locks pre-installed. Here you also have the beds for the connectors that will power the motors and servos. The plastic is thick and solid, certainly seems like it is strong enough to carry the advertised 5.5kg AUW.







The wing adapters that go on the fuselage are pretty much a mirror image of the ones that go on the wings.



However, the two fuselage wing adapters are connected through the fuselage via two carbon tubes, that are a bit larger than the spars, so the spars would fit very neatly in them.



These plug in each adapter on the inside and make for a seriously stiff construction.





In addition to reinforcing the fuselage and the whole area there, these tubes would also keep the main spars from getting tangled up in stray wiring while you are pushing them through, prior to assembly! This is always an issue on my EVE-2000.



Now check out the tail fins! Two carbon rods in each of them! That's about two times more carbon rods than the Clouds had on its tail fins, and I am not even counting the plastic adapter that actually covers almost the whole fin.





And just look how far in the rear one goes! I did put a camera on the plane facing backwards when I flew it, and that tail is solid! Nothing like what the Clouds' tail was, hence why I had to reinforce it!



The situation is pretty much the same for the wings. Two spars that go quite far into the wing, which makes it very stiff! Here though, there is also a wiring channel for all the cables coming from the connector. Good news is that it is big enough to make wiring, after you glue the wing together, possible and easy.











Moving along the wing we come to the motor nacelles. They are nice and thick, and have a large enough opening to allow you to easily bolt down the motor once you insert it in the nacelle. They are well made, no doubt about that, though they do limit the motor size to 35mm outer diameter, while for instance the MFD Nimbus motor mounts do allow any size motor to be used, as long as you don't try to put the cover on!





On the underside there is a huge opening in the nacelle to allow easy access to the ESC and the wiring there. Super convenient, plus the cover has openings to allow air to circulate in there thus cooling down the ESC.





Continues in next post...
Last edited by Arxangel; Nov 09, 2017 at 01:08 PM.
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Nov 07, 2017, 06:28 PM
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... continued from previous post!

This piece of the underside of the wing actually needs to be glued on, but don't forget to glue in the motor mounts before you glue this bit.





And here is something very interesting. If you look at the foam on the outside of the wing, it is very smooth and slick!



However, the foam that is inside the area that needs to be glued is rougher and has a zig-zag type of pattern to it! This is amazing!! I assume this is meant to give the glue better adhesion for a stronger bond! This is actually the first time I am noticing something like that on one of these models!



Continuing further along the wing we come to the servo bed.





But this is no ordinary servo bed, like what we are used to on pretty much every other model, where you just tape the servo in, and hope it doesn't come out in turbulent wind! No, this bed actually takes a plastic piece that needs to be glued in, which in turn houses the servo. This not only allows you to securely fasten the servo in there knowing that there is no glue that can freeze and come undone, but also enables you to replace or service the servos very quickly and easily by simply removing a few screws, rather than digging the servo out with some foam, and then trying to glue it back in, and in the process damaging the foam! This should be done on ALL large models! The big manufacturers should take notes here to see how its done!



And finally we get to the fuselage! Since the Believer was primarily designed for mapping, the nose is noticeably void of any camera mounting locations, but it does have an air inlet hole for cooling!



The round hole on the top is where some sort of an antenna should be mounted, if we are to follow the renders available in the BG listing.



And this is the front hatch. It is the largest of them all!



On the underside of all the top hatches it can be clearly seen where the locking pins need to be glued on. It is stunning how many parts are to this plane, and how precisely they have been made!



And now for a top vie of the front part of the fuselage. This is where the battery should go.



And this is where the camera should go - right under the CG. I have to be honest here... the internal space in this plane is absolutely mind boggling! This will fit a HUGE camera if need be!



And this is where the autopilot should be, with all its accessories and peripherals.



I couldn't help but notice that the wing adapters fit very well and very flush to the fuselage. This has to be the most precisely made plane that I have ever had the pleasure of putting together!



On both sides of the fuselage, right where the AP should be, there are holes for no apparent reason... but I did come up with an idea for them!



On the inside the nose of the fuselage is... pretty boring. Nothing special going in there, but I have to admit, the foam in the nose is super thick! I had one hell of a time cutting it out in order to fit the camera in.



Going back to the AP compartment, there is some sort of a second floor support here that is probably meant for the AP to be mounted on. This would leave enough room underneath for even more gear!



This opening actually leads all the way to the tail, and is where the tail servo wiring must come through. It is wide enough to accommodate a lot more wires, so you could put a lot of gear on the tail and should be able to easily wire it up to the front of the plane.



Don't ask me what this is meant to be... but it looks like it could fit a smaller GPS unit, you just need to make a small hole for the wiring.



This is the rear compartment. The tail servo wires will go through here, and according to the information on the product listing, this is where your FPV gear should be located, if there is any (using this for mapping doesn't necessarily require an FPV system to happen).







And finally here is where the tail fin adapters should be glued, and also where the servos will sit in the fuselage. That little transport damage was easily fixed when I glued on said adapters - they just straightened it out!



And so we get to the bottom of the plane. This is the bottom compartment hatch. As this is meant to house a parachute, it does not have a locking mechanism, but is supposed to be held closed by a servo, and then released when the parachute needs to be opened. Not going to use a parachute though, so will find another use for it.





The compartment itself is quite large actually. Could very well fit a second downward facing camera, if you can secure it enough, but will require a larger battery up front to balance things out.





These recessed areas on the bottom are actually meant to hold a set of landing cushions that come with the plane.





And here are said cushions! These are made from some weird foam like material, but they feel super dense and hard! These two alone weight almost 100 grams! I was really debating whether to put them on or not, but I am glad that I did, because they have barely scratched on the first few landings and are actually keeping the plane elevated above the ground 1-2cm, which would really help keep a downward facing camera's lens clean and would also protect it! These are a really good idea to have!





Since the fuselage comes unglued in two halves, you have the unique opportunity to see it split in half before we move on! Having the Believer's fuselage split in two actually allows you to do some wiring in there before you put the halves together, which could make the job a bit easier.











WHAT I DON'T LIKE


As good as the Believer is, there are a few things that need to be mentioned here.

First, the plane came with NO user manual to speak of. Not a big deal for me, as most of you probably know, I've built enough of these to be able to put this one together with my eyes closed, but other people have not built a lot of these and might find it difficult to figure out where everything goes without a manual. Would be a pain in the A** to glue most things together and then figure out you missed something... and to have to cut freshly glued foam! Ouch!

As I am writing this I noticed that on the BG listing people have asked for a user manual and BG staff have simply provided links to some Chinese forum, where the manufacturer (MakeFlyEasy) have put some photos showing the build process... but again... not in too much detail! At least they have the CG location in the BG listing, so you don't have to wonder about something as important!

The second issue I have is with the plywood parts that came with the plane. Since plexiglas parts were provided for the battery and for the hatch locks they obviously had access to the material, so why not make all of the parts plexiglas?? I guess it could be a smudge heavier than the plywood, but we are talking a few grams on a plane that has an advertised take off weight of 5500 grams!! Certainly it could suffer 10 or 20 more grams in plexiglas, but the plexiglas will not splinter in a crash, and in the areas where plywood is used for stiffening... guess what - the plexiglas would do just as good a job once glued in.

And the motor mounts should have been made out of a thicker piece of plexiglas or a double layer of it, because don't forget they are meant to haul a 5.5kg plane, and such a plane might get equipped with pretty powerful motors! 2.8kg of thrust per motor is a substantial amount! May not be a problem for the plywood... but just saying... I would have preferred the plexiglas there!



Oh, and notice anything peculiar in the photos below... yeah... NO hinges... AGAIN! Honestly I am finding it hard to understand the reasoning behind making a 5.5kg plane, and then relying on thinner foam hinges to keep it in the air... potentially with $5000 worth of gear in it... or possibly more! WTH is wrong with these people!?! They have obviously put so much effort and thought into designing every part of this plane to facilitate mapping and the heavier weights, and convenience, etc., and yet they missed something so basic but so important! And I am absolutely certain that there are people out there that will not think twice about it, and would fly the plane with these foam hinges!



I mean look at this! You can almost see through the foam at places, and at others you can see cracks! This should not be used on a 5.5kg plane!



Do you want to know what happens when the foam hinge tears and the plane looses and elevator in flight... well here is what happens:

Ranger EX - First big crash... (1 min 10 sec)


But you know what, a Volantex plane would survive because they make their fuselages of some very flexible and yet though plastic. You may throw out some of the gear out, may need to glue the wing and clean the fuselage from the dirt, but it will be flyable at the end, and it will save most of your electronics! However, if that happened to an EPO plane, it would be evaporated... along with probably most of the gear in it, including that $5000 mapping camera... or even if it is $1000... you would loose the whole plane!

And you know what, after 2 years of talks, I finally convinced Volantex to start putting hinges on their planes, and at least now all of them come with nice hinges that are factory installed in addition to the foam hinge! Now that is something I can live with and appreciate!

SO PLEASE make a note of this, if you get the Believer, no matter if it would be for light weight FPV or a heavy mapping rig, PUT SOME PROPER HINGES ON ALL CONTROL SURFACES!!! I can't stress this enough! And just in case you are not sure how to do that, here is a video showing you how I install hinges on all of my planes (note: you can use other slower setting glues, not only CA):

How to install hinges on an RC airplane (5 min 39 sec)


Continues in next post...
Nov 07, 2017, 06:28 PM
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... continued from previous post!

THE BUILD


And finally we get to the good stuff!

I decided to start the build process from the hatch locks. Good news folks, here is one more thing I have never gotten with another model - spares! YES! There is one spare lock, and I also got spares from a lot of the other items, except the wing connectors.



Next task was to glue in the lock mounts in the foam. Lucky enough they have stunningly precise beds in the foam where they fit perfectly. I used the provided transparent glue for this.









Next logical step was to glue in the other parts of the locks into the hatches. The bottom parachute hatch doesn't have a lock, but it gets the appropriate plywood piece for it.





While the glue on the above parts was setting I decided to glue on the adapters on the tail fins. Since the carbon rods were not glued in I decided to remove them to make gluing of the adapter easier.



I used clear packaging tape to hold the adapters in place until the glue dried enough to hold well. For such parts I will use the Moment Classic glue, as it holds stunningly well in such situations.



Next, I decided to glue in the motor mounts. Since these will be pressed from all sides, and I actually needed them to be accurately in there without any chance of moving around, I decided to use the provided transparent glue, as it doesn't soften the foam while drying.









Then I glue on the tail fin adapter on the half of the fuselage that did not have the lock mounts on it.



Then I also glued the wing adapter on that same fuselage half. I am still impressed by accurately these parts fit on the foam without the need to press, bend, etc.

Keep this in mind - glue in only one adapter on only one fuselage half. The other one will be put in later... or at least this is how I chose to do it.



Only thing I wasn't able to figure out was what is that slot at the front of the adapter for!





A little later, when the glue on the motor mounts had dried a little, I marked the area where the opening in the nacelle would be, so I would know where NOT to put glue. Then I spread the glue around and glued the wing together, again using clear packaging tape to keep the corners and edges firmly pressed down for maximum adhesion.



The Moment Classic leaves a yellowish edge, but this will be on the bottom of the plane, so it won't be visible. Also, once it dries up, the glue on the edge can be easily removed, so the yellow bit will be greatly diminished.



The glue didn't spill out in the wiring channel, so that will ease pushing the cables through.



The other wing was also done in no time.



Next, I glued the some of the other plywood pieces on the inside of the fuselage, that the carbon spars go through.



Even though for the time being I am not going to use the upper deck to mount the AP, I decided to glue the screw bases on, just in case I decide something different in the future.



The long plywood pieces need to be glued at the back of the fuselage, right where the opening is. I still don't see why these couldn't be plexiglas, like the battery plate!



I also glued on the servo mount for the parachute bay, though I am not planning to use a servo at this time, as I decided to use this space for some of the FPV gear, vtx included.



And the last of the plywood pieces went on the other side of the parachute bay hatch.



Since the glue on the wings had dried a bit now, I decided to glue on the screw bases for the nacelle covers. Since there will be airflow here, I decided to use the Moment Classic glue.







After this, it was time to glue on the wing adapters.





And now, it was finally time to put the fuselage halves together... but pay attention here, this is a critical point in the gluing process, at least in the way how I decided to put the fuselage together. I only glued one wing adapter on one of the halves, and before gluing in the second one on the other fuselage half, I will glue the fuselage together.

This is needed because the carbon tubes that connect both adapters on the inside of the fuselage can't be inserted from the outside, so they either need to be put in before gluing the fuselage together, or after gluing the fuselage together, but before gluing the second adapter in.



So, with that in mind, I put the two pieces of the fuselage together using the Moment Classic glue, and held them tightly with clear packaging tape. You don't need to use too much glue because most of the parts on this plane fit very well, which will cause the glue to go out of the joint areas and would look ugly! Actually using less glue takes some practice and experience!





After the glued had dried, it was time to test fit the top hatches. The middle and front one fit very well, but for some reason the rear one sticks out a bit!











Continues in next post...
Nov 07, 2017, 06:29 PM
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... continued from previous post!

Next I decided to glue on the landing cushions. Used some tape to hold them in place. Funny thing is that they did not soften up from the Moment Classic glue! Really curious what kind of foam that is!









After these had dried, I took the chance to glue in the battery plate, used the provided clear glue for it, as the plexiglas plate is transparent and the yellow Moment Classic would have looked hideous.





And then I remembered that I had not mounted the servos on the wings!



The servo mount fit absolutely perfectly in the foam bed for it. I am still amazed at how these parts fit together.



But... there was a slight issue with the servos I had for this build. The Bluebirds were just a tiny bit wider than the designed space in the mount, and were difficult to push all the way to the bottom.





The only logical step here was to print out a suitable mount that would fit my servos perfectly! And so I did...



The servo fit into this one snugly and was not difficult to push all the way in.



As an added bonus, the mounts also fit in the foam beds just as perfectly as the original ones.



So I glued them in and moved on with the build.





And now going back to finish the wing adapters and carbon tubes at the fuselage! For some reason the tubes were very hard to insert into one of the wing adapters, so I sanded down the edges a little to make them fit easier.





I inserted the tubes from the side of the fuselage that doesn't have the wing adapter on, and also put some glue on them before I slid them into the opposite side. This would make things even stiffer and more rigid.



Then finally I glued on the second wing adapter, not forgetting to put glue on the tubes as well, so they would be in there for good!



Once the glue was dry I installed the clocking hooks.



Look carefully at the lock itself on the wing, and you will know in what direction to install these. I used M2x8mm screws for this. Same goes for the tail.





And now test fitting the wing. It actually fits surprisingly easy and accurately, with no slop or wobble in there. Definitely better than the adapters on both the EVE-2000 and the MFD Nimbus.



Same goes for the tail. Fit is tight and flush, and very solid. Really impressed with this plane and how things have been manufactured!







The landing cushions actually look pretty darn good once I removed the tape.



After this was done, I installed the control horns on all the control surfaces, and used some glue to give them extra strength.





Naturally, following were the servos. First in was one of the tail servos. I've had these servos for a long time because I used them as the tail servo on my first tricopter, probably 4 years ago... or more! Back then I paid almost $40 USD per piece for them to HobbyKing, sadly they are no longer available there, but they were super solid and reliable, and have stayed that way, despite the abuse that was brought upon them... being a tricopter tail servo and all! I needed to enlarge the opening very little, with a file, to make them fit very tightly and snugly!



Mind the direction in which you need to mount the servo. The servo gear needs to be towards the front of the fuselage.



The servo wires will just make it to the rear hatch, where you would need to put an extension on them to make them reach the AP compartment.



And now its time to finish the tail! You may notice that 2 of the servos in the photo have one of the mount arms cut off. That is because it made it easier for me to mount on the tricopter boom back in the day. These will actually be for the ailerons, as these arms are not really required there, but they are needed for the tail, so two brand new servos are going in the tail, used ones will be in the ailerons! Yes, 4 or 5 years ago I did stock up on these servos!

Funny thing here though, the EVE-2000 is over 4kgs and flies perfectly well with 12g Corona servos, and for the time being this plane's projected weight is under 4kgs... but will be flying with over 20 gram servos! I am just glad I had those just lying around and finally they have a purpose!



Shortly after the second tail servo was in. To mount these servos on I used 2x M2.5 screws.



And here is one of the tricky bits about this build. In order to properly assemble the tail, you would need to have this particular type of circular servo disc. The holes on the adapter that connects to the control surface arm matched perfectly to it, sadly these are not from the Bluebird sets, but came from other servos that I had around, so when you are getting servos for this plane, make sure you either order a set of arms and discs separately, or that you have some left over from other servos that you can use here.



See, the adapter fits perfectly on these discs. The shortest screws in the set would get the job done perfectly.





And here we get to another very little issue I ran into, but that may be more to do with the specific servos I had than the design of the plane. Once the servos were mounted and the adapters installed on them, I plugged in the tail fins, but the discs were rubbing in one of the sides of the fin plastic bit, so I used my Dremel tool to sand those and enlarge the opening.

I guess a servo with slightly different servo head placement had been used when designing these openings and the placement of the adapters, so I just had to adapt it to my particular servos.



Once the mod was done, the parts fit perfectly together with no rubbing at all.



Continues in next post...
Nov 07, 2017, 06:29 PM
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... continued from previous post!

And this is how it looks when fully inserted and locked in place! I was surprised how stiff this becomes and there is NO slop or wobble! Same goes for the control horn. That servo assembly there snaps into place very tightly and there is no slop in the control at all!





Actually it was at this point that I realized none of the control surfaces had any hinges, other than the foam joke that comes from the injection mold, so I made quick work of them and in no time tail and wings had proper hinges installed!







Now it was time to complete the tail, and move on with the build. I assembled the push rods for the tail and was very surprised at how solid and strong they were! Mounting them with M2 bolts with a locknut meant that they are NEVER coming off by chance, and I just loved them! Absolutely stunning work and exactly how all models of this size should be done!

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the big ones should be taking notes here! I am pretty certain that doing things this way will not being financial ruin to the company, and don't forget we are paying $200-$300 for some bare foam and a bit of plastic... you could spoil us a little! FMS sells fully equipped SCALE models for less!







Solid as a rock! Which is more than I can say for the Clouds' tail, which was falling apart after a few flights and I had to pour some more glue in there and use fibre tape to hold it, simply because it was badly designed!





Now it was time to move to the wings, and install the aileron servos. Since this will have to have some tape on it, I rubbed both sides with alcohol to remove any dirt and grease. Then I put a piece of the strongest double-sided tape I have and placed the servo in the bed, making sure to press on it hard for at least 10 seconds.





Since the servo is actually lower than the cover, I put another piece of no so strong double-sided tape on top of it, so it will fill the gap.



The cover was on next, and everything here also became solid as a rock!



Last were the push rods. On this build, however, I decided to setup differential ailerons just to see how its done and what it is about. If you want to know what that is, just Google it!





Now, lets move on to some more interesting stuff! It was time to install the motor, ESC and do the wiring in the wings. The motors I had chosen for this build were the QX-Motor QAA 2814 600Kv. They seemed like they would be easily able to do the job, and were cheap enough! The prop of choice was what I had for the other twins I own - an APC style 10x7E and its pusher counterpart. At this time the 11" props I had ordered had not yet arrived.



These motors were actually the perfect size to also allow easy access to the motor mount, so I can bolt them down. On both the EVE-2000 and the Clouds I used 35 size motors, and since they overhang the mounting bolts a bit, it was very difficult to get them installed, but I didn't have any other motors at the time.



These were also tall enough to make it out of the nacelle and not make mounting a prop impossible. They look very nicely in there!





Decided not to cut the wires short, because you never know what you might need to use these motors for later on! Besides... I had already mounted them on, was feeling too lazy to remove them and shorten the wires.



My ESCs of choice... or circumstance, were some HobbyWing Platinum Pro 30A units that I literally had lying around, just like the servos. I was concerned whether 30A might be too low, but since I will be running 6S here, currents should be manageable, and indeed a current draw test on one of the motors showed a maximum of 20.8A on 6S with the 10x7E prop, so I used these ESCs.



And finally it was time for the power connectors - the thing that would greatly simplify and ease assembly and disassembly of this plane! And you know what, wiring this whole thing up didn't take quite as long, because these were not poorly pre-soldered, like they were on the EVE-2000, so I didn't have to first de-solder everything and then solder it back up, thus wasting astonishing amounts of time!



First on were the power cables. Used 16AWG size here, as it should be able to easily handle 20A, or even a bit more when I install the 11" props later on.



As a matter of fact I was sorting out the connectors for both wings at the same time, just to make things go along quicker.



Since the ESC signal wire was very long, I decided to cut it short, and solder the cut piece to the connector, thus optimizing my resources! You have to be smart about that when you have so many planes!



And that was done in no time!



Only the servo wires on the connector needed to be soldered now, but before I could do that, I had to extend the servo wire from the servo, because it was just short enough not to reach the nacelle. I soldered an extension rather than using servo connectors because it would have been easier to fit in the stock wiring channel, and would not have required cutting and foam digging.



Looks so clean and neat!





With the servo wire extension I was now able to estimate the length of wire I would need from the connector, and in no time that wire was soldered on, and the connectors were completed and ready for installing in the wings.





I used M2.5 screws to mount these in. They fit pretty nicely!



Sorting this tiny mess was easy when all the wires are the right length, because they were custom made for this.



Certainly cleans up nicely, and all this space in there comes in handy.



Once the cover is on the wing starts looking quite professional! On the scale each wing half showed to be pretty much 500 grams completely equipped, +/- 2-3 grams. So, both wings are 1kg in total, and only the fuselage remains to be equipped and measured.



This is the gear that needs to be fitted into the fuselage, although in this photo it is without the wiring.



I decided to start with the RunCam Eagle 2 camera.



Since this plane is pretty much mapping oriented, there are no camera mounting locations in the nose, so I had to make one myself! In order to try and keep things clean for the time being, I decided to make a hole in the nose and mount the camera there, much like it is on the Clouds.



I used my Raitool FC02 foam cutter to make the opening in the foam, as it was too thick to cut through, and even though I am not quite happy with how it turned out, this was the first time I was using that tool, so I guess I need some more practice.



Continues in next post...
Nov 07, 2017, 06:30 PM
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... continued from previous post!

Almost got the size right! I used some foam around the lens to keep it stable.



Also put a large chunk of foam at the back, to keep the camera in, but still make it easy for me to remove it, should I need to.



And next came the wiring. Since I will be powering this camera from the 12v on the Matek board, I needed the wires to reach all the way to where the AP would be, as those two would be stacked together.



I used cable holders for all the wiring, so it would keep the wires nice and tidy, and would prevent them from getting in the way of other gear!



I used the hole on the side of the fuselage to hold the connectors while I work on other wiring, so they wouldn't dangle around. Keep in mind that almost ALL of the wiring on this build has been custom made for it! This is the first time I am wiring a plane quite like this, and it does require a lot of thought and planning where stuff will be mounted, so you can get the wire lengths correct, and not have too much in excess!



And just a quick deviation from the wiring! This is how a GoPro gimbal looks inside the fuselage where the camera should be! It doesn't even come close to reaching the hatch on top.





And now we are getting back on track, with more wiring. Since I want to install a gimbal here at some point in the future, although it will be in the nose, not in the middle of the plane, I decided to put in some wiring now, so I don't have to do it later, which will also ease the installation of said gimbal immensely.







There are a lot more wires here because in addition to power and video out, the gimbal also requires 2 or 3 signal wires for control, should you want it.



Since I already had some wires going to the AP location, I thought it might be a good idea to wire that up and put it in there, so I would have something to connect those wires to! I did solder some pins to the Matek board, as well as a set of cables with a JST on them for the servo SBEC I will be using. As for the flight controller, my board of choice is the Omnibus F3 Pro that comes with OSD and current sensor on it, which will save some wiring, especially compared to an APM or Pixhawk build. In addition, the Omnibus also has a barometer on it, which a lot of other boards do not have, and this will be super convenient for plane use.



Placed the Matek in there just to get an idea of how this would look... and it is ridiculously small for the size of this plane!





Test fitting the two boards reveals that this will be a very compact stack! It is mind boggling that this tiny unit will fly a huge plane like the Believer.



And now that same stack already has some cables, all of which have been custom measured to reach specific locations and not have a lot of excess left... so there is no room for error here! I also added some more cables with JST connectors on the free pads, just to have in case I need power from the battery for something.





Tell me this doesn't look funny! A small board with a ton of thick wires coming out of it! I used 14AWG wire for the battery, as that will see slightly larger currents.





When it comes to mounting stuff, I do love the 3M double-sides soft pads. I cut one in two and put them on both sides of the stack, so they can go over the seam in the fuselage and not get tilted to any one side.



And here it is - the heart of the plane firmly planted in the middle! Looks laughingly small! I almost feel weird using a board as small as this one, but this is where technology is headed, and I actually don't mind! Saves a ton of space, and quite a bit of weight!



And just like that, the stack got its first connection - the camera!



Next up I had to power the servos somehow. For a long time now I have not been connecting them to the AP, but would make a harness separately, and would only connect the signal wires to the flight controller. Funny enough, when I started doing that, I stopped throwing away burned out autopilot boards!

Rather than make a bloody messy harness out of wires, I thought a 3-pin header would be a much cleaner and lighter solution! I soldered two of the rows together, one for GND, the other for 5v, and left the third one untouched, as this is where the signal cable wires will be soldered. This would allow me to plug in the SBEC at any port and power any number of servos I want.







Next I soldered the signal cables that would plug in the AP, and covered the rest of the header with hot glue for isolation! I think this turned out pretty darn well!





Has the added benefit of being light and compact!



Since I now had a power harness for the servos, it was time to get some servo wires plugged into it. Next step was to wire up the wing power connectors that go on the fuselage, and connect them. Didn't take long, and I managed not to get the wiring wrong.





I don't think I've crimped more connectors for one build in my life!~



The end results is good though, and convenient! These fit well in their beds, and align perfectly with the ones on the wings. M2.5 screws here as well.





I just love how clean and tidy the wiring is turning out to be.







And now I have my first two servos all connected and wired up. Same goes for the motors.





Since the 1.7.3 iNav firmware I had on the board did not support V-tail by default, and at first I didn't want to mess with custom mixes, I thought it will be a good idea to use a V-tail mixer. Sadly, for some reason it didn't work! The mixer just froze every time I applied power, so I ended up doing Painless360's custom V-tail mixes, and it worked like a charm.



Without the V-tail mixer I just wired 2 servo extensions via the opening to the tail.



Continues in next post...
Nov 07, 2017, 06:30 PM
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... continued from previous post!

So now it was time to add in the SBEC that will be powering the servo header. I have chosen the Turnigy Multistar Twin Output 5v/12v SBEC as it provides quite a lot of amps for 5v and 12v, and seems solid enough for the job.







Moving on, next on the list was the GPS module! You may wonder why I chose such a small unit for this build, and yes, it really is 9 grams. I had ordered 3x Omnibus F3 Pro board along with 3x of these Neo-7 GPS units anyway, so why not use it. Besides, I have this same unit in the A1200, and it is working very well. In the Believer I have seen it go up to 14 sats, which is not bad for a 9 gram unit.

I have better and more expensive M8N units, but sadly the antenna tracker board does not yet work well with those, so I have to use an N7 at the most.



Keeping in line with my strategy to custom build everything here, first thing I did was to open up the unit and remove the stock wiring. It is thin and low grade PVC wiring that is a major pain to solder.



Appreciate the fact that the solder pads are labelled. Believe it or not, I have come across units that have had no labeling on the pads!



And these are the new silicone 26AWG wires for the GPS unit. Just long enough to allow mounting where I have planned.





Since I can't crimp this wire into the micro connector, I had to solder it to it, but it turned out OK.



And then the case went back on.



I mounted the GPS unit at the opening that allows wiring to go to the tail of the plane. Foam is transparent its signal, so no reason to put it on the outside and create drag.



It got wired to the UART2 port on the Omnibus F3 Pro. I specifically chose a GPS unit without a compass, because that only makes things worse on a plane!



Now that the GPS was sorted the plane is almost ready. The Vtx and antenna tracker unit need to also be mounted somewhere. I decided to put them in the parachute compartment. The hatch actually is elevated from the ground, so would allow me to mount the antenna head outside of the plane on the bottom, while keeping the antenna stem on the inside! Mounting an antenna on the bottom of the plane really improves its line of sight to the ground, which is very important when it comes to long range!

For that same purpose I printed out a stand, that would hold the antenna stem on the inside.





Since this hatch is angled up, and I need the antenna to be level so I can have more or less equal signal from all sides, I had to create a level surface with the foam cutter tool where the antenna would rest and stay level.





The stem of the antenna is held with a rubbed band to the stand. This allows it to move around on landings and reduces the chances of getting damaged.





And now, the Vtx of choice - a Boscam 350mW unit in metal casing! Decided to use this one since I have a few lying around and I need to use them for something, and also because it has this solid metal casing, which would help with heat dissipation while mounted on the inside of the fuselage. May replace it with a more powerful one at some point, but for the time being it should do the job, at least until the plane learns to fly!



The antenna looks pretty nice.



I am going to use part of the stock cable for the Vtx because it uses some micro connector that I can't crimp to, and would be easiest, although I will cut and mod this cable to fit my purposes.



The other thing that would keep the Vtx company in the FPV compartment, is the TeleFlyPro OSD module for my MFD Antenna Tracker. Basically, it needs the video to go through it, so it can plug in the coordinates from the GPS unit into the stream, so it can make it to the ground, where the tracker driver decodes it and rotates the tracker in the correct direction. For that purpose I split the GPS Tx wire in two - one cable goes to the AP, the other to the TeleFlyPro OSD unit.



And now the video system is also pretty much done.





This are starting to look busy around here! There is just so much wire that goes to this small board!



Almost done now! Last thing that needs to go through customization is the L9R receiver.



I am finally going to have a use for these hopes on the sides of the fuselage!



It is possible the L9R could have gone without mods, but the antenna cables are just not long enough to be mounted how I wanted to do it.



So, my solution was to open up the receiver's case...



... and carefully de-solder one of the antennas!



Continues in next post...
Nov 07, 2017, 06:31 PM
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... continued from previous post!

Now, a serious word of warning about this receiver - the L9R has active antennas, meaning there is power going from the receiver to each antenna. When soldering and de-soldering these you need to be very careful not to short out the antenna cable, because the receiver will not power on until you fix the short. If you are not sure what to do exactly, and don't think you can work quickly, DO NOT proceed with this modification! You have been warned!

To proceed, carefully remove the antenna from the plastic cover, making sure not to damage the cover too much in the process, as you would need to put it back on after the mod is done.



After de-soldering it from the receiver, completely remove the stock cable. And again - take great care NOT to short out the antenna when doing this.



Now, depending on the length needed, get a 25cm or 40cm spare FrSky antenna.



Remove the antenna bit and the connector bit from the cable, bare both ends and put some solder on it, making sure not to short the cable. I used a multimeter at ever step to make sure I have not shorted the cable. You need to leave a bit of the shielding exposed and tin that, and also a bit of the inner wire exposed, and also tin that. Do this at both ends.





Now, very carefully and quickly solder one end of the cable back to the receiver. A powerful soldering iron with a fine tip, and some experience of soldering delicate stuff would do wonders here. Make sure you don't short out the cable.



If all is good, solder the other end of the cable to the antenna, making sure not to short it out. After I was done soldering the cable I power it on just to make sure all is good and the antenna is really not shorted! If there is a problem, the receiver's LEDs will not come on, that would be an indication that the antenna cable has been shorted somewhere, go back and do it again!



Then carefully put back the antenna cover on, and use some tape to hold it closed.



And I was done with that mod! Whether it will actually work as intended or not remains to be seen! Only testing will tell if that antenna will work the same as the other one with the shorter cable.



A while bit on my 3D printer later, and the antenna holders were ready, and were looking good! If my theory is correct, this should work just as well here as the extreme vertical and draggy mounting works on the Clouds.









I mounted the receiver closer to the side with the shorter antenna, for obvious reasons.



Allow me to draw your attention to one more thing. If you are planning to put an Omnibus F3 Pro on anything with more than 2 servos on it, you would need to use PWM outputs 5 and 6 to do it, in which case do not connect the receiver to the SBUS input, as that will render those outputs useless! Instead, connect the receiver to the UART1 port on the other side of the board, and keep UART3 unused and disabled.

Also, if you note, the arrow on this board is pointing towards the back of the plane. This is so on purpose, so that the thicker and bulkier power cables would be going straight out of the board without making any U-bends. Don't forget to add 180 degrees to the YAW alignment of the board in iNav to actually let the firmware know that the board is rotated!



And so, this was the last step in the build process of this plane for the time being! Doesn't this look beautiful! I am so proud with this wiring job, almost everything is custom made for this plane and is so tidy and clean! No stray wires, no balls of wires... it just looks good, and as an added bonus nothing burned out on first power up! I have never put so much time and effort into wiring a plane, but I think this was worth the results.









Now that the plane is fully equipped and assembled, here are a few photos of the Believer and the Clouds next to each other.



Depending on where I took the photo from, either one or the other looked bigger.



Or at least that is in regards to the wings. I think there is no mistaking that the Believer's fuselage probably has twice the volume of the Clouds'.







I am not sure about wing area, but the Believer has a noticeably longer body for almost the same wing span, which should be a good thing. Also, it has noticeably larger tail fins, which is definitely felt in the air as the plane is VERY sensitive when using full servo travel.





You cannot deny that the Believer is a beautiful plane, and keeping the exterior as clean as possible definitely makes it look good, and not give out its true capabilities. Having all of the gear on the inside also helps reduce drag and improves flight efficiency.











Fit of all the parts is very nice and flush, and unlike the EVE-2000, this one I can actually put together on my own, without any help!









Even though the 10" props are mounted on the plane, I put on an 11" prop in addition, just so you can see how much ground clearance there is even with that. I think this one would be able to take a 12" prop without it really touching the ground and risking damage on landings.









Continues in next post...
Nov 07, 2017, 06:32 PM
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... continued from previous post!

And here are a few frames from my Phantom 3 Pro, of the Believer in flight.






THE VERDICT


Oh boy... where to begin!?

Lets start from the beginning! Aside from the fact that like many others the Believer also comes without proper hinges on any of its control surfaces, I can absolutely say that it is the best designed RC plane that I have had the pleasure to work on! Just looking at the parts, how they were made, and how well, and how seamlessly they fit together brings a kind of joy to my heart that I have not felt before! Looking at this you know the people behind it have actually sat down and thought hard about what to do and how to do it, to make this better and more convenient for what they wanted it to do! You can see that they have also had experience with such planes, and it really shows!

Granted, this is a mapping platform and as far as I am concerned it is the best designed and thought out mapping platform that I have seen, and is available to the public at this price! FPV was definitely not a first priority here, but the plane just might be worth getting anyway, and DIYing a bit to adapt it for that.

The sheer volume of the internal space available is mind boggling for a plane this size. The 6S 12000mAh pack I use looks pathetically small once you put it in there. There is a huge space for a mapping camera, so you can really go BIG with it, and since it would be mounted under the CG, it will not have much of an effect on the plane's balance. The landing cushions are an absolute brilliant idea and do a lot to protect the foam from damage on landings and also your camera's lens, if you have one mounted. They do raise the plane some 2-3cm above the ground and are very tough and scratch resistant. There is also ample room for the autopilot and all of its accessories to be mounted, as well as a parachute compartment, should you need that.

And don't get me started on the tail and wing adapters and locks! The are superbly made and make assembly and disassembly of the plane child's play! Literally it can be done in under 20 seconds! And they do hold, and hold well! The wings and tail are still and solid, and the tail doesn't move in flight, unlike the one on the Clouds before I reinforced it. Probably the fact that the Believer has dual spars both in the tail fins and in the wings helps with that!

When it comes to flying... it is proving to be very efficient with its current motor / prop combo, as I've had flights of around 1 hour with only having drawn just over 6Ah out of the 12Ah battery. I guess having a slick and clean fuselage, without a gimbal, antennas and other stuff on the outside creating drag, really does help with in flight efficiency. This plane is also quite light at this time, having an AUW of about 3500 grams with the current configuration, and it does show in the air - it is quite agile and sharp, so servo travel should be limited to make it more docile. I did have some issues with the iNav firmware while getting familiar with it, so I am still getting a feel for the plane and how it flies, but it appears to be a good flyer! With the right CG and in a stabilized mode it will not stall, and at 3500 grams flying weight it will start stalling only when it goes below 30km/h, which is quite impressive!

When it comes time to land... it is hard to make this one come down! It would overshoot by a lot so I have to make a few circles before I get to land it without having to walk a long distance to recover it! Take offs I am still unsure of because the first few times the iNav did mess them up, or the person throwing the plane nosed it down, but thankfully they were from an elevated position, so I had time to recover the plane before it met the ground.

The last time I went out there to fly and do a proper endurance, and actually see what the take off are like when I have sorted the issues with the iNav firmware, one of the motors decided to fall apart just before the take off... so I couldn't fly! I guess that test will have to wait till next weekend as I have ordered some new MN3110 700Kv TMotors, just to make sure something like this will never happen again, but they will arrive sometime early next week.



To be honest I am optimistic about this plane. Take a look at the manufacturer's website for instance - MakeFlyEasy. Even though the Believer is not listed on their website, their name was all over the box it arrived in, and also they have posted instructions about it on some Chinese forums, so I assume they either contract it to be made, or make it themselves. What becomes obvious from their website though, is that their work involves mapping and they already have some Talon like plane that they use for the job! I can definitely see why the Believer is so well thought out and designed with mapping involved!

But now the big question - Is the Believer worth the money they are asking for it? My short answer is YES... absolutely! Consider the fact that the Clouds is sold for 190 USD... and in addition to a smaller plane with less room in it and a clumsy wing and tail attachment scheme... or should I say "lazy", and you would need to do quite a few mods to get it flying safely. Personally I would consider the $70 premium for the Believer a worthwhile investment when you consider what you are getting! And the Nimbus KIT and the EVE-2000 are about the same price range... and when it comes to mapping I can say with absolute certainty that the Believer is better made!

Whether it will be equally as good for FPV remains to be seen, but somehow I am feeling optimistic about it. As soon as I've done enough flying with it to be certain it is working and flying really well, I will put a gimbal on it for some nice aerial video and would send it far to see what it can do, but for the time being it does appear that it may be able to go further than anything else I have! On the same battery that the EVE-2000 for 90 mins, this one flies for 60 mins with half the battery... sounds good, doesn't it?

Stay tuned for more!
Nov 07, 2017, 06:32 PM
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UPDATE 1 - new motors and a proper endurance
Last edited by Arxangel; Nov 12, 2017 at 05:47 AM.
Nov 07, 2017, 06:33 PM
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Reserved.
Nov 07, 2017, 06:33 PM
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Reserved...
Nov 07, 2017, 06:55 PM
USA: LakeGeorge, New York
you write sooo much i got dizzy reading.....lol

Which do you like better (not boring to fly) the CLOUDS or the Believer?
For FPV usage only, not mapping.


p.s.
those wing connectors are going to be a pain the azz,,,,similiar to my 1.3 Tripod GroundStation!!!!!!
Nov 07, 2017, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rclab1
you write sooo much i got dizzy reading.....lol

Which do you like better (not boring to fly) the CLOUDS or the Believer?
For FPV usage only, not mapping.


p.s.
those wing connectors are going to be a pain the azz,,,,similiar to my 1.3 Tripod GroundStation!!!!!!
Haha, well, it is a build log... and there was indeed a lot to say!

Sadly I cannot yet make that comparison objectively! Need to wait for the new motors for the Believer and fly it some more before I can tell you this!

As for the connectors... not sure why they would be a pain... I find them quite easy to solder on to and to work with.
Nov 08, 2017, 01:55 AM
KJ6BFN
henkvdw's Avatar
Great details. Thanks.


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