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FT "Smart" Duck (Buildruray)


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The "Smart" Duck


The Following posts will cover the building and testing of what I'm calling the "Smart Duck"

The plane is built from a FliteTest Sea Duck speed build kit with the standard C pack. I've modified the lower part of the fuselage to fit larger batteries and more electronics for long range FPV.

This plane is equipped with a Pixhawk4 Cube flight controller and GPS, A Dragonlink UHF receiver, and a DJI Air unit for HD Video.


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@The Fopster Its been a theme in many areas of my life. I used to have a rusted out $500 '69 Buick GS with a $7,000 engine! Function over form every time for me!

The goal here is learning, gaining experience with the electronics. Eventually I'll mount this equipment in a more permanent platform but, for now, the lightweight and easily modified Sea Duck is a great place to start!

@CapnBry :ROFLMAO::LOL: dont forget the notecard ram air cooling system it has too! lol
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Legendary member
For those of you who haven't built a Sea Duck, here is a quick rundown of why I think it makes a great platform for this project.

The majority of the wing and flight surfaces are built onto the upper portion of the craft...
Duck fslg.png

This leaves you the lower portion of the craft to be attached with a simple piece of tape (no need to glue it if you wish to open it up frequently) I've modified the lower portion to fit a larger battery and added layers of foam to support this.

Duck Bay.png

You can see why this comes in handy when you look at the wiring that goes into a project like this...

duck elec.jpg


Elite member
@CapnBry :ROFLMAO::LOL: dont forget the notecard ram air cooling system it has too! lol
I saw that! When you start up the motors do they go RUMMMMM-blub-blub-blub-blub like my cool neighbor's muscle car too? :D

And cheese and crackers, there's a lot of wiring inside that thing. You did a real nice job of it though. I had completely forgotten about the Sea Duck and seeing yours I kinda want to build one now. My experience with lakes so far has been that things check in but they don't check out and I'd like to reverse that trend.


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@CapnBry funny you should mention it... I spent all my morning fighting with a lake! Water came up and then froze. Had to help the girls find there way back out without falling into the 15 foot deep creek channel...

@FoamyDM it's right at 1300 grams (just under 3 lbs) with no battery. Heaviest battery I've used so far was 600 grams and it handled it pretty well. Time to make another monster LiIon pack! ;)


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So far the DJI fpv has been impressive, but I'm not sure about the range...

I've yet to get much beyond a mile with a decent signal. I fear they have sacrificed range, at least compared to my old phantom. I've gone 4 miles with it in the same area... more tests to come...


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Been flying the duck a lot, sadly, most of the "testing" I'm going wont be on YouTube for... reasons... but I will post some of the progress so far.

I've since installed a digital pitot tube, been working on a few auto missions and that really helps balance speed/power in the wind to keep the plane slow to lower the amp draw and extend the battery life without fear of stalling. Next sensor will be some lidar...

I've put a new patch antenna on the DJi goggles and that does seem to extend range quite a bit. did hear about a 1200mw model somewhere...

Now I'm installing a gimbal for the air unit and putting a fixed forward 5.8 camera in the nose to fly with. I've never swapped "power pods" much in the FT planes but I like the idea for cameras...


fun watching you go thru testing your FPV gear on foam board planes first, I am doing the very same thing , I have tested my long range & FPV gear on a foam board FT versa wing, now Im transfering it over to a larger C1 Chaser wing that I can get some good flight time out of

did you find out what the glitching was when you went into RTH mode?


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did you find out what the glitching was when you went into RTH mode?
Yes I did, it was actually doing it in all modes after a while and I was getting terrible telemetry signal too. The receiver was getting hot because I had wired it into a 10v out on my distribution board. 😳 It does say 5 to 9v but it does mean 9, not 10... this was my old receiver too and this isnt the first time I've done something stupid with it. I dont know for sure if I damaged it but I swapped to a new one anyway and it fixed it. Its had good telemetry now for the full range of my test flights and no glitches even after 40 min in the air.


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So I've decided that I dont want to do dueling fpv systems... at least not at the same time. My solution is to build a system to run each separately with the flip of a switch...