This article lists the popular components and setups for 3″ toothpick micro drones, pre-built models, and tips that improve performance and experience.
For 2.5″ toothpicks, check out this guide.
3″ vs. 2.5″
3″ is better than 2.5″ in terms of efficiency and power due to increase in disk area (prop size). Disk area is the physical load you put on a quad, having a quad with larger disk area but lower weight leads to better performance.
Disk area increases with prop size, but the return diminishes as the prop size gets bigger. The increase from 2.5″ to 3″ is more significant compared to 3″ to 3.5″, and hence it makes a more noticeable improvement in performance with just a little increase in size.
105g – 115g AUW (all up weight) is ideal, any heavier it will have lower the performance.
Motors for 3″ Toothpicks
- 1204 – a good balance between efficiency and control response, a much more common motor size than 1303
- 1303 – very similar performance to the 1204, with a tiny bit more control on the lower half of the throttle due to the wider stator. Preferable if you fly often at lower throttle, it’d feel a little more agile
- 1202 – okay for 2.5″, but not enough torque for 3″, do not recommend
- 1105 – it can be quite an efficient motor with good speed, but lacks the throttle fidelity and control response
- 1206/7 – due to the relatively larger stator volume, it offers excellent control, however it’s not a very efficient option (very high amp draw)
- iFlight Xing 1204 4500KV: http://bit.ly/37FpcTo
- RCINPower 1204 5000KV: http://bit.ly/3bLVjnz
- Other 1204 motors on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2wtMaQr
Overall, I think 1204 are the more popular motor sizes for 3″ toothpicks. 1303 is also an excellent option, but not many manufacturers make them. For motors at this small size, they don’t require super strong magnets and air-gap like their 5″ counterparts. Although these features can improve motor performance slightly, the noise issues they introduce outweigh the performance gain. So do not worry if these small motors don’t offer the best specifications, they might actually work better overall.
Depending on LiPo cell count (voltage), for 3S – the most used lipo for the class, 4500KV – 5000KV is a good range. I don’t recommend any higher KV, as your props will start to deflect at top throttle – you’d lose efficiency and introduce vibration to the quad.
Same options as the 2.5″ counterparts.
Camera and VTX
Same options as the 2.5″ counterparts.
For optimal performance, try to select a battery while keeping the AUW as low as possible. 2S is pretty good, 3S is phenomenal. 450mAh – 550mAh is a good capacity range.
I tested a bunch of 2S and 3S LiPo batteries here, so you know which one to get.
3″ Propellers for Toothpicks
A lot of 12XX and 13XX motors have 2mm motor shafts, propeller should have matching hole. Anyway make sure you check before placing your orders.
It’s a very powerful prop but lacks control due to the high pitch and heavy weight. Not particularly efficient, but it’s quite durable though.
Most of the weight (plastic) is around the hub, leaving a pretty thin blade/tip which reduces the momentum when spinning. This leads to greater response and works well on a wider range of motors (even smaller motors) as it doesn’t require as much torque to work than other heavier props. However due to the thinner blade it’s not the most durable prop and can break easily.
A good balance between response and durability, a decent prop overall. Opposite to the Gemfan 3018, the HQ T3x2 has plastic evenly through the whole blade, making it much tougher, but the weight distribution undermines the performance slightly. It’s really a trade off, and the decision comes down to what you are looking for.
Do not recommend, not only it’s inefficient, it also vibrates quite a lot. And it breaks easily too.
Weight distribution is extremely important on ultra-light micro quads, but it’s often overlooked because it’s not something we normally pay much attention to on 5″ as the motors are so powerful. Keeping the weight in the centre enhances performance.
I will expand on this post when I have more info to share. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions.