Thursday, January 29, 2015

Phoenix Flight Gear polycarbonate 200QX frame

The why

I normally like scale-looking things. For multirotors, that doesn't make a lot of sense, but I still like the enclosed body look over the open frame, let it all hang out look popular for miniquads.
The downside of this is that you have a battery compartment. For larger multirotors, this isn't an issue - there's lots of room, and a switch won't add much weight. But for the 200QX, getting the battery in is a squeeze, so using even a slightly larger battery won't work. And the battery cover is under a bit of pressure for the 3C battery Blade recommends for it.
So when my 200QX frame finally succumbed to my flying skills, I decide to try a miniquad frame replacement. Since I was going to put all the electronics on display, I decided to go with it, and got the Phoenix Flight Gear Polycarbonate Frame. I'm not providing pictures - they have lots of very good ones!

The install

I'd have had to take the old body apart in any case, and that was the hard part of the install. The kit came with everything you could possibly need for a variety of installs. I chose to cut the FC mount out of the old body, since if I go back I'll need a new body anyway. In fact, I'd managed to break the old body along one of the cuts required to get the FC mount out.
So the sequence was screw the frame bits together, except for the top plate. Take everything off the old body, and then put everything on it but the LEDs - because there were no mount points for the LEDs. Then screw on the top plate. No problem.
Not providing mounting points for the LEDs is the one fault with the kit proper. It did come with plenty of fish line to tie them down. I've had two come loose, tied them down with new line, and still have plenty left.
The instructions also missed a couple of things. No instructions on what to do with the old camera connector, for instance. There is a cutout in the top plate that it fits in nice and snugly, so I put it there because you never know when an extra control channel might come in handy.
After I got it together, I found that there was no good place for the battery strap on the frame. Checking their pictures, it goes under the flight control board. This works, and actually makes the flight control board fit better, but it would have been nice to have known that beforehand.

The flying

This frame flies like a dream. It seems much more responsive than the old body, though that could be my having been battering the body regularly since it arrived after I preordered it. It does look very good flying close to you.
The problem is, I tend to fly large circuits over my neighbors fields. I've found that it's a lot harder to see orientation on this frame than the body. Especially at night! Just having four little lights instead of the arms lit up by internal lighting is a a pain. As a result, I've lost orientation and then the quad twice now, something that never happened with the Blade body on it.

The frame

On the plus side, one of the two loses ended in an unseen crash bad enough to bend the blades. The only damage to the rest of the quad was an LED coming untied, and a small nick on the front of the frame. I sanded the nick out, and it's good to go.

The summary

I really do like this frame. I find the clear looks much nicer than black whatever-it's-made-of. But I also find myself working harder to keep it close to me than I used to. If I need to replace it, I'm not sure what I'll do.