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May 20, 2019, 08:03 PM
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Upgrading a Blade Nano S2 to brushless

After flying my Blade Nano S2 enough to wear down the performance of the stock, brushed motor, I decided to install Horizon Hobby's brushless upgrade, BLH3325, into the S2. I chose to basically copy the install posted by HF member, Chris1683 in the HF thread, Ideas about brushless upgrade, because, well, it seems like the best way.

As many nano-enthusiasts will attest, keeping the weight of the nano as low as possible is an important factor. The weight of the nano can affect everything from tail hold to flight time, as well as climb-out and flipping performance! Before the installation, I weighed the S2 without a battery. The scale waffled between 26g and 27g, but seemed to settle on 26g, as shown in Fig. 1. I decided to pull the HH brushless motor and ESC from my Nano CPS since I knew that they would add only about 2g, overall.

One key to keeping the weight of the brushless upgrade on the low side is getting rid of the connectors that come with the upgrade and shortening the wires as much as possible. Of course this makes soldering even more difficult, and it's not easy for me to see such small solder points. I almost felt like I was soldering blind!

As shown in Fig. 2, I removed the brushless ESC from its shrink-wrap and then soldered on new, slightly thicker wires. The only decent place to mount the ESC is on front of the receiver board, and the stock wires were getting in the way. So I removed the stock wires and soldered the thicker wires to the opposite side of the ESC, which put the wires closer to the power lead connection of the receiver board. Soldering onto the power lead connection was the most difficult part of the installation for me. Definitely not the prettiest of solder jobs, but I tried my best and the heli seems to work pretty well all the same.

I decided to copy Chris1683 by soldering on a longer signal wire and routing the wire behind the board and up to the motor socket. As shown in Fig. 3, the signal wire routes neatly behind the receiver board and underneath the tail motor connector. This will be a big help later on, I'm sure, especially once it comes time to replace the tail motor.

Using a small piece of double-sided padded tape, HEP15002, from my Trex 150X kit enabled me to mount the ESC onto the receiver board without obstructing the rubber post that supports the receiver board or interfering with the blue/red LED on the board. Meanwhile, I had to bend the motor wires and route them over the top of the receiver board to the ESC, as shown in Fig. 4. This is the only way to avoid the wires contacting the canopy, which could transfer vibrations to the gyro. It is okay for the motor wires to touch the top of the receiver board, but it's important that the wires don't tilt the board or restrict the flexibility of the rubber mounts.

After all was said and done, I put the Nano S2 back on the scale for a final weight check. The scale showed a solid 29g, as shown in Fig. 5. So it looks like the brushless upgrade added slightly more than 2g to my S2. That should be fine, though, considering the power output of the brushless motor.

I gave the brushless S2 a quick test flight even though it was raining--I just couldn't wait! As reported by others, only Idle2 works correctly, but it works fabulously! The S2 board puts the head speed at 100% no matter what the Tx says. At first, I thought the tail motor might struggle a bit to keep up with the brushless motor. After putting several packs through the brushless S2, however, it's clear that the tail motor keeps up nicely--absolutely no tail blow-outs at all!

One point of frustration, though. While I was routing the wires, the lower port-side canopy post just fell loose! I have no idea how that happened, but the canopy and the rubber post seem to be holding just fine once all is installed into place. I didn't notice any bearing on flight, so maybe this was unnoticed previous crash damage. I won't replace the frame until it becomes an issue!

What are my final thoughts? Well, if you are a 3D pilot that wants to smack around a nano-sized heli without eating through brushed motors, or you are just learning flipping and inverted flight, then this upgrade is for you! Although the brushless motor upgrade works great with Horizon Hobby's Agility mode, neither Safe mode nor Stability Z-mode work correctly with the HH brushless upgrade. So, if you are working on upright flying and still find value in Safe mode and Stability Z-mode, then I suggest you continue with the stock motor for a while longer.
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