DIY Tricopter David Windestål style (parts advice)


New member

I want to build my first DIY wooden tricopter David Windestål style, because I'm cheap ;-)

I'm a big fun of FT airplanes and I have some. I want to test tricopter mostly for hovering abilities and more helicopter/airplane flying style over the quadcopter. Firstly I will fly visualy, later maybe FPV and some camera. No racing or acrobatic in plan. More like relaxing flight :)

I want to build whole tricopter around my Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 40C Lipo batteries.
Can I make the arms shorter than David has? Stability will be affected?
Is it necessary to have 120° angles between arms? For visual will be better to have tail slightly longer.
Can you recommend some motor preferably BangGood or HobbyKing? For example are these Racerstar BR2205 2300KV good enough?
Which propellers? Having the tail one in different color (green, orange) would help with orientation.
As ESC ... can I use my BLHeli Series 12A or 30A?
I will use DIY yaw/tail mechanism from HobbyKing for sure Front Wheel Steering Arm & Mount Set.
Cheapest functional servo? Can I use Emax ES3154 Digital? For airplanes I got only MG90S Metal Gear.
And I'm completely lost with Flight Controller and Power Board :-( It seems HobbyKing KK2 is out of stock?
Have some spare Orange for my DX6 :)

Thank you! Thank you!
mech1 :)

Edit - Confirmed parts
by helpful people in this thread ;-)
Frame size 450 (David's is 610)
The brain will be F3 Flight Controller Deluxe 10
Power Board Matek Systems HUBOSD8-SE 9-27V PDB
Motors Racerstar BR2212 1000KV 2-4S Brushless Motor
ESCs Racerstar RS20A 20A BLHELI_S OPTO 2-4S
Propeller 10x4.5 CW/CCW For Quadcopter And Multirotor
Lipo batteries (already have those for airplanes) Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 40C
DIY yaw/tail mechanism Front Wheel Steering Arm & Mount Set
Servo Emax ES3154 Digital
Wiring is from Turnigy High Quality 16AWG Silicone Wire 1m (Black) and Turnigy High Quality 16AWG Silicone Wire 1m (Red)
Screws are Socket Head Hex M3x20mm
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Techno Nut
Welcome to club TriCopter. I have Three flying RCExplorer tricopters. 2 Baby Tris and a Mini Tri.
You should be able to make just about anything fly. The mini tri is basically the full size tri with shorter arms and an FPV pod. So yes, you can shorten the arms. 120° between arms isn't critical, but does provide a nice symmetric shape. That battery and motors should be ok with 6 inch Tri blades. (ie 6x4.5x3 ) 12A ESCs might be OK, but I'd go with the 30A. KK2 is pretty old. I'd go with just about any F3 flight controller and run TriFlight. Easiest way to go would be to run the RCExplorer F3FC Racing which is very reasonably priced as well as the RCE Baby PDB. Keep us posted on your progress!

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Posted a thousand or more times
you can make the angle different to 120° You have to consider that the CG will change depending on the Angle. I have made for example one with 135 degree and one T copter. Search for Tricopter geometrie in google and you will find a lot of Pictures and informations.
You can shorten the arms as short as you want depending on the motors you use. The Reacestar2205 are for 5" to 6" props, so you have to shorten the arms a lot. There are for Racequads up 210 to 280 mm size, that will be a small tricopter. for a bigger one between 400 and 500mm i will recommend a motor with lower KV ( 700 to 1200 KV) like the emax 2213. then a 9" to 10" prop will fit. The Servo you choose will be good.
That is a nice calculator for a T Copter.

And here you can find the needed Informations for Tricopter geometries:

The ESC depends on the Motor and Size you want to build. So first decide which size. Then you know which Propeller size will fit, than you can select a motor that fits to the Props with the needed thrust.


Posted a thousand or more times
I forgot the Flight controller. As Literbug told, you can use a F3 or a cheap CC3D. The CC3d will run witch Libre pilot or dRonin.
I only have used mini CC3d on my Tri copter and they work fine.


New member
Guys ty a lot for this nice help! It really surprised me how fast and helpful you was!
I did my homework though ;-)

So I found out that David's tri is about 610mm from the middle of motors. I prefer stable flight and good visibility, so I want someting between 400-500mm. Moreover I prefer longer batter life than faster response.
So I definitely need something around 1000kv and 8-9 prop right?
What about Racerstar BR2212 980KV or Racerstar BR2212 1000KV and Racerstar RS30A V2 30A Blheli_S
I found never used F3 Flight Controller Deluxe from never finished project. Will it work?

P.S. - I will continuously edit my first thread with proven parts ... for other readers ;-)


Posted a thousand or more times
The racestar 980 KV with 10x45 prop will be good for a 400-500 tri 20-25A ESC will be sufficient About the flight controller i can not help you with this. My first try has 500 mm. Is a nice size. I have made a build report in this forum.


Posted a thousand or more times
You can reach the 8 minutes depending on how you fy and depending on the weights.
700gramm thrust each motor is a total thrust of 2.1 kg you need minimum 60% of power reserve to maneuver, means 40% thrust to hover.
If you know how much your tri weights you csn calculate the flight time using the thrust power table of the motor.
At max thrust the Racestar pulls 10.6 A each so total about 32 A. Your lipo is 2.2 aH so the flight time at full throttle will be round about 4 minutes 8 minutes can be possible but you have to build light weight. You can use the calculator on this site to calculate your tri snd your flight time


Posted a thousand or more times
I have calculated a tri with size 450 mm 1kg weight and 2200 mah 3s
You will reach the 8 minutes.

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Faster than a speeding face plant!
The wider the more stable it is likely to be. 600mm tends to be more stable for video than 500mm. With a gimbal it's all moot.

600mm can usually support longer props. Longer, slower props are more efficient and have longer flight times and most often can support more payload.

1000kv motors on 3S you will probably be spinning 10" or 11" props. David W spins 8" props with 1300kv motors on 4S.

1000kv motors on a 2200mAh 3S spinning 10" props lifting <> 800g should get you 10-15 minutes from my own experience.

I like that graph Ricci. I think it's about right.


New member
People you are unbelievable! You are so nice and helpful! Ty a lot!

I definitely agree with compromise size 450mm ;-) I have no problem with longer props and slower motors.
In my FT Explorer I have Power Pack C motor. I have one completely new EMAX GT2215-09 1180KV as a spare. The motor is awesome! But kind of pricey though :-(
So I searched for cheaper alternative. Friend of mine use Racestars on quad and he is quite happy. Racerstar BR2212 1000KV is with prop mount which could be later used for my airplanes though :)

For FT Bushwacker project I have lot of 10x4.7 props. Problem is that they are from different manufacturer and slightly different shape. I have to have on tri same one's, right?

I will listen to your advice guys! David at discussion Tricopter V3.5 build said that the DYS BE2217 1300kv are really good. But as you already said he is using 8" props at 4S. Moreover the motor is hard to find these days.
If you have experience with other motor with higher efficiency (=longer flight time, less vibrations) I will listen and buy them.
Same for props which I need CW and CWW for tail (TriFlight rulezz). It will be better to have at tail different color than on front for visual flight, but I know how difficult is to find props that fit those 5-6mm shafts :-(

ty a lot!


Posted a thousand or more times
The color of the props is not reslly important s fee meter avay from you you will not see the difference.
Go with the racestar. Not important which of both. If you want it cheap go with the atom cc3d. It's good for Tricopter with libre pilot and cost about 13€ on bangood or HobbyKing.
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New member
So finally I ordered the Racerstar BR2212 1000KV 2-4S Brushless Motor together with Racerstar RS20A 20A BLHELI_S OPTO 2-4S. Even everywhere is mentioned that 20A should be enough, I will feel safer with 25A. But 30A was twice as expensive :-(
Recommended propeller for the motor is 10x4.7. Finding CW with correct diameter was almost impossible! So finally I ordered 10x4.5 CW/CCW For Quadcopter And Multirotor, black as front orange as tail ;-)

As I mentioned before I have F3 Flight Controller Acro 6 DOF/Deluxe 10 DOF for Multirotor Racing. But I can't find if TriFlight will work on it?
All in all it seems to be cheap project :)

P.S. - I edited my first post with confirmed components ;-)


Posted a thousand or more times
Should work. Seems to be delivered with baseflight, so you can flash betaflight using baseflight.


Faster than a speeding face plant!
Wood works well because it's cheap and it dampens low frequency vibrations from the motors. The caveats are rigidity, straightness and weight. Balsa is out because it flexes too much and is too fragile. Oak is heavy.

Whatever you use, be sure it won't flex when you punch out. This may be as simple as setting plywood on its side.

I used Ace Hardware square dowel made from Alder or Beech and did well.


Posted a thousand or more times
I used 10x10 mm beech. It works but is too small. Better to use 12x12 mm if you use wood.
After a hard landing one off the booms brakes near the motormount and i replace all by 10x10 mm aluminum tube. Is not much heavier but more stable