The Kittiwake was the first carbon frame I developed, in parallel with development on the HMWPE based Mahou Shoujo project. The fact that my first two frames were a deadcat and a stretch plus says a lot about why I decided to start making my own frames – I’m a huge fan of weird and wonderful ideas, and really love creating stuff that isn’t like anything else out there.
The initial idea of the Kittiwake was pure long range adventuring, sizing it to take 8” props and carry a 2200mAh pack and HD camera up top. The deadcat frame layout was chosen as pushing out the front arms keeps props as out of view as possible, without making the frame as huge as a symmetrical layout would be.
Design-wise, I kept it relatively conventional, using the common layout of full length top and bottom plates, arms underneath with an additional brace on the bottom for rigidity, and vertical plates to hold the FPV camera. Aesthetically, I went pretty curvy on the design – not an awful lot of straight lines to be found in the frame!
One unique aspect of the frame was in the way the arms were designed. The holes were laid out such that heads of the socket screws for the front of the flight controller and one set of standoffs pass through the arms and hold them in place.
At the point I was designing the frame, I was still waiting on my CNC router getting delivered. Unfortunately, once it did turn up, it signalled the start of 2 months of frustration getting it up and running. 3 controller boards and a new set of stepper motors later, I was ready to start making things.
During the 2 months that elapsed during the CNC debacle, my idea of what the Kittiwake should be had also changed. Running the numbers, going 5S or 6S on 6” props started looking more promising than the original plan of 8” 4S – flight time was around the same, but higher voltages gave a faster predicted setup, and correspondingly a longer range.
As a result, I designed a set of 6” arms, and then set the CNC to work. The result was a real brute of a frame – it’s not the smallest to start with, but add to that the use of 2.5mm and 5mm carbon and you end up with one hefty piece of kit.
The frame actually languished unbuilt for a while – I’d picked up a set of Cobra 2207 1500KV motors and a couple of 5S packs, but as I was developing the Mahou Shoujo at the same time, the Kittiwake lost momentum.
It was late in the day when I realised I would soon have the perfect opportunity to do some mid-range flying and mountain diving in the form of a holiday to Lanzarote, and I had no quad to capture HD footage. Cue a rapid build – I used some DYS Storm 2207 2300kv motors, and rather than going EzUHF and 1.3G video as I’d originally planned, I used an Frsky L9R and a regular 5.8G VTX. Rest of the build was pure parts bin special – 28A Racerstar ESCs, a Matek F405 AIO.
I found the prototype to be a decent flyer out in Lanzarote, but the real test of the quad turned out to be durability after a flying too far around the crater of a volcano, leading to a failsafe right onto the top of it! Thankfully I was able to retrieve the quad after an hour’s climb, and besides the LiPo which was a total loss, there was no real damage done.
Moving on to the present day, I’ve still not managed to damage the Kittiwake frame despite several hard woodland sessions and track practice (my build is decidedly not a racer, but it’s still a riot to let the Gemfan 6042 biblades shriek as it trucks its way through the gates). If there’s one thing I look for in components for my builds, it’s reliability, and in that regard the Kittiwake just keeps delivering.
One recent development which is still in progress - I converted my build to a lower profile using new standoffs and a 3D printed camera mount, which can be seen in the last of the images below.
You can purchase a Kittiwake for yourself here.