Build Log - Reptile G280 Mini Quad
When I was asked by my friend in China to build, fly, test, crash and talk about this frame a little, I was very excited to start building after seeing the manufacturer’s design. It’s not your typical mini (racing) quadcopter look and it takes some patience to build and setup.
Reptile G280 FPV Quadcopter Package
- REPTILE-G280 FPV Quadcopter (Carbon Fibre Frame)
- 600TVL 5V Mini Camera
- Emax ES08AII analog servo
- Flight Controller Power Distribution Board (2s-6S, with two BEC Output:5V 1A)
In order to get this thing up in the air and behave in a manner intended and not get pulled down right away by gravity I needed to add the following ingredients to this frame kit:
- Flight Controller: Naze32 with Cleanflight 1.9.0
- Motors: Emax MT2204 2300kv CW/CCW Thread
- ESC: Emax Simon Series 12A ESC
- Propellers: Gemfan 6045
- Battery: Zippy Flightmax 2200mAh 3S 40C
- Radio Transmitter/Receiver: Futaba and Futaba Fasst receiver
Reptile G280 Unboxing
When unboxing the Reptile G280 you notice that there are a lot of small parts, tiny screws, and spacers in different sizes that once assembled should represent something like the pictures on the website. The manual provided is very specific about which parts go where, but takes a little practice and build-rebuild to find out how all the parts and components actually fit and work together.
If you like working on small scale models and don’t want any fast and easy solutions when it comes to building your RC models, this is definitely the frame kit for you. Rule #1 of the unconventional RC models is: “Thou shall have fun when assembling (or trying to assemble) the Reptile G280”.
Reptile G280 Quadcopter Build
I decided to build and assemble the frame itself first and then think and overthink where all my other components and electronics should fit afterwards. An additional mounting plate, with provided rubber shock absorber balls, for a Mobius-sized action cam is also included.
The manual will make you feel like you’re assembling one of IKEA’s finest and most delicate Mardröm (Swedish for nightmare), but once assembled you feel like you were part of, and mastered, structural engineering.
The look of the carbon fibre G280 frame is different than your usual FPV Mini Quadcopter. It looks a little more fragile than my other FPV racers and is probably not meant to be smashed into trees at full speed or do flips and rolls on concrete. It does look like it was designed by bearded hipsters who got the idea over overpriced coffee and wanted their design to stand out amongst the vast and many different choices of FPV racers. Or some Chinese rocket engineers who got kicked off a space program for their rebel behaviour. These are all wild guesses and I’m afraid we’ll never know the truth for sure.
Fitting Other Hardware and Electronics
Everything from electronics and additional hardware is clearly meant to be put in a specific place on and inside this frame. There’s even a battery compartment at the bottom of the frame. You can fit a 2200mAh 3S battery in there with ease and then some. If you’re planning on flying this setup with a 4S battery, you are safe trying to slide in a 1800mAh 4S in there.
First challenge was fitting the Naze32 on the Reptile G280. Why it was a challenge, you ask? Well, somehow there are mounting screws and holes to fit the provided mini PDB, but a Naze32 is too big to be fitted right on top of the PDB and too small for the mounting holes on the frame itself. Challenge accepted, but this is something to take into account when ordering the Reptile G280.
Because I used upright pins on my motor outputs there was no way I could fit item #6 (squashed toad) back on top. Not sure if this is also going to be an issue with other flight controllers, but I like the Naze32 way too much to swap it for a different flight controller.
I had to go for a basic (non FPV) setup, simply because I didn’t have any spare video transmitters left at the time of testing. A few bumpy flights with my other mini racers seemed to do the trick when it comes to the lack of balance in the supply and demand of spare parts in my house.
The provided servo and 600tvl camera make a nifty gimbal that could be adjusted by your radio transmitter when hooked up to the flight controller. It’s a really nice idea to be able to tilt and adjust your FPV camera during flight or in the field with just the twist/click/switch of a button. Think of the tilting of the camera when it comes to different speeds and flying styles. Just a heads up, the connection between the servo and the camera mount will come loose during flight. Use some hot glue, or whatever adhesive you can find, to make sure you don’t all of a sudden see more from the point of view of a rotating propeller than from the front of your G280.
While on the subject of vibrating things, once you are finished building your G280 and everything is fitted into place, with or without the necessary brutality, use loctite on each and every screw.
It looks great to have a mini quad that consists of small and almost alien looking parts, but the downfall is lots of tiny screws that will loosen because of the vibrations in the frame during flight. So, use loctite before flight or you’re going to have a bad time.
I fitted the Emax 12A ESC’s underneath the arms to save some space on the body itself. Be aware that the 3 motor wires will not lie exactly on top of the arms, because of the angle of the motor mounting base at the end of the arms.
To make sure that the 12A esc’s and its wires are protected, I used an excessive amount of electrical/insulating tape.
Setting Up and Tuning the Naze32
Ok, let’s start setting up the flight controller for the G280. Choose Quad X in the Configuration tab and for this setup you can use a Cycle Time between 2000-2200. I’m not going to get into a how-to-setup a radio transmitter/receiver on the Naze32, because there are already lots of detailed videos and posts on this subject. I will, however, share my PID Tuning settings for the Reptile G280 because tuning it seemed to be a bit different than your usual mini quad racer because of the weight and construction of this frame.
Note that the values used are based on 3S, 2300kv, and 6" props. The RC Rate and Expo values are a good starting point when first flying the G280. You can always raise the Rate value(s) when you feel more and more comfortable flying this frame and setup. In the end, the rates and expo values and the tuning of a quad are also a matter of personal taste and preference.
For additional images and Naze32 settings:
Houston, We Have Lift Off
Since I didn’t have any spare parts for this frame when I was out testing, I decided to go for a 3S setup instead of my preferred 4S rampage. Like I said before, I didn’t have a spare video transmitters left at the time of testing so I had to fly LOS (Line of Sight) instead of FPV when we were recording the videos.
Without further ado, the flight footage…
The Reptile G280 is intended for fun flying. The entire process from ordering, building, setting up, tuning, flying, crashing and rebuilding is meant to be fun and challenging. This is far from an (almost) RTF model. This model is intended for those with patience and looking for a fun project to build. When setup and tuned the right way this mini FPV quadcopter can be tons of fun and is pretty fast and agile.
If you find yourself in a live or death situation where you have to take on a Blackout Mini H or a Lumenier QAV250, I’d advice you to fake a sprained or broken wrist and limp away from the scene. When you’re out flying by yourself or with friends who own an Emax Nighthawk 250 or a ZMR 250 or something similar, you’ll be fine and my advice is to go out and have tons of fun.