Introduction to 3″ Ultra-light Micro Quad (Toothpicks)

3" ultra-light micro quad toothpick

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.

2.5" 3" micro quad toothpicks

3″ Micro Quad (left) vs. 2.5″ (right)

Target Weight

105g – 115g AUW (all up weight) is ideal, any heavier it will have lower the performance.

Motors for 3″ Toothpicks

Motor Size

  • 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)

Some options:

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.

Motor KV

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.

FC

Same options as the 2.5″ counterparts.

Camera and VTX

Same options as the 2.5″ counterparts.

LiPo Battery

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.

Gemfan 3025

Purchase: http://bit.ly/2Pkvqlp

Weight: 1g

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.

Gemfan 3018

Purchase: http://bit.ly/2SHgbFf

Weight: 0.85g

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.

HQ T3x2

Purchase: http://bit.ly/2V8I2zL

Weight: 0.9g

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.

LDARC/KingKong 75mm

Purchase: http://bit.ly/39OUV65

Do not recommend, not only it’s inefficient, it also vibrates quite a lot. And it breaks easily too.

Weight Distribution

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.

Future Updates

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.

2 thoughts on “Introduction to 3″ Ultra-light Micro Quad (Toothpicks)

  1. Andreas

    Hi!

    Quick question: which frame sizes (range from min to max) would you recommend for a 3″ quad?
    Do you have any suggestion for good products as well?

    Reply
  2. Rafael Molina

    Hi Oscar!

    I hope I find you well, I‘ve been wanting to build a toothpick drone for various months but for various reasons I haven’t been able to build it. I can finally build it and I was wondering if you could orientate me with some of the parts. My main focus with this drone is for it to be as fast as possible so I can use it for racing competitions. So with that made clear which motor do you think will be the best fit? What props do I need to use? And finally which frame should I use for this build? I have searched all over the web and found the TP3 frame. Is it a good frame for my intents with the drone? Or are there better frames than the TP3. Thanks a lot in advance, you have helped me learn a lot about this intriguing world of FPV drones. Without you, I would have never encountered this fascinating hobby. Stay safe!

    Reply

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