We reviewed the 5 inch Menel Mini Quad frame not long ago, now let’s take a look at it’s little brother, the 3″ Menel X3 from Hibernagen.
Menel X3 Mini Quad frame is available from Hibernagen.
Menel X 3 frame kit contains:
- 3mm bottom unibody plate
- 2mm top plate
- 2 x FPV camera side plates
- 30mm standoffs and hardware
- Frame assembly guide
Frame is an unibody desig, weights just 52g fully assembled. Motor to motor distance is 143mm.
There are several cut-outs on the frame to allow fixing lipo straps and antennas.
Menel X 3 can take HS1177 sized FPV camera, which can be installed either using supplied side plates or camera bracket.
Carbon fibre quality is excellent, precisely cut although edges are a little sharp (might require addictional filing).
Good things about the frame:
- Simple, lightweight design
- Affordable price
- Good quality carbon fibre
- Nice packaging (compared to plastic bags that most other frames come in)
- Allows fitting HS1177/Runcam Swift sized FPV camera, so no more bad quality pico cameras on 3″ frame
- Option to carry LiPo battery on the to or on the underside of the frame
Things to improve:
- Carbon fibre finish is a bit rough, edges were sharp
- Few additional cutouts in the CF plates would be handy for fixing components
- For experienced builders only because of the limited space
- Rotor Evolution 1306 3100kv motors
- LittleBee 20A ESC
- Dodo Flight Controller
- Demon Core PDB
- HS1177 FPV Camera
- Quanum Elite Video Transmitter
- FrSky X4R-SB Radio Reciver
- LED bar with Buzzer integarted
I filed all carbon fibre edges using diamond files before I start building. I also applied Loctite 401 glue on the arms, front and back section of bottom plates, to prevent carbon fibre splitting during hard crashes.
Arms are very short on the 3″ frames, so the ESC and motors needs to be mounted in special ways. I soldered the motor wires over the ESC in a loop and heatshrinked it. By doing this the ESC can sit closer to the motor and on the arms.
Soldered ESC to Demon Core PDB along with XT60 wire
I found that Demon Core will hit the two standoffs in the middle, so I decided to remove them from the frame. On such small fuselage it wouldn’t make much difference IMO.
Motors were installed to the frame, and I soldered wires for video transmitter and FPV camera to the PDB. Also added LED wires, VBAT and power to flight controller.
Because of the limited space on this frame, X4R-SB radio receiver was de-pinned, wires soldered directly and heatshrinked.
Next, I soldered X4R-SB directly to Dodo flight controller, and that to the Demon Core PDB. The plan was to sandwich X4R-SB between PDB and FC.
Soldered LED strip (with buzzer) and adjusted the length of the ESC signal wire, before I soldered them directly to flight controller.
Screwed everything to plastic standoffs and fixed LED strip to the rear standoffs.
Fixed video transmitter to the underside of the top plate by double sided tape and also a zip tie.
Attached top plate to the frame, connected all wires and fixed radio antennas to the top plate using zip tie and heat shrink.
All what was left to do was to connect the power and configure Betaflight. Fully built frame weights just 200g. With 4S 850mah 45C lipo that’s 300g
It is not really a quad to carry a HD camera, but I did a test with RunCam HD and it handles it pretty well, just makes flying a bit mushy in yaw axis because of the weight distribution.
The frame can carry LiPo either on the top or bottom. I prefer to have it on the bottom because of better weight distribution.
I flashed ESCs with Multishot and Dodo with latest Betaflight 2.9. Default PID didn’t feel very locked in, but after tuning the quad it flies amazingly well. At times I couldn’t believe that I was flying 3″ quad and not a 5″.
It’s best to fly without any HD camera due to the size, but to make the most from both worlds I used 2.1mm lens. It is great for close proximity flying and gives a large field of view. The fish eye effect looks great in DVR footage.
I also tested variety of propellers and the best results so far were with DYS 3030 tri blades props. Gemfan 3030 two blades gave better flight time but they were so fragile. DAL 3030 tri blades would make motors hot and give shorter flight time.
I used 850mah 4S lipo on this quad simply because I’ve already had them around :) They give me around 5-6 minutes of flight time which is great compared to bigger size mini quad. I still need to try out other batteries, but for 4S lipos that are below 1000mah are very hard to get.
I really enjoyed building this tiny quad. It is fun to fly, and it’s a great choice for indoor flying, or extreme close proximity like a swing parks for instance where even 180mm quad feels too big :)
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