Building your first racing drone? This is a guide to help you pick out the parts you need to get in the air!
When I first started out in the drone racing scene, figuring out what parts to buy was the first big learning curve for me. There are so many parts to choose from, and when you're a beginner, it's hard to tell which parts will work with which. In this blog post, I'm going to put together a rough shopping list explaining different options for gear, with the aim of you being able to pick your own parts for your very own first build.
I'll be using links from our store so the parts are easy to find, and you can even store them in your wishlist for later!
Let's get started!
Let's start with the gear that will be kind of like a one time purchase. Radio and Goggles! Drones and their parts break in crashes, and get upgraded a fair bit, but it's very easy to keep your radio and goggles safe from crashes, so they can last you a lifetime if you buy the good stuff right off the bat.
Here's a link for Radios: https://goo.gl/D1DeXm
When it comes to radios, also need to buy a receiver (rx) to go in the drone for the radio to talk to. You need to buy an rx that goes with the radio you choose. Basically, as long as it's the same brand, you should be good to go. I'll get into that later! The best possible beginner radio I can suggest is the Frsky Taranis Q X7. It is great for starting out, but has the features to last you years and years. Spektrum is also great if you have a bit of extra cash.
For goggles, your best starter set is the Eachine VR D2 Pro goggles: https://goo.gl/t4cUKs
These goggles are great for starting, and will do a great job until you want to upgrade to the more expensive, low profile ones from brands like Fat Shark. There's no hurry though. More expensive goggles have their advantages, but you won't be at a disadvantage with cheaper "Box Style" goggles.
Now onto the drone itself!
The first thing to consider is the frame you want to use. Here is a link to the frames we stock: https://goo.gl/JZVyG6
I would suggest the Hyperlite EVO HD frame, because it has plenty of room inside it for your first time build, and it flies really nice. Some of the other frames have limited space, so can be hard for a first time builder.
Next we have what I like to call "The Brains" of the drone. The Power Distribution Board (PDB) and the Flight Controller (FC).
You can buy PDBs and FCs as separate components, or have them both combined into one. You can also use a 4in1 speed controller as the PDB as well, but I'll get to that afterwards.
The HUB OSD8 is the best stand alone PDB, because it tells you battery voltage through your video feed: https://goo.gl/Engg55
The Matek F405 AIO (All In One) is a great PDB/FC combo:https://goo.gl/B9Fg31
The Betaflight F4 AIO is coming soon, and that will be a great AIO as well.
For standalone FCs you have a few options. There are 3 common versions of Flight Controller software. You have Betaflight, Raceflight, and KISS. It doesn't matter which one you choose because they both fly great. But it may have a small impact on what other gear you choose. Anyway I'll get to that later too!
The AIO boards I linked both run Betaflight.
The Matek F405 FC is a great Betaflight FC: https://goo.gl/yoPx6K
The Raceflight Revolt runs Raceflight: https://goo.gl/46WyGn
And the KISS FC runs, you guessed it! KISS!: https://goo.gl/gxvoPW
Betaflight runs on lots and lots of FCs, but Kiss and Raceflight only work on their own branded FC boards.
Now onto the "Muscles"! Electronic speed controllers (ESCs) are what tell the motors how fast to spin. This is where your choice of FC matters. If you chose Raceflight or Betaflight, you will need to use BLHeli ESCs. If you chose KISS, your choice is more or less just KISS ESCs.
I would suggest getting ESCs that are at least 20a rated, that's the amount of amps it can push through to your motors. For big motors (With, say, 2306 2600kv in their name) you will want an esc in the 25a range, or 30a to be safe. Big motors like that require more power in some places. For smaller motors (With, say, 2205 2300kv in their name) 20a ESCs will be fine. I'll get into motors next.
Another thing to consider for ESCs is whether you go for individual ESCs (In which case you need to buy 4 or them) or a 4in1 ESC. The benefit of a 4in1 is to save a little weight, and it makes for a more straightforward build. The 4in1 will also replace the PDB, so there's no need to buy a PDB if you go with a 4in1 ESC.
Good individual ESC to go with Betaflight or Raceflight: https://goo.gl/6AkpHr
KISS ESC (this is 24a rated, so it's good for slightly bigger motors too): https://goo.gl/4M1pdm
Great 4in1 ESC for Betaflight and Raceflight: https://goo.gl/5YR7th
Lastly, Raceflights own 4in1 ESC: https://goo.gl/1bRiyb
Okay now we're onto motors, which are the real muscles!
With motors there are no wrong answers. You can pretty much just choose whatever you want! I'll run you down on what to look for though. You have 2 things to think about: Stator, and KV. Stator is how big the motor is, and KV is basically how fast it spins. If you see a motor that is 2206 2400kv, the 2206 is referring to it's stator (22mm wide, 6mm tall) and 2400kv is referring to how fast it spins (2400kv = 2400rpm per volt).
The basic rule of thumb is essentially "Bigger Number = more power, but less efficient" but it really depends on the build. Have a look through all the motors in this link, and see if you can find a motor you like: https://goo.gl/W2Zbms
I'll add some good beginner motors too!
2205 2300kv motor: https://goo.gl/mgEpWX
2206 2400kv motor: https://goo.gl/pAUipw
2306 2400kv motor: https://goo.gl/uviJNb
Next up is propellers! You can choose any propeller you like, but for starting out I would suggest:
DAL 5040 V2: https://goo.gl/2Pp2k6
DAL 5045 BN V2: https://goo.gl/ADp19h
DAL is the brand, 5040 is basically the "size" 50 stands for 5 inch and 40 stands for the pitch. So bigger pitch numbers make for a more aggressive, powerful prop, but it is also less efficient.
So now we grab the last component to get the quad flying. The Receiver (RX)! After this we will go into the FPV video gear.
If you chose the Frsky branded radio, you'll want to use:
Frsky R-XSR (this has the capability to send drone data, like battery level, to your radio): https://goo.gl/WZpntZ
Frsky XM+ (this one can't send data back to your radio, but it's cheaper): https://goo.gl/8TktdS
Any Frsky RX will work, but those two are the best options for racing drones.
If you chose the Spektrum branded radio, you'll want to use:
Spektrum Diversity Telemetry rx (sends the data back like the R-XSR): https://goo.gl/kHczSa
Spektrum Diversity rx (No telemetry data): https://goo.gl/shgVns
Right! That is all the gear you need for your quad to fly! But you'll also want video (FPV) gear so you can fly though your goggles!
You need a camera. I would suggest:
The Foxeer Arrow V3 (bigger size for builds with more space): https://goo.gl/gzy2SJ
The Runcam Swift Micro V2 (smaller size for tighter, weight conscious builds): https://goo.gl/vPR4LG
You also need a Video Transmitter (VTX). I would suggest:
The TBS Unify Pro Race: https://goo.gl/5uPGjE
The ImmersionRC Tramp: https://goo.gl/qcQjFM
Both these VTXs do the same job, but they're currently the best on the market, and the signal they output is really well tuned so you don't get any video interference when flying with others. There are also some racing groups who will only allow you to race if you have one of these VTXs. You can also buy a "Magic Wand" for the tramp to make channel changes really easy!
Tramp magic wand: https://goo.gl/aWcDu5
Last thing you need is a video antenna! You need one on your quad, and one or two on your goggles.
For your quad, and main goggle antenna you get a circular polarised (CP) antenna. You can get Right Hand and Left Hand CP antennas (RHCP or LHCP). It doesn't really matter what you choose, as long as you have the same on your quad and goggles.
You can't go wrong with the TBS Triumph antennas. They're durable and have really good signal: https://goo.gl/r9LVNn
You could also go for the MenaceRC full antenna pack, which will set you up with everything you need in the antenna department: https://goo.gl/PVFe81
That basically completes your first build! However there are some miscellaneous parts that are often overlooked. I'll list them below:
20AWG wire for your ESCS: https://goo.gl/Nq6X6g
14AWG wire for your power lead (12AWG is good too): https://goo.gl/foZdb9
Buy red and black wire, so you know what's positive and negative when you're building!
XT-60 to plug your battery into: https://goo.gl/GCixuY
Batteries! I'll do another blog to help you choose batteries too, but the best battery I can suggest is the 1300mAh 4S: https://goo.gl/aYYnYC
Frames come with all the hardware you need, like screws and spacers, but if you need to get spares, go to this page: https://goo.gl/wszXFn
For extra screws for your motors, you'll want 6mm M3 screws.
For extra screws for things like stand offs and spacers, you'll want 8-10mm M3 screws.
Extra prop nuts are a good thing to have, as well as spare M3 lock nuts to hold your frame together!
This brings us to the end of a long, looooong shopping list! I hope I've helped you learn a little bit about components, and parts for your first build! In the future I will do blogs about tools, and batteries to help people choose the right gear for building and repairing. You can also have a look at previous blogs regarding the building process, and avoidable mistakes for when you do build your quad.
Thanks for reading!