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To buy or to build? FPV Quadcopter Answered

Hi amateur here. Im looking for some answers to my questions and maybe here they can be answered.

What's better? Building a quadcopter or buying one? A quad that can fly high and an fpv one.

if buying what model? (Around 100-150$maybe)

if bulding/assembling , what will i need? 

Please help me decide . Thanks



4 years ago

For your price range you might be able to buy an inflatable one but none with a remote, batteries and engines.

Quality has a price tag if you like it or not.

The DJI Phantom in the top range costs over 1000 bucks for a good reason.

You need a proper Wifi or video sender as well as the right stuff to receive the signal.

A motorized or mechanical gimbal is needed if you want steady pictures.
Brushless high power DC motors are used for the rotors, a good one can set you back over 100$ already.

And of course you will need the electronics to control the thing, maybe even a GPS failsafe so it returns to the starting point if the remote fails.

Check the prices for the above, add a nice body to it and you will see there is no sch thing as cheap FPV quadcopters.

Those you can buy for around the 300$ mark claim to be good but flying times of just 8-10 minutes, no video feed to a screen and remotes with barely 300m range are common things to find.

So you start upgrading your toy and spend more money on it until you realise a proper one would have cost you the same by then.

And if you ask for what you need to build one you might simply want to buy one.


Reply 4 years ago

I did some reading and price checking :)

If you are like me and want a qudcopter to be more than simple toy building it yourself is a daunting task.

Long flight times of more than just 15 minutes is a must have for me.

Stability in the air another.

Had a look at Arduino options to include gyro sensors and maybe a GPS to keep the bird stable.

The prices add up quite fast and come close to commercial models.

With a lot of old spares I might still try it but I sold all my model aircraft and boat equippment several years ago.

Also had a chance to test a mid range Walkyra as well as several cheap models, the top was a brand new Phantom 2+ Vision with HD cam.

From the basic flying experience they are all similar although the GPS assisted ones are IMHO better as you can simply let go of the controls (good if you panik ;) ).

In terms of FPV flight I have to admit that only the top of the range models are capable to be used entirely with the screen.

So they are good for filming stationary things but not so good following a trail rider downhill through the woods.

The Walkyra had a quite noticable lag on the screen but at low speeds it is still acceptable although sometimes the cam image is not exactly where you would like to have it.

Again the top range Phantom felt the best with only very little lag, the option to use a GPS flight path was also quite impressive to see in action - take off, do the tours and land.

Biggest downside I found so far on the cheaper models is the camara mount.

A three way gimabl system is a must have once you saw the difference in image stability.

So do buy one or do I build one / upgrade a cheaper model?

To be honest I can't really decide.

For entry level I would consider a good Walkyra model but would also know that I soon would be desperate for something better.

With around 1500$ for Phantom 2 and the Walkyra not much lower I would trust the Phantom more :)

I still could print a nice frame, add electronics and motor for a homebuilt but time is limited and as said the costs for all parts come close to a professional model - I guess I will wait a year or two and check the market again.


Reply 4 years ago

I do not understand the need in a 3 axis gimble, because the 'yaw' on a quadcopter can be used panning, and I found that unless you have really jittery hands, you should be able to learn how to ease into a nice steady yaw. Although I am still working on getting my big quad working well, so I will find out if it is necessary the hard way.


Reply 4 years ago

Well, why do you need absolutely stable video/images? Are you a professional photographer who plans to use the multi rotor for commercial purposes? Some reason the FAA still frowns upon that, and state in their current 'guidelines' that you must be in it for "enjoyment/educational" and non-commercial. So you might get into some nasty trouble with overpowered government and these things.

If that is what you are after, then often people lean towards full size DSLR's, and use hexacopters and octocopters to carry that payload. At least that what is seems like. You may find that the only solution then is to build your own, since that is a niche market, not big enough for companies to fulfill. I do not know for sure, I am a noob only half a step ahead of you. I have not even had my first RC craft, that hubsan X4 for a full year yet.

Have you heard of FliteTest on youtube, they make lots of good videos relating to the RC hobby in general. 'Tested' also does some stuff with RC, and have a few reviews and things. Another great source, especially for mini quads is Bruce from RCModelReviews, he does LOTS of stuff, and like to rant sometimes (alot) ;-)

Ultimately, you can save money going the 'DIY' approch, but if you want a good reliable working solution with no fuss, a ready-to-fly solution will be best suited. If you do want to learn alot about the hobby in general, and want to have customized features, and build something that fits your needs exactly, and do not mind the longer term costs of upgrading stuff, (because you know you want too once you get into it!)


Reply 4 years ago

Don't bother with "WiFi" FPV. I have heard lots of bad things about the latency and 'lag' that it has, and that you will end up into a pilot-induced self oscillation. (Basically you will keep correcting then over correcting and overshooting, panic, and overcorrect the other way, and that escalates to crashes.) You can see my non-FPV flight tests here. I am still working to get the FPV and GPS to work reliably, and the weather and schoolwork have been very unforgiving.


4 years ago

When starting into the hobby, especially this one, get something really cheap. Maybe start out with one of these to learn how to fly: Beleive, me, you will crash a lot, and this thing is not too bad to break. Also, it is far more flexible since you can fly it indoors, and not have to wait for weather conditions to be good. Flying outside will naturally be more difficult, but that will only make you a better pilot.


Then, once you are familiar with controls and stuff, and learn how to fly in circles and do fancy maneuvers, you can level up to something with a camera to get started in FPV, like this Hubsan X4 H107D:


Then, if you want to learn about the science and engineering and get practical hand-on experience, you could build your own quadcopter, however, do not expect to save much money. I did that expecting it to be cheap. I went with the cheapest solution, this link below, and regretted it. The instructions were poor, components were not tested to work together nicely, the motors were so low quality that I requested a refund for them being defective, and the whole thing required lots of calibration and fine tuning, and I had to build a better frame from altogether! Not to mention the difficulty of figuring out how to mount additional components and boards like the video transmitter, camera, servo's, minimOSD, GPS to 12C interface board, Rx receiver module, etc etc etc.



http://www.amazon.com/Boscam-TS351-RC805-Transmitt... (I payed closer to $50 :( )

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HWQ4BTQ/ref=oh... (use to be $29.99)


and a few other things, like GPS, minumOSD, and a few other necessities

With that kit, I ended up demanding a refund because it was just complete junk, and with some help from amazon A to Z, I got a 50% refund and got to keep the junk. Half of it was usable, and the company (hobbypower) did send me free replacements for one of the motors that I complained about with loose bearings, as well as new multiwii board (clone, I should add, which honestly was partially by fault for burning out, as well as the wrong instructions) So that was nice of them to send replacements, but they are located in china, and things to FOREVER to get. Ultimately, I figured after months of searching for the best deals and cutting corners and cheaping out, that it is simply IMPOSSIBLE to build a decent reliable craft for less than $400. If you count the $65 refund I got for the kit, it did all work out for me at around $380. I still do not have everything working properly or reliably, after half a year of working on it.


Reply 4 years ago

So i've decided that im just gonna buy first, so that ill know the mechanics of the multi rotorss. Thanks for that!