In quad racing three things are most important. Power, weight and handling. Removing weight from your setup not only improves the handling by lowering inertia but frees up more power for manoeuvres rather than just stopping you falling from the sky.
In the US it’s even more important as multicopters that exceed a 250g take-off weight must be registered so every bit of weight we can lose is a bonus
Building a lightweight racing quad is so much more than just picking the lightest frame. If you’re looking to put your quad on a diet here’s how we do it at Atto.
Building with header pins on your flight control boards and other components may be convenient when it comes to taking things apart but it adds weight and takes up space. The more space you need the bigger the frame and therefore more weight. It’s a vicious circle… like Pacman.
With care and practice, learning to solder your connections directly together will allow much smaller builds and can save much more than you might think as well as being far more secure than a friction fit plug. Before building think carefully about how your builds will go together and lay everything out before you start.
All Atto frames are supplied with Titanium bolts instead of the usual steel. Titanium bolts are super strong and half the weight of steel, saving 3g on our lightest builds and up to 8g on the larger frames. That may not seem a lot but that’s 10% of one of our 3″ frames.
Alloy motor nuts
Most motors are supplied with heavy duty steel M5 nuts. Swapping the standard Emax versions out for alloy nuts saves another 7g, or 5% of the total weight of our lightest 130. If all 4 of your motors have the same thread direction we don’t recommend using alloy motor nuts on props larger than 3″. Self tightening propellers of all sizes can use them.
We’re definitely guilty of this – sometimes it’s fun to build big but to keep things light you should try not to over spec your quad. If you’re running 1306 motors you probably only need 10 or 12A ESCS. If you’re never going to exceed 15A then your shiny 30A ESCS’s are just extra weight. The same goes for your battery connector. We find that the new XT-30 provides more than enough power for a 3″ build of any type. Heavy XT60 connectors and the wires that go with them are capable of carrying far more current then we’ll ever need.
It’s easy to get carried away when building and end up with more wires and connections than you need. If you plan your build carefully to minimise the amount of components and wires you need you can always save a few extra grams. Using combination components such as as VTX with built in OSD or Flight controller with PDB are good examples of this. Another is using a VTX that can pass a 12V power line to your camera, rather than wiring it separately.
The 130 above uses large 1707 motors and by saving weight elsewhere it’s able to easily carry a full go pro setup and still have plenty of power. We don’t recommend this for keeping it light but we thought it was cool so we did it anyway.
If you’ve got your own tips you’d like to share please let us know. We’re always looking for new ways to shave a gram or two.