Beginner Quad Build – February 2017 Edition

One of the most frequent questions for those getting into FPV is what to build. People often find old posts or videos, and end up buying overpriced and obsolete components. Here’s a build that I would put together today (Winter 2017) for a friend just getting started.

The frame is the easiest part. When you’re new to FPV you’ll probably crash quite a bit, so you want a frame that will put up with a fair amount of abuse. I’d say 4mm arms are mandatory. My top choice today would be the MRM225. It’s relatively affordable, very spacious (and thus easy to build). If it’s not available (or if you want to spend less) you can go with a cheap frame from Amazon such as the Martian II.

My MRM225

Motors are also relatively easy, and don’t matter that much when you’re getting started. You’ll break them quite a bit too, so perhaps starting cheap is the way to go. You can always update motors later. As of today, Five RTF M2205 motors for about $50 shipped is a very good deal for a beginner (remember, always get at least one spare motor).

The choice of flight controller is very personal, and there are just too many options out there. It’s hard to go wrong with any F3/F4 controller that has the MPU-6000 gyro. A couple options out of many:

Note: Avoid anything with the MPU6500 if you can. It takes work to make it fly well, no reason to get a controller with that gyro today.

ESCs: today I’d say get Blheli_s 30A, preferably Dshot capable because why not. There are lots of choices on the market. The Cicada 30A works well, and I’ve heard good things about the Speedix 30A but I have not tried it yet. Remember, always get a spare if you can because these things break.

FPV Camera: until something much better comes along, I’ll keep recommending the HS1177. It just works, and you can find it for $20 plus shipping.

Video transmitter: you can either go the cheap route and get a Eachine from Banggood, or go with the very best if you can afford it: TBS Unify Pro, TBS Triumph antenna. The first option will get you flying, the second one will give you more flexibility and will last you a while. Anything in between is probably not worth it in my opinion, unless you need a vtx asap because the one you have broke and you want to fly. In that case, you may consider an ET200 on Amazon Prime. Pretty good, I have some of those.

Transmitter / receiver: I prefer FrSky, so I’d say go with a Taranis. For the receiver side, probably the best starter option today is the xm+ if you don’t care for telemetry. If you do want telemetry then get the X4R SB, but I believe it’s easier and more useful to get an OSD instead.

Misc parts: you’ll need a power distribution board, and today there is no point in getting one without 5V and 12V regulators. This one from RTFquads is cheap and works great. If you prefer one with OSD (useful mostly so that you know how your battery is doing, and thus when to land), then the RROSD v2 is a good choice.

Props / batteries: with the motors above you probably don’t want super aggressive props. There are too many prop choices out there, I believe the 5048s would work fine but you may want to start with 5040 props like the HQ durables. It’s always fun to try different props and find the ones you like, so just ask around or search. For batteries I’d get four or five of whatever is a good deal. Decent 1300 mAh 4S packs with a good discharge rate (usually advertised at 60C or more) should cost you no more than $25 each. Look for brands like Bonka, Tattu or Thunderpower.

Happy to answer questions in the comments or on my Youtube channel. Also if you get hooked into this hobby have my blessing: may you always have a fat enough wallet.

2 Replies to “Beginner Quad Build – February 2017 Edition”

  1. Nice Diego. Any suggestions on what I should wear while fpv ing? Dress shoes seem like overkill, sneakers are comfy on those long hikes to retrieve a downed quad, but fields are kind of muddy sometimes so maybe work boots?

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