The Best Tools For Your FPV Workshop
Tools can often be something overlooked when buying your first set of drone racing gear. They are, however, pretty much the only way you get to stay in the air!
In this blog, I want to introduce you to the types of tools you need for your miniquad. You don’t need a lot, because pretty much all hardware for these custom drones it just a standard size and type, but I’ll show you the right thing to get, so you don’t have to fuss around with cheap, crappy tools.
Tools for your electronics
There are a couple of tools you need for your electronics. Things like a soldering iron (a good one), multimeter, and maybe even a smoke stopper (which you can build yourself).
Soldering Iron: You probably have a cheapie soldering iron laying around at home, or maybe you even bought one for your first build. The key to good soldering is heat. Constant and adjustable heat!
Cheap irons can’t really hold their temperature for a good enough amount of time, and you definitely can’t accurately adjust the heat.
You need constant heat for those bigger solder joints, like battery leads, because they can take while to get heat transferred, and cheaper irons will cool down too much.
You need adjustable temperature because big things like battery leads require more heat than small joints like FC signal wires. If you hold your iron on a small joint at a high temperature for too long, it will come off!
The best soldering iron I can recommend is the TS100. It’s small, and designed to be portable, but it also works amazing as your home iron. I know this, because I use it at home as well for field repairs.
Multimeter: This is a great tool for checking voltage inputs and outputs for components that have a low voltage limit, and you can also use them to check for shorts before you plug a battery into your quad. I have also used mine when repairing batteries so that I know the polarity. They’re an insanely useful tool, and you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on them for the function we use them for.
Unfortunately, I don’t recall what multimeter I use, but basically any multimeter will do as long as it has a continuity mode, and a beeper built in.
Smoke Stopper: This is a great tool to use when you plug a battery into your drone. It’s a lightbulb adapter that lights up when there’s a short that let’s too much current flow the wrong way.
You do have to DIY these smoke stoppers, but it’s well worth it, and quite fun to make!
Tools for your hardware:
Hardware is the stuff that’ll hold your frame together, and your parts to your frame.
Hardware mainly consists of hex screws, standoff spacers, and nylon lock nuts.
The screws we use are M3 (3mm), or sometimes M2 (2mm) and are always hex screws in my experience. We use many variable lengths of these. The 3mm and 2mm in this example is the diameter of the thread, not the hex hole.
For hex screws, it’s always better to use Hex drivers rather than allen keys. Proper Hex drivers have more even torque when applying pressure, whereas allen keys are twisted from the side, and are more likely to strip the hex part of the screws.
The hex driver sizes to get are 1.5mm, 2mm and 2.5mm. The 3mm in this pic can be a good addition too.
Those are the sizes of the hex hole of the screw, NOT the diameter of the thread of the actual screw.
Here’s a link to some affordable, but good drivers that you can get from our store.
Rotor Riot Drivers (Come with an extra hex size, but no prop tool size)
TBS Sexy Drivers (Come with a prop tool size driver, and phillips head)
We also use nylon lock nuts, they are M3 and M5 sized nuts.
The M3 lock nuts are used with M3 hex screws, and the M5 nuts are your prop nuts.
I generally use drivers for this hardware as well, but a ratchet spanner also works great as a prop tool. You’re looking for a 5.5mm box driver for the M3 nut, and an 8mm box driver for the M5 nut (Or an 8mm ratchet spanner).
The TBS Sexy Driver Kit that I linked above includes those socket driver sizes.
Other handy tools:
There are a bunch of other handy tools that often get overlooked, I’ll list them below! (hyperlink these)
Tweezers (Thank you Tweezus) for holding small wires while soldering
Pliers for gripping stuff, like M3 nuts when they’re in hard to reach places
You could also use Blu Tack as a helping hand if you wanna save some money
Hot glue gun (a cheap one will work fine)
Electrical tape for insulating your wires, and it’s also great for securing things to your frame.
3M mounting tape, also for mounting stuff to your frame. Get the clear stuff, NOT white foam tape because the foam tape dries out, and won’t come off all the way when you have to remove it.
Small phillips screwdrivers are also sometimes useful for your camera screws, and poking around inside your frame if you need to.
A lighter or heat gun can be great for applying heat shrink, but you can also use your soldering iron!
- Solder Sucker to get solder off your pads when there's too much
That brings us to the end of this blog! I hope you’ve found this list helpful, and maybe it’s even made you remember something that you didn’t have already!
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Thanks for reading,
Posted: Tuesday 26 June 2018