Components Used In This Build:
- Piko BLX Flight Controller
- RotorX 1105b 6500kv Motors
- Little Bees 20amp BLheli_s Esc
- Eachine TX02 AIO 200mw Camera/VTX
- Lemon Spektrum DSMX Satellite
- ReadymadeRC Micro Buzzer
- RotorX RX2535 Props
- 3D Printed XBL117 Accessories
- 3s Tattu 650mah 75c with XT30
Lay out all the parts you plan to use for the build… I really wanted something pretty powerful so i chose the RotorX 1105b 6500kb motors and Little Bee BLheli_S 20 amp electronic speed controls, although the Racestar 1103 and 6amp Racestar esc’s are also a good choice for a lighter build. The flight controller needed is the Piko BLX with a 20mm x 20mm mounting foot print, which the XBL117 was designed for.
The first thing you want to do it soldier the ESC’s to the motors… Remove any heat shrink already around the ESC’s. If your ESC’s have a signal wire and a ground for the signal wire I would remove that ground. The Piko BLX flight controller doesn’t have a spot on the board for it and its not required. I personally wrap the motor wires around the esc and then soldier them on. If you decide to cut the wires short and soldier them make sure you strip the wires well… In the past I had issues getting past the shielding to the actual wires so I do it this way now.
Once you have them soldier and wrapped like the picture above, you are going to want to mount the motor on the arms. I used the 3d printed arm protectors which can be downloaded here. Once the motor is mounted, you want to take some form of double sided tape (or double sided thin foam tape) to cover the arm where the ESC will sit… This is to ensure the ESC doesn’t short out against the carbon fiber arm. Then press the wires and ESC onto the double sided tape to hold it into place. If you want the smooth looking top on the ESC, you can download this 3d printable piece i created here. Once you set it on top, take your heat shrink and slide it over the motor and the arm. I used large heat shrink to do this, but still had to stretch it a bit with needle nose pliers to make it large enough to slip over the motors. Position everything how you like it and heat it with your heat gun. I slid one side of the pod on temporarily just to make sure I had good clearance and the ESC didn’t hit the pod.
Repeat this process on all four arms. In the picture above, i test fitted the pod again… making sure my ESC’s were in a good spot and I had room to put the pod on. It is a close fit for sure. Once all 4 of your motors and ESC’s are mounted properly It is time to mount the Piko BLX flight controller. BEFORE you do this, if you plan to use a battery strap I recommend you put it on now and get it situated before mounting the flight controller. In the picture above, you can see i put the very small nylon standoffs on the top, and on the bottom the nylons nuts to hold the standoffs in place.
I am using a Lemon Satellite because I use a Spektrum DX9 radio, so i plugged in the satellite wire using the plug on the bottom of the flight controller and ran it out the back side of the Piko BLX. If you are using a different brand radio you are on your own with how your receiver works as i only have a Spektrum transmitter. If you are really good and want to save space you could cut this plug off and direct soldier. Another benefit to this is the ability to run the signal and motor power wires under the flight controller. Without removing the satellite plug on the bottom I found it hard to run the motors wires under the FC. In my case, I left the Sat plug and ran the motor wires above the flight controller. Next, its time to mount the Piko BLX onto the standoffs with the provided nylon screws and secure it into place.
The next step is to begin soldiering your wires to the board. Take your time with this, the contacts are very close together and you don’t want to short it out. Please refer to the Piko BLX wiring diagram on their webpage for where the wires go for a higher resolution image.
In the picture above, i started with the front left motor (motor 4)… then the front right motor (motor 2)… When you have finished those you will move to the rear motors. You will see that I have the wires coming from the center of the board out to the contact edges… If you ran the motor wires under the flight controller you may want to do the opposite. For me, to make things easier I soldiered on the battery power plug (*Use a JST with the thickest power wire you can find!*) before soldiering the rear motors. I also added a buzzer which wires up on the USB side and used the ReadyMadeRC micro buzzers which can be purchased here. Small quads can be a headache to find in tall grass and a crash, I like to setup a buzzer alert just in case. Wire up your back two motors just like you did on the front motors. When it comes time to wire up your AIO cam/vtx combo (I am using the TX02) make sure you use the 5 volt side of the Piko BLX that is on the other side across from the usb if that’s what is required. If you are using a standard VTX and seperate camera that can handle more than 5 volts you will want to use the filtered power connection on the FC that is right next to where you wired up the battery wire. Please refer to the Piko BLX wiring diagram for more information on all of this. As i soldiered each ESC to the board I checked the continuity with a voltage meter for any possible shorts and then moved onto the next ESC. DO NOT skip this part, you don’t want to fry your electronics.
In the picture above, I have soldiered up all the motors and AIO TX02 Cam/Vtx… the buzzer is connected and I am putting the heat shrink around the buzzer connects where i soldiered it together. I also just slid the 3d printed camera mount onto the camera.
I tilted the camera up just a little bit and used low temp hot glue to hold the bottom into place. It felt very firm. You could use TPU for this mount or ABS… I went with ABS. The mount is available to print from here. With everything soldiered up and ready to be mounted on the pod, I AGAIN made SURE I checked continuity with a voltage meter for any possible shorts. Everything was good, So i plugged up a 2s lipo just to make sure everything came on and beeped. It looked great, so it was time to move on to mounting the pod on the frame.
I don’t have many pictures from this last part of the build because I put the left side on and then the right and tried to assemble it… later in the evening I realized there was an easier and better way to do it… The problem I had with doing it this way was the fact that I couldn’t get the front bottom sideways standoff and rear sideways standoff secured with the nylon screws because my ESC’s were taller and in the way… So, here is what to do.
Do not mount the arms of the pod on the frame, assemble the pod independent of the frame by connecting the front bottom and rear bottom sideways standoffs, and put the nylon screws through the sides of the pod into the standoffs but don’t tighten them all the way. Carefully slide the pod down onto the frame until all four sections click into place on the frame (this took a little bit of finesse). Leave those screws loose for the time being… Now I took the angled top plate (on the top back of the pod) and mounted my Lemon satellite to it with double sided tape making sure nothing on the satellite was making contact with the carbon fiber (so it wouldn’t short out). I plugged in the satellite wire (but if you solider skills are really good you could cut the plug and direct wire it). Mount the top plate with your satellite onto the pod, it will click into place. Next i moved my buzzer out of the way, and mounted the 3d printed camera mount that is holding your camera/vtx combo to the front center of the pod. You will see there are a couple different positions for the front screws which give you different angle amounts for the camera. It came with screws in the pack from Tomo, but I had a hard time getting the screws to go into the carbon fiber so i used the RotorX motor mounting bolts that came with my motors… two on each side of the camera mount to secure the TX02 to the pod but not all the way tighten up yet. Next, I went back to the nylon screws and there was just enough space to get my screw driver on them to tighten them up. Once all that was done, I put the top sideways standoff in place and put the nylon screws on either side of the top to tighten that up. Last, Go back around the nylon screws all the way around, and the 3d printed camera mount screws and make sure everything is tight and secure. It should be very solid.
You are almost done on the build! The last thing I did was on the bottom of the quad… I trimmed the screws coming through the bolts on the bottom (so it wouldn’t scratch or puncture the lipo) and then used some single sided 1/2 inch thick foam I purchased from Readymaderc to go the length of the frame front to back… I normally use velcro on the bottom, but with the strap it wasn’t necessary. I also put a zip tie around the back, around the frame and the battery wire so in case of an accident it wouldn’t pull or put stress on the battery wire where it mounted to the Piko BLX. When all completed, it weighed in without battery at exactly 80 grams.
Now you are ready to flash ESC firmwares, check and correct motor directions and then move into Betaflight programming to set everything up on your radio. I am not planning on going into the details of how this works for now… that is a whole other guide. Most people are using a 500mah 2s pack on these and I have some as well… but i also run other quads with similar power setups and go up as high as 950 mah but that is the extreme end… It really boils down to how you fly (racing, freestyle or just cruising around). Whatever you do, get a higher C pack at least 30c… These 1105b motors really need some power. If you went with the 1103 motors I wouldn’t recommend going any higher than a 500mah lipo and 20 to 25c should be fine. I plan to do some testing and will report back the flight characteristics as well as times with my setup.
Final thoughts… WOW this thing is a rocket on the 1105b motors… I am extremely impressed… the CG and weight is perfectly balanced! After some minor tuning on betaflight 3.0.1 I am happy using the 2 bladed combo on a Tattu 650mah 3s 75c lipo with xt30 connector… 2s will work just fine, I wanted a bit more power. This XBL117 will definitely be getting alot of stick time in the near future… another great job by Tomo!