How to Build an FPV Drone From Scratch (Analog FPV System)

How to Build an FPV Drone From Scratch (Analog FPV System)

I’ll present you methods to construct an FPV drone from scratch that makes use of analog FPV system. I’ll clarify what parts are wanted, how the whole lot is related, and methods to set it up. This tutorial will hopefully enable you in your future FPV drone builds as effectively.

I will probably be utilizing 4in1 ESC and analog FPV system on this construct, I have another build guide for the DJI FPV system. And right here’s an old build log from 2019 that uses separate ESC.

You can simply purchase pre-built drones, however you aren’t going to study something. Building it from scratch by your self allows you to restore it afterward, and you’ll choose the elements you need and construct it to your specification.

Building your first drone goes to be difficult. Whenever you have got a query, simply ask on-line (equivalent to intoFPV.com), or finally you may find yourself discovering your manner by trial and error. Either manner, you’ll study rather a lot about how an FPV drone work.

I attempted my greatest to doc as a lot element as attainable on this tutorial, so any learners can comply with and choose up the fundamentals of constructing and establishing a mini quad.

Before we start, it’s best to positively take a look at: How to get started with FPV Drones

You can lookup technical phrases and acronyms right here: Acronyms and technical terms in FPV.

This construct doesn’t require any 3D printed elements.

But you should utilize 3D print elements to make it simpler to construct and look nicer.

Anyway I’ll present you all of the steps methods to construct this FPV drone with and with out 3D printed elements. Let’s get began!



These are the parts I will probably be utilizing on this construct.

This desk accommodates affiliate hyperlinks. It doesn’t price you something further, nevertheless it provides me a small fee if you make your buy utilizing these hyperlinks.

You additionally want the next {hardware}, it’s best to have the ability to discover these simply on eBay or from you native ironmongery shop.

  • 4x 30mm M3 metal bolts (for FC stack)
  • 4x M3 nuts (for FC stack)
  • 4x M3 nylon lock nuts (for FC stack)
  • Some zip ties
  • Electrical tape
  • Double sided tape

Optional, 3D printed elements for the Martian body: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3582840

Frame

I used to be trying by all the newest frames for this tutorial, however I nonetheless selected the Martian II body. This is an previous body from a couple of years again, nevertheless it’s very low cost, sturdy, roomy and straightforward to construct. You simply can’t go incorrect with the Martian as your first mini quad body.

Because it’s been round so lengthy and standard, there are a ton of 3D printed half designs accessible on Thingiverse for enhancement.

Flight Controller

The Diatone Mamba DJI F722 MK2 FC (review) was simply launched in April 2021. It’s very highly effective and versatile, it has all the newest options, in addition to supporting each analog and DJI FPV system. It’s so future-proof, it is possible for you to to maintain upgrading your drone with out spending extra on a brand new FC!

ESC

4in1 ESC’s are usually very dependable these days, they usually make constructing a lot simpler because of the much less quantity of wiring and soldering.

The Tekko32 F3 Metal 65A ESC (review) is without doubt one of the beefiest in the marketplace, you mainly received’t have to fret about “pushing too exhausting in your throttle”. It helps each 4S and 6S, so that you received’t have to purchase a brand new ESC for fairly a while even if you wish to use bigger motors or greater voltage 🙂

Motors

The Emax ECO II 2207 2400KV are a few of the greatest performing price range motors. FPV Beginners are anticipated to crash rather a lot, and motors are probably the most uncovered parts, so even when you break them it received’t price as a lot.

Popular motor sizes for a 5″ construct are: 2306, 2207 and 2208. Since we will probably be utilizing 4S LiPo to energy it, 2400KV is an effective KV quantity. You can use between 2300KV to 2600KV, greater KV tends to be extra aggressive and energy hungry.

6S can also be standard amongst skilled pilots (utilizing 6S LiPo battery), and motor KV is far decrease, normally round 1800KV. But the upper voltage makes the drone tougher to tune and it might probably typically trigger extra points, subsequently I don’t advocate it to learners. 4S is less complicated as your first construct.

FPV Setup

The Eagle 3 (review) and Rush Ultimate Plus (review) is a superb combo relating to analog FPV setup.

Receiver

Your selection of radio transmitter will decide what receiver (RX) you should utilize. If you comply with my radio recommendation, then your radio ought to assist TBS Crossfire.

I like to recommend TBS Crossfire due to its high notch efficiency, reliability and ease of use. I solely use their Crossfire Nano receivers in virtually all my FPV drones, as a result of they’re very compact, and offers me greater than sufficient vary.

To use Crossfire nano receiver, additionally, you will must get a Crossfire TX module that plugs into the module bay in your radio.

You can learn more about the Crossfire RC System here.

You may also want the next equipment to fly a quadcopter in FPV. You can take a look at what gear I use everyday for some concepts, I’ll summarize what you’ll need right here.

A Radio Transmitter (Buyer’s Guide) is used for controlling the drone, proper now (April 2021) I like to recommend getting the Radiomaster TX16S (see my review). It’s reasonably priced and versatile. It does mainly the whole lot you want in FPV.

A pair of FPV Goggles for watching real-time video from the drone, right here is my FPV Goggles Buyer’s Guide. The greatest at school analog FPV Goggles proper now could be the Skyzone SKY04X. But if that’s past your price range, you too can take a look at the Skyzone Cobra X (review) which I feel is the most effective price range “field goggles” in the meanwhile.

As for LiPo batteries, some 4S 1500mAh could be the way in which to go, see this put up for my LiPo Recommendations. Make positive to spend time studying about LiPo on this Battery Buyer’s Guide, as a result of when you don’t deal with them rigorously they are often harmful.

Finally, additionally, you will want a battery charger, right here is my LiPo charger recommendations. Again, take your time studying about how to choose LiPo chargers and power supply.

To take a look at different FPV merchandise that I’ve examined and advocate: https://oscarliang.com/tag/recommend/

You will want most if not all of the instruments listed in this article under “Essential Tools”. And additionally, you will want these tapes too:


Click the hyperlink will take you to the part on this article:

  1. Frame Preparation and Assembly
  2. Installing Motors
  3. Wiring Diagram
  4. Installing ESC
  5. Installing FC
  6. Testing Motors and ESC Setup
  7. Setup Receiver
  8. Connecting FPV Setup
  9. Finishing off
  10. Using 3D Printed Parts
  11. Setting up Betaflight
  12. How to Tune Mini Quad
  13. Learning How to Fly a Racing Drone

It’s elective however a great apply to “put together” the body:

  • First, sand down sharp edges on carbon fibre pieces, particularly the outer aspect of the arms, and plates, sharp edges might minimize your wires and battery strap in a crash. The chamferred edges may prevents carbon sheet from delamination
  • After sanding, wash all carbon fibre elements in cleaning soap water to take away any carbon mud that continues to be, then dry with towel

Assemble the body and set up the 8 aluminium standoffs.

We will probably be utilizing the 4 30mm M3 bolts for the FC stack, tighten down with M3 nuts.

You can now mount the 4 motors to the arms.

It’s advisable to make use of thread locker on the motor screws. That’s as a result of motors make vibrations and there’s a likelihood these screws can wiggle free over time. Make positive to make use of the blue liquid one, the pink liquid is meant for everlasting use and you’ll have a tough time undoing these screws!

There isn’t any want to make use of washers.

Finally, ensure the motor screws will not be touching the motor winding – verify visually, and even higher check with a multimeter if your motor screws are too long.

^ Back to Top

Make a plan on methods to join all of the parts, draw the connections on a bit of paper. If you might be utilizing the parts I advisable, here’s a wiring diagram you possibly can comply with.

You can attempt to “dry match” all of the parts – set up them within the body with out really connecting and soldering the wires. This lets you spot any potential points with spacing, and the way lengthy the wires should be.

Make positive to put in the FC and ESC within the right orientation, and perceive which aspect of the body is the entrance. The entrance of the body ought to have slots (minimize out) for the digicam mounting plates. The FC has an arrow label pointing ahead, and the ESC’s constructive/damaging solder pads must be pointing to the tail of the body.

Make positive the ESC is NOT touching both the body, or the FC. If they’re touching, you should utilize further spacers/o-rings.

4in1 ESC and FC from the identical model are normally plug and play. But in case you are utilizing ESC and FC from completely different producers, likelihood is the pin orders will not be the identical. You should double verify earlier than connecting or you might fry your flight controller!

In that case it’s best to rearrange the wires within the connector. Fortunately, the Mamba MK2 FC offers an unfinished cable so you possibly can insert the wires within the connector following my wiring diagram.

^ Back to Top

You are about to do some soldering. If you might be new to this, please take a look at my tutorial: How to solder for beginners.

Check how lengthy the motor wires should be, and minimize to size (it’s a good suggestion to depart a little bit of slack simply in case).

Then strip the wires (round 2-3mm) and tin the ends.

Tin all of the solder pads on the 4in1 ESC. It’s good apply to cowl space of the board the place you aren’t soldering with electrical tape. This will forestall solder by chance dropping onto parts and inflicting electrical shorts.

Soldering Tips:

  • Use a great quantity of solder and solder flux (solder paste) for the massive pads, and ensure the solder joints are shiny and full; when you can see the wire strands, it’s an indication that you just haven’t utilized sufficient solder
  • If the solder tends to “stick” to the tip if you take away it from the joint, then it’s best to apply extra flux
  • It’s okay to make use of excessive temperature when soldering giant solder pads like these, the essential factor is to make it fast and keep away from heating the pads for too lengthy (I personally use 450°C (840°F) for motor wires and XT60, and 360°C for sign wires)

Solder the motor wires to the ESC. Don’t fear about wire order and motor route for now, we will change it later within the software program.

Cut the capacitor legs shorter, and solder wires to them (18AWG/20AWG). You might use these motor wires you simply trimmed off 🙂

Your XT60 energy lead must be a minimum of 8cm lengthy.

Solder the XT60 energy lead and capacitor to the ability pads on the ESC. Watch out for polarity (constructive and damaging).

You might surprise, “why solder a capacitor to the ability?” Well, it’s for absorbing voltage spikes and lowering electrical noise generated from the motors and ESC. Even in case your mini quad is “tremendous clear”, when you have got a bent prop, you’ll start to get extra noise from the motors, and a capacitor can have you ever lined in conditions like this.

See this put up to study extra about why adding capacitors to mini quad.

This is what it seems to be like when the motors and battery plug are all soldered to the ESC.

^ Back to Top

Solder the radio receiver (RX) to the FC.

I will probably be mounting the RX beneath the 4in1 ESC, so ensure the wires are lengthy sufficient. Of course you possibly can mount it anyplace you see match, there’s a whole lot of free area on this body.

Install the flight controller on high of the 4in1 ESC, and join the cable from the 4in1 ESC to the FC.

Solder the buzzer to the FC.

To mount the buzzer and capacitor, I merely use some double sided foam tape and simply stick it onto the underside plate.

Don’t block the opening within the buzzer with the tape.

With the capacitor, you too can use a zipper tie to strap it to a standoff.

Put nylon nuts on the FC. Don’t over-tighten it, simply barely touching the rubber grommet is okay. Compressed grommets = lowered vibration damping.

Mount the RX antenna to one of many arms with a few zip ties. Don’t neglect to strap the antenna wire to the body for stress reduction.

^ Back to Top

Time to check the ESC and motors, which implies we will probably be plugging in a LiPo battery for the primary time!

For security, it’s best to at all times verify continuity first to make sure there isn’t a electrical brief. You can do that with a multimeter: put it on continuity mode and use the probes to check the constructive and damaging terminals of the XT60.

Here is a fast tutorial on what multimeter you should get, and how to test your drone with it.

If there’s a brief circuit, the multimeter will probably be beeping constantly. If this occurs, that you must discover out what’s inflicting the brief and repair it. One frequent trigger is extreme quantity of solder used on one solder pad and spill over to or touching neighboring pads.

Pro-Tip: typically the meter may beep for a cut up second then cease. That occurs due to the capacitors. When you contact the constructive and damaging pads along with your probes, it fees the caps so there will probably be a movement of present, and the meter thinks there’s a brief, however when the caps are charged, the beep will cease. If you get a brief beep, that’s regular and nothing to fret about, it must be wonderful if the meter doesn’t proceed to beep.

For the primary time plugging in a battery, use a smoke stopper (review). This is a superb and easy machine to keep away from magic smoke! Smoke stopper is elective, nevertheless it’s a worthy funding that I can’t advocate sufficient.

Now it’s time to check the motors, however DO NOT set up propellers but!

Plug in a battery, then go to the Motor tab in Betaflight Configurator, and attempt to spin up the motors one after the other (simply transfer the slider to 10-20%), and verify if the motors are spinning in the right direction (instructions).

If a motor is spinning the incorrect route, then it’s best to reverse it.

There are two ways to reverse motor direction.

You can both swap round two of the three motor wires.

Or extra merely, you possibly can reverse the motor in BLHeliSuite32 (pc program). That’s why I stated earlier it doesn’t matter the way you join the motor wires 🙂

Here are directions on how to connect your BLHeli_32 ESC’s to BLHeliSuite.

While we’re at it, you too can change ESC settings to optimize efficiency. The two settings i at all times change are PWM frequency (to 48KHz, or 96KHz if allowed), and Motor timing (to Auto). See this put up to study these BLHeli_32 ESC Settings.

Something went incorrect? Here are some troubleshooting ideas.

Motors will not be spinning in any respect? Did you join the battery? If so, did you hear the ESC beeps if you plug within the battery? Did you join the ESC to the FC?

If all motors are spinning besides one, it’s attainable that the ESC or that motor is defective. You can strive swapping that motor with a working one on the identical quad, this may assist rule out whether or not it’s the defective ESC or motor.

If you want additional help, simply ask in our discussion board: https://intofpv.com

^ Back to Top

First of all, that you must bind the receiver to the radio (TX module), I’ve a whole guide explaining how to setup Crossfire. Then in Betaflight configurator, that you must do the next:

  • Go to Ports tab, discover UART1, and allow “Serial RX
  • In the Configuration tab, beneath “Receiver” part, choose “Serial-based receiver“, and select “CRSF” because the supplier

Once that’s carried out, you need to affirm the receiver is absolutely working within the Receiver tab. When you progress the sticks on the radio, the bars (channels) ought to transfer as effectively.

If the incorrect channels are responding, strive a distinct Channel Map, it’s usually both “default (AETR)”, or TAER.

You might want to setup at least two switches on the radio (instructions), one for arming, and the opposite for buzzer. You may also desire a third swap for flight mode or turtle mode. Again, affirm it’s working within the receiver tab, the 2 switches ought to present up in channels AUX1 and AUX2.

If you have got any questions, put up in our discussion board: intoFPV.com

^ Back to Top

Let’s transfer on to our FPV system.

Solder up the VTX to the FC as proven in my wiring diagram, there are solely 4 wires (VCC, GND, SmartAudio and Video).

Pro tip – twisting the video/VCC/GND cables is an effective way to assist scale back undesirable RF interference.

Use electrical tape to cowl any steel contacts on the aspect that will probably be resting on the carbon fibre body, and stick it all the way down to the underside plate with double sided tape.

I mount my VTX and antenna like this within the body, merely with zip ties. It’s so significantly better with 3D printer elements as I’ll present you in a minute, however this may do for now. We must run with no matter we’ve acquired 🙂

Now that you must setup SmartAudio and VTX Table in Betaflight. This will help you change VTX channel and settings utilizing OSD menu.

To setup SmartAudio, go to Betaflight Configurator, Ports tab, beneath “UART 3“, Peripherals, choose “VTX (TBS SmartAudio)“.

To setup VTX Table, merely copy and paste this snippet within the CLI:

vtxtable bands 5
vtxtable channels 8
vtxtable band 1 BOSCAM_A A FACTORY 5865 5845 5825 5805 5785 5765 5745 5725
vtxtable band 2 BOSCAM_B B FACTORY 5733 5752 5771 5790 5809 5828 5847 5866
vtxtable band 3 BOSCAM_E E FACTORY 5705 5685 5665 0 5885 5905 5925 0
vtxtable band 4 FATSHARK F FACTORY 5740 5760 5780 5800 5820 5840 5860 5880
vtxtable band 5 RACEBAND R FACTORY 5658 5695 5732 5769 5806 5843 5880 5917
vtxtable powerlevels 4
vtxtable powervalues 14 23 27 29
vtxtable powerlabels 25 200 500 800
save

Pro Tip: DO NOT energy the VTX with out antenna connected! Otherwise it might overheat and burn out.

Power on the quad with Smoke Stopper once more, and see in case you are getting a transparent picture in your goggles. Since the VTX is model new, it could possibly be on any channel. Use the “search characteristic” in your FPV goggles to seek out it, or just scroll by all of the bands and channels.

And now you can change VTX channel and settings with Betaflight OSD menu.

^ Back to Top

It’s good to cowl/shield the motor wires with plastic sheets. You can minimize up a water bottle, or blades from previous propellers. This will forestall “prop strike” in a crash, the place spinning propellers could possibly be bent and minimize the motor wires.

Wrap the plastic piece over the wires with electrical tape or zip-tie.

We are virtually carried out! Here is how the quad seems to be like up to now.

Install the highest plate.

Put a battery strap beneath and thru the highest plate. And stick some battery pads on the highest. Use as a lot as you want, I’m being stingy right here.

The completed drone construct weighs:

  • Drone = 380g
  • Drone + 4S 1500mAh LiPo = 570g
  • Drone + 4S 1500mAh + GoPro 7 = 690g

When mounting the LiPo battery, ensure the COG (centre of gravity) is as near the centre of the drone as attainable. To verify when you have positioned the battery on the proper spot, merely seize the center of the highest plate with 2 fingers, and see if the quad stays balanced.

It’s essential to ensure COG is correct on the centre of the 4 motors. For instance, if the quad is entrance heavy, the entrance motors should work tougher than the rear motors to be able to keep degree, and this may influence flight efficiency.

When putting in propellers, concentrate on the completely different CW and CCW props and set up them within the right motors. Otherwise your quad goes to flip over when attempting to take off.

5″ FPV drones use M5 nylon lock nuts to carry the propeller on the motor. It can take some effort to tighten down, however you don’t need it too tight, or the prop hub can shutter if you crash. Just tight sufficient that the prop can’t transfer is sufficient.

Using a proper prop nut tool like this may velocity issues up too.

And we’re prepared for a check flight!

^ Back to Top

If you desire a cleaner construct, it’s best to use 3D printed elements.

I designed most of those elements myself and I’ll share the STL information within the elements checklist when you select to print them. If you don’t have a 3D printer, you possibly can ask another person to print them for you, like utilizing East Sussex 3D Printing Service. You can contact them on Facebook or electronic mail: 3dprintsfpv AT gmail DOT com

I additionally printed a GoPro mount (not my design) to get some 4K HD footage.

^ Back to Top

To setup Betaflight to your first flight, comply with the directions on this information “how to setup Betaflight for the first time“.

^ Back to Top

“Tuning a quad” is mainly to make it fly precisely the way in which you need. Betaflight has come a good distance, you don’t must tune your quad and it’ll in all probability fly simply wonderful with inventory settings. But in case you are severe about efficiency, then you have got a couple of extra issues to study! 😀

For me, tuning a mini quad is mainly going by these settings and get them dialed in:

  • RC Rates and Expo
  • PID
  • Filters
  • Other Betaflight settings (min throttle, antigravity, feedforward, throttle increase and so on….)

Betaflight has a reasonably neat tuning information, which is an effective start line: https://github.com/betaflight/betaflight/wiki/4.2-Tuning-Notes

Or you possibly can simply copy my settings and provides them a strive. Make a backup of your settings first!

My PID Tune

My Rates

My Filter Settings

You ought to enable RPM filter first, it’s straightforward to do and virtually at all times improves flight efficiency immediately.

When altering filter settings, at all times make incremental modifications, strive flying it for 20-30 seconds, then land to verify motor temperature. If it’s noticeably heat, then it’s best to in all probability revert again to the earlier worth. You don’t need to burn your motors 🙂

If you have got little to no expertise in flying a mini quad, it’s best to positively take a look at these tutorials to get began:

First ever flight of this quad:

[embedded content]

Some of my older FPV movies:

[embedded content]

[embedded content]

[embedded content]