TUF

Size

195mm

Recommended Powertrain

5046 tri blade

2206 ~2600kv

40A 4in1

1550mah 4S

Build difficulty level:

Intermediate

COMPLETE BUILD GUIDE

Do not allow any chemicals to contact the frame. Specifically; Loctite, any type of paint, nail polish, chemical cleaning products, as well as corrosive and/or toxic gases. Any contact can create localised chemical changes in the plastic and cause it to break under high stress loads. If kept clean and away from such chemicals, it will retain it’s jelly-like chemistry and resist breakage throughout a significantly higher number of impacts than carbon fibre.
Do not fasten bolts as tight as you would on carbon fibre. Overly tight bolts on either the motors or centre apply localised stress pressure that changes the load bearing capability of the plastic, causing it to break easily. Polycarbonate also ‘grips’ to metals at the molecular level when the correct amount of pressure is applied, providing a similar benefit to loctite. Tighten bolts by hand, until you feel the resistance increase exponentially over 1/2 a turn of the driver. Stop at that point and do not over tighten.

INTRODUCTION


 

The Autek Tuf is our strongest quadcopter!  It’s also amazing to fly.

This quad is perfectly suited for fun flying around parks, under trees, flips, loops, freestyle, etc.  At the same time it’s a very capable, agile and fast racing quadcopter.  The frame and pod are designed for toughness, durability and performance.

With battery, in flight trim, it weighs only 500g; 350g without battery.

The frame is 9mm polycarbonate.  Motor holes are 195mm apart, 3mm diameter at 16×19 centres, for 22xx and 23xx motors.

The pod is custom designed for 30×30 flight controllers, and is a perfect fit for the Eachine VTX03 micro VTx.  Channels can be changed and VTx status seen through the hole in the top.  The lens opening is deliberately wide at top, allowing air to flow over the VTx.

The pod is also a perfect fit for the Runcam Micro Swift and Foxeer Micro FPV cameras.  We recommend the wider (160 degree) lens. The smaller lens (140 degree) is also slightly longer and consequently not as protected by the pod.  Camera angle is fixed at 45 degrees.

The pod has a hole for the dipole antenna that comes with the VTX03 and slots for a u.FL clover leaf antenna.  It is recommended to use a cloverleaf on this quad, especially if you are going to race. It is also recommended to use Left-Hand-Circular-Polarisation antennas, as many people use Right-Hand-Circular-Polarisation antennas. You will get cleaner video and less interference by running the opposite polarisation with no drawbacks.

The ESC can be a 4in1 or external. You should get ESCs that have a rating above the maximum amp draw of your motors.

Any 30×30 FC will work, but layout is important to reduce wire lengths. You should also consider features such as voltage regulators, does it have a 12v regulator for your VTX etc.

You can use any receiver, a spektrum satellite or an FrSky XSR will fit inside the pod.

This quad performs best with smaller motors, such as a 2206. Research has found that larger motors such as 2306 or 2407 does not bring much benefit and are heavier, which will affect the flight characteristics negatively. The Xnova Lightning 2206 motors are a good choice. 2300kv and 2600kv are quite similar, you will need the 2300kv for props with a higher pitch than 5046. The DAL 5046 is a great balance between efficiency and power. Other alternatives may be 5040×4, 5040×3, 5045×3, 5050×3. This frame does not allow props larger than 5in, so the Gemfan 5152 will clip the pod.

The best battery is a good 1550; any smaller, the flight time suffers and any larger, it’ll feel sloppy. The Tattu 95c or 100c are able to keep up to the power demands of our motors, with minimal sag giving you the power to race and perform awesome freestyle manoeuvres. Expect to get about 2 minutes racing or 3-4 minutes with freestyle.

PRE-REQUISITES


 

This is an intermediate build, if you have experience with soldering and follow this guide carefully, you should have no issues!  🙂

Good soldering ability is required for this build, you will need to take care to not get flux or solder on the polycarbonate. If flux or other chemicals come into contact with the frame, remove it immediately and wipe with a damp cloth.

When finished, everything is a tight, but perfect fit.  You’ll have an ultra-reliable crash-proof quad that will give you hours of enjoyment.

When soldering interconnect wires, be sure to use 11×0.3mm 30 gauge silicone insulated hookup wire.  PVC wire is just too difficult to work with, and prone to failure  You won’t need much wire.  Enough is provided with the camera and ESC.  If you need more, follow the link at the end.  Most cheap 30G silicon wire has only 7 strands; 11-strand is much better.

AUTEK TUF

PARTS LIST

If you're a beginner and follow this build guide and parts list in exact detail, it will result in a high performance and highly reliable quad. If you're an experienced builder and want to use other parts, go for it! They can definitely work as well. However, you will need to use your experience to tune and set up the system, as some elements of this build will change.

PROVIDED PARTS

Frame – 9mm polycarbonate

Motor screws – 3mm hex drive stainless steel

Pod – 3D printed TPU

Pod mounting screws – M3x20mm, screw directly into the TPU of the pod.

Male 2-pin JST1.25 flying lead to power the camera/VTx

Camera mounting screws – M2x5mm.  Do not use longer screws or you may damage the camera; shorter won’t quite be long enough.

ADDITIONAL REQUIRED PARTS

Motors: Any 22xx/23xx motor to suit 16×19 3mm holes.  2206-2600kv  recommended

ESC: 30-40A 4in1 or external 30A

FC: Any 30×30 hole size F3 or F4 board

Rx: Micro full telemetry receiver like the FrSky XSR. Soldering one extra wire to the XSR provides SPort for telemetry. Other options include Frsky XM, Spektrum satellites etc.

VTx: Eachine VTX03.  The is a perfect fit in the pod.  The available space can be hacked to fit other micro VTx’s.

Video camera: Predator micro or micro sparrow. These just push in perfectly.

REQUIRED CONSUMABLES

Fine silicone hookup wire (provided with camera and ESCs)

Bolts, spacers and nuts to mount the ESC/PDB and FC

Silicone wire insulation off old 12AWG Lipo battery wire (used to make soft spacers)

Solder, temperature controlled fine chisel tip soldering iron, steady hand

Temperature controlled hot air gun, ideally a low airflow hot air rework station type, to melt tiny bits of hot melt glue onto wherever wires are soldered to the boards

Magnifying glasses – cheap 2x or 3x readers are great

Fine heat shrink

Heat shrink to re-encase the Rx

Autek Xracing quads are quite different to standard builds, using the right tools makes it so much easier

More than anything, the tool we depend on most is something that comes from medical surgery – Artery Forceps. They come in many variants and sizes, and are quite cheap.

IMPORTANT!

Several stages of our builds require holding things that are just too small for our fingers, that is where the artery forceps are used. It makes the build that much easier, I won’t build without them. Some people use a product called helping hands, you could also use tweezers, or blue tac. If you’re someone who has a lot of hand shake or just had a late night, blue tac is the best option. 

HEAT

  • Soldering station w/ chisel tip
  • Temp. controlled hot air gun
  • Hot glue gun (optional)
  • Hot keratin gun (optional)

CUTTERS

  • Side cutters
  • Scissors
  • Razor blade

DRIVERS

  • Small philips head driver
  • M2 hex driver
  • M3 hex driver
  • M5 hex driver

OTHERS

  • Artery Forceps
  • Blue Tac

Build stages in sequence:

1. Frame & motor mounting

The first thing you should do is mount your motors. Line your motor holes up with the frame with the wires running inwards along the arm, as different manufacturers use different 16x19 patterns. This will tell you which side you need to mount your motors. The side with 2 extra holes is the rear, used to secure the battery wires. DO NOT USE LOCTITE! Loctite contains a chemical which degrades polycarbonate and causes it to shatter. The polycarbonate grips motors screws extremely well and should not come loose. You should however check all motors screws if you have recently experienced bad vibrations or had multiple hits.

Do not use loctite
Do not overtighten
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2. ESC, LiPo & Powertrain Assembly

Use bolts that are long enough for the FC and ESC. You will need to raise the ESC so that a battery strap can pass though. The FC usually has a 4-5mm spacer between the ESC.

The connector on the ESC is a bit fragile, and we prefer to remove it and direct solder the wires. This is optional.

This is how to remove it. It comes off easily since the pins are surface mounted. They pins will probably break off as you chip the plastic off with snips, if not they are easily removed with a soldering iron. It’s tricky to solder wires to such tiny pads. Pre-tin your wires and use only enough solder with a small chisel or bevel tip iron. Tin the pads, then start with the pad furthest away. Get comfortable and have your wrists resting on something. Use magnifying glasses. Start with the most difficult / furthest away wire first. Heat the pad until solder melts on it, then carefully drop the wire on the pad. You only need the four signal wires, not the ground.

When all four signal wires are done hot melt glue them neatly in place.

Trim the LiPo wires relatively short, about 45mm long all up.

Since the ESC is going to be used as the PDB, we need to get LiPo voltage from it to the FC. Solder the LiPo voltage wires from the ESC to your FC's VBAT input.

Solder your motors to the ESC, we like to keep our motors wired so that the leftmost wire goes to the leftmost pad, middle wire goes to middle pad and rightmost wire goes to the rightmost pad on all motors. They will all spin the same direction, we can change this in BLHELI so that 2 motors spin CW and the other 2 CCW.

If you will add some 12V LED strips under the rear arms, you’ll need to solder some wires to LiPo ground and power on the ESC. Find a place where you can neatly solder two pairs of silicone wires and direct them over the back of the board, where they will exit via the hole in the frame to the bottom of the rear arms.

Note which set of motor outputs will go to which motor, and write down the color of the wire going to what will end up being motor number 1, 2, 3 and 4.

You should now have an ESC with a LiPo and motor connections, four signal wires, four output wires to LEDs, and a place to solder your FC power wires. Almost done!

3. Flight Controller, Radio Control & Telemetry

You are up to wiring your receiver and flight controller!

Use a spacer between your FC and ESC/PDB such as nylon spacers or 12awg wire silicone insulation. Make sure the arrow on the FC in on top and pointing forward. There should be enough space that nothing touches between the FC and ESC/PDB. Using the previously noted ESC order, solder these to the corresponding pads on your FC. wire up the power cables too.

To wire up a receiver, you will need to decide which wires you need to solder. Some FC's may have a plug for spektrum satellites, in that case you can plug it in and proceed to the next step. For other receivers or FC's without a plug, you will need to figure out which UARTs you require. For Spektrum and Receivers with no telemetry, you only need 3 wires, positive, negative and signal. For XSR and other receivers you need 4 wires, positive, negative, signal and telemetry. If you are using the experimental FPort, it combines signal and telemetry so you only need 3 wires.

Solder your power leads first. Spektrum Satellites require 3.3v and most other receiver require 5v.

For signal, you can solder to any UART on F3 boards. F4 boards require an inverter with the FrSky receivers and usually have a dedicated UART for the signal. Consult your manual to determine which UART it is, usually labelled "SBUS".

The telemetry wire is the same as the signal wire, but you cannot have them on the same UART. Some F4 boards may also have a dedicated inverted input for telemetry. If your F4 board does not have an onboard inverter for telemetry, you will need to find the uninverted output on your FrSky receiver. Refer to this guide:

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4. VTX & Camera

You are up to the pod assembly, the last electronics part!

The VTX-Camera wiring is very straightforward and easy to do.

The camera may have up to 7 pins. Positive, Negative, Video, Audio, Voltage Sense, OSD(2pins, you use this to change camera settings for a better image than stock settings). In our case, we only need 3 of these to be wired. Your VTX manual will have the pinout of your VTX. Positive goes to positive, negative goes to negative(sometimes labelled GND) and video goes to video. You should try to keep these wires as short as possible, but keep 1cm of slack so you can install both the VTX and Camera with minimal stress on the wires. Solder a connector onto the VTX power wires, noting the polarity. Solder a matching connector onto the power source on your FC, in this case the VTX03 takes 5v. Take care to never power the VTX03 with higher than 6v.

The Audio and Voltage Sense are optional. If your VTX supports audio, you can wire this up as well. Voltage sense is soldered to the positive LiPo pad, so that the camera can sense the voltage and display this on the OSD. This can be very useful if you do not have receiver telemetry. VTx's such as the FuriousFPV Stealth or the TBS Unify have a feature known as VTX control. This allows you to change the VTX channel and power via your transmitter. You solder the audio wire to a spare UART to use this feature. Note that this only works with a LUA script on a FrSky taranis. Your receiver also needs to be capable of S.Port telemetry.

Remove the plug from the camera and install this into the pod first. Align the camera holes with the pod holes before inserting the screws. Don't tighten all the way on one side, rather tighten both sides incrementally to ensure that the camera is mounted straight. Then install the VTX. If you are using the VTX03, this should just slide in and be a snug fit. You can use a dab of hot glue to help keep it in place.

Plug in the camera wires and use a dab of hot glue to ensure they don't come out. Tuck the extra wire between the camera and VTX so they are out of the way. If you are using a cloverleaf, ensure you have the correct rotation so that the u.FL connector faces the VTX to minimise stress on the connector. Glue in the antenna with some hot glue. Bend the wire so that the u.FL connect can plug in easily. You can use a small amount of heat from a hot air gun to help relieve some of the stresses on the antenna wire.

At this point, you should have a completely built up frame and pod ready for assembly.

5. Pod & Final assembly

Connect the VTX power to the FC plug that you previously soldered, double checking the polarity.

You can use a smokestopper or a current limited power supply set to 12v and 2A to test everything powers on. But first you should always check with a multimeter that there are no shorts. If you are not going to put your extended camera OSD wires external, this is the time to change the settings. Refer to this guide to check which settings you want:

Once you have checked everything powers on and camera settings set, get a ziptie to hold the lipo cables to the frame. This helps limit damage from a battery ejection. Then get the included pod screws and screw them in. You should screw all 4 in incrementally once you reach about 2mm of thread still showing. This prevent damage from excessive stress on the pod corners.

You can also cut out a hole for your USB on your FC so you can change the settings on it. You can use side cutters or a soldering iron set to low heat ~250 degrees Celsius.

You should now have a fully built Autek Tuf Quadcopter! Congratulations!

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6. Flight Controller & ESC Flashing & Settings

Upload the latest betaflight onto your FC, refer to this guide:

7. Final system check & test arming

So close! Just some checks and you'll be in the air!

Once you have completely set up your FC, go to the motors tab in Betaflight. Make sure that you have not got props installed before testing motors. Enable motor control and slowly move the master slider up. Once all 4 motors spool up, check that the direction of each motor is correct. If they are, spool the motors up to 30% to check that all motors spin roughly the same speed and there are no weird noises. Do not spin motors above 50% without a load otherwise you could burn either the ESC or the motor.

The last check is using the transmitter to arm your quad. If it successfully arms, you are ready for takeoff!

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Check motor temp

8. Maiden Flight

It's the maiden flight! It's time to see that your hard work has paid off!

If you've followed our guide correctly, you should have no issues!

Before arming, check that you have a full battery, props are installed correctly and that your failsafe is set.

Arm your quad and hover it, do a few flips if you like but don't go hard on it. You need to ensure your electronics are working as expected. If a full flight goes without issues, do a gentle flight with FPV. Just don't do risky things with it yet such as flying very high. If you are able to clip the ground or something else without it going crazy, you have successfully built an Autek Tuf! Nice Job! Go ahead and rip up the sky!

If you encounter issues, please check the common issues list. It will very likely contain your issue and a solution.