This post documents the construction of a UAV based on the Zeta Science FX-61 Phantom UAV platform. The aircraft is molded of high quality Expanded Polyolefin (EPO) foam, and came with an electric motor and electronic speed control (ESC) already installed.

The first step in assembling the fuselage of the Phantom FX-61 is to glue in the carbon fiber crossbar that connects the wings to fuselage. The servos are already installed in the wings, and simply need to have the control arms attached, linkages connected, and tabs glued to the control surfaces in order to function in radio control (or manual) mode.

I utilized the following resources for my build:

Photos and descriptions of the Zeta Science FX-61 Phantom UAV build:


Right after unboxing. The wings are held together with screws and fixed into place with a carbon fiber rod.


Equipment area with ESC visible (pre-installed).


Painting matte gray.


ESC connector before being converted to XT60.


Interior compartment with receiver and camera lens hole.


Soldering in XT60 connector.


Basswood and “hobby foam” camera mount with velcro straps. The existing hole in the fuselage of the FX-61 lined up nicely with the lens on the A 495, except the diameter needed to be a bit bigger.


Photo of the bottom of the fuselage after making the camera lens hole bigger. I used a cylindrical surform tool to accomplish this. It was difficult to not break up the foam too much. All in all, it turned out well.


Attaching the servos.


Fiberglass tape on the leading edge of the wing.


Fiberglass tape on the wingtips for added reinforcement.


Platform after attaching camera mount, making the camera lens hole larger, painting, and attaching fiberglass tape to leading edges and wingtips.


Interior compartment with 3DR GPS, Pixhawk flight controller, 915 Mhz radio module, receiver, NIR camera, and battery installed.


“The Belly” of the FX-61 Phantom.


Elevon servo.


3D Robotics rendering of elevon mixing.




Phantom UAV prior to first flight.


Photo of the hand launch. This resulted in a short flight, after which a hard landing broke the *flimsy* motor mount.

List of components:

Receiver: Spektrum AR400

3D Robotics 8 channel PPM encoder

Camera: Canon A 495 NIR modified

with filters

Flight Controller: Pixhawk Clone

Memory: 16GB micro SD card

Cable: Micro USB cable

3D Robotics GPS

915 Mhz radio telemetry system

Ground module and in flight module.

Transmitter: Spektrum DX4E

3D Robotics Power Module with XT60

Battery: Turnigy Multistar 4000

Stock servos and Electronic Speed Control (ESC)

“Hobby foam” and basswood

Misc velcro, paint, fiberglass tape,

3M glue, etc

All in all, the FX-61 is a very nice platform. The weak point in the design is the plastic motor mount, and a slightly under powered stock ESC and motor configuration. I believe that an aluminum motor mount, coupled with a more powerful ESC/motor combo and potentially folding pusher prop would make for a better flyer.

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