From not knowing how to solder to building an FPV racing drone

YouTube tutorials I followed
Complete parts and tools list
Pictures of finished quadcopter

After seeing some FPV quad racing videos I decided I really wanted to fly one. When I found a step by step YouTube tutorial by RC Model Reviews, and watched it several times through, I decided that even though I had no experience building anything electronic I could do it since the tutorial was so thorough. Although the tutorial included some links, it doesn’t have a comprehensive list of all the parts and tools that are required. This caused me to order some parts I didn’t need, and other parts I had to order last minute after I realized they were needed. So others don’t waste money like I did, I compiled a list of all the parts and tools I ended up needing. I spent about $800 even though it should have costed about $630 plus shipping. You can get everything you need for under $500 if you already have some of the tools, and/or use a less expensive controller. For example, I got the Taranis X9D ($212), but you could get the Taranis QX7 for $120 which would drop the total cost for everything to about $540 – I do not have personal experience with the Taranis QX7, but it’s supposed about the same. If you find cheaper/better parts or tools please comment the links so others can benefit!

After I got most my parts I had a friend teach me the basics of soldering, but from there the tutorial was able to guide me through the whole process. A few times I was frustrated, but I believe this build is completely doable by most people.

I finished the first part of the tutorial before adding FPV and tried to go fly the racing quad line of sight. I crashed it many times, caused some damage, and could have hurt someone. I bought a $17 little toy quad and a $2 protector with extra blades (highly recommended). This allowed me to practice inside and learn to fly before talking my racing one out. For the safety of your quad, others, and yourself first learn to fly a toy, then learn to fly line of sight, and then learn to fly FPV.

Since the Taranis has telemetry I was also able to add battery warnings with the help of a tutorial by travisgrindal. Note: if you get the pre-soldered flight board like I did you’ll need to cut the JST connector to be shorter to fit on the pins since the standoffs bring it up too close to the top panel.

This quad is great as a first time build since it is tough, easy to build, easy to upgrade, inexpensive, and can handle both 3s (11.v) and 4s (14.8v) batteries.

Happy flying!


Budget build tutorial by RC Model Reviews:

Telemetry and battery warnings setup tutorial by travisgrindal:


Quadcopter Parts ($231 + shipping):

1 frame – $21 (the triangles go down for stands – super helpful, but mine broke off pretty quickly when I was learning to fly)

4 motors – $32 (in the tutorial he cuts the motor and ESC wires, but I decided to avoid the extra soldering by connecting them and bunching them up with zip ties – see pictures)

4 ESCs- $40

1 flight controller – $23

1 receiver – $23

1 camera 2.8mm – $31 (in the tutorial the SC2000 600TVL Camera was used, but if you use this one instead your quad will be able to support 3s and 4s batteries – the only down side is you can only get 3 of the 4 standoff nuts on)

1 FPV transmitter – $19

10 sets of 2 5040 blades – $8 (you only need 2 sets, but you’ll want tons of these)

3 female XT60 connectors – $2

10 JST connections – $3

M2 and M3 standoffs – $12 (M2 standoffs for camera and M3 for the flight controller)

1 meter of silicone wire – $1 (I found it helpful to get both red and black)

1 meter of LED lights – $3 (not required, but recommended – 1 meter is way more than needed)

1 set of 4 velcro – $3

Heat shrink – $5

1 copper pcb to use as power distribution board – $3 (I did not use, but I wish I did since it would have things easier than soldering all the wires together)

1 battery strap – $2 (I made my own, but I would recommend buying one since my battery comes off on hard crashes)


Accessories ($322 + shipping):

2 batteries – $31 (one for Goggles and one for the quad – you’ll probably want more of these – the battery for the Googles needs to be 3s, but the quad can handle 3s or 4s)

1 battery charger – $27 (you also need to buy a connector for XT60 or cut the wires and solder on a XT60 connector like I did – XT60 connectors already listed above)

1 controller – $207 (a cheeper alternative would the Taranis Q X7)

1 controller charger – $7 (if the one you choose doesn’t come with one)

1 goggles – $32 (these are the first ones I used and they work ok, but I would recommend the Quanum v2 Goggles)

1 FPV receiver – $17

1 male to male RCA cable/connector – $1 (the goggles and FPV receiver both have female RCA video cables so you’ll need a way to connect them – I made my own male to male connection, but the one linked should work)

You’ll also need to solder a XT60 connector that goes to 2 JST connections (both already listed above) so your screen and your receiver share the same battery- see pictures (they don’t necessarily have to share the same battery, but they need to share the same ground wire)

I would also recommend getting a Lipo Battery Tester Monitor Low Voltage Buzzer, but it isn’t required. This will make it easy to check the voltage of your battery and individual cells without connecting it to the charger. Also, if don’t set up telemetry you can mounted this to your quad so you have a battery warning buzzer to help you avoid damaging your lipo batteries by running them too low.


Tools ($76 + shipping):

1 knife – $7

1 soldering iron – $8

Soldering wire – $2

Zip ties – $2 (I used tons of these)

Loctite – $8

Metric allen keys – $15 (I already had these)

Wrench – $10 (socket wrench would be better, but a wrench works – I already had one and a socket wrench set)

Electrical tape – $8 (I used electrical tape from HomeDepot, but many people have recommended liquid electrical tape)

Wire cutters – $11 (not needed since you have the knife, but they will make things easier – I already had some)

Android cable – $5 (for connecting the flight board to your computer – I already had one)

Computer – I’m going to assume you have one (needed for running base flight)



Goggles and FPV receiver





I put together a list of backup parts you should consider getting in this blog post:

If you want to read about the upgrades I made over the first 6 months of regularly flying this build checkout this blog post:

96 thoughts on “From not knowing how to solder to building an FPV racing drone”

  1. Thanks so much for posting this, it is very helpful, but is hard to find. The only way I found it was from your comment on YouTube.

  2. hi this was great – i too watched rc models videos and decided i wanted to build my own quad i have experience flying them but never a build – i figured if i follow rc models video i could most likely do it – my question is i dont want to make it fpv – for now being my first one i just want it simple as can be – upon reading ur list of needed parts im a little confused if i need it or if its neccasry just for the fpv
    i know the basics – board -esc – motors – props – frame –
    extra things could you help me as to what is necessary for the build without doing fpv thank you very much

    1. If you want to fly without FPV you’ll need everything except:
      -fpv transmitter
      -fpv receiver
      -M2 standoffs
      -male to male RCA cable/connector

  3. Do we need additional equipment to do the binding? It looked like he used a Zippy 1100, switch and connector. I didn’t see those on your list. Did you use them? Of the whole tutorial the binding process is the most confusing for me.

    1. The binding process was a little confusing. I bought these things, but I didn’t end up using them since unplugging and plugging back in the battery was simple enough.

  4. Thanx for the details!
    how’s the FPV ? do you receive a clear image with no interfering ?
    you know! those black and white lines that shows on the monitor .

    1. For the most part there is little to no interference for close range, but as you get near the max range of the fpv transmitter/receiver or go behind objects the interference increases fast. For Christmas I am getting stuff to record what is being displayed on the goggles, so hopefully I’ll be able to upload an example soon.

        1. For both I use a 1300mAh 3S 45~90C (link is under Accessories).

          For the drone I’ve experimented with 1500mAH 4S batteries and it seemed to work fine, but I haven’t done too much because I’m afraid it might fry something. I’ve also used a 2200mAH 3S and only got a few extra minutes of flight time and the weight made it feel a little sluggish, so I don’t recommend. I recently ordered a 1500mAH 3S to experiment with, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

          For the goggles and receiver I’ve always powered using the same battery (you can see my set up under Pictures). I’ve used a 1000mAH 2S for this as well and it worked fine. Really any 2S or 3S battery should work fine for the goggles and receiver.

      1. What do you mean by close range? is long range up in the clouds?
        I see some of these things go out like 10 miles. this one is 5.8Ghz so I assume the controller can operate the device much further than the camera can send a signal back.

        How far out can you go with this Camera before the signal craps out on a clear day?


        1. One of the biggest determining factor of range is the type of antenna. With the antenna that comes with the video transmitter and receiver you’ll probably max out the range at 300m (rough estimate from my experience) in all directions without obstacles. The controller has a much further range and can operate up to a few miles. With a directional or helical antenna you can get a much further range, but only in a certain direction. You don’t want to put a directional antenna on the quad since it constantly changes the direction it points, but you could put one on your receiver, however most fpv racing pilots prefer the cloverleaf or mushroom antenna so they can fly all around and have good reception close by. A way to get the best of both worlds is to use a diversity receiver (I just got mine yesterday!). A diversity receiver has two antennas and takes the best of the two receptions. This allows you to have a directional or helical antenna and a cloverleaf or mushroom antenna so you can get a great picture flying anywhere close to you, but you can go out a far distance in the direction the antenna is pointed. I just got my new receiver and new antennas so I plan to test it out this weekend. If it goes well I plan to do a blog post on the topic.

          1. Nice, and thanks for the reply. Can you link the Bi Directional remote you referring too? I also purchased the XD9 it should get her tomorrow.

            SO, if I understand correctly the Picture strength and Quad both drop off at about 300M unless you set up with the better antenna for both the receiver and the video signal.

          2. Thanks again for all of you feedback and information. I am now flying FPV and its great! Wish i had stumbled on your blog sooner. I have also provided it to some others interested in building Quads.

  5. I just wanted to say thanks for this thorough parts list. It’s just what I was looking for to accompany RC Model Reviews low cost build tutorials. Really saves time and hassle down the road.

  6. Thank you for this update. I have started buying some of the pieces and was looking for the complete list. One question though; would you do it again? Would you buy or build? Thanks for any input.

    1. YES!

      I would definitely build again. I recently bought a lighter 250 that is more suited for 4s off craigslist, but after a hard crash I had to completely take it apart to repair it. If I didn’t have the experience from my first build I would have never been able to repair it. It was way more difficult to repair than the repairs I did on my original quad because some things were put together differently than I expected.

      1. Do you need to mod the Turnigy 9x transmitter in order to use the Frsky receiver you listed in the parts list above?

        Instead of using the Frsky receiver could you just use the turnigy receiver that comes with the box as the receiver for the drone?

        what are the differences?

        sorry for these questions, I am a noob at this type of stuff.

        1. If you use the Turnigy 9x transmitter you can use the turnigy receiver instead of the Frsky one I listed or you can mod the Turnigy 9x transmitter. Either way should work.

          I haven’t done either one, so I’m not aware of the differences.

  7. Great, thanks for the helpful advice. I ordered all the material on Bang good. I will start building my first drone and return here if it works. Then I will let you have my parts list. Greetings from Amsterdam

  8. Hello,
    How can I test the motors before installation for a mini Quad 250?
    I tried to connect the ESC + cc3d + motor powered by 11.7V battery using the Open pilot software to run it .
    But the ESC gets hot and nothing happens !
    i know im doing something wrong , can anyone please tell me how to do that! pix of a link to a video will be awesome.

  9. Hi
    Thank you for your webpage it is very helpful.

    I am a RC plane pilot and keen to try quadcopters.

    What limitations will I face if I use my existing RX/TX gear? I have a Spektrum DX6i


    1. I have a couple friends who use Spektrum.
      You won’t be able to set up telemetry, but other than that I can’t think of any other limitations.

      Simply use your Spektrum receiver instead of the FrSky receiver I linked.

    1. I’m sure it is possible, but I haven’t done enough research into a set up like that so I don’t know what would be required.

  10. I got all the way through the process but am stuck at setting up the Naze with Baseflight. The problem is there is no finalized driver that works with Windows 10. The guys at Silabs sent me a temporary driver. It loads successfully but still doesn’t allow me to connect to Baseflight. I know my usb connection is ok since the light is on the Naze.

    Any suggestions of how to resolve this? It doesn’t look like the finalized Win10 driver will be available for sometime. Silabs has been saying it will be ready in a week but they’ve been saying that since last summer!

        1. Glad you got it working!

          Was the link I provided the correct one? If not, can you please add a link to the drivers you used in a comment for others that may run into the same problem?

  11. You mentioned that you made your own XT60 to Deans converter to plug your battery into the charger but how did you connect the battery to the balancing port of the charger? The pins on the Nano-tech 1300 battery don’t seem to line up with the Balance Port of the P405.

    1. The P405 should have come with Balance lead and Balance board. You plug the Balance lead into the charger and the Balance board and then plug the battery balance plug into the Balance board.

      Here’s a picture:

      Here’s what the description on HobbyKing says it includes:
      P405 Charger
      Charging lead
      Balance lead (JST XH)
      Instruction Manual
      Balance board and lead

  12. When I charge with the P405 I get the following error message:

    ERR.5 (Some type of electronic interruption or malfunction occured). That is pretty vague. Has anybody else received the same message?

    Are there any resources to help troubleshoot this problem? The manual certainly doesn’t help.

      1. Yes, I plugged in both the balance and the xt60. I don’t think the lipo battery was over drained. I had only used it to calibrate the ESCs, etc…when setting up baseflight. I hadn’t flown it yet. I wonder if it’s my power source. I just plugged the P405 into the wall socket but it has a surge protector. Maybe that is causing the problem. I will try using my car battery as a power source instead.

        1. That seems really odd. Mine works just fine plugged into the wall, but I don’t have surge protectors. Can you check the voltage on the battery or the individual cells? Have you tried a different battery?

  13. All my motors work but when I increase the throttle it does not lift off. If I increase it a lot more it flips over. I calibrated the ESCs and put it into the Naze correctly.

    Could it be that I have the propellers on wrong? In the build video he did not seem to suggest there was a correct direction in which to put them on (he did not even show putting them on).

    1. I made the same mistake when I first did the build. There are two types of propellers CW and CCW. Make sure you have CW and CCW propellers in the correct spot. Note: flipping the prop over does not change it’s direction.

      This is where you put each propeller:

      To figure out if a prop is CW or CCW place the prop on the a flat surface the same way you would put it on the quad copter and so the tips go from left to right (or east to west). Look at the right side of the blade and if the side facing you is flat against the surface, then it’s a CCW prop. And vice versa, if you look at the right side and the part that is facing you is off the surface then it’s a CW prop.

      1. Thanks so much! I’m impressed you figured all this out on your own because the build videos, as good as they are, are lacking in a lot of important information.

    2. Looks like you figured it out already but another common issue is the direction you installed the Naze32. When you plug it in make sure the calibration is moving in the right directions and the front of the Quad on the program is actually the front for you in real life!

      I had a fried push this in backwards so it calibrated in revers flipping upside down and doing crazy stuff, a few props later found out it was the reason not just the CCW and CW props.

  14. In the build video he hooks up the camera to a controller to set it up. I didn’t have a controller with my camera or goggles. Is that purchased separately? Thanks

    1. Who did you buy it from? All the 600TVL cameras I bought (2 from Amazon and 1 from SecurityCamera2000) have come with a little controller.

      From Amazon you can see the controller in the 5th and 6th picture and it says it’s included “1 X OSD Menu”.

      On SecurityCamera2000 under details it says “The newly designed 5D-OSD button makes the control easier than OSD board” and shows a picture of the controller.

      I would contact whoever you bought the camera from because it’s supposed to be included.

  15. I finally got my quadcopter in the air (thanks in large part to your help). As I’m learning to fly I end up with some pretty hard landings and the props come off. The props are easy enough to find in the grass but the nuts that hold the props on go flying pretty far and they are so small it is difficult to find them.

    Do you use loctite on the props (I thought I shouldn’t in case I need to take them off to re-calibrate escs or some other reason) or is there another way to prevent them from coming off on impact?

    Is it possible to buy a large number of spare nuts? I haven’t seen them sold independently of the motors.


  16. first of all this blog post is awesome and have already passed it along to a number of friends.

    I’m getting ready to order all of my parts but noticed there is now a naze32 rev6 (updated from the rev5) and is only a couple dollars more. would this be a wise upgrade or does it matter?

    also will the vertical pin version of the controller work with the zmr250 frame or does it have to be the horizontal version?


    1. It shouldn’t make too much of a difference whether you get the rev6 or rev5 of the naze32. The wiring will be a little different for the rev6, but the rev6 is slightly better (see: Another thing to consider is there have been issues with the rev6 and there are now multiple versions of the rev6 so make sure you get one that’s fixed (see:

      I got the one from HobbyKing with the receiver and ESC pins out the sides, but the telemetry pins were vertical. The vertical pins fit in the frame, but there wasn’t room to connect jst plugs on to them. I ended up bending the vertical pins to wire up my telemetry. Bending them was fine for telemetry, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that for the ESC or receiver pins. Another option would be to put the receiver in a different place (not under the flight controller) and use shorter standoffs for mounting the flight controller. Using the shorter standoffs should open up enough space to use the vertical pins.

  17. Just a question, I notice the Taranis controller amazon link you put up comes with a receiver. Would buying from amazon eliminate the need to buy the separate receiver? thanks.

  18. How were you able to set the aux 1 channel to the top right toggle switch on the taranis? Like what we see in part 4 of the video when Bruce is showing us the baseflight receiver setup?

      1. Thank you so much. I can truly say if it wasn’t for your site. Making this quad would have been more challenging. Thanks for all the write ups and tips!

        Now gotta figure out how to tune the quad.

  19. Sorry for my lack of knowledge, but what real difference do the ESC’s make? You said doing it again, you would use the Little bee’s, but why? What makes them better?

    Great article, by the way. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it up.

    1. DYS BE1806 motors there won’t any difference between the Afro ESCs and the Little Bee ESCs unless you run 5045 tri-blades on 4s which shouldn’t be run on those motors anyways. However, since the Little Bees can handle up to 20A instead of 12A this would allow you to upgrade to bigger motors in the future without getting new ESCs. I wish I would have got the Little Bees because they are rated to handle more amps, lighter, smaller, and nearly the same price as the Afro ESCs.

      If you do plan on upgrading to really powerful motors (Emax RS2205-2300 for example: you may even want to consider the 30A version of the little bees (, however these ESCs are also larger, heavier, and more expensive. See:

    2. I realized another difference between the Little Bees and the Afro ESCs. The Afro ESCs have a built in 5v BEC which is used to power the flight controller, so if you get the Little Bees you’ll need to get one stand alone 5v BEC to regulate power for your flight controller.

  20. Like many of the other commenters, I researched quads for quite some time before finding this page, which has turned out to be my greatest asset. Thanks for putting this together.

    1. I am no longer using BaseFlight, but the default values were pretty good. I am now using CleanFlight/BetaFlight and those defaults work fairly well too. The defaults will be a much better baseline than the values I use. Even between different versions of CleanFlight you sometimes have to re-tune, but the defaults are adjusted from version to version to handle this.

  21. Thanks!! I’m on clean flight as well and when I hover 5 inches off the ground it oscillates a bit (my throttle is on the left joystick or mode 1). It also drops rapidly if the throttle is decreased just a bit. So I was just wondering what settings you had. I’ll revert back to the default cleanflight settings and gonfrom there.

  22. Excellent blog. Learn a lot from it. I want to build a quadcopter with my 13 yr son and would like to have GPS so he can use GPS features such PH (Position Hold), FailSafe RTH (Return To Home), Assist Take Off\Landing…..

    Do you know what need to add GPS to the Quad? Change Flight Controller?

    1. I have thought about it, but have not bought one yet. Although neither of those things are very helpful for racing, I think having altitude hold would be very cool. I also want a flight controller that has storage as well so I can log flight data. You can actually solder on storage to the naze, but I’m scared I will fry the board.

  23. So it happened:(. I took it out to my brothers house up on a hill and before I knew it the drone had gone way to far for line of sight flying and I lost orientation to get it back. I dropped it but don’t know where or which house.

    I’m going to make another one and wanted to know if you would make it again which parts would you use? I’m going to use the naze 32 Rev 6 full flight board and use sbus instead of ppm.

    1. I’m sorry to hear this. It’s amazing how fast things can go wrong. Personally I would put some 30A ESC and Emax RS2205-2300 Racing Edition motors, but I would only recommend this if you have several months of racing experience already.

  24. Good idea. I’m changing things up a bit this time around.

    going with:
    Lisam LS-210 frame
    DYS XM20A ESCs
    Same motors
    Naze32 rev6c Full feature
    same frsky receiver

    will look into the GPS as well.

  25. Yo man, thanks a lot for this guide! A lot of people have put guides together, but they leave out the extra stuff to buy like standoffs, heat shrink, etc. I was looking for a guide with specifically that stuff included and yours was perfect.

  26. I’m think about jumping into this hobby. Would you still recommend going this route for the build for a beginner? I have the same sort of skill set you had when you wrote this (no soldering experience, etc). I have a parts list laid out, but it’s pushing $1k+ because I have name brand components in it. Not sure if I should go the expensive route or do a build like this and maybe spend the extra money on some fat shark goggles or save for another build afterwards. Have any input?

    Also how fast is the quad you made? I watched some of your Youtube videos and it seems a bit slower compared to some other videos I’ve seen of other quads. It could just be hard to tell from DVR footage.

    1. I would still recommend this route for a beginner, unless you have someone that can mentor you, because it’s hard to figure out everything on your own.

      I have tried fatsharks and personally do not find the experience any better than on my quanum V2s, so I don’t plan to upgrade my goggles anytime soon. Goggles really come down to personal preference, the more expensive option will not necessarily offer the best experience for you. The FR632 receiver is totally worth getting the first time though, even guys with fatsharsk usually get one to use in their ground station.

      The speed you can fly the quad is heavily determined by camera angle. Since doing the DRV videos I put out I have significantly increased the camera angle and it now flies a good amount faster. With that said, it is not going to be as fast a lighter build with stronger motors. To me this quad was more than fast enough for the first year of flying, but I was really into the racing aspect of percession flying through the gates. If you want something that will just rocket across a park you will want to get at least 20A ESCs and 22xx motors. The build is sturdy, but it’s also fairly heavy. If you want something really fast you need to bring down the weight, but for a first quad I’m glad a got something more sturdy since I crashed a ton. Smaller lighter builds are also much harder to build, so I’m glad a started with a good beater before trying to build an optimized quad.

    1. You can DVR the live video as I did in this tutorial:

      If you want a high quality recording you’ll need to mount a second camera such as a Mobius, Yi, or GoPro. Most of the FPV racing videos you see online are from a recording camera, not an fpv camera.

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