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Thread: ZOHD Nano Talon 860mm - full review / build log / mods

  1. #21
    Navigator Arxangel's Avatar
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    UPDATE 2 - iNav + LiIon battery

    Alright, the iNav autopilot upgrade is finally a fact for the Nano Talon! I also made a brand new 4S LiIon 3120mAh 30A discharge battery pack, which would potentially give the plane around 2 hours of flight time.


    Those of you the also follow me on Facebook probably know that I did do some of the work on the autopilot stack a while back, but nothing too much really! Basically I soldered battery wires to the Omnibus F3 Pro board, and then output wires to the Matek PDB, where I also soldered pins for 5v and 12v outputs, so I can more easily power camera and Vtx units. I also soldered a Cicada BB2 30A ESC to the board and FC, because I really felt like I should replace the stock ESC with something a bit more reliable... at least according to me! The XM+ receiver was also attached, although I will have to move that... but more on this further down the page.








    Bare boards and GPS are only 23 grams, though granted, that is without the receiver or ESC.








    This Micro Ublox 7 GPS unit is ideally suited for such micro and ultra light builds, and so far has been working quite well on my Believer and XK A1200 planes.





    I removed the casing to make it lighter, and soldered on the proper connector for the Omnibus board, just to make connecting easier. I also split the Tx wire coming from the GPS, so I can connect it to my antenna tracker module, whenever I decide to use it.





    With the receiver and the Cicada soldered to the Omnibus it was almost ready!





    Just as a comparison, the almost complete Omnibus iNav stack with ESC, receiver and GPS weights 34 grams!





    Alternatively, the Micro APM controller, with current sensor, OSD, GPS, receiver, and a few regulators weights in a almost 100 grams. True, this is without wiring optimization, but still... the weight difference is HUGE!





    Since the stack was almost ready... it was time to start thinking about getting it into the plane!





    I decided to make the battery first. I decided to use the Sony Konion 3120mAh 30A LiIon cells, as this battery pack can only be 1P, and since the motor draws around 13A at full throttle... I was a bit hesitant to use the 10A discharge cells, while the 30A ones will be plenty. Also, higher discharge cells would suffer less voltage sag under load, and potentially I should be able to land at 3v per cell, while still having discharged most of the pack.


    First, I cycled 4 cells on my MC3000 charger, just to make sure they are of the same capacity and internal resistance before putting them together. The I taped them 2 by 2 with packaging tape, so they can remain as one while I spot weld them.





    From time to time the camera records some pretty spectacular sparking effects!





    Once the spot welding is done, it was time to solder on the balance wires, and for that I put the soldering station to 480 degrees, so I can keep the heat on the cells for a minimum time, in order to avoid damaging them from overheating!





    First I soldered what would be the middle wire on the balance connector.





    Moving up the pack I soldered the second and fourth wires, respective after the 1st cell, and before the last one.





    And finally the first and last balance wires were on there, which also could serve to measure the full pack voltage through them.





    Following, I soldered thicker red and black cables to an XT30 connector, which will serve as the main battery power lead.





    And then I soldered the other ends of the cables to the cells, again making sure to do it as quickly as possible, and keep the heat on there for a minimal time.





    Last, I soldered the balance cables from the battery to a balance lead. Naturally a 4S battery requires a 5-wire balance lead.





    And that was also done in no time, and did turn out pretty good!





    Continues in next post...

  2. #22
    Navigator Arxangel's Avatar
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    ... continued from previous post!


    Plugging the battery into a charger revealed that all is good, no shorts, no wrong connections, so I was ready to move on with the build.





    As it turns out, if I want to connect more than 2 servos to the Omnibus F3 Pro board... I will need to connect the receiver to a different port, because apparently servo outputs 5 and 6 double as the regular SBUS input, so if you have a receiver there, you can't use the servo outputs, and vice versa! Since I can connect the receiver to UART1, I will move it there, so I can use outputs 5 and 6 for the servos. That meant that I had to add a connector cable to the receiver in order to be able to connect it to UART1.





    The UART1 connector is the one just next to the red wire going from the flight controller to the PDB below it.





    Removing the old wiring and soldering on the new cable was a quick and easy task, so this was done in no time.





    Looks like a pretty clean solution to me! Would make it easier to connect other receivers in the future, as I am planning to mount an L9R in the NT once I am done testing the max range of the XM+.





    Next, I had to make the servo power harness! For a while now, I have not been powering servos from the FC rail, but I make these pin header power harnesses, so I can power them separately and avoid putting too much interference into the flight controller. First, I soldered some cables to the servo signal pads, which will later connect to the harness. Using different colour cables is a good idea.








    Next, I got a piece of 3-pin header and soldered one of the outer and the middle rows of pins together. This will distribute the power from the BEC to all servos. Third row is left untouched, as the signal cables from the flight controller will go there.





    While I was doing some soldering to the FC, I also took the chance to solder the cables from the PDB for the BEC, which will be powering the servos.





    Also also soldered some video input and output pins to the flight controller, since this one also has an OSD.





    Then I soldered the signal wires to the pin header and shrink wrapped them for added safety. I think this is a neat and clean solution to an otherwise VERY messy alternative!








    Right now I need to connect only 3 servos here, but I have some spare pins just in case I decide to add something in the future.





    For even more added safety, and since I couldn't find my hot glue gun, I epoxied the back of the header, to make sure nothing can short out even if something gets in there by chance.





    And with that, almost everything was connected and ready, so it was time to wire the whole thing up and test if it works! My only regret is not weighting the stack at this time... but I assume it would have been around 40 something grams.





    On first attempt I did get the servo connections wrong, so I had to back into iNav and see the correct wiring schematic, and all was good after that. As it turns out, with almost everything connected, nothing smoked when I plugged in the battery, and that is always a good thing! The BEC powering the servos is connected to a an output on the PDB, which comes straight from the battery. There is no need to filter the power for those.











    Dry fitting everything in the plane is scary, as it resulted in a very messy wiring! It is good that this is not the final install, I will need to do some tidying up!








    Continues in next post...

  3. #23
    Navigator Arxangel's Avatar
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    ... continued from previous post!


    But do you notice something missing? I have yet to connect the new ESC to the motor!





    For a while I was considering soldering the wires directly in order to save some weight from the connectors, but I decided convenience should rank higher here, and hence soldered some 2mm connectors to the ESC, which should also make changing motor direction very easy, by just swapping two of the wires, rather than have to soldering for something so simple!








    With the motor also wired up and spinning in the correct direction, it was time to do the FPV system!





    Initially I was going to replace the Foxeer with the Split, but as fate would have it... the Split refused to work all of a sudden! It was mounted in the Dart up to that point, so I literally just moved it over, and now it no longer worked, so until I could figure out why, I was left with the Foxeer, which is a bummer since it doesn't do on-board recording!


    Anyway, I started from the Vtx, and after I removed some of the wiring, I replaced the power connector with a male JST one, so it would directly connect to the PDB, and on the video wire I crimped a single pin servo connector.











    Good new is the cable that I made for the Split is also readily compatible with the pinout on the Foxeer, so I didn't really have to change much, other than turn off the Foxeer's integrated OSD, since I would be using Omnibus F3 Pro's one.








    For the camera cable I used a dual pin servo connector for power, and a single pin servo connector for the video!





    I also had to extend the video signal wire a bit for it to reach the video in pins on the Omnibus.





    And finally, camera got connected to the 5v output, and the Vtx to the 12v output on the Matek PDB.





    The video cables went on top of the Omnibus.





    And now... finally... time to tidy up this mess! I started by sticking down the BEC for the servos with double sided tape.





    After routing and connecting, in the correct way, all servo wires, I also used double sided tape to stick the harness to the side of the fuselage, just over the BEC.





    The Cicada ESC is pretty much where the stock one was, just the wires got a bit more optimized! If I ever decide I really want to lighten this thing up... I could pull the motor wires to the exact length needed and solder them to the ESC directly, shaving off a few grams from the AUW.





    Next, I used a double sided 3M pad to mount the flight controller and PDB stack.





    I made an opening from the FC compartment to the battery bay through the foam using my foam cutter! A very handy tool indeed!





    This is the shortest way to the battery, which also means less cable... less weight!





    The Vtx is exactly where it was before, still running at 200mW. When I get everything else sorted and am ready to go for the longer range flights, I may bump that up to 600mW. Seems to be working rather well mounted here... should be getting enough cooling air flow.





    Continues in next post...

  4. #24
    Navigator Arxangel's Avatar
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    ... continued from previous post!


    The XM+ receiver was taped to the sides of the fuselage, and I put a few holes in the top hatch for the antennas to go through, since mounting them vertically would give me best range!





    And finally I mounted the GPS unit on the centre piece which holds the wing's carbon tubes. Should give it a nice view of the sky.





    I'd say everything looks a lot better now... although I could have shortened some wires to save some more weight. Maybe next time!





    In order for the top hatch to close properly, I had to melt some foam in the shape of a GPS unit from the centre. Now all is good!





    I then put in the battery and put it on the scales... and AUW is 523 grams, which is pretty good! Sadly I did not measure it before that, but I know my battery is 10 grams lighter than what I initially used.








    I've probably added another 30-40 grams on top of the old AUW with the stock electronics, which were removed... possibly a total gain of 60-70 grams... but with a 2 hour flight time and a full autopilot! Not too bad!





    And now... the plane was finally ready for action!




















    But not quite!! We still have some iNav programming to do, before it will take flight!


    Continues in next post...

  5. #25
    Navigator Arxangel's Avatar
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    ... continued from previous post!


    First thing is to go in the "Ports" tab and enable the Serial RX on UART1, which will tell iNav to look for the receiver at that port. Also choose GPS from the drop down in the "Sensors" column on UART2, to enable the use of the GPS unit. The hit the "Save" button.





    Once you log back in, go to the "Configuration" tab on the left, and in the "Mixer" section I had to select "Custom Airplane" from the dropdown menu, since the version of iNav I am using, 1.73, does not have a V-tail mix for the Nano Talon by default. From the "Sensors" section below, it is possible that the "Barometer" will be set to "NONE", and if that is so, choose the sensor from the dropdown! Of course, this is only necessary IF your board has a barometer on it, but since the Onmibus F3 Pro has one, I went ahead and selected it. You can leave the stuff on the right side of the screen as they are for the time being.





    Moving down the page you will get to "Board and Sensor Alignment". Depending on how you've mounted your board, you may have to give it some correction angles here, so that the board knows it is not mounted the default way, and would accurately interpret the movements of the plane! For wiring convenience my board is actually mounted with its front facing back, so I have input 180 degrees correction on the YAW axis, and thus it now knows that its back is facing forward.


    Moving down to "Receiver Mode", you will have to tell it what kind of receiver to look for. Since the XM+ I have connected on UART1 is an SBUS receiver, I have selected the "Serial-based receiver" option from the first dropdown menu, and "SBUS" from the second one. This will be different if you are using a CPPM receiver for instance.


    Next, we get to the "GPS" section. Even though I enabled that in the "Ports" tab, here I am going to tell iNav to actually use it, and what type it is. For most units out there, these settings should be as seen here.


    As for the "Battery Volage" and "Current Sensor" sections on the right, I usually don't change anything here until I've flown the model and have an idea of how accurate it is showing the voltage and current, so leave them alone for the time being.





    After enabling the use of the GPS unit, you can verify that the settings are correct and iNav is talking to it by going into the "GPS" tab on the left. If you are indoors it is possible you will not see a lot of info, BUT as long as you can see the number of "Total messages" changing, in the "GPS Statistics" section, it means the GPS settings are correct and it is working as it should.





    Now, going back to the "Configuration" tab, right at the bottom on the right is the "Other features" section, and in here you have to enable the "OSD" slider, if it is not enabled by default. Then you can click "Save", and log back in again.





    Once the OSD is enabled you will be able to go to the "OSD" tab on the left, and configure everything about it to your liking!





    In the "Failsafe" tab, you can chose what will happen if the receiver looses link with the radio. For a plane, the best case is for it to Return-to-Home, so on the right at the bottom select the RTH option. On the top left are the signal ranges outside of which iNav would interpret as a failsafe situation and would engage RTH. Not sure if these are valid for any channel, or just the throttle channel, but I like to program my throttle to outside of these ranges if the receiver looses link with the radio, so make sure you also do that if you want a reliable RTH engagement on failsafe!





    We are going to leave the "PID" tab along at this time, and move on to the "Advanced tuning" tab below it. A few things need to be changed here, but the "Position Estimator" section is a NO-GO zone, so stay out of it! I have not touched anything in the "Basic Navigation Settings" either.





    "RTH and Landing Settings" does need a few changes, at least from the defaults I got! First, I changed the "RTH Altitude mode" to "At Least", and then below that set 200 meters altitude. This means that the plane will reach 200 meters altitude above the take off point on RTH, if it is below that. If it is over that, it will RTH at its current altitude.


    The "Climb before RTH" option tells it to climb to the desired "RTH Altitude" before heading towards the home point. "Land after RTH" option should be "Never", since you rarely want that from a plane anyway! A copter will be fine... but I prefer to land my planes myself!


    And so we get to the "Fixed Wing Settings". Most of the stuff here can remain default, although I've changed it a bit, but the most important setting to be changed is the "Pitch to throttle ratio". On my Believer this thing caused it to nose down into the ground every time I applied higher throttle in any of the stabilized modes, and that nearly crashed it a number of times! Supposedly this setting should cause raise throttle if you pull on the elevator, in order to prevent a stall... but it is working the wrong way in my case - pitching down as I raise the throttle... not raising the throttle as I pitch up! Will have to dedicate a full day of testing this one when I get the chance, but for the time being I will leave it to 0, which essentially switches it off! Don't forget to click that "Save" button once you are done here.





    And so now we get to the "Receiver" tab. On the left side you will be able to see the current channel values iNav is seeing from the receiver. First you need to select the proper channel map from the dropdown at the top. This will depend on your radio, but I am used to the AETR one, so am using that one. To the right of it is "RSSI Channel" dropdown. Since some receivers, like the XM+, can output RSSI as a PWM value on one of their channels, this menu allows you to select which channel that is, and in this case it is ch 16. This value, but in %, will be shown on your OSD next to the RSSI icon!





    Next, I configured an ARM switch on the Taranis, and a modes switch, and you can see how the values changed for channels 7 and 8. Also, don't forget to use the endpoint adjustment on your radio to make all used channels go between 1000 and 2000 exactly, with 1500 as mid point. It is what iNav wants! Besides, this will ensure that it accurately detects a failsafe even't rather than just you dropping the throttle to 0! You can leave the stuff on the right alone for the time being.





    Since I already had assigned some switches on my radio, it is time to go the "Modes" tab and assign some stuff to them! Channel 7 got the ARM function, while channel 8, being a 3-pos switch, got Passthru mode, Angle mode, and Acro mode. Will add some more to that in a bit, as I get things working properly. Don't forget to save after you make any changes.





    Now, since the Nano Talon needs a V-tail mix, and as I already mentioned iNav 1.73 does not have one by default, I will need to set one up manually! I used Painless360's V-tail mix on my Believer and it worked perfectly there, so I am going with it here as well. Supposedly the V-tail mix in the iNav github should work well on 1.80 firmware, but it didn't work that well on 1.73 when I tried it last time! You actually need to do that from the "CLI" tab, but if you watch the video (just search "Painless360 vtail mix" on youtube) you will know how to do it.








    After inputting the mix and saving it, all worked well, but my ailerons were reversed. In this situation do not fix that from the radio, because it will work fine in the passthru mode, but will still be reversed in all other modes, and the FC will try to stabilize in reverse... which means it will just start rolling on the aileron axis and will crash the plane! You actually need to go to the "Servos", and then for the channel you need to reverse, go to the last column on the right "Direction and Rate" and change it from 100 to -100, then "Save", and that should reverse the desired channel in passthru and all other stabilized modes!





    And now... for real... we can go fly! Never forget to verify CG and correct control surface operation before EVERY flight, just for the sake of safety! Now... enjoy my video of this upgrade and the flight that followed, and I should have some updates pretty soon!


  6. #26
    Navigator Arxangel's Avatar
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    Here is the next video in the LiIon endurance testing on the Nano Talon! Pretty good results at 41mAh per km on 4S!



  7. #27
    I've got one of these and I immediately removed the esc, servos, motor and stabilizer.

    My setup:
    35 amp talon CC esc (don't love this but it was all I had)
    Tmotor F40 Pro ii 1600kv
    7x6 prop
    4sx1800
    Hitec 65mg for ailerons
    Hitec 45hb's for the tail
    RMRC 12v regulator and LC filter
    MFD Autopilot, altitude, current and airspeed sensors, GPS
    TSLRS normal range Rx with dipole mod
    Foxeer 1177 camera
    Lumenier 600mw 5.8g Tx
    Dumped the stock ez connector's Philips head screws and replaced them with hex sockets so you can actually tighten them.
    Had to add 21 grams weight to the tail for balance
    Removed all magnets and glued or taped as necessary. MFD AP's compass didn't play nice with them.
    AUW 670 grams

    Still have yet to maiden, weather, life and other projects have gotten in the way. I hope to this week.

  8. #28
    Navigator Arxangel's Avatar
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    Damn, that is a lot of gear to go into a small plane as this one! Did you get a chance to measure the weight of the stock motor when you took it off? I wonder how much heavier that T-motor is!

    Otherwise, sounds like an interesting setup for sure! I am thinking this weight might be a tad on the higher side... but I guess you will know when you get it in the air! Should fly a lot quicker than mine though! Share a photo or two when you get the chance.

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Arxangel View Post
    Damn, that is a lot of gear to go into a small plane as this one! Did you get a chance to measure the weight of the stock motor when you took it off? I wonder how much heavier that T-motor is!

    Otherwise, sounds like an interesting setup for sure! I am thinking this weight might be a tad on the higher side... but I guess you will know when you get it in the air! Should fly a lot quicker than mine though! Share a photo or two when you get the chance.
    That Tmotor is amazing. It's actually super light (30 grams). I can weigh the stock motor tonight but I think it's actually heavier. The Tmotor is over 800 watts!

    It's really not that bad at 670 grams. The plane can handle it no problem. I can fly it over 80mph but the battery would only last a few minutes. But theoretically I can fly for an hour just above stall speed. I still haven't maidened this is all theoretical based on ecalc.

    Will post pics tonight but it was no problem at all fitting the gear.

  10. #30
    Navigator Arxangel's Avatar
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    Haha, yeah, I am sure the T-motor is powerful and should make take offs at this weight easy... but I don't know... I think the stock is lighter, and in my case I am trying desperately to save every gram in order to improve efficiency! 80mph is an impressive speed!

    As for eCalc... this thing has never given me an accurate prediction whether it be for a copter or a plane... hence why I prefer to test in real conditions before I can start estimating future flights and performance!

    Make sure you record some video from this flight!

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