This frame has been in the works for quite some time. Almost two years now, if we’re including the story of the YRZ Spartan. And finally, it’s here and ready for production. Finally! The Freshman is here.
The Freshman has gone through three major revisions. v0.1, in November 2021, v0.2 in April 2022, and v1 (production design) in September 2022. To be honest, designing v0.1 and v0.2 is a bit blurry in my mind. But v1, which I’ve been working on for the past few months, isn’t, so I’ll be talking about that the most, and save the story of v0.1 and v0.2 (along with the story of the Spartan) for another post if I ever have the adequate clarity to recollect and write it. But that’s for later— the Freshman production version is for now.
Freshman production was kickstarted in September of 2022. The first version was made a year before that, in November 2021. So why are we just kickstarting production now, you might ask?
Because I’m lazy. People have been asking for a while, and I’ve unfortunately been lacking an adequate response.
The Freshman was solid. I was bashing it weekly, and there hadn't been a need for a major change since v0.2 in April, which people have been flying since Rotor Riot Rampage. We just needed to have the drive to produce it.
Producing a frame is hard, especially a miniquad frame. Margins are slim, organizing shipments for all the different parts is a pain, and packaging them is a chore.
We buy our carbon from Firstek, an amazing, industry cutter. Hardware comes from a separate source, the always-high-quality McMaster-Carr. Stickers are from stickermule, and packaging is from Aliexpress. All of it comes separate, and I need to package them together individually.
It’s hard to balance that with my schoolwork, college applications, extracurriculars, and personal projects. But now...
I'm a senior. I've submitted my college applications.
I'm free as a bird to allot my time to production and development.
With those out of the way, I have time and resources to apply myself into the production of my frames. We have batches of carbon ordered, hardware en-route, and my printer banging out prints almost 24/7. The Freshman (as well as the Odonata, Odonata HD, Swallow, and Monarch) is finally here.
With the Freshman, we wanted to make an open, accessible, basher that was unique and did not cut corners. A year and a half later, best believe that that is what we did.
The Freshman mounts almost every modern system. 30x30 (which is actually 30.5x30.5mm mounting, yayy industry naming standards!) and 20x20 (actually 20x20mm mounting, there is zero actual transferable standard) central stack mounting. 30x30, 25.5x25.5, and 20x20 rear mounting, spaced for the DJI FPV Air Unit, DJI O3 Air Unit, HDZERO Freestyle 1w vtx, Avatar Air Unit, and more (the insane Foxeer Reaper Extreme 2.5w vtx, for example).
Central stack mounting is m3, because the overwhelming majority of 5” oriented electronics, 20x20 and 30x30, are m3 mounted. Rear 30x30 mounting is m3 (because that’s the standard), and 25.5x25.5 and 20x20 is m2, for the majority of peripherals that size that use m2 hardware.
The Freshman is a true X frame, mounts arms via two points, and has a channel for stack screws to fully clear. A good taper at the base, large bracing, and a very large and radial arm end makes it perfect for a basher. Fitting 16x16 and 19x19mm motors, the Freshman arm end FULLY protects motors up to 30mm in external bell diameter. And that's not including the added protection of the optional arm guards. That is incredibly rare to see, even in a basher frame. Typically motors are protected from direct front and side impact, usually via horns— not here. Here, the entire motor is protected, ALL the way around on the exterior. It looks really, really cool, and is completely functional.
A schoolbus style frame, the Freshman ships with 25mm standoffs, but can be slammed or lengthened to whatever you want. 2.5mm plates, and 5mm arms are super strong for the full basher capabilities.
Actually let me talk about that for a second.
Many people throw around thickness as if it is the key defining factor to strength. Because a frame has 6mm thick arms, it’s stronger than a 5mm thick arm, and that is the defining and boast-able quality for durability.
No. That’s not how it works. The design of a frame has much, much more to do with durability than raw thickness does as an isolated variable. In many frames in fact, added thickness is compensation for a poor design (I’m intensely looking at you, iflight Evoque). The point of this is— you cannot isolate individual elements in frames for comparison. They need to be looked at comprehensively.
The Freshman is one of the strongest frames available on the market, and from what I’ve seen, the most open and accessible mounting frame. Structural cutouts are used to reduce weight and increase strength (I call them “science holes”), and curves are everywhere.
Curves are the name of the game for strength. Straight lines are bad. As you can see in the image above, curves are everywhere. The structural cutouts reduce weight, and increase strength. This seems counterintuitive to many, who assume that a solid plate is strongest. But in reality, a solid plate will snap before a plate with structural cutouts will. Cutouts eliminate stress lines of concentration that run across the part, the line where solid plates snap across.
(The solid plate of Rotor Riot CL1 breaking along lines of stress)
On the Freshman frame, you’re not going to have that!
The frame is incredibly stiff, due mostly to its inner bracing and arm design and configuration. Easy to tune, this is a pure-bred freestyle frame.
I think I’m running out of things to say. We’re finally at the culmination of a two year design project, to make an open, accessible, basher that was unique, didn't have any compromises, looked good, and flew beautifully. The Freshman is that.