The Wingman is Fractal Engineering's foldable take on the 18650 1s 3" long-range trend, which is an ongoing community project meant to build an entire quadrotor aircraft around the 18650 battery. These builds are known for having a powerband more suited for cruising/exploration/surveilance than freestyle/racing, but what they lack in shear power they make up for with epicly long flight times. It's not uncommon for these aircraft to hold flight times between 20 and 30 minutes, which really changes the style of flight you end up taking-on. To spend that much time aboard a small, well-built aircraft on a clear day is a treat.
So what makes this wingman build special? First off, Yves at Fractal made this aircraft foldable, so this baby can literally fit in your pocket! It's an excellent design, both elegant and functional. Secondly, the current recipe recommends the 1202.5 Scout motors paired with the latest in 18650 technology, the 28000 VTC5D, which has a higher capacity than other high-discharge 18650 packs. This powersystem is a considerable jump forward in the 18650 aircraft project, adding more power while maintaining the characteristically long flight times.
One thing you'll need to build this is a 1.5mm Allen Wrench like ThiS OnE.
Here's what Fractal has to say about this airframe:
- Have you ever wished you had an extra sidekick quad to help you recover your main machine from a tree?
- Or perhaps one you could deploy from the comfort of your car to recon a new spot without the hassle of going out and walking there?
- Or maybe just an ultra-compact video rig to give your loved one an excuse to rip a few packs under the pretense of documenting your vacation?
Well, the Wingman is all of that, and much more!
The idea for this frame stemmed from Dave C’s nano long-range, concept -obviously!-
I was immediately hooked on the idea of being able to pop a single, general-purpose 18650 li-ion cell on a quad and cruise around longer than with any of my freestyle rigs
Back then the only frame option was the original 3D printed one
I knew I could greatly improve upon the concept by utilizing carbon fiber, but I also knew that by the time I would be ready to release, I wouldn’t be the only one with a CF arms nano LR
So I decided to up it a notch; I’ve had this idea of folding arms in my head for a while, and the lightweight, low load use case of that format would be the best proving ground for it
Over a year in the making, after many iterations and countless hours of testing and tuning later what is the result?
The first-ever foldable and soft mounted arms in FPV
The major unique feature of this frame kit is obviously the folding arms
And the way it manages to achieve this feature in such an integrated manner is where the whole secret sauce resides
This 3″ 1S format offers the possibility to push incredibly intricate ideas down to an incredibly simple execution thanks to the low prop load
In this case, I’ve chosen to make the top and bottom plates clamped to the standoffs,
While using the same standoffs as pivots for the arms, themselves sandwiched between 2 TPU shims and a nylon spacer to press them down in position
Those TPU shims also serve 2 purposes at the same time; they primarily provide friction for the quick deployment of the arms, while also dampening the junctions
This helps reduce the number of vibrations transmitted to the FPV and HD camera (more on that in a bit) and the FC gyro, enabling smooth footage and easy tuning
Ultra-lightweight, durable and compact design
The spaceframe carbon fiber body was meticulously designed to only keep material where absolutely necessary
This includes protecting all the electronics and maintaining a rigid platform,
While pocketing everything else for lightweight and airflow
Making it only 24g frame only, or 60g ready to fly excl. battery
Quick-release arm mechanism
For being designed around ease of use and quick deployment, I went for a friction fit with a light detent to hold the arms open
Just simply pull the arms out until the detent clicks, and push them back in when you’re done
That means no manual latch, no thumbscrew, no positive lock
This also means that in the event of a crash the arms might fold and you would need to go get it…
…But you’re also more likely to be able to take off again without any damage, as I’ve found during testing that the folding appears to absorb a lot of energy that might have snapped something otherwise
In any event, let that be clear that this remains a stable and soft cruiser above all; you won’t have much fun going bando bashing with it I can almost guarantee it
To sum it up
just a great tool to always have with you, just so many uses for it
- Toss it in your bag when you’re going on vacation for drone videos (also a great excuse for your wife to bring a quad)
- Use it to recon new spots to rip without going out of the car (walking? like with your legs?)
- Search and rescue! Take advantage of the long flight time to look for a lost quad (I hope you find it brother/sister)
- Attach a string to the back, fly around that branch you got your main quad stuck on, bring it back and give it a good tug (watch your head)
- Or even get that whoop you got stuck on that roof (I know you could just climb up the gutter but come on it’s 2022)
- Guerilla dive! pull it out of pocket, deploy it in a second, rip that huge building tower (you know which one), fold it back in your pocket and bail
- Or simply just cruise around for a relaxing chill flight, perhaps to wind down after a hard charger sesh (if you got the patience for it)
- … or whatever else you want it to be!
I’ve built this frame not to be an alarmingly fast zippy freestyle rocket, or a purpose-built cinema rig to carry your gopro
I’ve built it to be always there when all your other quads are down,
Always there to have your back when you need it
Hence why I’ve named it so.
I’ve built it to be your Wingman.
- 1 x Top plate
- 1x Bottom plate
- 2x Front plates
- 4x Arms
- 1x 18650 Tray
- 4x M2 x 10mm alu standoffs
- 4x M4 x 6mm nylon spacer
- 10x M2 x 5mm steel screw (for the standoffs)
- 4x M1.7 x 5mm steel self-threading screw (for the 18650 Tray)
- 1x TPU cam holder
- 2x TPU shim set
- 4x M2 x 10mm steel screw (for the stack)
- 10x M2 nylon nuts (for the stack)
- 10x M2 x 4mm socket screws (for the motors)
Motors: 1202.5 11500kv or equivalent, 80mm long wires. Click here
AIO: Any 5A 1S will do, I’ve had great luck with Happymodel ELRS F4
Camera: Any 14mm micro cam
Battery: The VTC5D, Click here :)
If you need more grommets to mount you HD vtx board you can find them HERE!