NLM 500 Quad Copter Review Unit

When Randy Moody from RC Dude hobbies had offered me the opportunity to write about a Next Level multi rotor ( 500 Size ) quad copter that he and Lucien Miller from Innov8tive Designs had been developing,  I simply became too excited (not) to take him up on the offer and of course it was extremely hard to refuse.  We had exchanged emails back and forth as I was very curious about making a purchase of a multi rotor machine , however ,  I had to wait a few months before he was able to get a review unit in my hands.  In one of the emails he had sent me a video of the machine he was looking to have me write about ,  here is that truly awesome little teaser video that was sent to me.  As you can imagine,  this made me even more curious !

Needless to say,  I was pretty excited that I had an opportunity to review a product that was still in it’s infancy before it really hit the masses.  The frame and the shocks were sent to me,   I had purchased all the other necessary electronics to get this thing into a reality.   The photos that Randy had sent to me showing how he had set up the quad I had to admit were pretty impressive,  this machine looked solid !   Here are a few of the pictures he had sent to me .

The NLM 500 Quad.

The mounting plates for FPV and video cameras.

More mounting plate ideas.

Go Pro mounting plate.

I had ordered the all the electronic parts as well as the props since the frame and the shocks were offered to me at no charge.  It had been the week before Christmas that I had everything ordered and by the end of the first week of January 2012 on the friday,  my wife had texted me at work to let me know the package had arrived.   The fun was about to begin !

The package in its unopened state.

I open the box with eager anticipation.

The  NLM 500  kit in its clean looking packaging.

Never would I have ever thought I would become so fortunate to receive a quad copter review unit from another part of the world  but I have to tell you,  I for sure am very grateful for this opportunity !  Throughout this page I will be also including pictures and video of the build process and as well,  giving you some tips on the build and how you can go about setting up this machine with your radio.  The radio I will be using on the NLM 500 quad will be the Spektrum DX7.  I have to say,  I have gone through the entire build without any trouble and it is a very simple unit to put together.  When you receive your NLM 500 or 650 frame you will notice that the packing is excellent and professionally put together as well as the fact that EVERYTHING in the box was accounted for by the fact that there is a packing slip in the box signed by the person who packed the box.  I was really impressed.

The manual in the box is very straight forward,  follow the instructions closely and you won’t have any problems.

I also have a list of all the components that I had purchased in order to complete the build,  it includes all the electronics as well as additional mounting plates and prop sizes.   The controller board I had chosen to go with is the FY-90 Q Pro.

Here is a list of all the components …

  1. Cobra 2217 / 20  , 960 kv brushless motors  ( x 4 )
  2. APC  Slo- flyer props 10 x 3.8 SF  ( x 4 because I wanted to have 2 extra )  but you will only need two of them.
  3. APC  Slo-flyer Pusher props 10 x 3.8 SFP  ( x  4 because I wanted to have 2 extra )  but you will only need two of them.
  4. FY-90Q Pro controller board
  5.  Hobbywing 30 amp ESCs ( x 4 )
  6. RC Dude lipo battery   3s  11.1  5000 mah  70c  burst
  7. Spektrum AR 6115e  6 channel  2048 resolution receiver
  8. 2 payload mounts from NLM multi-rotor accessories for 500 and 650 quad ,  size of mounts are 7.5 x 2.5 inch
  9. 1 blank center plate from NLM multi-rotor accessories for 500 and 650 quad
  10. 4 inch lead extensions (x 4 )  –  note they attach to the motor wires and also connect to your ESC wires through the frame arm.

Here are the pictures of some of the accessories …

  The FY-90Q Pro ( still in the packaging )

  The Hobbywing 30 amp ESCs with Cobra motors attached during testing.  ( note the 4 inch lead extensions and how they connect to the motor wires as well as to the ESC wires) .

  The lithium polymer battery from RC Dude.

  One of the four boxes of Cobra 2217 / 20   ,960 kv motors

  DO NOT forget to order the Y harness from Randy at RC Dude,  it is used to connect all of the four ESCs together and connect them to your lipo,  if you don’t have it your quad will NEVER fly.  Randy built mine for me,  and it is nicely done.

  The shock kit is an absolute must have if you plan to mount a video camera or camera of any sort on your quad.  Helps deal with potential impacts from hard landings.  They are 85 mm oil filled shock absorbers.

The items I have listed above are exactly what I will be using on my NLM 500 quad and  I have not swapped out any parts for another (yet ),  so when the time comes to show you the quad in a hover you can see it will be all stock from what I had listed which will give you a pretty good idea of how well it performs.  Keep in mind , good components and a good control board will give you very good results.  A crappy frame with crappy components with a good control board will still give you crappy results.


As I said before,  this is a really well put together package and Randy was really helpful with any questions I had as this was the first quad copter I had ever built.

To start off ,  have a look through the manual and become familiar with all the accessories in the box before you start slapping things together as this will make it very easy for you during the build process.  Here is a copy of the PDF for you to download and read up on :  500Q Assembly Low   The manual is put together well and is very comprehensive.   A list of tools and supplies needed to complete the quad are listed in the manual as well.   Here is how I went about it step by step.

The first thing I started with was learning how to solder the bullet connectors to the ESCs and the motors,  I used a 40 watt soldering Iron being sure to apply the flux on the ends of the wires to the ESCs and the wires to the motors.

After doing all the soldering of the bullet connectors and such ,  I proceeded to program all the ESC with the Hobbywing programming card.  You can find the video of how to program them on my You Tube video.
Once I had all the ESCs programmed I proceeded to attach the motors to the motor mounts provided in the kit,  be sure to use a tiny bit of the blue thread lock on the screws the enter into the bottom of the motor.  Vibration on a quad copter motor can be fatal for your machine should the screws become loose and the motor pulling away from the machine in flight.
After the motor mounts had been taken care of ,  I then went onto cleaning up the aluminum arms on the quad copter as any little bit of metal burrs from the arm can cut into the wires causing them to short out.  I attached the 100mm motor lead extensions to the motor and then slid the wires down into the insides of the arms.  The top half of the motor mount then gets attached to the standoff screws ,  remember again to use thread lock when fastening metal screws to metal parts since vibrations in the machine can kill your quad copter and cause all sorts of unwanted damage.
One little detail I did do myself was to add a little piece of duct tape to the ends of each arm just in case there was any rubbing of the wires on the edges even though I had already filed those edges down.
The next photo below just shows the thread lock applied to the screw before it is fastened to the frame.
On the next photo I them proceeded to layout all the arms and the ESCs to the bottom plate just to see how I was going to lay it all out and fit it in the body.
Once I had it figured out I put the top on and went onto build the landing gear.
This machine was very fun to build  and the landing gear assembly was so simple and yet so cool to look at.  To do the landing gear I started off with the bumpers,  all they needed was a little bushing to be put into them.  Keep in mind the bumpers are made of foam and they will wear down over time but the are cheap and very easy to replace.
Remember here again to use thread lock when assembling the legs.
The coolest part of the landing gear assembly was having to install the shocks onto the legs and onto the arms,  the easiest way to do this was to turn the quad copter upside down and then install the legs and shocks.
The lower photo shows the quad with the legs installed,  how cool this thing is starting to look.
Time to install all the camera plates.
I then installed the FY90Q flight control board and the receiver.
Is this thing looking Bad Ass or what?  I had to put the Go Pro on just to have a look at it.
The next thing I had to do was to calibrate the ESCs with the flight controller and the DX7 radio .  What it does is cause your motor to respond with the ESCs command inputs through the radio.  If you don’t do this you will be grounded with no means of possible flight.  The other thing is that you MUST calibrate before you even think  about putting on the propellors or serious injury or damages will happen.
As you can see I used thread locker on the bolt on prop adapters which are really awesome,  they come with the Cobra motors I purchased from RC Dude hobbies.
As you can see above,  the last thing I needed to do was to add the props on which was very satisfying.  The entire build ended up taking me about a week to do since I only had about an hour or so (if that)  time permitting but I was happy to be able to do this.
Here is the finished product.
I also did an up close video just in case you were more curious about this robust aerial video quad copter.
Here are two more videos you might be interested in,  the first one is just a brief aerial video of my house.  I had used the You Tube video stabilizer to soften the video a bit but to me it looks a bit weird.  The quad is pretty stable,  it just takes a bit of time tuning the flight controller to the way you want it.  The video following that one is where I have installed LED lighting on the quad arms which looks pretty cool,  the lights were so bright that the camera didn’t really show how clear they look.  They are awesome for night flying though.
Enjoy !

2 thoughts on “NLM 500 Quad Copter Review Unit

  1. Thanks for the info.I was wondering what your flight time is with 2 batteries. I would also love to chat with you more about some wiring on the NL 500. Cheers.


    • I currently only use one 3s 5000 mah pack with a 70c rating. The other 3s packs I have are 2200mah each, and all I am doing with those is combining the two to get 4400 mah total. As for the flight times I am currently staying in the 6 minute zone as I don’t want to totally kill them. If you have questions on the wiring just let me know. I apologize for not getting back to you sooner as its been awhile since I had last checked the blog. Hope things are going well with your build.


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