Today I am reviewing a new frame – the Midge 180. It is 180mm mini quad frame designed locally in the UK!
The Midge 180 Frame Review
The Midge 180 has an unique design: instead of the typical X or H arms configuration, front and rear arms are of different lengths. The lines of motor-to-motor are not intersecting at the centre of the Flight Controller, rather I think they actually intersect in the frames centre of gravity (COG). Arms are quite wide.
Frame package includes:
- 4mm unibody bottom carbon fibre plate
- 1.5mm top plate
- 1mm cam mount plate (with vibration dampening bolts)
- 1mm PDB cover
- Aomway camera swivel mount
- Reptile PDB + 5V BEC + XT60 connector (soldered onto PDB)
- Kooltoyz battery strap
- 25mm Nylon standoffs
- 25mm Aluminium standoffs
- Kooltoyz battery strap
Motor mounts fits M3 screws of 22xx motors. (1306/1806 motors use 2mm bolts)
In the middle of each arm there is a cutout, looks like it was designed to pass a zip tie through it to secure the ESC. The distance between the edge of the arm and end of the cutout is enough to fit SN20A or LittleBee 20A ESC. RG20 and KISS ESC will also fit on the arms, but they might be too big to be mounted using these cutouts with a zip tie.
There are also tiny 1.5mm holes at the end of both rear arms. The purpose is to fit a LED bar that is available at Kooltoyz store.
Bottom and top plates are held together with only 6 standoffs for minimum weight. Top plate has cutouts for:
- Video Transmitter (VTX) antenna as well as radio receiver (RX) antennas (using the very popular method of holding antenna cables with zip ties and heatshrink).
- Battery strap
- VTX or RX attached to the underside (if using this way)
- FPV camera, and allows angle changing
HD camera plate is mounted on the top plate using dampening bolts. Aomway FPV camera mount is attached to it. Note that due to the low profile frame design, 25mm board camera won’t fit in there at all, only 17mm FPV camera can be mounted inside the frame.
Assembled frame weights 104g.
A flight video from Artur with this frame!
Midge 180 Build Log
Parts used for build:
- Midge 180 frame
- Birdseye miniPDB with 5V and 12V pololu step-down
- Cobra 2204 2300kv motors
- FVT LittleBee 20A ESC
- SPRacing F3 Flight Controller (From Banggood)
- X4R-SB Receiver (SBUS)
- Skyzone TS58400 Raceband 400mw VTX (supplied by Kooltoyz)
- Foxeer XAT650M 600TVL Sony Super HAD (17mm x 17mm)
Initially I was going to use the mini Power Distribution Board that comes with the frame. But it was too limiting for my liking, so I decided to go for the Birdseye miniPDB that has XT60 connector soldered directly onto it. There was no extra wiring and soldering were needed, however that required modifying the top plate.
Exact spot where XT60 connector was facing up was obstructed by the top plate. I had to cut the bit of the top plate so lipo cable could go through there.
It is going to be a “low rider” build so minimal number of cables was very important.
After fitting ESCs and soldering power cables to PDB, I installed FC and organised signal cables to avoid clutter.
Mounting ESC / VTX / LED bar
Initially I wanted to use DYS SN20A esc but for some bizarre reason I couldn’t flash them through BLHELiSuite (except for one!) and changed them out for LittleBee 20A ESC. (Probably because they have got SimonK Bootloader and not BLHeli Bootloader, you can change bootloader like this, but it’s quite a lot of work)
I decided to fit VTX on the bottom plate and not using any power filter (for the first time ever). 10cm SMA extension was tangled (due to length) and secured with a zip tie to the bottom plate.
I didn’t want to connect the antenna directly to VTX, because that would put too much stress on the VTX antenna connector in crashes. I installed LED bar to help other pilots to see my Midge in the air when racing, LED bar was soldered on directly to PDB:
FPV Camera Mounting
Sony Super HAD camera was fitted using supplied Aomway camera mount.
I swapped out the lens from the 2.8mm to 2.1mm. The wider angle lens makes it easier to fly in tight close proximity.
Unfortunately camera angle was kind of limited by the power/signal cables from the cam touching bottom plate. In my build angle is around 30 degrees.
With the Aomway camera mount, you need to adjust lens focus again after it is put on. It’s not a big deal but it took me a while to get it focus properly.
Finished Build Photos
AUW without the battery and GoPro is 356g. With DroneLabs 4S 1500mah and a GoPro it is 600g. X4R-SB was attached to the underside of the top plate.
My overall impression of the Midge 180 mini quad frame was very good. Tough, little frame that can fly through a very tight spaces is just so much fun. The frame design is well thought out, with attention to detail although some small things can be improved.
Great things about the Midge 180
- 4mm thick bottom plate, crash-resistant and tough
- Good quality carbon fibre
- Interesting and unique design compared to other 180 frames
- Both Nylon and aluminium standoffs included for users to choose from (depending on weight/strength preference)
- Many accessories included such as PDB, XT60 connector, 5V voltage regulator and Aomway camera mount
- Fair price for the frame package
Things that can be improved on the Midge 180
- Thin Camera plate. 1mm is not enough in my opinion and plate can be bended easily
- Small cutouts on the bottom plate – especially at the back could have been bigger for easier components installation
- Cutouts in the middle of the arms are rather limiting for fixing bigger ESCs. Two smaller cutouts near both arm edges could have been more practical
- Little holes on arms for fixing LED are too small. 2.5mm zip tie can’t go through there without a mod
- Supplied PDB may not be too practical with its location at the back of the frame
Update 22 Jan 2016
They have modified the plates after review to fit XT60 and can plate is 2mm