TF650 Quad with Retracts

By sivads on Dec 11, 2019

14  381  6

I built this quad mainly for a 360-degree camera platform (GoPro MAX, Insta360 ONE X, etc.). The landing gear retracts to that there is no obstruction to the 360-degree view when camera is mounted underneath.

Besides the retractable gear, this quad features a Holybro PixHawk4 running ArduCopter V3.6.11 for autonomous flight using Mission Planner. The flight controller spins four T-Motor NAvigator Series MN3508-29 380kva brushless motors with 13 x 5.5 inch carbon fiber props through Hobbywing XRotor 40A ESCs. A pair of Holybro 915Mhz 500mW Transceivers establish the ground station radio link. MAVLink telemetry is also passed through the FrSky X8R receiver SmartPort for display on the Taranis X9D using Craft & Theory FlightDeck software. For FPV, the quad has a Foxeer Monster Pro 16:9 1200 TVL camera mounted on the front. A MinimOSD provides on-screen display and it is wired for up to three video sources that can be switched remotely to the 1200mW AKK FX2-Ultimate VTx. Regulated +5V @ 4A and +12 @ 4A is supplied by a Matek U4A2P UBEC mounted on the underside of the quad. I'm using a Tattu 6S 25C 8000mAh Lipo for power (~2 lbs).

The frame I used, the TFModel 650, has been discontinued by HobbyKing. It is a great looking and sturdy frame (similar to the Tarot Iron Man 650), however, it was a pain to work with and required some extra fitting and drilling since the holes and hardware didn't quite line up in some cases. I had to cram all the ESCs inside the frame since they did not fit inside the motor mounts and I did not want to hang them on the outside of the arms. So, the ESCs, MAVLink LED controller, and retract controller are inside the frame. The power distribution board is the next layer up followed by the flight controller, then the RC receiver perched on top of the stack. Since the PixHawk4 does not have built-in OSD, I had to also add a MinimOSD externally. The larger form-factor OSD is easy to hook up a FTDI USB serial link to a computer for easy firmware updates and programming.

Visibility and Status:
Although the TFModel 650 frame came with very bright LEDs mounted to the underside of each arm, I added four additional addressable RGB LEDs to each arm and two to each side of the quad. These LEDs give visual MAVLink status information controlled by a Fishbonne (electHawk) LED controller. I plan to add strobes to comply with FAA requirements for flying before sunset. I also mounted two extremely bright 1.5 W LED head lights for visibility and orientation.

Voltage Monitoring:
The +5V status is sent via the receiver S.Port telemetry to the transmitter and displayed along with the other telemetry data. However, the status of the regulated 12V supply is not sent (since it is not present in the S.Port data). I added a voltmeter display near the receiver on top to monitor the 12V regulator output. That way, I can at least see the status of the 12V supply at preflight. The 12V supply is for the VTx, retracts, and OSD.

All ready to maiden!


Part List


HobbyKingβ„’ TF650V2 X Quad Kit
See Site

Flight Controller

Holybro Pixhawk 4 Autopilot + Neo-M8N GPS + PM07 Combo (3 builds)


4 x Hobbywing XRotor 40 Amp Multi-Rotor Brushless ESC (2 builds)


4 x High Performance Brushless T-Motor Navigator Series Multi-Rotor QuadCopter MN3508-KV380 02P-Motor-823-MN3508-KV380 Brushless Mot
See Site


US $11.2 |2 Pairs T Motor Carbon Fiber Propeller 8055,9055,1055,1155,1255,1355,1455,1555,1655,1755, 3K For Tiger Motor Quadcopte
See Site

FPV Camera

FPV Racing Drone Leading Company FPV Camera
See Site

FPV Transmitter

FX2-ultimate VTX (International Version) (23 builds)


Realacc Triple Feed Patch-1 5.8GHz 9.4dBi Directional Circular Polarized FPV Pagoda Antenna (2 builds)


Realacc 5.8G 5dBi 50W Omni Directional Omni FPV Pagoda Antenna LHCP/RHCP SMA/RP-SMA For FPV RC Drone (53 builds)


FrSky X8R 16ch Receiver, SBUS, Smart Port - Amplified PCB Antenna (7 builds)


Tattu 22.2V 25C 6S 8000mAh Lipo Battery Pack with XT60 Plug (2 builds)

Power Distribution

Pixhawk 4 Power Module (PM07) (2 builds)


Taranis X9D Plus - FrSky - Lets you set the limits (3 builds)
See Site


FXT VIPER V2 5.8GHz Diversity FPV Goggles w/ DVR (12 builds)


US $2.02 10% OFF|APM2.8 2.6 KK MWC For Pixhawk For PX4 Rc Flight Control Card Anti Vibration Set Shock Absorber-in Parts & Acces
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Misc Parts

Hobbypower Mini OSD Module On Screen Display for APM APM2.8 Pixhawk PX4 Flight Controller (2 builds)

Misc Parts

US $1.5 33% OFF|RC FPV Night Flying 1.5W Super Bright LED Lights for Airplane Quadcopter QAV250-in Parts & Accessories from Toys
See Site

Misc Parts

US $36.95 5% OFF|HolyBro 433Mhz 915Mhz 100mW 500mW Transceiver Radio Telemetry Set V3 for PIXHawk 4 Flight Controller APM2.6-in
See Site

Misc Parts

US $12.85 |Matek UBEC U4A2P Dualway 4A 5 ~ 12V Built in Battery Monitor Aux Control For RC Quadcopter Multicopter-in Parts & Ac
See Site

Misc Parts

US $6.9 |Pixhawk Mavlink External LED Controller for APM Pixhawk2 Ardupilot PX4 RGB Navigation Light Quadcopter Hexacopter Dron
See Site

Misc Parts

C&T FlightDeck | Craft and Theory, LLC (2 builds)
See Site

Misc Parts

US $4.27 12% OFF|1pc 3 channel Video Switcher Module 3 way Video Switch Unit FPV Camera for Multicopter Drones 5.8G FPV transmit
See Site

Misc Parts

US $1.3 28% OFF|1m 2m 3m 4m 5m WS2812B WS2812 Led Strip,Individually Addressable Smart RGB Led Strip,Black/White PCB Waterproof
See Site

Battery Charger

Cellpro PowerLab 8
See Site
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StickyRice   Dec 13, 2019  

THICCCCCCC this looks so cool it makes my brain explode!!!

sivads   Dec 21, 2019 

Thanks!! Maybe take an aspirin or something to reduce the swelling. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Diatrix   Dec 20, 2019  

How do those motors run? What's the total weight of the build? And how much flight time do you get?
Looks awesome!

sivads   Dec 21, 2019 

The empty weight (without battery or any gimbal or added cameras) is 3.7 lbs (1680g). I plan to run a 6S 8000 mAh battery that is about 2.1 to 2.6 lbs (950 to 1180g). I have not yet completed a maiden flight, however, I have a similarly configured quad with same motors, ESCs, and battery and I get a comfortable 20+ minutes of flight time with reserve (with 3.6 volts per cell) fully loaded with a gimbal and GoPro Hero7. Even fully loaded, the responsiveness and power is amazing. I really like these T-Motor NAvigator Series MN3508-29 380kv motors. They are relatively inexpensive and they perform very well with 1455 carbon fiber props. I’m putting 1355 props on this build because the 14” are too big. I’ll let you know how this quad performs once I do the maiden. Thanks for asking!

kwadkenstine   Dec 11, 2019  

Pure porn THANK YOU

sivads   Dec 11, 2019 

I'll take that as a compliment πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Thank YOU!

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