Jonathon Davis, aka “Skitzo”, is one of the most influential free style FPV pilots. We will build and test a mini quad that uses almost exact same parts and firmware he’s using, and try to replicate the “Skitzo Experience”.
Some components for this build were supplied by GetFPV. Article is written by a guest writer Artur Banach.
Parts used by Skitzo in his quad:
- QAV-Skitzo “Dark Matter” frame
- Skitzo 2205 2400kv motors by Lumenier
- Skitzo FC (Revolt F4) running RaceFlight RF1
Other parts I’ve chosen for this build :
- DYS XS30A BLheli-S ESC
- TBS Unify Pro HV
- RunCam Swift 2
- Frsky XM+ Reciever
- TBS Triumph Antenna (Link to Shop)
- Yellow LED lights by Hovership
- Lumenier ButterCutter props (Skitzo props are unavailable unfortunately)
I was initially planing to use FuriousFPV’s PiggyOSD on this build but later realized that Raceflght doesn’t support OSD yet so this idea was abandoned (this OSD requires connection to the FC via serial/UART port).
Skitzo has designed an X frame based on QAV-X. His frame has replaceable 4mm arms, 3mm bottom / top plates and uses only 4 standoffs. There is an extra plate for horizontal antenna placement or G10 for vertical.
There are two things unique with this frame:
- Skitzo decal sticker sheet of his astro photography images
- Carbon fibre edges are chamfered beautifully – no extra carbon fibre filing needed
Fully assembled frame, with antenna plate and lipo strap attached weights 112g.
Skitzo Flight Controller
Lumenier Skitzo flight controller is a customized Raceflight Revolt F4 board. It has a different colour and Skitzo logo on the back of it. Same as the Revolt – it comes with vibration dampening dummies.
The Revolt board has impressive spec and features:
- F4 processor
- 32khz gyro refresh rate
- Four hardware serial UARTS with selectable voltage
There are a few extra bits that we get with this flight controller. Each board has a serial ID that gives access to:
- Skitzo tuning settings
- Support channel with direct contact with Skitzo regarding gear
I haven’t checked these extras out yet.
Most popular F3 FC nowadays can be powered directly from LiPo, but on the Skitzo F4, FC, it can only be powered from 5V, and therefore if you need to get battery level you also need to connect VBAT separately.
It’s important to know that the motor order in RaceFlight is different from Betaflight and Cleanflight. In Raceflight it starts with #1 in the top left corner and counts clockwise. It takes time to get used to but this is probably more intuitive TBH.
The Skitzo FC comes with current stable version of Raceflight firmware. However I flashed the beta version of RF1 on it following instruction available at raceflight.net. RF1 comes with it’s own configurator app, which is completely different from the Chrome app that is supporting current Raceflight firmware.
With RF1 configurator the setting up is a simple step by step process, where you choose options for each part and click next. However I think I found a bug though (since it’s still beta), that although my radio link was working correctly, it had issues with RX detection.
When there is no FC connected, the RF1 configurator app plays a Skitzo video in the background. Only when FC is connected it goes into settings.
Skitzo 2205 2400kv Motors
The Skitzo 2205 motor is made by Lumenier. It comes in magenta color, weights only 26g and has a ceramic bearing that in theory should help to make prop spins smoother. Ceramic bearing is more prone to damage though and can break easier than the metal ones. Smoothness comes at the cost of durability I would say.
Since carbon fibre edges of the frame are already prepped, I didn’t have to this and could jump straight into building.
Started with assembling the 4in1 Lumenier PDB that comes with the frame. I soldered 5V Pololu on it first, which is needed to power up the flight controller. Motors were installed on arms, wires are trimmed and soldered on the ESCs.
After ESC power and signal wires were trimmed to fit PDB and FC pads I added power wires from pololu and Video Transmitter power supply directly from lipo pads. Added 25V 470uf capacitor to reduce potential issues coming with the voltage spikes.
Attached heatshrinked LED lights to the underside of rear arms. They were powered from the PDB ESC power pads.
In the meantime I soldered the tiny XM+ Radio Receiver to the underside of the flight controller and used double sided tape to hold it there.
Soldered all connectors to FC and installed it on the dampening dummies (Raceflight recommendation).
Final touches to the build was to install VTX on the top of flight controller resting on a piece of foam to keep them separate and to manage the heat better. Pigtail and TBS antenna were attached to the top plate with the cable ties.
Voila’ – Skitzo quad was just completed.
- Total weight of fully built quad: 312g
- Total weight with GoPro Session 5 mounted and 1300mah 4S lipo: 570g
Skitzo Build Photos
The “Dark Matter” frame has that premium product feeling here. Prepped carbon fibre, thick plates and stickers are making it a really sleek and robust at the same time.
Skitzos frame has the camera location shifted more to front leaving more space for everything else inside making it more roomy to build. On the negative side I need to mention that the camera has become more exposed and vulnerable during crashes. Also it’s not a super light frame compared to some other frames designed purely for racing.
Skitzo Flight Controller running Raceflight is an interesting addition. This F4 FC can also run Betaflight as well with even lower CPU usage than F3 FC. Plenty of power in a small package. Board layout is clear and well thought-out. Raceflight setup was pretty much self explanatory although I have encountered some issues in GUI when gong through the configuration setup. One downside with Raceflight is that it doesn’t support OSD yet, as well as smart audio to UART functionality, so I couldn’t use my Taranis TX and OSD to change TBS Unify VTX settings.
Skitzo motors are smooth indeed. Even when spun by hand I could hardly feel the resistance on magnets.
That’s the most important question: how does the Skitzo quad fly? I took it for a maiden flight at my favourite forest location. Raceflight rates and PIDs were all set on stock values.
It felt super responsive and I really like it. I was flying between many trees and had many close calls hitting branches. Fortunately quad reacted almost instantly to my sticks and I was able to pull away from danger very.
After trying the latest Raceflight and Betaflight and KISS, both of them give me a very similar flying characteristics and feeling. Betaflight is known for being more responsive and KISS has that “expo” feel that makes it very soft and smooth on the sticks (ideal for acro free-style). My experience with this Skitzo quad running Raceflight is right in-between the two. Perhaps a little bit more direct and responsive than Betaflight and very smooth but not crazy soft as the KISS can be. I think it’s great for acro and racing.
It is not a “night and day” difference of course, but it makes a great alternative and I cannot wait to see what the future development of RF can bring us.
My maiden flight in the forrest.
Skitzo quad was enjoyable to build and pure pleasure to fly. I’ve never came across a quad that flies so well on stock settings. What else can I say: my Skitzo Experience so far was nothing but positive and I am looking forward to more flying with this setup :)
I’m doing this build with a 4-1 esc with built in pdb.so do you have no osd on this.I’m new to this and this will be my first build.I’ve only had a vortex for 3 months and feel the need to upgrade.I have the skitzo f/c,frame and motors.a raceflight 4-1 esc with pdb but not sure what vtx and osd (if any available) to fit.have raceflight done any updates for a osd? I’m scratching my head a bit now.any help would be appreciated. Thanks Mark.
An osd isnt a nescessity, telemetry works quite well for monitoring battery levels with a voice warning. I use a TBS unify pro VTX, which is an incredibly transmitter
you can just get a Swift 2, it has built in voltage OSD, makes wiring much easier.