Nearly everyone that flies multirotors knows about Rotor Riot, and most will be familiar with one of their main pilots, Tommy Tibaija. The Remix frame (dubbed the Ummakwad after his flight name Ummagawd) is Tommy’s take on the perfect quad, he emphasizes the focus on getting the centre of gravity correct, centred in the frame and in line with the propellers. Being a hobbyist frame designer and professional product designer myself, seeing people create out of the box solutions to achieve their ‘perfect frame’ is exciting, and the Ummakwad is certainly thinking outside of the box in terms of design.
Flipping traditional design on it’s head (literally) by putting the electronics under the plane of the motors is very interesting and the flip open ‘bonnet’ style undercarriage is a fantastic way to ensure easy access to the internal electronics while keeping them well protected while flying.
You can’t argue, the signature gold anodised aluminium parts look great paired with the matte finish carbon. This highlights another slight divergence from traditional multirotor design, Tommy has chosen to skip the traditional button head hex screws and has instead opted for countersunk titanium screws, paired with gold anodised aluminium countersunk washers. The result is sweet, it adds a great look to the frame, with more coloured components, and spreads the loads from the fasteners over a larger area of carbon which should make those connections stronger than a standard button head screw.
What’s in the box?
First thing you notice when the Ummagawd Remix frame turns up is how small the box is! My initial reaction was to think “did they seriously fit it all in there, or should there be another box?”
When you open the box the first thing you see is the sticker sheet (everyone loves stickers!) you get a couple Ummagawd logos, a Remix sticker, and a small California number plate that can be put on the back of the frame once assembled. Under the sticker sheet are two strips of plastic with the frame components sealed into individual sections. The parts are grouped nicely, carbon in one strip and hardware and the signature ‘Ummagrip’ in the other.
At the very bottom of the box is a simple single sheet instructional guide. Don’t lose this, because the frame is very different to conventional designs, which parts go where is not always immediately obvious.
Top plate is 3mm with pockets milled for the arms which reduces the thickness to 2mm in those areas.
Mid plate is 2mm and has the sunk nuts pre-installed
Camera cage sideplates are 3mm same as the sides of the undercarriage.
Plates in the undercarriage are 1.5mm, same as the GoPro mount plate.
Inspecting the parts
At first glance the carbon parts of the Ummagawd Remix seem very nicely cut, they have chamfered the edges on most parts and one thing I have not seen before is partial chamfering of the edges. On the arms the section that fits into the main body is un-chamfered leaving the maximum amount of carbon possible to be gripped and produces nice flush surface with the main body when assembled. The exposed section of the arm is chamfered.
This brings me to the first issue that I have noticed with the frame, the chamfering on the arms is not even and does not look it has been done with a chamfering bit in the cutting machine. It appears they have used a normal cutting bit to break the edges of the parts, and because they have not been properly aligned, one side of the arms has a stepped edge instead of a chamfer. This isn’t a big deal and won’t affect the strength or performance of the part, but if they are going to go the extra step of chamfering the edges it would be nice to see it done properly.
You can certainly tell this is a premium frame, there are nicely milled pockets both in the top plate and the camera sideplates which adds complexity to the manufacturing process. The sunk nuts are pre-installed in the midplate and are very well done, another nice touch is the use of sunk nuts with a hex flange, this means that in the unlikely event that one of the screws binds up and the sunk nut starts spinning with the screw, there is something to hold onto to get it undone.
The screws are in fact titanium, a quick test shows they will heat oxidise to the typical titanium colours of blues and purples. They are very light even for titanium, but don’t feel or look to be high quality. They have that dull grey finish that suggests they are made using a lower grade of titanium, I assume they are using a Grade 2 titanium that is cheaper but also more brittle and prone to galling (binding up when inserted or removed from a thread).
The standoffs included are a typical anodised aluminium standoff, they are a butted design (thinner in the middle) which is nice and gives that lightweight look.
Aesthetically the parts included look great.
The bonus of buying a premium frame is that there is vey little frame preparation required as it has already all been done for you.
Most people will simply bolt the frame together and get it in the air, and that is totally acceptable. I personally prefer to seal the edges of the carbon with some CA glue (Super Glue), the benefits of doing this have been strongly debated, and I do not believe that it adds any strength or crash resistance to the carbon, but it does make the edges smoother and easier to clean. Maybe that added smoothness will allow it to slide past the edge of a branch, or concrete building, without catching and causing the carbon to delaminate later down the line?
Assembling the frame
Make sure you have the instruction sheet handy, there are several different screw and standoff sizes and their positions are not immediately obvious. Following the instructions, the assembly is pretty straightforward and as you assemble the frame you really begin to understand the amount of thinking that has gone into making this fit and lock together.
The three-way plate interlock of the sideplates into the mid and top plate is excellent and has been thoroughly thought out, it results in a very strong interface.
Similarly the thought that has gone into the design is evident in the ‘Bonnet Style’ undercarriage that can be unbolted and hinged open by just removing two screws. The rearmost interlocking tab has even been radiused so that it slides smoothly into place. Little details like this really show the thought that has been applied to this design.
Unfortunately assembling the undercarriage highlighted another issue with the frame and this one is a big one. The plates that are installed into the frame rails of the undercarriage are completely loose in the slots provided. Even when everything is tightened up and installed properly both carbon plates have significant play and literally rattle when you give the frame a shake.
The smaller rear plate can twist almost 20° in its mounting slots…. When so much time is spent eliminating vibrations in multirotors having parts rattling around is never going to do the frame any favours, each time that part bounces off the other bit of carbon it is going to feedback through the frame and into the FC/gyro and affect the flight characteristics.
This might be a fairly Isolated problem with a batch of frames and is somewhat understandable as the thicknesses of carbon sheet varies hugely batch to batch. A 1.5mm piece of carbon can be anywhere from 1.3 to 1.6mm, even within the same sheet! This needs to be taken into account with the design, unfortunately the way Ummagawd has chosen to assemble this part of the Remix does not allow for sheet thickness variations and the parts rattle as a result.
The screws are definitely low quality and poorly manufactured. Throughout the assembly there are at least four screws that have poorly formed hex’s in the heads and will slip when tightening even when brand new allen key is used.
This is a definite shame and really lets down frame. I would much rather see the money that was spent on getting titanium directed into purchasing ‘good quality’ stainless or even alloy steel screws. The silver/gold/black colour scheme looks soo good that I would accept the weight penalty for really nice stainless screws.
It seems like a small thing to be disappointed about but with a frame like the Ummagawd Remix that has lots of 90° carbon connections and relies on the screws structurally, having good quality fasteners has a huge effect on the overall feel of the kit.
All up the frame is pretty lightweight considering the 250mm footprint and considerable camera protection. 110 Grams is pretty good for what feels like a robust freestyle frame.
Despite the issues with the fasteners and the chamfering the Ummagawd Remix really is a nice frame. It’s unconventional design is very different but feels and looks great! The aluminium parts are top notch and the GoPro mount supports are beautifully machined and anodised. The carbon feels like it is excellent quality, despite the slightly average chamfering on the arms.
The frame feels very stiff when fully assembled although there is a very small amount of lateral movement in the arms. This could probably be eliminated by tightening the mounting screws further, because of the low-quality fasteners included in the kit this is not possible with the standard screws. The play in the arms is very minimal though and will not affect flight characteristics. Unlike the rattling carbon plates in the undercarriage.
Pros of the Ummagawd Remix:
- Great design – Really unique and well thought out, looks amazing
- Awesome colours – The gold and carbon work great together
- Easy to assemble – The process isn’t completely intuitive but is very easy with the included instructions
- Feels solid and reliable – Despite the design being much more complex than most, the Ummagawd Remix frame feels solid and I think I will feel confident flying it knowing that it will handle the hits.
Cons of the Ummagawd Remix:
- Poor Quality fasteners – The screws aren’t up to scratch and cannot be tightened without risking the driver slipping, even using a brand new driver.
- Rattling carbon parts – The plates in the Bonnet style undercarriage don’t fit snugly in the slots and because of this they rattle. that may affect the flight by introducing noise to the gyro?
- Chamfering on the arms is a little rough – This is purely aesthetic and will not affect flight performance, but if they are going to add the feature is would be nice to see it done well.
For me the Ummagawd Remix was quite a challenging build, not because the frame made it difficult, but because I was reusing components from a previous build and that required lots of replacing wires and repining plugs etc. Not to mention I had to rework a lot of conformal coated solder joints. Which, while not difficult, it is messier and more time consuming.
Working with virgin parts is always much easier and tidier, and if you are building the Ummagawd Remix with a full set of new parts it will be a very pleasant experience.
Tommy has gone to a lot of effort to ensure that there is ample space for all the components and as long as you choose components that will work well together (see the how to match components article – coming soon) it should be simple to fit everything in the required space. I made the rookie mistake of choosing a 4in1 esc that does not have a BEC (Speedix GS35A Blheli_32) and paired it with a FC that does not accept battery voltage (Matek F405-OSD) so I had to include a separate 5V regulator and there was still enough space.
I also used an old XSR (The original full size one, not the new R-XSR) and this made everything a bit tighter than it should have been. If you are planning your build I highly recommend using an R-XSR, XM+, or similar sized micro receiver to make things easier.
Other than the issues of recycling parts, the build was rather uneventful. Getting the wires to lay nicely on the arms with the wrap around cables is easy and tidy with the use of some electrical tape. The space for the motor wires to get to the ESC pads is quite tight for the front motors if your 4in1 has a North/South pad arrangement, and will require some nifty angled soldering and wire cutting to make the connections tidy. All the rest of the wiring connections are relatively straight forward.
I would highly recommend checking out Tommy’s build guide video as this explains some of the thought required when assembling the Ummagawd Remix frame and also covers the remapping of the motor outputs which is required since the FC and ESC are assembled upside down in the frame.
You can check out the video here: https://youtu.be/zr7rFLV65bM
I opted to remove the rattling rear panel in the bottom hatch and used the associated holes in the frame rails to mount my RX antennas, I think this will work well. I also placed some black heatshrink on the frame rails between the rail and the centre hatch plate, this made the rails grab onto the plate when tightened and solved the rattling issue. Time will tell how long the heatshrink lasts, but its super easy to replace.
The hardware issues returned with a vengeance during the build, 2 screws went in the bin because the heads were completely rounded out (I’ve built a lot of quads and have quality tools so the screw issue is not user error as some might assume). Also, one of the alloy nuts used to close the rear hatch stripped out, this was a combination of both the alloy nut only biting onto the screw by a couple of millimetres (part of the design) and the poorly formed Ti screw. I will be ordering a set of stainless screws to replace the originals. It’s a real shame about the hardware, because this frame is almost perfect otherwise.
As I understand it, Tommy’s main aim for the Ummagawd Remix is to make the balance of the quad better than other popular frames on the market to harness the benefits that come with flying a properly balanced quad. These benefits include being easier to tune, more efficient flying manoeuvres, and a more neutral and direct flying response.
I found all of these things to be true. I am coming from flying one of my own 5” designs that is perfectly balanced, so the difference for me is not as stark as it would be for someone coming from a traditional bottom mounted frame, but once up in the air the it felt excellent. Flips and rolls are very direct and the tune that I had on the FC from my previous frame worked great (also true x, well balanced and similar geometry), indicating that the balance of the frame is very good.
The True X geometry and nice wide footprint make the frame feel very stable in the air while still being very responsive.
I love the undercarriage style body, it gives the benefit of lifting the arms and motors up off the ground, similar to a bottom mounted battery but without the negative handling weight penalty. This is something that is always a struggle with top mounted frames, as any grass or leaves tend to get into the props with the arms/motors sat directly on the ground. Often even if you land upright after a crash you can often not take off again, I think this will be less of an issue with the Ummagawd Remix.
In the flights that I’ve had prior to writing this article, I have managed to avoid any significant crashes, so cannot accurately comment on the durability of the frame, but from the quality feeling of the carbon, I am confident it will take some significant hits and keep flying.
Overall, I’m stoked on the Ummagawd Remix frame. It looks awesome and brings some exciting new and fresh ideas to the table in terms of component layout and carbon parts assembly. Other than the Ti/ally hardware, slightly ill-fitting plates, and a couple of really nit-picky aesthetic issues, I really like it. It has and will continue to replace my own frame design as my go-to freestyle frame for the foreseeable future.
Keep those props spinning, happy flying.