Some of the best quadcopter pilots fly the HoverThings VC-450 quadcopter frame, so I decided to try one out. They are in such high demand they are often out of stock, but I was lucky enough to get one of the cool camo ones. If you do a daily check of their website, HoverThings.com, various colors become available every few days.
Update 06/09/12 – The VC-450 has now been discontinued and upgraded to a new and similar frame called the HT-450.
Continue reading to see my thoughts on this frame…
The VC-450 comes as kit with everything needed to build it in the package (including a hex wrench). There are also extra screws and spacers which is really nice if you happen to lose one.
Here are close-ups of individual plates in the kit:
The frame is constructed by connecting plates made of what appears to be a G-10/FR4 epoxy fiberglass material. The plates are assembled by attaching spacers between them with screws. Rubber grommets slip over the spacers on the landing gear legs to provide cushioning. It is a very straightforward process so I will not go through it step by step. It only takes a few minutes to build the entire frame.
The extra spacers and screws could probably be used for mounting flight control boards or other components. I used nylon standoffs for my board and double sided tape for my receiver. The frame has plenty of holes and slits that can be used for screws, standoffs and Velcro straps. Zip ties are also great for securing components. The instructions recommend using removable Loctite to secure the screws. I didn’t use it and haven’t lost any screws or noticed them getting loose. If you don’t use it, it’s probably a good idea to tighten them up every few flights.
The frame weighs in at 275g and is 450mm across from motor to motor. I set mine up with 1050 Kv and 8 inch props.
If you have a bad crash and something breaks, spare parts can be purchased at the HoverThings website. Again, there may be lack of availability for parts, but if you are willing to replace a part with one in a different color, there are usually some choices.
There are also optional center plates available that can be used to add levels to the frame. Some center plates come with tabs that make it easy to attach cameras and other gear to the frame. An addtional center plate could also be used as a top to cover and protect components. CD lids and food containers also work well for this.
This frame is very tight and solid. It’s perfectly balanced and level which makes it very easy to calibrate and trim for stable flight. My setup is very agile and stays perfectly level in flight. I have only flown it a few times and haven’t had any major crashes yet, but I have read that it’s tough and handles crashes well. I had to replace one of the legs of the landing gear after a very hard landing. This is the part most likely to break and I have noticed many pilots fly the frame without the landing gear. I haven’t tried it, but it looks as though a spring could be used on each landing gear leg to make them act like shock absorbers.
The HoverThings VC-450 is the frame of choice for many first person video (FPV) pilots who need a very stable frame for video. This is any outstanding frame! It sells for a reasonable price, is tough and perfectly aligned. Like all good quadcopter stuff, availability is the only challenge.
The folks over at HoverThings are working on a new frame even more suited to FPV flying. It will feature front arms that are farther apart so the propellers don’t interfere with the video. I don’t know when it will be available.