Birdbrain RC Kittiwake 6

By BirdbrainRC on May 17, 2018

14  449  2

Prototype mid/long range/freestyle sledgehammer deadcat.

Gather round, kiddies, and let me tell you a tale that begins with me deciding to make my own frames, and ends with me climbing a volcano then clubbing a LiPo to death with a lump of rock.

First quad I designed when I decided to order my CNC machine and start making my own frames was a long range rig. Initially was working on it being for 8" props, other design criteria included being pretty spacious (since all my quads at the time were super cramped and I like an easy life), able to take big packs and a HD cam, and it had to be easy to work on. Then I decided to make it a deadcat because it would keep the props out wide at the front and out of shot in the HD , whilst not making the whole thing gigantic like if it was a true or hybrid X. Whipped it together over a couple of evenings. Tasty render:

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Anyway, once I had the design done I had a looooooooong wait until the CNC arrived, then 3 cursed months of problems with it, over that period I did a lot of design tweaks and ran the numbers on endurance and range through the calculator, ended up deciding that with the parts I had to hand it would make more sense to go for 6" and high voltage rather than 8" 4S. Drew up some 6" arms and then cut the thing in 5mm and 2.5mm carbon.

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Note that I used 2.5mm and 5mm because I could only afford to pick out 2 thicknesses and they seemed most sensible at the time. 2.5mm in reality is a bit much for top and bottom plates, and way overkill for vertical plates. The raw frame with standoffs and screws is a brutish 188g, feels near indestructible though.

Initially I was going to build it with Cobra 2207 1500kV motors for 5S, using 1.3G video and EzUHF, it languished for a while whilst I worked on the Mahou Shoujo and prepped for the race season. Realised quite late on that I'd have a perfect chance to go out and fly in a more exotic location on a week's holiday in Lanzarote, so I decided to swap over to conventional 2.4/5.8G kit, and picked up an L9R and an 800mW VTX, then raided the spare parts bin for everything else, including the DYS Storm motors I didn't like from the Mahou Shoujo prototype.

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Mount for the HD camera (in this case a Firelfly 6S) was printed in TPU, antennas for the L9R were just whacked wherever they would go night before the maiden.

Maiden day went well, flew 9 minutes on a 5200mAh Multistar pack, with nearly half the capacity remaining. Also got 9 minutes out of a borrowed 2200, which I decided would probably be the sweet spot for flight time and not flying like a truck.

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Few days later at a new flying field I managed to failsafe half a mile out - didn't realise how much the ground dropped away, flying low and fast I dipped below the horizon and the suboptimal antenna placement did me no favours either. Crash killed the HD mount, 3 of the props, and that was it. Printed a new mount and antenna mounts too, just in time for the holiday to Lanzarote, a volcanic island in the Canaries.

This is where stuff got fun. Was windy most of the time, but I flew almost every day, getting a feel for how the Kittiwake handled. Unfortunately the DYS motors continued to disappoint, with a serious vibration issue (and absolutely disgusting noise from the bearings at aft starboard), but it really flew pretty nicely. Good authority on pitch and roll, slightly less so on yaw. Also tested a few different props, decided in the end that the Gemfan 6042s were my fave with the DAL 6040c a close second. Surprisingly for a biblade the Gemfans really scream at high throttle, with current draw to match - pulled over 150A for a split second, any longer and I suspect the ESCs would have ignited.

Anyway, once it was flying nice, I started to push it on the range a bit over the huge flat area I found to fly at. Was pretty happy with the duration and distance I could get with no RSSI issues or video I decided to try flying a volcano near the resort - Montana Roja.

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Flights went off without any issue, first time I'd flown anything with height and the rush of descending was addicting. Put down a couple of packs, then decided to call it a day and come back at dawn.

Next day, I got to the volcano before sunrise, set up, and began my climb. The view at the top was pretty epic, I felt like the footage would be incredible, so I started to cruise a little around the side of the crater. This was the big mistake. Bit of the way around, I descended slightly and turned to come back, and lost video almost instantly. Punched out straight away, but the video didn't come back. Once again, I'd dipped below the horizon, and this time failsafed on top of a volcano...genius.

Took an hour of walking and climbing, but I did manage to find the downed beast thanks to the DVR getting me in the ballpark. Was very lucky, if it had been a few feet lower it'd have been inaccessible on the mountainside. The battery was a write off, punctured cell, and the props and video antenna were goners too. Besides that, no real damage. Couldn't throw the lipo away as it was, so I beat it to death with a rock like a caveman.

Still went back to fly the volcano again before I went home though.

Future improvements:

  • FPV camera is very well protected, but can see the front standoffs, a bit of the top plate, and some of the HD camera mount. New side plates should fix that.
  • It's so heavy! Production model will probably slim down to 2mm instead of 2.5mm CF, possibly 4mm for arms. Or I'll keep it as is for a super tough frame - my current design ethos prioritises survivability over everything else, and there's plenty of lightweight frames out there already.
  • 8" and 7" versions will be built and tested because why not, also will try EzUHF and 1.3G video
  • Battery strap slots are too narrow
  • Need to step up my 3D printing game
  • Need to build it with components that are actually reliable! No more DYS motors for me, ideally would buy a set of Amax 1800kV 2306s, but shall try the Cobra 1500kV 2207s first.


Part List


birdbrain-rc (2 builds)
See Site

Flight Controller

Matek Systems BetaFlight F405-AIO STM32F405 Flight Controller Built-in PDB 5V/2A & 9V/2A Dual BEC (63 builds)


4PCS Racerstar Labs 28A 28amp 2-5S Dshot600 Ready ESC BLHeli_S 16.5 BB2 Supports Dshot300 Dshot150 (15 builds)


4 x DYS STORM 2207 2300KV Racing Edition 3-6S Brushless Motor (2 builds)
See Site


2 Pairs Gemfan Flash 6042 6.0x4.2 PC 2-blade Propeller 5mm Mounting hole for RC FPV Racing Drone (5 builds)


Ideal Prop 6048 Tri Blade Propeller (Black) (8 builds)


HQProp 6x3x3 V1S Durable Polycarbonate PC Props Light Blue
See Site


DAL T6040C Cyclone Propellers - Crystal Purple (3 builds)
See Site

FPV Camera

Foxeer Night Wolf V2 700TVL 1/2 Inch CCD IR Sensitive FPV Camera PAL /NTSC Built-in OSD Audio (7 builds)

FPV Transmitter

ChaosFPV VTX[T] Video Transmitter (25-800mW, 7-24V, BetaFlight Telemetry) (8 builds)
See Site


Pagoda-2 Omnidirectional Antenna (9 builds)
See Site


FrSky L9R Long Range Receiver (9/12CH Non-Telemetry)
See Site


Multistar High Capacity 5200mAh 4S 12C Multi-Rotor Lipo Pack w/XT60 (3 builds)


ZIPPY Flightmax 2200mAh 4S1P 40C (2 builds)


Jumper T-Lite 16CH Hall Sensor Gimbals CC2500/JP4IN1 Multi-protocol RF System OpenTX Mode2 Transmitter Support Jumper 915 R900/C (23 builds)


FrSky Taranis Q X7S Radio w/ Upgraded M7 Hall Sensor Gimbals (Carbon Fiber) (25 builds)


FrSky TARANIS X-Lite (Black) (64 builds)
See Site


ORQA FPV.One OLED FPV Goggles (12 builds)


FatShark Dominator HD 2 Hydro-Dipped Urban Cam Grey and White FPV Goggle
See Site

HD Camera

Hawkeye Firefly 6S 4K WiFi Sport HD DV Camera - $75.31 |

HD Camera

HawKeye Firefly Q6 4K 120 Degree Angle Action Camera - $59.14 | (2 builds)

HD Camera

GoPro HERO6 Black - Waterproof Digital Action Camera for Travel with Touch Screen 4K HD Video 12MP Photos (5 builds)
See Site

HD Camera

GoPro HERO5 Session (303 builds)

HD Camera

RunCam 5 Orange 12MP 4:3 145°FOV 56g Ultra-light 4K HD FPV Camera for RC Drone (21 builds)

HD Camera

GoPro Protective Lens (GoPro Official Accessory)
See Site

Misc Parts

Panasonic 1000uF 35V (FC-Series) Low-ESR Capacitor for ESC Noise Reduction (121 builds)

Video Receiver

Furious True-D V3.5 Diversity Receiver System Firmware 3.8A (FatShark Attitude Version)SKU: FPV-RX-TRUD3.8A (27 builds)

Video Receiver

ImmersionRC RapidFIRE w/ Analog PLUS Goggle FPV Receiver Diversity Module (178 builds)

Radio Module


Radio Module

Frsky R9M Lite - Radio Transmitter Module (Black) (11 builds)

Radio Module

FrSky R9M 2019 900MHz RC Transmitter Module w/ Super 8 Antenna (ACCST/ACCESS)Default Title (17 builds)


MultiStar Premium Multirotor Travel Backpack




TrueRC True-MOX 868MHz Antenna
See Site
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DougFPV   May 21, 2018  

Like the thread, that HD cam is surprisingly good..

deadmoo   May 18, 2018  

Is that camera mount on Thingiverse or somewhere where I can get it?

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