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Atom V3 DIY Build Guide

Work in progress...

AtomV3 1407 Red 2.JPG

Congratulations on getting an RX122 Atom V3. Not only is it one of the most advanced FPV racing quads on the planet, it is also one of the smallest and definitely the easiest racing drone to build from scratch in the world. The Atom V3 can be built in under 20 minutes and only requires some basic solder skills to put together the DIY kit. 


DIY Kit Contents

Ok time to jump right in and get started on the build​RX122DIYPROV3 1.JPG

​STEP 1. Prepping the Powercube

The Powercube is an amazing piece of engineering. It houses all of the electronic speed controllers (ESCs), our video transmitter (VTX), our on screen display (OSD) and our flight controller (FC). In the old days people had to wire all these things up separately in a complicated mess of wires. But this cube comes pre-assembled in a tiny, powerful, compact package. 

2in1rxcube2.JPG

  1. The first thing we need to do is solder our Xt30 power cable on to the base layer of the cube, the white cable is for + or Voltage and the black cable is for - or Ground.
  2. Next select what type of antenna we are going to be using on your Atom. Either the "TBS Triumph antenna" (which will have better range and penetration) or the ​"Whip" antenna (which has reduced range and signal penetration but is significantly lighter).  By default the Powercube will come with the TBS RPSMA antenna mount connected.  If you wish now is a good time to swap to the lighter “Whip” antenna.

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​Once you have chosen your antenna type all you need to do is click it on to the VTX on the underside of the Powercube. You will hear a slight click as it locks into place. (it is vital you never power on your Atom V3 without an antenna attached as this can cause permanent damage to the VTX. The antenna should be mounted in such a way as it runs out the back of the Powercube, parallel with the battery leads.

  1. Next attach the base plate to the cube. This base plate protects the cube from the carbon frame and prevents electrical shorts. The plate has two different types of holes, Two are recessed and two are normal. Take the 2 short flat screws and use them through the recessed holes to secure the plastic plate to the cube. The screws should screw into the positive nuts on the cube. You can identify these because they are the ones marked with the (+) next to them.  Before moving to the next step place the double sided VHB on the bottom of the plate to help secure the cube to the frame, and dampen vibrations. Very Important these screws are isolated from the carbon fibre Atom frame.

  1. Attaching our Powercube to the frame. Now using the two plastic screws we are going to attach the “RXCube” to our Atom V3 frame. From the underside of the frame inset the screws up through the frame and into the base of the cube. They will screw into the negative nuts. They are marked with a (-). Tighten the screws down firmly so there is no movement between the frame and the cube when you move it around.  On the underside attach the two sticky rubber pads for battery mounting.

 Batterypads.jpg

  1. The last thing we need to do here is pre-tin our ESC pads and make them ready for soldering up to our motor wires. Pre-tinning is basically just a technique used when soldering that enables for easy, strong solder joins to form. Don't worry. It is super easy. All we have to do is heat up the little ESC pads on our Powercube and add a tiny blob of solder. This will make it very easy to attach our motors later on in the build. With a little bit of solder on the end of your soldering iron, heat up each of the ESC pads and add a little solder to them. You want a nice clean, shiny blob of solder to sit there. Do this to each of the 12 pads on the ESC boards.

STEP 2. Prepping our motors (RX1406 motors only)

RX1406 motors: RX1406two.jpg

RX1407 motors: RX1407.JPG

Note: With the new 2in1 ESCs, one of the motors wires on each motor are slightly too short (RX1406 only). In the DIY kit you should have received 2 55mm wire to use as an extension to the RX1406 motors. *This is only required for motors attaching to ESCs directly below Flight Controller.

If you have RX1407 motors, you can skip to next step as motor wires are long enough.

  1. Remove the heatshrink off the motor wire as labelled in the picture above, and unsolder the motor wire.

  1. Once you have removed the single motor wire, solder the longer wire included in your DIY kit as pictured above. Add heatshrink wire joint. *This is only required for motors attaching to ESCs directly below Flight Controller

  1. Now with our soldering iron we are going to pre-tin the exposed tips of each motor wire.  The are 4 motors we need to pre-tin and each motor has 3 wires. So 4 x 3 = 12 wires we need to pre-tin. A good tip is to use some "blutac" or helping hands to hold the wire in place while you pre-tin it. To pre-tin the wire simple heat up the wire with your soldering iron and then feed in a little bit of solder. The wire should soak up the fluid solder like a sponge. If it is not soaking in you may need to turn up the heat of your soldering iron. 
  2. Once all the wires are pre-tinned you can now solder them to the 2in1 ESCs. Follow the pictures below. You will notice that the longer wire will solder to the ESC pad furthest away.

AtomV3MotorWireSolderingFRONT.JPG

MotorWireSolderingREAR.JPG

  1. Following or preceding this you can mount the motors. I personally find it easier to solder with motors not attached to the frame - to each their own.

Awesome job. Now lets get those motors hooked up to our Atom

STEP 3. Installing your motors.

Installing the motors is very easy. Each motor comes with many screws that can be used to mount to different frame thicknesses, while some are for propeller mounting. We want to secure the motors in such a way that the wires from the motors are traveling down the arms of the Atom V3 frame.

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MAKE SURE YOU USE THE LONGEST M2x8mm SCREWS PROVIDED

ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK MOTOR SCREW WONT TOUCH MOTOR WINDINGS

  1. Using the longest screws that come with the motors, screw the motors onto the frame so the wires are running along the frame arms.
  2. Tighten firmly, but not too hard as to strip the thread. Use locktite for extra security
  3. Please note one of the inner, rear screws is for the LED bar.


Now it’s time to power up and double check your motors are installed correctly

  1. Plug in a USB to the Flight Controller and connect to Betaflight.
  2. Plug in a battery to your Atom
  3. Go to motor tab and test direction on motors.

Now give yourself a high-five because the most difficult part of the build is done and we are almost done and ready to fly. If you find that any of your motors aren’t spinning the correct direction, you can change their direction in BlheliSuite.

  http://forum.flitetest.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=41041&d=1424292878&thumb=113950808_10154395117919680_1222501449_o.png

You can download BLHeliSuite from here:

https://www.mediafire.com/folder/dx6kfaasyo24l/BLHeliSuite

If you need help with this step there’s a great video here from Joshua Bardwell on Youtube: https://youtu.be/mDNDpgKj0kA, Don’t be scared by this step, it’s a great program to get used to using.

STEP 4. Installing your receiver

Note: Installing a receiver is incredibly simple but due to the number of different receivers and radios systems used it is impossible to cover each one individually. We are going to use the  very common Frsky system but the procedure will be almost identical if you use another system eg. The TBS crossfire and Tango radio. Regardless of what system you use, make sure that the receiver is small enough that it fits underneath the Atom V2 canopy. The Powercube works with  receivers running PPM, SBUS or SPEKTRUM

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There are two ways we can connect a receiver to our power cube. 

  1. If you receiver has the right plug on the end you can easily connect it by simply plugging it in.


​or

  1. If you have a receiver that does not have the correct plug don't stress. It takes less than 2 minutes to solder one in. There are 3 solder pads near the front of the Powercube that allow for an easy connection to our receiver. They are located directly behind where the plug is for other receivers.

    ​In this example we are going to use a FrSky D4r2. To make it fit properly we must first take it out from any excess packaging and "Depin" it. This means removing the pins that would take up valuable space inside the atom. Depining is a fairly straightforward process. Simply heat up the base of where each pin joins the board and while the solder is fluid pull the pin out with some pliers. NOTE :The D4r2 requires the two pads on the inside to be bridged in order to enable PPM mode.  

    ​The three pads on the Powercube are labelled Signal (~) , Voltage (+), and Ground (-). What we need to do is cut the receiver wires and connect them up to the corresponding pads. Simple. Pre-tin the ends of the wire (like we did with our motor wires) and solder them to the correct pads. NOTE: Generally signal wires are white or yellow, ground wires are black and voltage wires are red. But ALWAYS check your receiver’s manual just in case.



  1. Now our receiver is installed, a little dab of hot glue is a good idea to stop the wires breaking during heavy crashes or vibrations. 

STEP 5. Binding and Configuring

The Following steps are all about binding your receiver and setting up mode switches in "Cleanflight" You may or may not need to bind your receiver and you might arm your FC differently. ​So feel free to skip this step if you don't need to know about binding and Cleanflight. 

REMOVE YOUR PROPELLERS

While your receiver is accessible it is a good idea to bind it up to your radio and set the failsafe. On the D4r2 this is done by powering up the quad (make sure you have an antenna attached) while holding down the bind button on the receiver. Now with the receiver in bind mode turn on your Taranis Radio and enable binding. You will hear a series of beeps and the LEDs on the receiver should change to green. Power cycle (turn off and on) both your radio and quad and they should be bound. Setting the failsafe is even easier on the D4r2. With you radio on and the throttle at zero, power up your quad and then press the bind button in for about 1 second. See, told you it was easy..

DO NOT DO ANYTHING IN CLEANFLIGHT WITH PROPELLERS ON

DO NOT POWER YOUR ATOM V2 WITHOUT AN ANTENNA ATTACHED TO YOUR POWERCUBE THIS WILL DAMAGE YOUR VTX

Now is also a great time to connect your Atom up the your computer with a micro USB cord and set up an arming switch and any modes you might need eg "Angle or Horizon mode". By default "Aux1" in a high range arms the Atom V2. By default high Aux 2 is self leveling mode. 

Cleanflight has some very easy options for changing these settings. Simply click on the mode tab, Click add range and choose the corresponding channel and slide to the desired range. Feel free to change this around to suit your specific needs of your transmitter or flying preference. 

This would also be the perfect time to check your channel mapping inside the Atom v2 is mapped the same as your radio controller. It is very easy to change and can be selected from this drop down menu.  Depending on your controller channel setup the TAER/AETR text may need to be rearranged until your controls in the Roll, Pitch, Yaw and Throttle values all match up as expected.


STEP 6. Installing the FPV camera

The FPV camera comes with a 30 degree nija flex mount. More options can be 3D printed yourself as we design them.

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  1. Take the FPV mount of your choice and slide the FPV camera into it, making sure that the wires coming out of the camera are orientated towards the bottom of the mount. 

  2. Now simply plug the FPV camera into the bottom front left plug of the Powercube. It should easily slide into place and will only go in one way. 

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  1. Now with that all done, simply slide up the 2 longer m3x12mm hex bolts up through the frame and through the FPV mount locking the camera in place. 

STEP 7. Installing the Canopy

Rx122Cv3 4pack 1.jpg

Simply slide the canopy over the top of the Powercube and screw it into place with the two front screws that were attaching the FPV camera mount and finally screw in the two shorter hex screws through the top holes towards the back of the canopy. BE SURE TO CHECK NON OF YOUR WIRES OR CABLES ARE BEING SQUASHED OR DAMAGED. 

Depending on if you are using the Whip antenna or the TBS Triumph antenna you need to do one of two things.

​- For the Whip, simply slide the antenna up through the back hole towards the end of the Atom. 
​- For the TBS Triumph you need to mount the pigtail from underneath, screw
 in two mounting bolts and then attach the antenna on from the top of the frame. 

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With RPSMA ufl Adapter 

With “Whip” antenna

So close now. Lets hook up some props and we will be done. ​


STEP 8. Adding the Props

Depending on if you have the Junior or Pro motors the following will vary slightly. 

RX3044TR 3.JPG

BOOOOOM!!! all done. You quad is built and you are ready to fly the most advanced 3" FPV racer on the planet. Enjoy being pretty much the coolest person in your neighbourhood and feel great that you have a machine that will make any other pilots run away in fear.

 ​

STEP 9. Using the On Screen Display “OSD”

The OSD is one of the most powerful and useful features of the Atom V2. You can change your flight controller settings, your VTX channel and power level and even your call sign. 

To enter the OSD simple power up your quad and turn on your radio. Now hold left on the yaw axis and it will start a count down of 3 seconds until you enter the OSD (The Atom V2 must be disarmed for this to occur)

Inside the menu you can navigate up and down with the pitch axis, confirm or enter by moving right on the roll axis and go back or exit by going left of the roll axis. 

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the menu, and all of the settings, as any changes in here will make big changes to the setup of your Atom V2.

Additionally there is a button on the side of the OSD/VTX/PDB Layer, this will launch an RC Calibration mode which will help assign your PITCH/ROLL/YAW/THROTTLE channels to their correct assignments, along with mode switches

AtomV3 1407 Red 2.JPG

OSD.jpg

OSD2.jpg

Inside the Video Transmitter menu, you will find the options pictured above.  Most are fairly self explanatory.  Pit Mode will limit the output power of your VTX to extremely low levels, so that if you are at a race you can power up and change channels without disrupting any other pilots.  When you are ready to race you can simply disable pit mode and your VTX returns to it’s full power settings.

The VTX LED Strip is a feature that allows your VTX to control the colour of your LED’s based on Frequency.  This feature hasn’t been fully tested yet, but the concept is to assign colours based on the ROYGBIV spectrum, from lowest frequency to highest.  This was added by request from RotorX, unfortunately our addressable LED strips are being remade due to manufacturing issues, but will have this feature when available.

STEP 10. Tuning

We have provided the Atom V3 already flashed with BLHeli 16.6 standard for controlling the ESC’s, and Betaflight 3.0 for controlling the flight controller.  These both come with stock settings, and should work fine right out of the box, but there are some further refinements to the tune that we will be doing later.

We will be releasing details on how to update the Powercube via TBS Agent software soon, once the tunes are ready they will be added and you will be notified that they are available for download.  Once that happens it will simply be a matter of plugging a USB Cable into the Colibri Race FC, and even the OSD/VTX/PDB Layer has the same update procedure when new firmware is available.

You can get TBS Agent from this link:

http://www.team-blacksheep.com/corepro/agent

Then when you connect it to your TBS equipment it will update automatically.

In the meantime, you can upgrade your ESC’s to 16.6 BLHeli running multishot if you know how.


Flying Safe

Now just a few words of warning. I know you want to run outside and rip it up with your Atom V2. It really is one of the fastest, most advanced racers ever built but there are some important safety measures to consider. Please check what laws and regulations your country enforces but below are some rough guidelines (but seriously check your own country because laws might be different and it is not cool to break the law or endanger people)

Support:

Head on over to RCGroups where the Atom V1 and V2 have their own thread here, introduce yourself and search the forum thread to see if there is an answer to your question already, otherwise post your question and a reply will be with you shortly

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391308

Alternatively, you can lodge a support ticket here:

https://rotorx.freshdesk.com/support/home

Enjoy your Atom V2. The world is your race course.

Rotor X. 

Dan, Marty, Andrew, Ross, Nguyen and the extended Rotor X team.

https://rotorxracing.com/

Big thanks to Team Black sheep - http://www.team-blacksheep.com/

Written with help from Stew from UAVFUTURES  (who also has a step by step video guide on building the Atom v2 on his channel)

www.youtube.com/c/uavfutures