Often in the FPV hobby, people go for a whoop-sized quad to start them off. However, once you have caught the bug, or if you want to jump straight in to “full sized” quads, you may think its time to pick out a 5 inch quad for yourself. The problem is, though, that with so much gear available on the market, it can be a pretty daunting task just selecting the parts for your first build. So, we’ve put our heads together to come up with what we think is the best possible build for a beginner, and, we’ve appropriately named it: TheFPV Source. Oh, and in case you are thinking that because we are calling this a beginner quad, it is using inferior/ old parts (*cough* Wizard *cough*), you would be gladly surprised! This is still a high-tier quad that will keep up with the very best out there, at a fraction of the cost…
Here at Unmanned Tech we firmly believe that it is better to build rather than buying an RTF quad, as it’s only a matter of time until you crash and need to rebuild or repair something. Building allows you to learn and understand how everything fits and works together to achieve a solid flight. Additionally, half of the fun is (for us at least) actually found in building up your own quad and getting the satisfaction of flying something you made with your own hands! Anyway, enough about that, lets talk about what this particular kit has to offer! Or if you want one already, buy it here.
For the main structure of this quad, we’ve selected the TBS Source One frame for a few reasons. 1 – It is the best quadcopter frame for the price, hands down. 2 – The open source nature means that a lot of pilots have had their say and added plenty of neat features and accessories, and 3 – Because it’s open source, we cut this frame ourselves using aviation grade carbon with unidirectional weave layers along the arms, which, in case that went over your head, just means that it’s incredibly strong, and ideal for brushing off hard crashes!
The Motors and Props
The motors and propellers of a freestyle quadcopter are two of the most important components, as they give the quad most of it’s “feel” when in the air. After having flown what seems like hundreds of motors, we decided upon the Emax Eco 2306 2400Kv, paired with the DAL cyclone 5040C propellers. This combination gives plenty of power to perform whatever tricks you can muster, while still being affordable enough that your wallet doesn’t weep if you break something in a particularly bad crash.
The Flight Controller
At the beating heart of this build is the Diatone Mamba F40 stack. Containing an F4 flight controller with all the features you expect and need such as Betaflight OSD, MPU6000 gyro, and blackbox functionality. Underneath that, you’ll find a beefy 40A BLheli_S ESC, which offers plenty of current headroom for the motors. This stack is an ideal candidate, because currently, it offers the best value for money available – without the worry that it’ll randomly catch fire like some off (or bad) brand cheap stacks (and trust us – we’ve seen our fair share of those)!
Although this stack doesn’t support all of the latest tech such as BLheli_32, or having an F7 MCU, we’re confident in saying that it is still absolutely up to par for anyone and everyone, and pretty much perfect for most. The only downside of using BLheli_S is that you do not have ESC telemetry, so you can’t use the new eRPM filtering. That said, though, as a “basher” or beginner quad, you you’d be hard pressed to care or worry about this. After all, betaflight’s other filtering is very well refined and this thing flies just awesomely. There is also nothing stopping you from swapping the ESC out at a later stage for something else – everything on the build is compatible with all the latest and greatest hardware should you want an upgrade path in the future!
The stack itself is capable of running on up to 6S batteries, so you could swap the Emax Eco 2306 motors for the 1700Kv version, or any other 1600-1700ish kV motors to make this a 6S build if you so desired.
The FPV System
We kept things simple here using tried and tested parts, our ChaosFPV VTX is an affordable, solid VTX that just works, and works very well indeed. It even supports smart audio to make channel switching super easy, without ever needing to physically touch it. Out on top we chose to go for the Pagoda 2 antenna, as they’re tried and tested, and offer frankly outstanding performance for their price. Finally, up front, we’ve gone for the Runcam robin camera as it offers a very nice picture, matches the build’s aesthetics, and is yet another brilliant bang-for-buck component.
Putting it all together
We’ve made some minor changes from the above picture, like black heatshrink for the antenna mounts, fitting black props, and covering the thing in about a metric ton of mud, but the beauty of a kit is that you can change the subtleties as you wish, or even completely swap out entire components – the freedom is there. Regardless of how you do it, the final product is going to be just awesome both to look at and to fly.
Oh, and it’s a super simple process to fit everything together – we had ours (admittedly we’ve had plenty of practice) all done in under an hour! Don’t be disheartened if it takes you a long time, though – it’s all part of the learning process and the crazy satisfaction after you get it all done and in the air is very, very much worth it.
We have a full, detailed build guide that will walk you through the build and also the configuration of TheFPV Source quadcopter.
Thank you for taking the time to read this intro, and if you have any questions, suggestions or comments please let us know in the comments below, or hop on to our live chat.