MORNINGSTAR

The Morningstar started out as one of my earliest designs, but it's stood the test of time (and 2 seasons of racing) to remain one of my favourites, with a shape that still attracts attention on race day.

I first came up with the idea when I got my CNC machine - carbon fibre is expensive, whereas my local plastics supplier had plentiful stock of HDPE in various grades. I've owned a couple of HDPE frames in the past and they've proved exceptionally tough, so I figured as a low cost way to start messing around with frame making it would be a good starting point. I'd also fallen a little in love with the look of plus quads, so decided to design it to use that layout rather than the much more conventional X shape.

The first prototype came together quickly - I used bargain basement components which proved to be a bit of a mistake as the cheap 4-in-1 ESC self destructed on maiden day. What little flying I did revealed something though - it flew brilliantly.

As a result of the successful(?) first flight, I ordered nicer motors, more reliable ESCs, and cut another 2 frames to build an identical pair of quads for the 2018 race season. Whilst I only attended a pair of races, and ran out of talent very quickly, the frames held up well. I did manage to break one at the second race, after a full throttle hit into a tower (which collapsed on impact spectacularly). After deciding to sit out the remainder of the race season, the Mahou Shoujo builds were shelved for nearly a year.

Fast forward to the start of 2019 and once again I was thinking of racing. Months of practice meant I'd gotten a little better at making it through gates rather than crashing into them, but I needed something to race. I'd designed the first version of the SKEW_R, but it proved to be unreliable and fragile. Prioritising absolute dependability over all, I went back to the Mahou Shoujo design, and updated it significantly taking on board the lessons learned in the previous year.

 

Additional bracing was added to strengthen the crossbraces, and a large fin added to the pod - this served two purposes, first with the introduction of crash flip, it made it much easier for the drone to self-right when upside down on the ground, and second it protected the antenna (I'd sheared a couple at the point where they meet the pod). I built a trio of them, and rolled on into the racing season. The name also changed at this point, from the (very nerdy) Mahou Shoujo to the more suitably brutal Morningstar.

The new builds proved to be excellent - they attracted a lot of attention, being quite unlike most conventional race drones, and more importantly they delivered on the day brilliantly. Rock solid reliability, decently quick, and agile enough for most circuits, I managed to rack up a string of good results with them until the middle of the season where I opted to shift to 6S, and at the same time came up with a new design, the second version of the SKEW_R which I ran for the remainder of the season.

The Morningstar is available for order here.

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