AirBlade EX Frame Kit - The Only Ultralight Micro You Need
You love the Toothpick trend? Kabab TP3? Great, we do too.
However, what we find challenging with all the Toothpick designs out there, including those from KababFPV is the way electronics are mounted and used. It's finicky in our opinion. The designs are usually limited to a small subset of compatible electronics, which makes building and maintenance a nightmare.
Our design process has always been centered around 3 major philosophies:
- Maximum compatibility: allowing for a wider selection of gear to be used in the build
- Function over form: every design choice and feature we consider has to serve a purpose
- Minimalistic: we don't want our designs to rely on 3D printed parts. This means the designs can be simpler and more cost-effective. We strongly believe that 3D printed parts should be accessories instead of being an essential part of the designs.
With that in mind, we look at the current Toothpick trend and ask ourselves, what can be done to make it better? Here are a few things we consider:
- Lack of battery mounting options. Up till now, the choices available are
- 3D printed mount - add extra weight and limited to specific size
- Elastic bands - light weight, not limited to a specific size but not the most secure option
- Camera and VTX mount: majority of the designs use 3D printed canopies
- Hard to access camera and VTX without taking the canopy off
- Thin canopies are light weight but don't offer a lot of protection
- Thick canopies offer better protection but come at the price of unnecessary weight penalty
- But most importantly, the availability of these canopies on the market
- Limited setup options
- Because you're using 3D printed canopies, the choice of electronics are limited to 26x26 whoop board, with 26x26 canopy, and 14mm nano FPV camera.
- Certain design calls for AIO camera which also means limited quality and range
So how do we solve that issue? If you actually look at the history of how micro quads evolved, you will see that Toothpick or Ultra micros are NOT new. They are just another incremental evolution of the existing micros. Don't believe me? Look up AirBlade Creampuff, AirBlade Macaron in 2016. Check out our legendary Charpu flying the first AirBlade Creampuff with 20x20 stack and 1105 motors.
The difference is we now have this nicer 26x26 AIO Whoop board that can handle a bit more amp, making it a cleaner build. 1103/1105 were used back then. It wasn't heavy either, the 1105 build came in at 59g dry. Of course, with 1103 motors and 26x26 board, you're able to bring the weight down further.
Anyway, the point is, we've encountered these problems before, and we came up with a solution for that, it's called the AirBlade Eclair - our best seller in 2017. So instead of trying to come up with an entire new design to address these aforementioned issues, we're going to base our new design on the philosophy of the AirBlade Eclair - we call it AirBlade EX (Eclair Xtreme).
The AirBlade Eclair Xtreme will have the following features:
- Battery strap slot: We have a great micro battery strap that is secure and lightweight, why not capitalize on that
- Cage design to allow for more space. Compatible with both 14mm nano camera and 20mm micro camera
- Compatible with 16x16, 20x20 and 26x26 flight controllers
The design needs to be light weight, yet strong enough to take powerful setup. We strongly believe that the 26x26 flight controller, 1404 motor on 4S swinging 3 inch props is the ideal setup for this type of frame and flying.
The 1404 motor on 4S and 3 inch props has been well-tested for over 2 years now. We know it worked with the old HGLRC Zeus 13A 4S AIO flight controller, so it will work with all the new 26x26 Toothpick FC like the BetaFPV Toothpick FC or NamelessRC 412T flight controller as well. This setup pairs well with RunCam Nano 2 camera and TBS Unify Pro32 Nano.
Stay tuned for more update on the AirBlade EX design.
UPDATE 1 (October 16 2019):
We decided to follow closely the AirBlade Eclair design for several reasons:
- For an ultralight micro design, unibody is preferred, you're not wasting previous weight on hardware. We've tested up to 3 inch like the AirBlade Eclair 3 inch Lite and with enough carbon fiber thickness, the plate can take plenty of abuse. This is proven over and over with many micro frame design.
- We decided to go with X design so that the arm can but cut along the carbon fiber weave, increasing the strength of the arm.
- We want the 2 side plates to be at 20mm distance instead of 14mm, this is a standard size and replacement hardware is readily available. This allows for both micro and nano FPV camera to be used as well. We will be adding two pieces of small spacers (M2x3mm) to the kit so that nano camera can still be mounted. The side plates will be joining the base plate by tabs, and secured by standoffs. Since this is ultralight, we will be using M2 hardware, and minimize the secure points to 3 points only.
- The roll cage will have a camera mount slot so different camera sizes can slide back and forth to get the best angle and protection. We're thinking the series of RunCam Nano camera like the RunCam Nano 2 or RunCam Racer Nano will be best for this size.
- The roll cage also allows us to be creative with our add-on design like the popular AirBlade Eclair backpack. This means you can mount your VTX and RX easily with a small piece of 3D printed part.
- The roll cage provides plenty of protection while allowing the electronics to be easily accessible for maintenance.
The roll cage design is still under development but will be finished soon. The general idea is to keep it as simple as possible.
UPDATE 2 (Oct 21 2019)
We finalized the design and sent it to CNCMadness to get some prototype cut. Here's the rendering of the final product. Aiming to release this design at very competitive pricing.