A practical approach to RC planes

MiniTri First Flights

MiniTri Build Completed

MiniTri Build Completed

Last week before my business trip I finished up the MiniTri and started tuning the PIDs. And I have to say this thing is ballistic! I started out with the default tricopter settings from OpenPilot. With a few short line of sight flights I started working out the shakes and wobbles. After the second battery I started to feel good about the setup. So I started to test the speed. In the 100 x 100 foot back yard I couldn’t get the tri to full tilt. This thing rockets to high-speed and just keeps going. I would have to guess that it would top out around 45 mph! And this is only on a 3-cell! The equipment should handle a four without issue!


I am was having a blast whipping the tri from one end of the yard and back. The controls were smooth and the flight steady. But then something started to act funny. The tri would yaw and not stop. I tried to bring it back around but I ended up tagging a block wall a 25 mph. So I also got to test the strength of the frame. Not my intentions but it does help illustrate the awesomeness of the frame. A hit of this magnitude would have crushed any quad out on the market and forget the death and distraction an RC plane would have shown. The MiniTri frame held up very well. I did crack one of the front arms just inside of the motor mount but really I expected the whole frame to be shattered. After a quick email to Nick and a new arm in the mail, it only took me 4 minutes to have the tri repaired.

Servo Surgery

Servo Surgery

But I do want to loop back around to why the tri yawed out of control. In my haste to build and test I used a used servo that had been on one of my full-sized tricopter. This tricopter just happened to have a tangle with a tree. Therefore I’m guessing that the servo gear had already been damaged and the few flights on the MiniTri finished it off.

Missing tooth on the yaw servo main gear

Missing tooth on the yaw servo main gear

Taking apart the servo confirmed what I had thought. The main gear was missing a tooth. The good news is that HobbyKing sells replacement gears for $3. The bad news is that they are only on the international warehouse and it will be 3-4 weeks until they get here… So until then the MiniTri is on hold.


I can’t wait to get some FPV gear on and really start to put the tri through its paces. The first few flights were such a teaser and I was very pleased with the results. Now I’m just left itching for more. But until the parts come in I’ll have to work on some other projects.


– Miles




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