I finally decided it was time to jump off the deep end with these racing quads and build one of my own.
My friendly disclaimer here would be, if you’re
- New to soldering
- Never flew FPV before
- Don’t know what firmware is
- Can’t handle the thought of literally setting hundreds of dollars on fire
Then stop here. Building your own FPV racing quad might be a bad idea. Start with a “Ready To Fly” build, aka “RTF”.
Alright, that out of the way, let’s get onto the build.
- 5″ Racing Quad X style frame Frame
- Naze32 Rev6 Flight Controller (CleanFlight)
- Anti-Vibration Rubber Standoffs (100% NEED THIS!)
- Matek Power Distribution Board
- 4-in-1 ESC
- AKK X2 5.8 Ghz Transmitter
- Right Angle SMA Adapater for Transmitter
- FOXEER Lollipop Antenna for Transmitter
- FlySky FS-iA6B (this will actually depend on your remote control)
- Rotor Riot Hypetrain Le Drib 2650kv Motor (x4)
- Ethix S3 Watermellon Props (almost indestructible)
The total cost for the above parts, assuming you get them all from amazon like I did, will be around $344~
If you’re looking for a cheaper version ($100 total) of this build, and or, detailed instructions on how to assemble, please check out this video that I followed
Starting my build was a little more complex than what you will likely face. As you can see in the photo above, I have two partial quad frames with various parts attached. The quad on the right, is my old Eachine Wizard x220.
Due to a very sad triple back-flip into the top level of a parking garage, my x220 was damaged beyond repair (ask me about my fire(s) some time)
Naturally, I decided to cannibalize what I could out of my x220 and build something new from the ground up. The only two things worth keeping off the old quad were my upgraded Hypetrain motors and my upgraded RunCam camera.
I also saved my watermelon props … because… you know… they’re indestructible. Seriously, I still haven’t broken one yet.
The new frame was very easy to put together. I like the purple accented stand offs, they contrast nicely with the black carbon fiber body and green motor shields. I’m not sure how durable it is yet. I’ve only had a couple really tiny “crashes” with it so far. I’ve seen reports that it’s got a weak top, so we’ll see.
Once I had that all together, I was able to start putting the guts of the quad in. The stack was a little confusing to wire together at first. I had to watch a ton of videos on what goes where and why to fully appreciate what I was doing. I will say though, that was EXCELLENT time invested. It made debugging issues later on much much easier. Also, an added benefit of understanding how it all goes together is you’re much less afraid to break it.
Soldering the ESC leads to the motor leads was easy. Honestly I have some anxiety about this part because (one of) my x220 fires was caused by an ESC failing. I’m not sure if it just took a hard hit in the crash or if it was something I had done. Regardless, it burst into flames and has now mentally scared me.
A few lessons learned while building my first stack:
- Update your flight controller firmware before it’s all soldered together and stuck in the quad. It makes getting to the jumper pins much easier and connecting it to the computer much less difficult.
- Arrange your stack in a way that makes sense. For example, don’t have your flight controller pointing the wrong direction (it has an arrow for front), also, your 4-in-1 esc has a specific direction as well. Motor 4 is front left.
- Cut your wires short enough to fit inside the quad but just a little longer than you need to reach.
- GET ANTI-VIBRATION STANDOFFS FOR THIS BOARD
(more on this later)
If you do mix up your ESC or flight controller orientation, you can fix it in software later. It’s not a big deal, just an unneeded extra step.
I had some issues fitting the transmitter and receiver into this frame. I had to rig it up with duct tape in order to get it to sit correctly. Honestly, I don’t think it’s a huge deal. Everything sits nicely and it’s put in there in a manner that shouldn’t shatter to pieces on my first crash.
Overall this build wasn’t that bad and I’m already planning on building another one. I did have some interesting issues that I’ll detail next but they were post build.
So now that it’s all together, it’s time to start testing it out before I go fly. Some things you want to do are:
- Make sure that your motors are correctly aligned with what the flight controller thinks
This can be done in CleanFlight by starting one motor at a time and making sure the correct motor spins on the quad. Check the diagram to make sure.
- You’re also going to want to make sure that the motors are spinning in the correct direction. You can do this by starting your motors and making sure that they all spin inward toward the quad. Check the CleanFlight diagram pictured above also for motor spin direction.
If your motors are spinning in the wrong direction then you’ll need to download the BLHeli ESC software and change it around.
If your motors are in the wrong locations, check out this Bardwell video on resource remapping
The last bug that I ran into was a crazy vibration when I powered up to about 40%. I wasn’t sure what was causing it at first. Here’s a video I took documenting the issue.
It took me FOREVER to figure this one out. It turns out, the stand offs on my stack weren’t absorbing enough of the vibrations from the motors. The solution was putting those anti-vibration standoffs on. It fixed the problem 100% and the quad flies great now.
I would totally recommend doing this build if you enjoy doing FPV and want to give it a shot.
The components are a little pricey but the end result was a great flying quad that I fully understand. I’ve only put about 2 hours of flight time into this build but I can tell you that it’s smooth as butter, sounds great and is fast af.