The "toothpick" series of ultra lightweight quad was made popular by Bob Roogi (Kabab FPV). all original parts can be found on his site here: https://fpvcycle.com/ After enjoying the original 65mm toothpick builds I was very excited to build a larger, more powerful 3 inch "TP3" version but I've never been able to buy all the parts owing to the popularity.
So I've decided to spec my own TP3 build inspired by his specifications. Since this quad is essenially a sum of components I will do breakout reviews linked in this master review which ties it all together,
Here are the parts I've chosen
Frame - ZJWRC 115X
This frame has a truly unforgettable name and a waste of time canopy but the baseplate is TOUGH and the hardware is actually useful. At $14 the price is ok and it is always in stock. See more details in my frame review here. Premium alternatives include the original TP3, racer-x twig, and more but for me if a frame does the basics well I don't bother with something expensive. I'm pleased to say this frame does do the basics well. If you are looking for something cheaper and lighter consider the Eachine Twig frame at $8 but personally I prefer the stiffness of the ZJWRC 115x frame I used here.
Canopy - Nano Lite by Dave C
For me I wanted this build to be compact and tough and low in weight where practical. Dave C's 3d canopy printed in TPU reflects this objective perfectly. If you do not have access to a 3d printer I'd recommend something like a Eachine Twig Canopy or Happymodel Larva-X Canopy. Both of these injection moulded plastic canopies are lighter but more brittle than the TPU canopy I went with. Dave C's thingiverse STL is here.
Motors - GEPRC GR1204
There are a number of good motor options around now, go with a premium manufacturer in 1204 or 1303 sizes at 5000ish kV. I chose the GEPRC GR1204 5000kV because I've had great experience with GEP-RC motors in the past and I loved the gold colour for this build. Motors look great in real life, well made and great finish with good windings and tight airgaps. See my breakout review of these here. Other good options include the RCInpower GTS 1204 5000kV and the Iflight Xing Nano 1204 4500kv (although the xings are a bit spendy). Consider also the AMAX 1303 but they are very hard to find online.
AIO FC ESC - NamelessRC AIO412T
The market AIO flight control / ESC in traditional whoop style as used in toothpick quads has grown massively so there are many options now. I chose the NamelessRC AIO 412T with f4 processor and 2-4s 12a blheli_s esc because it was the original unit with the improved board and USB layout, My breakout review for the AIO 412T is here. Building with this board was easy and I was always planning on using a discrete receiver since the Crazybee onboard SPI units have poor range on what will be a quad that can move fairly quickly. The new Diatone Mamba toothpick board is similarly specced and is also meant to be good. The Beta FPV AIO 12a board has a similar layout and spec sheet too bit I've heard reliability concerns.
Camera - Runcam Racer Nano 2
Since this is a premium build I chose something of a premium Nano camera - the Runcam Racer Nano 2 (not to be confused with the Runcam Nano 2). My breakout review of this camera is here. This is a high performance low latency CMOS cam in the now standard 14mm nano size. There are many good options around now, I also considered the caddx baby ratel and on the more budget end, the Runcam Nano 2. Of course there are HD recording options as well like the Caddx baby turtle and Runcam nano 3 split but I didn't wan't hd recording nor the extra weight in this particular quad.
VTX - Rush Tiny Tank
I wanted no compromise on the video feed for this build so alongside the premium camera I went with a premium VTX - the Rush Tiny Tank. This a tiny 1.6g vtx capable of up to 350mw and the breakout review can be found here. The rush tank series of VTX have a great rep and I wanted to see for myself. Other options I considered were the NamelessRC nano VTX at less than 1g and the Eachine nano VTX which is a little less expensive but runs HOT.
Receiver - FRSKY XM+
This is largely down to the protocol you typically run but for this build I definitely wanted a discrete receiver for better reception than the crazybee SPI onboard receivers. I chose a FRSKY XM+ because I had one lying around but a standard FRSKY XM would have been lighter and easier to install due to the smaller size. The slight loss in range from not having diversity is not a big deal in my mind. There is also the more expensive R-XSR but since RSSI can be broadcast over an AUX channel on the XM and XM+ receivers I have no need.
Propellers - Gemfan 3016
I've used the original recommended prop for the TP3, the Gemfan 3018 which is a very light twin bladed prop with a reasonable aggressive pitch for this size - see my breakout review here for more details. Other notable choices include the Gemfan 3016 which is a similar design but in 3-blade with a lighter pitch and the HQ T3x2 which is HQ's bi-blade equivalent. The key is to have a light load prop in order to allow this small motors to remain responsive
Battery - GNB 450mah
My recommended batteries for this build are 2 or 3s GNB stick packs in 450-650mah. 2 cell will give you enough for nimble and proximity flying whereas 3 cell for bigger areas. Don't forget you can put a throttle limit on an aux switch if needed as per my article here.
I won't go into too much detail in the build because things are much easier with the AIO boards. Main outtakes for me were:
Here's the build, click on any picture to embiggen.
This is very straightforward now thanks to the advances in flight control and ESC software. I ran Jazzmaverick BLHELI_S firmware (16.77) with 48KHz and bidirectional DSHOT which allows for RPM filtering in betaflight 4.1 and up. Fixed filters were adjusted for rpm filtering as per the betaflight 4.1 tuning guide here. PIDs remain stock but I believe there is scope to tighten them up using the sliders. As it stands this tune felt really controlled yet still gave me the ability to fly around on a bent prop without overheating a motor. Screenshots of the key changes to be added below.
This final build is very compact with a strong and stiff frame which means it should be super tough. The only damage I've done so far is losing props in a crash. Although press-fit is the recommendation I will use m2 t-mount screws to hold the props on more securely. One thing that was common for both battery sizes tested below is just how quiet this is. The large blade area for the given weight equals a very light 'disc-load' and makes it super quiet - perfect for park or even neighbourhood flying and not upsetting people or neighbours that may be around.
I really liked the image out of the runcam racer nano 2, it's the best image I've had from a nano cam so far (caddx eos2, caddx baby turtle, runcam nano 2, runcam nano 3, runcam split 3 nano) but you would expect that for the price. Colours were clear and crisp and good light handling gave me confidence to fly under tree canopies.
VTX performance was as good as I've had although a recent switch to the ORT dual shield antennas (reviewed here) on my sky03o goggles (reviewed here) has meant many of my quads have improved. Again, see DVR footage below for yourself.
Very linear throttle response, great control and faster than I was expecting I used GNB 2s 450mah and got about 4-5 minutes of flight depending on small or large field which is outstanding efficiency. This quad likes to move quickly even on 2s and you'll soon find yourself adjusting the camera angle up. See below for DVR footage from my favourite little park.
You definitely get the expected speed increase in low-mid range throttle but I was a little disappointed to see the last 20-30% of throttle become a little ineffectual, like the motor was over propped. I also got a lot more mechanical vibration here. I think a switch to the lighter pitch triblades would be a good fix for 3s as the lower pitch and better balancing would address both of these issues. Regardless, all the great new filtering options on betaflight 4.1.x means the motors come down cool, even on 3s when I clipped a prop and it was noticeably bent.
Build is compact and robust. Super tough over engineered frame. Motors are beautiful but may benefit from extra stator width - mor torgue needed at top 30% throttle on 3s or just enjoy efficiency on 2 blade 2s which is still no slouch and super controllable.
Bob Roogi has come up with a great formula for a fast and non-offensive micro quad and has been rewarded with success in his FPVcycle store where products are regularly sold out. Given high shipping prices where I live and the fact that the items needed for a full build are never in stock at the same time, I decided to make a TP3 inspired quad from Banggood where parts are available and shipping accessibility and cost to anywhere in the world is very good. The resulting quad is not overly expensive, fast, quiet, efficient and highly portable meaning it will make a great addition to your quad fleet No micro will ever feel the same as a 5 inch but with the benefits that is ok on many occasions. You can of course fit this out with longer range receivers and HD recording options but keep an eye on the weight because that is what makes this quad magic.
Compared to the original toothpick which uses a 2.5 inch blade is a big improvement, it feels much more controllable and grown up.
Compared to more traditional 3 inch quads with larger motors and more battery cells (diatone GTr349, Hobbycool meteor) it does not have the same top speed but it a lot more fun to fly due to the controllability, efficiency and durability that comes from a weight that is practically half.
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