Drones are a lot of fun to fly, but then when you add in the element of FPV (First Person View) to it, flying takes on a whole new level of excitement. When you fly FPV, its like you’re in the cockpit piloting the drone (if you’re wearing goggles that is).[cryptolock][/cryptolock]
Never seen a racing quad FPV flight before? Two of my favorite FPV pilots are Skitzo FPV, SharpuFPV and Mr Steele
Pretty Awesome stuff huh? If you’ve ever dreamed of being a pilot, now is your chance to take to the skies for around $300, and believe it or not, it’s actually pretty easy to build your own 250 FPV quadcopter!
1 Frame – You can go for a nylon frame for $18 or a carbon fiber one (top of the line for carbon-fiber frames is blackout for up to $150). Or a mid-range carbon fiberglass one like the Tarot for around $30. If you decide to go the super cheap rout and get the nylon frame, be warned that its for more casual flying (not good for extreme flying). I bought one but didn’t use it much (it’s worth spending a bit extra for carbon fiber in my opinion)
4 ESC (Engine speed controllers) 12A ($8-$50 per ESC). ESC control the speed of the engines and give power to the engines and they deliver power to the flight controller as well.
4 engines or motors ($9-$30 per motor) I don’t think I need to tell you what these do.
4 props (2 clockwise and 2 counterclockwise) ($0.50-$2.00 per prop) – You can pick between 2 blade or 3 blade. If you use 3 blades, you’ll get more thrust. For materials you can pick between plastic, nylon, and carbon fiber. Carbon Fiber props break easier than plastic and nylon ones, and they’ll cut you easier as well. Trust me, you don’t want to get hit by a carbon fiber prop; it will cut your flesh like butter. For a 250 size quad you can use 5″ props.
1 Power Distribution Board with XT60 female Connector ($5-$20) A lot of frames will come with a power distribution board, but some don’t and you’ll have to get one. I like to get boards that have the LED out and a 5V output so if I use a camera or other component that needs 5V, I can connect it to the power board as well. Most batteries will use the XT60 male connector, but some use T connectors. You can always pick up a XT60 to T Connection adapter if you accidentally use the wrong connector.
1 Flight Controller (like CC3D or NAZE32) ($14-$100) This is the “Brain” of your racing quad. It has firmware (open pilot being the most famous) that you will configure by connecting it via USB to your computer.
1 FPV camera ($15-$110) – This is what give you the first person view while you are flying. It isn’t the same as the camera you will use to record your flights in HD. This camera is attached to the AV Transmitter and sends a live signal to whatever receiver you are using.
1 AV transmitter ($20-$75) This sends the video and audio signal to your AV receiver.
1 AV receiver (goggles, or a AV receiver attached to a screen) ($70- $400) – There are a ton of different options when it comes to receivers. First lets take a look at the Googles since that is the most popular option among FPV Racing pilots. Of all the goggles, Fat Shark are the most popular which can range from $160 – $600 depending on how high of a resolution you want. Some decent goggles for beginners are the Fat Shark Teleporter V5 (resolution 320×240) and if you want to spend a lot of money for a much better pair, then you have the Fat Shark Dominator HD 2. (resolution 800×600) For a super budget option, you have the Eachine VR 007 (resolution 480×270) often called the James Bond goggles which costs about $70. Or you can go with Eachine’s $150 goggles that have much better resolution, the Eachine Goggles One (resolution up to 1920×180 but thats only if you plug in with an HDMI cable; when you’re flying it will be a 800×600 resolution which is still very good).
Besides the goggles, the other option is a screen like the 5″ monitor that you can attach to your remote control for $100, but I highly recommend going with goggles and not a screen. The experience with goggles is very immersive, and you don’t have to worry about glare like you will if you use a screen. If you’re on a tight budget, then I suggest going with the Eachine VR007 goggles, as they give the best bang for your buck at $70 and when you end up upgrading you can let a buddy use the VR007 to watch your flight.
2 Antennas ($12-$120) Most AV transmitters and receivers will come with their own antennas, but you might want to upgrade to something better for more range, like the 4 leaf clover antennas
1 Remote Control (with a transmitter) ($70-$600) There are a ton of different options out there. I use a RadioLink AT9 which cost me just over $100 and I’m quite happy with it. The most popular remote out there right now is the FrSky X9D but that’ll run you over $200 and the cheaper RadioLink has all the same functions. But the rage on the AT9 is 1.5km without obstructions and the range on the X9D is closer to 4km. I you’re only going to be using your remote for racing quads, then the AT9 is a good one to use. You’ll want a remote with Mode 2 for it to work properly with your 250 racing quad.
Soldering Iron ($10-$99)- You’ll need one of these to solder your wires to your power distribution board, and solder your engine wires to your esc wires. I use the $10 one in the link with no issues. The desolder pump that comes with it is nice for when you get a bit too much solder on the board (which you will most likely do when you are learning how to solder).
Rosin Core Solder – You’ll need this to solder wires to your power distribution board and wires, etc…
Other things that aren’t necessary, but are very useful :
HD Cam for recording your flights ($55-$499) – Some people use the ligher gopros with their 250 quads, but I prefer a smaller HD cam like the RunCam. The RunCam 2 can record at 1080p 60 fps and costs just under $100. But if you want something cheaper, you can get the RunCam 1 which records at 1080p 30 fps and is around $50. If you want the best quality, then you can always go with the $400+ Gopro Hero 4 which records an impressive 1080p 120 fps. If you’re just starting off, then go with something like the RunCam and then when you’re a pro, you can invest in something better like the Gopro Hero 4.
Helping Hands – I can’t count how many times I burned my fingers before I got this bad boy. It was definitely worth the $9 investment. If you’re new to soldering, you must get these. Helping hands saved me tons of time, pain and swearing. They will hold your wires and power board in the perfect positions to solder them so you don’t have to worry about using your fingers to hold the tiny wires.
Telemetry module ($20-$60) – The module you get will depend on the remote control you use. The link is for the Radiolink AT9 or AT10 controller (which is what I use)
You can see from the individual component prices that you could be up and flying FPV for under $300 ….or if you buy all the most expensive parts, you could spend almost $3,000 on building your quad.
If you don’t want to go through all the work of building your own quad, you can purchase a complete racing quad setup for around $300
Ok, now you know all of the different parts you’ll need to build your 250 racing quad, now in the next part of this sereis, we’ll take a look at how to assemble everything.
Want to get your hand on one of the most complete, and easy to follow training courses on how to build and fly a racing quad?
(some of the links in the article lead to drone parts sold at Banggood which is the site I buy almost all of my quad parts from. I tend to find the best prices there and I almost always get things quickly and undamaged from them. )