A closer look at that 55-minute long-range FPV

We took a look at the resurgence going on with long-range FPV in this article yesterday. We noted a really beautifully designed quad with a range of 55+ minutes. Today, we can share some files for the frame, along with more information – direct from the designer.

When we stumbled across Scott Tomlinson’s FPV build online, we were really struck by the perfect blend of performance and design. So we contacted him with a few questions. Turns out Scott lives in Australia and was happy to talk shop. He’s a super interesting guy, with lots of great stuff to say.

So let’s get started.

A quick review

We’ll begin at the beginning. If you missed it from our long-range FPV story, here’s the video that got us thinking about this topic:

Scott Tomlinson knows how to build – and design

Before we go any further, if you liked that video, why not subscribe to Scott? His videos are so well done.

A bit about Scott

So, Scott lives in Australia on the Gold Coast. He comes from an engineering background on the automation and manufacturing side, which gives him a leg-up on modeling software, CNC routers, and other inside knowledge from the world of building stuff. That’s why this thing looks so damn good. If you haven’t seen the video yet, it includes Scott cutting these frames with CNC.

I mean, just look at it:

That’s one lean, mean machine
This lean…
We can’t stop looking at this thing…

Here’s why long-range FPV appeals to him:

I’m an avid hiker and often find myself deep in the backcountry wishing I had an FPV quad to soar a ridge or go peak bagging. Traditionally I’d be carrying a heavy 7 inch quad with a couple of 3000+ mAh Li-Po batteries. Heavy and bulky. That’s now replaced by an ultralight 5/6 inch quad and a couple of small Li-ion packs. Paired with a naked GoPro, it saves a heap of bulk and weight. Not to mention the back and knees! 

Scott Tomlinson

He’s also a really excellent FPV pilot – and flies at competitive levels. These pix Scott supplied were taken at an X-Fly Race in China:

Scott in one of his elements…
Photo taken at X-Fly Race, China

We asked Scott to tell us more about the 55+ minute build featured in the video. How did he come up with that amazing design? Here’s what he said:

The ultralight 5/6 is a simple rendition of my current race frame. A design I’ve tweaked over the years after literally flying it through thousands of race laps. By shifting the focus from durability to pure performance, it enabled me to trim some fat while maintaining the same flight feel and sleek aesthetics. The simplicity of this build is its attractive feature for me. The frame consists of 4 pieces of carbon, 4 standoffs and 8 screws. Adding in the right motor/prop combination and a basic stack will yield the same results. There’s really no VooDoo involved here as some might think. Sometimes less is more. 

Scott Tomlinson

Scott agrees that there’s been a real resurgence in long-range FPV. It’s a trend that his own videos and builds have contributed to, and it’s spreading.

We’re starting to see stores update their category pages to feature this genre, numerous BNF options are popping up and even Li-Ion battery packs appearing from different manufacturers. From the DIY side, I’m sure we’ll start to see more and more designs show up in the space quite rapidly. Alternatively, if you want to try sketching out your own design but you’re new to CAD, don’t feel intimidated. Drones are a great starting point as many of the designs only incorporate basic 2D features which only once assembled become 3D. Much easier than designing something like a car body for instance. The beauty of these builds is that they’re very attainable.

Scott Tomlinson

Here’s some eye candy

We’ll take a mid-story break and offer these great shots that Scott supplied from some of his other builds:

Gorgeous builds…and photos! (All, courtesy Scott Tomlinson)

Back to the story…

We wanted to know a bit more about that long-range design. What does it fly like?

The flight characteristics are much closer to a race quad than a freestyle one, purely due to the weight. The lack of mass when cornering really makes this thing track precisely. I’m not sure if you’ve watched my previous video or not but with 5 inch props and a small 6S Li-Po it’s almost violent in nature. Once you start reducing cells and adding heavier batteries it does get more doughy and lose agility as you would expect. These become less significant features in a Mid-Long range cruise type quad however. It’s the versatility I feel gets overlooked, race quad one minute, endurance or fast paced LR the next. I couldn’t include everything in the video obviously but I’ve attached a couple of post flight stat screenshots from some further 15km total distance flights I did. Shows the capability of averaging over 100 km/h in flight if required.

Scott Tomlinson

For those of you who haven’t seen the video Scott refers to, in it, he’s actually testing out the prototypes of the T-Motors that were used in the 55+ build. Here’s that video, another great production from Scott:

Great Scott!

Now let’s take a look at the OSD captures that Scott refers to. These are both 15-kilometer flights, but with different batteries and props. The configuration changes are noted:

6S bi-blade, faster average speed…
And the tri-blade, 5S configuration…

Okay, how do we build this thing?

We were so impressed with that frame that we asked Scott if he might be producing them for sale. Unfortunately, he’s not in a position to do that. But – like many in this space – he’s incredibly generous with sharing his knowledge. In addition to the video, which outlines other aspects of the build (including those crazy, long-endurance T-Motors), he is offering the files so you can cut your own frame or have it cut:

As for the frame, I don’t actually plan to start manufacturing and selling the frame or design per se. I enjoy the R&D process more and feel this would just be a hindrance to future projects. This coupled with the geographical logistics of being in Australia doesn’t make it feasible. It’s not all bad news though. I’m happy to release the design files for free so that anybody can have the frame manufactured for their own use. There are a myriad of job-shops around now happy to machine a one-off for customers (CNC madness, Armattan, RainFPV, HobbyCarbon etc) This would likely be quicker and cheaper for the end user too. These DXF files are available here.

Scott Tomlinson

Thanks, Scott

These stories work out great when you run into people like Scott. We appreciate his time and great answers. The other good news is that Scott believes this particular segment of FPV is only going to grow.

“There’s a lot of great innovation happening in this genre currently. We’re at a point where everything is really starting to play nice together,” he says.

No kidding. We plan on trying to tackle Scott’s build down the road. But we’re warning you in advance: It won’t look as good as his.


Subscribe to DroneDJ on YouTube for exclusive videos

Show More Comments