Building the Indestructible Goby 180

In an effort to make this build log the product manual of the Goby 180 and an instructional series for beginner builders, I've created probably one of the most painstakingly detailed build logs in the history of the internet.

If you bought the completed Indestructible Goby 180 build from me, thank you. You can refer to this if you ever need to replace something (not likely though).

If you bought the Goby 180 kit from me, thank you as well. You can follow along to complete the build yourself and experience the joy of not-lead-free solder fume inhalation.

If you just want to read this for pleasure reading or get inspiration for a later build, go grab a box of tissue paper first, cuz you might need it later. 

Now without further ado, here's the complete build blog on the Indestructible Goby 180:

To start, I'll go through the parts I used for the build. I'll also be carrying most of them as spare parts on the store. 

  1. Quanum Q58-2 200mw 40ch VTX - The main reason I chose this is for its angled pig-tail SMA connector. As I mentioned before in the "How Indestructible" article, it protects the #2 most often broken part pretty well. It also costs much less than an equivalent Hawkeye transmitter, and I haven't experienced any video signal issues. A reviewer, RC FPV Flight, also did a pretty comprehensive RF power measurement on it and found on some channels you can get double the output, which is pretty neat if you wanna squeeze some extra range out it. 
  2. Foxeer HS1177 650tvl FPV camera - The HS1177 is pretty ubiquitous in the community and almost everybody is running some variants of it. It has nice image quality and light handling, and the metal bracket makes adjusting camera angle pretty easy too.
  3. Emax RS2205 2600kv "Red Bottoms" motors - These motors were game changers when they were released about half a year ago. Since then there are bigger, newer, and shinier motors out there, but this remain as one of the torquey-ish motors and a cult classic. EngineerX of the miniquadtestbench.com performed very comprehensive thrust tests on it and got an insane 1.1kg of thrust with DAL T4045BN props. A new upgraded variant of this motor, RS2205-S is set to release in a couple of month. I'll be sure to switch over to those bad boys when they drop. 
  4. Flycolor Raptor F330 20A escs - These are solid escs based on the Silab F39x chips. It performed quite well on EngineerX's esc test and can run Multishot. As for what exactly is Multishot and how it makes your copter fly smoother than gliding on butter, check out the Almighty Joshua Bardwell's tutorial. Note: I got these escs before the Blheli_S escs were widely available. So I'll be switching to the Blheli_S escs once I exhaust the Raptors stock.
  5. Ready Made RC Goby 180 frame - I chose the frame because it's one of the toughest 4in frames out there with a super thick 4mm bottom plate and the option to have a 3mm top plate while not costing an arm and a leg - looking at you, Catalyst Machine Works. There are also several variations in which you can build the top plate and the square plate. I chose to have the top plate to be standard height so I can fit all the components in there and used the square plate as the battery skid plate. 
  6. DAL T4045BN props - DAL props are well known for their toughness, so this one is no exception. In the entire torture test of this prototype, I've managed to only break 2 props. Yes, 25+ hard crashes and only 2 props, give it up for DAL ladies and gentlemen. They are quite power hungry though, being both tri-blades and bullnosed. If you want to save the balls-out performance for races only, you can also get the slightly tamer T4040 props for practice. Your lipos will thank you too. 
  7. FrSky D4R-II receiver - The radio system is kinda like religion: everybody has their own opinions on which type to use and why it's better than all the others. So why no X4R with SBUS you ask? Well, while the miniquad world fell in love with the FrSky Taranis, I got stuck with the old Turnigy 9x + DJT module, which only supported up to the D-series of receivers. So the best I can get is PPM while everybody else hopped on the SBUS bus. (To read on what the differences between PPM and SBUS are, Oscar Liang has a pretty good explanation)
  8. Motor guards - Super cheap and effective little thingymajigy to protect your expensive motors. It only adds 12 grams and $2 for the build and will pay for itself in about 3 crashes. 
  9. Lux Flight Controller - F3 boards are all over the place these days. I chose this mainly because it has an onboard 5v regulator and solder pads instead of pins, which makes for a much cleaner install. However the MPU6500 gyro chip on this isn't ideal. Even though it includes o-rings for soft-mounting and flies smooth as silk underwear, I will still probably switch to something with a less noisy 6050 or 6000 gyro chip in the future.
  10. Matek HUBOSD - This is a great PDB + OSD combo that requires no set up or fiddling. Just connect all the electronics to it and it'll just work. It displays voltage, amp draw, mAh consumed, and flight time in nice and clear lettering on your screen. It's just about everything you would want in an OSD without the random blackout lottery that is the minimOSD. 
  11. Rubberized Battery Strap - Run of the mill anti-slip battery strap. Not much to say here besides that it works well to keep the battery in place.
  12. 35x35mm carbon plate - The Goby 180 provides no place to bottom mount the battery strap, so I got these small plates to sandwich the battery strap onto the bottom plate. Design brain fart for RMRC, ingenious brownie points for me.
  13. 14 AWG silicon battery wires - Standard affair battery wires. 
  14. XT60 battery connector - Industry standard battery connector, but I'll be mounting them in a non-industry standard fashion later.
  15. 25v 1000uf electrolytic capacitor - Useful little thing to have that cleans up the voltage surges in the power system, as the active braking feature on modern escs can send up to 4A of back current to the system.
  16. 5v piezo buzzer - Standard little buzzer that will be handy when you crash the quad in tall grass and not having to spend half a day looking for it. Now only if we can put this inside a GoPro or Runcam, that would have saved me a lot of hours wondering around looking for ejected HD cameras. 

Phew, did you catch all that? Good, cuz we haven't even started taking these things out of their boxes yet, so bear with me. 

You'll notice that there are lots of little screws and knick-knacks that I've labeled separately. We'll cross those bridges when we come to them. Now on to the build.

Rinse all the carbon pieces under running water first. The edges will have leftover carbon dusts that are probably not too healthy for your lungs. 

Dry them off. Be sure to wipe the edges.

Oooooooo red paint. That'll be agility +10 my friends. 

Yep, definitely looks faster now.

Soldering 101 here - always generously pre-tin both the wires tip and the contact pads before you connect them. Heat up the pads first and then melt the solder onto the point where your soldering iron meets the pad. The solder will flow very nicely that way.

Repeat for all the soldering pads here.

Use part 5c here, the 10mm socket cap screws from the Goby kit. Make sure the fuzzy side of the strap is facing up.

Lay the bottom plate on top, make sure all 4 screws go through those holes.

Add the PBD, pay close attention to the orientation. The part with the battery lead needs to face the rear of the frame (the 3 vertical slots is the front).

Screw on part 10a, the 4x 5mm nylon standoffs. Make sure they are on tight. 

If you have voltmeter, this is a good time to make sure you didn't short the PDB with the conductive carbon frame. Put the voltmeter on "ohms" and check both the +/- pads on the PDB against the edges of the frame. You should have no readings from the meter. The Matek PDB has a flat bottom with no exposed pads, so you should be safe here. However if you do detect a short, insulate the bottom of the PDB with some electrical tape. 

Place the motor and esc on each arm, but don't screw them in yet. Roughly measure out how much wire length you would need and cut them. 

That should be short enough. 

Again, pre-tin the wire tips and esc pads.

Solder the motors to the escs. They will all spin the same way if you connect the wires in the same order, but don't worry about that as we can change the direction in the Blheli firmware later. 

Wrap the exposed part with electrical tape. You can also use heatshrink if you want. But taping makes repairs or changing the motors easier.

Use part 3a, the 8mm socket head screws that came with the motors. 

Install the motor. I found it easier to screw in one at a time to line the holes up. Don't tighten each screw all the way at once though. Tighten all 4 somewhat, then tighten each all the way. 

Install all the motors. If you're using mix of CW and CCW motors, make sure the CCW (black nuts) goes into the top left and bottom right corners. If you are using all CW motors, then order doesn't really matter.  The wires look pretty messy now but we'll shorten and clean them up later. 

Shorten the esc power wires, pre-tin and connect to the +/- pads in each corner. Remember red is positive and black is negative. Mess this up and you'll see some magic smoke when you power up.

Much cleaner now.

Now we're gonna prepare the XT60 connector. First, use pliers to turn the copper tubes so they face the same direction as shown above. This is important, make sure to get the orientation right. 

Pre-tin and solder up the wires 90 degrees to the connector. Use a lot of solder here. The 90 degree angle makes connecting to the bottom mounted battery much easier while also preventing the wires from getting chopped up by the props.  

Now shorten the lead on the capacitor and solder it to the XT60. +/- is not labeled on the capacitor, but usually the longer lead is the positive terminal. 

Now fire up your glue gun and spread it all over the solder junctions. This will serve as an excellent insulator and protector. 

Now solder up the battery lead to the PDB. Use a higher temp setting on your soldering iron for this job, as a cold joint here would be catastrophic. In fact, give all your solder joints a solid tug here to make sure they are secure. Do it, do it now.

Then ziptie the battery lead to the frame, as it would alleviate the stress from the solder joint. 

While your hot glue gun is still hot, spread the glue on the small connectors for the FPV camera and VTX. This will make them last much longer.

I like to mount the camera bracket onto the frame using outdoor strength 3M double sided tape. It's better than using screws since the tape will give out first on bad crashes, softening the impact. 

Also shorten and solder the wires as shown - red to 5v, black to ground, yellow to "cam".

Now stick the bracket as close to the PDB as possible. This will leave more room for camera uptilt. 

Prepare the VTX pins. You'll need to take out the red power-out wire here, since the PBD will be providing the power to the camera. Then cut it to be about 3 inches in length 

Solder as shown above, yellow to "VTX", red to 12v, and black to ground. Then twist the wires, it'll make everything neater. 

At this point you've probably been sitting for too long, stand up, twist and shout for a bit. 

Prepare the flight controller. First solder a 2 inch wire to the Bat and G pads on the back of the controller. We'll use this to provide power to the board later. Then depends on what sort of receiver and protocol you plan on using, short those pads in red circles. I will use the D4R-II so I'm shorting the 5v and PPM pads. 

Put part 9a, the rubber o-rings that came with the flight controller, onto the nylon standoffs. Then solder the power leads from the flight controller to the "VCC" and "Gnd" pads on the top of the PDB. 

Mount the flight controller, make sure the arrow on the upper right corner is pointing up. Don't screw in the nylon nuts in yet.

Shorten the esc wires and solder them to their respective corners. 

I should've done this part before, but it's not too late to thread the buzzer wires under the board and solder it to the buz+ and buz- pads. After this you can put on the hex nut. Don't screw it in too tight though. You want it just tight enough so there's no wiggle room but when you depress the corners you should see it go down a little. This will maximize the dampening effect of the rubber o-rings.

Screw in the aluminum standoffs. Use the shiny 8mm socket cap screw.

Now prepare the VTX assembly. Ziptie it onto the top plate. Leave the red button and LED display unobstructed, since you'll need to access them easily later. Screw in the SMA connector to the SMA thru-hole.

Now put on the antenna. 

Ziptie the receiver on top of the VTX. Again don't obstruct the button and display on the VTX. Same with the F/S button on the receiver. You'll need to access it later for radio binding too. 

Bend the receiver antennae back and through the side slots. Guide them using zipties and put the heat shrink tubing on top of it. This will place the antennae in the ideal 90 degree angle and protect them from crashes. 

Take the leftover 3pin servo wire that you cut from the FPV cam, and solder it to the flight controller. Yellow to "RX", red to 5v, and black to G. 

Now connect VTX connector to the VTX, and the RX wire to the RX (channel 1 on D4R-II, also put on the short cap between channel 3 and 4 to make it output PPM)

Almost there now, screw on the top plate with the 8mm socket screws.

Put on the props and you're done! Batteries are not included but I recommend 4S 1000mAh - 1300mAh with at least a 60c discharge rating.

This concludes the physical building part. There are still a lot of configuration and tuning left to do. You didn't think building a racing drone would be easy did you?

Since there are already tons of great resources on this topic, I'll be linking liberally to great guides put together by other cool folks in the community (mostly the Almighty Joshua Bardwell - I learned a ton from that guy).

However, if you bought the completed build from me, everything will be already set-up and pre-tuned. I individually test fly and tune each copter before I ship so all you need to do is bind the receiver to your radio and you'll be good to go. 

If you wanna experience it for yourself, the remaining steps are:

  1. Flash betaflight on Lux, guide here.
  2. Flash latest Blheli and multishot to the escs, guide here.
  3. Change motor direction in Blheli to match the direction. Guide on how to use Blheli configurator here. Take out the props before this step if you want to keep all your fingers.
  4. Calibrate escs, guide here
  5. Bind RX to your radio. Procedure will differ depends on which radio you use. For the D4R-II, guide here.
  6. Configure Betaflight, guide here
  7. Tune your PIDs. This is black art topic that deserves its own article. Joshua Bardwell has a pretty long 8 part series on it
  8. Assign AUX channels/switches for arming, beeper, and air mode.
  9. Do a pre-maiden check

That's it for everything. We did it, you did it. Now get out and fly and crash.