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If this will be your first time ordering from Banggood, you should know a few things.

COMPLETE KIT, READY TO BUILD

I created the JB Xilo Beginner Build kit to make it as easy as possible for you to build your first FPV freestyle quadcopter. I picked all the parts you’ll need so you know everything will be good quality and will work together. And I made a complete video tutorial taking you through every step of the build, all the way through the first test flight. This kit is available with both analog and DJI video system, depending on your budget.

DJI DIGITAL HD BUILD

Purchase at GetFPV

ANALOG BUILD

Purchase at GetFPV

BIND N FLY / RTF

The iFlight Evoque, Diatone Roma F5 V2, and GEPRC Mark 5 are all extremely closely matched in terms of performance and durability. Frankly, you won’t go wrong with any of them. They’ve all got very capable ESC, flight controller, and motors. They’re all available in either a DJI FPV version or an analog version. So let’s focus on the things that set them apart.

The Evoque has awesome LED light-pipes on the side plates and bottoms of the arms. It’s got 20mm sized FC and ESC, which are usually less durable than 30mm-sized ones on the Diatone and GEPRC, although I haven’t heard any specific complaints about the Evoque blowing up ESC’s. If you buy the analog version of the Evoque, it’s got the weakest video transmitter, at 600 mW. That’s enough to get the job done, but the Diatone and GEPRC are stronger. I was most impressed with the Evoque’s flight characteristics, although all of the three were very good.

The Roma V2 is the lightest of the three. The V2 version fixed the “arm breaking” problem that the V1 had, but the arms are still relatively thin and may not be as durable as the other two. The analog version has a 1000 mW video transmitter. To me, the Roma is the budget option.

The GEPRC Mark 5 is, at the time of this writing, the most expensive. The frame is thoughtfully designed. It’s got a tough aluminum front end and a clever split top-deck that allows maintenance without removing the HD camera mount. The GEPRC seems to me like the best option if you’re willing to pay a little bit more. The frame design is my favorite of the three. The analog version has a 1600 mW video transmitter, the highest of the bunch.

The “Vannystyle” is based on Alex Vanover’s signature frame. He’s known as one of the fastest racing pilots in the world, but he’s also an incredible freestyle pilot. The Vannystyle frame has 6mm arms for maximum durability and stiffness. The no-frills design of the quad keeps weight reasonable and makes for snappy, responsive flight. Alex’s motors have all the punch and power that a racing pilot would expect. The biggest objection some people will have to the Vannystyle is its price. It’s way more expensive than the Nazgul or the Roma, and its specs are similar, or in some cases worse (e.g. F4 processor vs. F7). This is because Vannystyle is hand-built by technicians in Orlando, Florida, with a custom PID tune designed by Vanover himself, and backed by Rotor Riot’s support. Some people will be willing to pay a premium for that; others won’t.

DIATONE ROMA F5 V2

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at GetFPV – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at Banggood – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at Amazon – Analog / DJI FPV

GEPRC MARK5

Purchase at RaceDayQuads- Analog  / DJI FPV
Purchase at Banggood- Analog  / DJI FPV

VANNYSTYLE BUILT AND TUNED BUNDLE

Purchase at Rotor Riot

The iFlight Nazgul V2 and the Diatone Roma F5 are the “budget” option in this category. They are extremely closely matched, with high performance motors, good-quality camera, and a custom PID tune pre-installed for great handling. The Roma F5 is a bit more premium in feel, with beveled carbon fiber plates, metal front end, plastic arm guards, and sharp-looking motors. The Nazgul is heavier, which means it’s not quite as nimble, but it’s more durable. The analog version of the Nazgul has an 800 mW vTX vs. only 400 mW for the Roma, so the Nazgul will have more video range and penetration (this doesn’t apply if you are buying the DJI version). The Roma’s F7 flight controller will have more room for future expansion than the F4 flight controller on the Nazgul. Personally, I would decide based on whether you want better flight characteristics (the Roma) or better durability (the Nazgul). The 800 mW vTX on the Nazgul will also make the decision for some people.

The “Vannystyle” is based on Alex Vanover’s signature frame. He’s known as one of the fastest racing pilots in the world, but he’s also an incredible freestyle pilot. The Vannystyle frame has 6mm arms for maximum durability and stiffness. The no-frills design of the quad keeps weight reasonable and makes for snappy, responsive flight. Alex’s motors have all the punch and power that a racing pilot would expect. The biggest objection some people will have to the Vannystyle is its price. It’s way more expensive than the Nazgul or the Roma, and its specs are similar, or in some cases worse (e.g. F4 processor vs. F7). This is because Vannystyle is hand-built by technicians in Orlando, Florida, with a custom PID tune designed by Vanover himself, and backed by Rotor Riot’s support. Some people will be willing to pay a premium for that; others won’t.

FRAMES

QAV-S 5″ FREESTYLE FRAME
JOSHUA BARDWELL EDITION

Purchase at GetFPV

APEX HD Frame

I fell in love with the QAV-S because of the genius way its arms join to the frame, allowing for one-screw arm changes, without putting a weakening screw hole through the center of the arm. It hits the sweet spot of being roomy enough to build with ease, without being so big that it compromises flight characteristics. It’s also relatively lightweight, but still tough enough for typical freestyle bashing. (If you are the hardest-core of concrete bando bashers, you might want a heavier frame.)

As much as I loved the QAV-S, there were a few things I changed to make the JB Edition. I requested a solid top plate for increased rigidity and strength; this also allowed the removal of one standoff. I shortened the standoffs to a 22m height. I thickened the front-bottom plate from 2mm to 3mm. Finally, I added a few notches to the tapered rear of the top plate, to allow a 2nd battery strap to be used without it sliding backwards. All of these changes increased the frame’s strength and durability while keeping the overall weight below 115g, which I think is the sweet spot for great flight performance.

The QAV-S JB Edition also comes with a custom JB-branded sticker sheet if that helps make up your mind.

This frame will hold a Caddx Vista, but not a DJI Air Unit

QAV-S 5″ FREESTYLE FRAME
JOHNNYFPV EDITION

Purchase at GetFPV

APEX HD Frame

The QAV-S Johnny FPV Edition has all of the good things I said about the QAV-S JB Edition, but it’s been extended to fit the DJI Air Unit preferred by Johnny FPV. It also has a vibration-isolated HD camera plate for the those cinematic masterpieces. And the front end is metal instead of carbon, which improves durability but adds weight.

When evaluating a frame, it’s important to keep in mind the designer’s intended use. The Johnny FPV QAV-S can be freestyle, but it’s intended more for fast cruising and chasing such as Johnny does in his commercial work. This build will be heavier and less agile than a typical, lighter-weight freestyle build. The main reason to choose this frame would be if you wanted the QAV-S, but you need the slightly greater range of the Air Unit, compared to the Vista.

IMPULSERC APEX and APEX HD

Purchase at GetFPV – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at RaceDayQuads – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at ImpulseRC

The ImpulseRC Apex is considered by some to be the best freestyle frame you can buy today. It’s tough as nails, and its reputation for having superior vibration characteristics was recently objectively confirmed by the aerospace materials engineer Chris Rosser.

Why doesn’t everyone fly the Apex? It’s heavier than some of the alternatives (although this does increase its durability). And it’s one of the most expensive 5” frames you can get.

This frame comes in 2 versions. The standard version will hold a Caddx Vista, but not a DJI Air Unit. The HD version is extended to fit a DJI Air Unit. The HD version does not have 20mm mounting holes in the back

Kabab FPV (Bob Roogi) re-defined racing frames with the Floss, finding ways to shave weight without compromising durability (too much). The Glide is his entry into the freestyle arena.

Freestyle pilots often focus so much on durability that they forget how much weight affects the way a quadcopter flies. Lighter quads are more nimble, accelerate better, and fly for longer than heavier ones. The Glide comes in under 100 grams! Compared to some other freestyle frames, that’s like saving half the weight of a whole GoPro Session!

The Glide is less durable than heavier frames, but it’s designed so that the easily-replaced arm breaks before anything more important. If it’s critical that you be able to fly home after every crash, the Glide may not be the frame for you. If you’re trying for a light build with just enough durability to keep you from tearing your hair out, the Glide is probably the best choice you can make today.

This frame will hold a Caddx Vista, but not a DJI Air Unit. Unless you flip the frame around front to back, mount the camera on the “rear”; mount a 20mm FC and ESC in the “rear”; and mount an Air Unit in the “front”. In which case technically you can jam an Air Unit into it.

The Rotor Riot HD1 is basically the same as the CL1 described above, except that it has been extended to easily fit a DJI Air Unit in the rear. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, durable frame that can fit an Air Unit, this is it. Flight handling and durability of this frame can be improved by buying a set of 22mm standoffs and substituting for the factory 30mm standoffs.

GEPRC MARK 4

Purchase at Banggood – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at GetFPV – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – Analog / DJI FPV
Purchase at Amazon – Analog / DJI FPV

GEPRC deserves a lot of credit for the Mark 4 frame. It’s beautiful and refined; lightweight(ish) and tough(ish) at the same time. It flies great and doesn’t cost too much. It’s got a longer body than some others, but that pushes the FPV camera forward so there aren’t any props in view.

I was seriously tempted to make the Mark 4 my personal favorite freestyle frame. The main thing that steered me away was the location of the arms on the inside of the body. (Technically, you can install the arms on the outside if you want, but that has its own down-sides). The location of the arms will complicate the installation of some 30mm FC/ESC stacks; if you’re using 20mm electronics, don’t worry.

This frame comes in 2 versions. The standard version will hold a Caddx Vista, but not a DJI Air Unit. The HD version is extended to fit a DJI Air Unit. The HD version does not have 20mm mounting holes in the back

TBS SOURCE ONE

Purchase at GetFPV – DJI FPV
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – DJI FPV
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – DJI FPV
Purchase at Team Blacksheep – DJI FPV
Purchase at Amazon – DJI FPV

The Source One is one of the best values in FPV frames. It’s community-designed and all the CAD files are open source and available for anyone to manufacture. As a result, the Source One is one of the least expensive frames you can get, and available nearly everywhere. (You could even cut it yourself if you have a CNC machine!)

While the Source One will get the job done, it’s obviously been manufactured to a price. It’s a sparse and utilitarian frame, but if you’re on a tight budget, it’s a great choice (and no guilt over buying a “clone”).

MOTORS

One of the biggest debates in FPV right now is whether beginners should choose 4S or 6S batteries. In my opinion, 6S has a small performance advantage, but it’s a bit more expensive and more likely to blow ESC’s when pushed hard. For five-inch freestyle, if you go with 4S, choose a motor between about 2300 kv and 2700kv. If you go with 6S, choose a motor between about 1600 and 1800 kv. Lower kv motors will make less power, but have longer flight time and be easier on the battery.

People kept telling me that I had to try this motor. I’d heard it all before. But they were right. The FPVCycle 25mm Imperial is a truly special and unique motor for freestyle. It’s powerful and punchy, sure. But where it really excels is low throttle response, such as when you dive down a building face and then need to quickly and smoothly stop your fall to hit a gap at the bottom of the building.

Kabab has kept the exact dimensions of the motor secret, but it’s rumored to be approximately 2506 in size. And somehow, the weight of the motor is only around 33 grams, the same as a typical 2306 motor.

This motor works great with almost any five inch prop, but Kabab recommends a lower-pitch prop for maximum control. If you prefer the thrust and punch of a high-pitch prop, the motor can absolutely handle it. Whatever prop you choose, be sure to keep AUW low (Kabab recommends below 670g for best performance). If your AUW is closer to 750g, consider using a slightly larger battery (such as 1250 mAh 6S instead of 1100 mAh) to handle the amp draw.

Emax is seriously messing up the whole FPV motor market with their Eco II line. As far as I can tell, they are making a $22 motor and selling it for $12 just because they want to be taken seriously as a motor manufacturer. I have no idea what the actual motivation is, but the Eco II is a seriously great value. It even has premium EZO bearings (an area where other budget motors often skimp).

At the time of this writing, the Eco II comes in only three sizes: 2306 and 2207 ideal for 5″ or maybe 6″ props), and 2807 (ideal for 7″ props). For 5″ props, choose 1700kv for longer flight time on 6S batteries, 1900 kv for more power on 6S batteries, or 2400 kv for 4S batteries. For the 2807, choose 1300 kv for long range cruising on 6S batteries, 1500 kv for a bit more power on 6S, and 1700 kv for 4S, or for 6S builds intended for aggressive freestyle.

If the Eco II is available in a size that you want, from a store that you want, it’s hard to argue that you should buy anything else. Nearly everything else in this price range is inferior. And motors that cost twice as much may be better, but are they twice as good? Especially if you’re just going to destroy them in a crash.

XING 2 2306

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – 2555 kv / 1755 kv
Purchase at GetFPV – 2555 kv / 1755 kv
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – 2555 kv / 1755 kv
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – 2555 kv / 1755 kv
Purchase at Banggood – 2555 kv / 1755 kv
Purchase at Amazon – 2555 kv / 1755 kv

If the Emax Eco II line delivers $20 motor quality for $12, then the iFlight Xing line delivers $27 motor quality for $20. Everything about Xing motors is top of the line: single-piece curved bell in 7075 aluminum for maximum durability; center-slotted N52H curved magnets for maximum responsiveness; NSK bearings; titanium alloy shaft; and a proprietary o-ring between the bearing and the bell to help protect the bearing from impacts and smooth out vibrations.

The Xing2 is a great all round choice for freestyle.

The NewBeeDrone Flow is another entry in the budget freestyle motor category. Newbeedrone regularly sells it in a “crazy deal” of eight motors, with a price working out to around $15 per motor. These are solid motors for $15 and should be considered as an alternative option to the Emax Eco. One catch: they ship from the USA only, so if you’re not American, the shipping price probably will rule them out.

The T-Motor F40 Pro line used to be clearly the best freestyle motor you could buy. But it’s hard to justify the price of this motor, given how good some of the competition is. iFlight motors are equal or better in quality; FPVCycle motors have superior performance; Emax motors are a better value. The F40 Pro IV is a top-notch motor, and at about 30 grams, it’s lighter than almost any other motor in this class. But you really have to want that T-Motor pedigree to bring yourself to pay what T-Motor is asking for this motor.

GEPRC SPEEDX2 2107.5
1960kv / 2450kv

Purchase at Banggood
Purchase at GEPRC

When I first saw this motor’s odd size, I thought it was just a marketing gimmick. 2207 is so played out! Let’s make a 2107! No wait! 2107.5! That’ll really stand out! But I was wrong. This motor is made by RCInpower, and they don’t play around when it comes to making great motors. So I went back and thought about the effect of a motor’s shape on its performance.

Wider motors have more surface area for better cooling. Taller motors are more responsive, because their mass is closer to their axis of rotation. The volume of this motor is about the same as a 2207, but it’s narrower and taller. In other words, this is a slightly more responsive motor than a 2207, with slightly worse cooling.

And you know what? That’s actually a pretty good idea. Because freestyle pilots are seldom at full throttle for long periods of time, so the motors won’t tend to get very hot; and the additional responsiveness makes for better flight characteristics.

If you live somewhere with very hot temperatures, or if you spend a LOT of time at high throttle, then this isn’t the motor for you. If your current 2207 motors come down smoking, this isn’t the motor for you. But if you’re like most freestyle pilots, you should think about giving the RCInpower 2107.5 a try. (Or buy the GEPRC, which is basically the exact same motor, just with different branding.)

FLIGHT CONTROLLER & ESC

The flight controller (FC) is the brains of the quadcopter. It receives your commands from the receiver and translates that into motor outputs that make the quadcopter fly. Modern flight controllers may also include accessories like voltage regulators, and on-screen-display (OSD), a power-distribution-board (PDB) and more.

Flight controllers on this page may be marked as “DJI Ready” and “DJI Only”. DJI Ready means that the FC has a plug to allow easy connection of a DJI Air Unit or Caddx Vista. DJI Ready FC’s can still be used with analog FPV systems. DJI Only means that the FC does not support analog video at all, and should only be used with the DJI System. Any FC not marked this way will support both analog and DJI, but if using DJI you’ll need to solder wires to the FC since it doesn’t have a plug.

Originally, all of the FC and ESC on this page were 30mm size. 30mm FC have larger solder pads and more of them, for more options when wiring up a build. 30mm ESC’s tend to have larger FETs so they’re more durable.

Speaking for myself, I always choose 30mm when building a 5″ freestyle rig. 20mm ESC’s specifically are less durable than 30mm ones, especially when trying to “turtle mode” out of an obstacle, or to flip back over after crashing. There are people I respect who fly 20mm FC and ESC exclusively, but I’ve blown too many 20mm ESC’s to fully trust them for this type of build.

But I have to admit that I might be in the minority here. Many 5″ freestyle pilots prefer 20mm for its lighter weight and smaller size. And if 20mm ESC’s can be durable enough for racing, then they’re certainly tough enough for freestyle. So we’re including both 20mm and 30mm electronics in this section.

MY VERY OWN…

I’m more picky about flight controllers than almost any other part on a quad. That’s why I’m so thrilled that RaceDayQuads invited me to design the JBF7 from the ground up exactly how I wanted it. I started with big, easy to solder to pads. The pad layout focuses on flexibility and ease of use. Although it’s got plugs for an ESC and a DJI Air Unit, you can also direct-solder if you prefer. There’s an SD card slot for all the blackbox logging you could want. Dual gyros for smoother flight (or just having a spare gyro if one of them is damaged in a crash). And a detailed user manual with wiring diagrams and instructions for getting started.

Just because this is my own FC doesn’t mean it’s right for everybody. It has i2c pads for a compass, but there is no on board barometer and no iNav target. A few people have complained about the lack of a USB-C connector. It’s designed for use with a 4 in 1 ESC, not individual ESC’s. And if you’re on the strictest of budgets you can save a little money by buying one of the F4 flight controllers, like the Diatone stack on this page. Other than that, I think this is one of the best FC’s you can get today.

The Diatone Mamba F722S has all the standard features most people want in a Betaflight F7 flight controller, including lots of UARTS and dataflash chip for blackbox logging. Here’s what puts the Diatone F722S over the top. Built-in LED controller allows you to easily use programmable LEDs without having to mess with Betaflight’s clunky, complicated LED interface. Just press a button on the FC to change LED colors! And built-in Bluetooth radio means you can program the FC with your phone, without ever plugging in USB.

T-MOTOR F7 HD & F55A (DJI ONLY)
30MM STACK

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – FC Only / FC & ESC
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – FC Only / FC & ESC
Purchase at Rotor Riot – FC Only / FC & ESC
Purchase at Banggood – FC Only / FC & ESC

The T-Motor F7 is a high-quality flight controller with all the features you might expect. But what really stands out in this combo is the F55A ESC. This is one of the most durable, reliable ESC’s you can buy today. I won’t go so far as to say it’s indestructible, but it’s about as close as you can get in this hobby.

DIATONE MAMBA BASIC F405 MK3
30MM STACK

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – 40A / 50A
Purchase at GetFPV – 40A / 50A
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – 40A / 50A
Purchase at Banggood – 40A / 50A

Diatone consistently makes some of the most inexpensive flight controllers and ESC’s you can buy. So you’d expect the quality to suffer, but it doesn’t! Diatone’s FC and ESC’s don’t quite rise to the near-bulletproof reputation fo the best in the hobby, but they’re well above average, and that makes them some of the best value you can buy.

Still, it’s a struggle to find good budget-price FC and ESC today, because component shortages mean that products are constantly changing and prices are constantly going up. For example, the Mamba Basic FC is already on Mk4, but we’re listing the Mk3 because, right now, it’s more widely available and less expensive. But in a few months, the Mk3 will be sold out and we’ll have to update this listing again.

Although it’s a budget offering, the features and pad layout of the Mk3 leave almost nothing to be desired. The main reason it’s so inexpensive (if you can call an $80 stack inexpensive, but these days, that’s what we’ve come to) is that it’s made with an F4 processor. So it’s a little slower than an F7 processor, but you’ll probably never notice if you have to run Betaflight at a 4k PID loop instead of an 8k PID loop to make up for it.

HOBBYWING XROTOR CONVERTIBLE
30MM F7/60A HD STACK (DJI READY)

Purchase at RaceDayQuads
Purchase at GetFPV
Purchase at Pyro Drone
Purchase at Rotor Riot

Hobbywing has always made some of the most reliable ESC’s in the FPV market. Lately, they’ve started stepping up their FC game as well. This stack starts with a BLHeli32 ESC, so you’ll get all the latest features like variable PWM frequency and startup music. The 60-amp rating is far more than most will need, up to about 7″ props. It has a 12v regulator to power your video transmitter (whether analog or DJI), including on-board pit-switch, which allows you to switch the vTX off remotely if you want to power up without interfering with your friends. It’s even got a built in camera switcher, so you can view two different cameras (analog only) such as one forward and one rear or downward facing.

One drawback of this FC is its compact size. It’s designed with both 30mm and 20mm mounting holes. The 30mm holes are on break-off tabs. This means that the FC is basically 20mm in size, which severely limits the available space on the board. As a result, there are small and limited solder pads, and some resources are only available in plugs. This approach is confusing, since the ESC has only 30mm mounting holes, so if you’re buying the FC and ESC together, you’ll never use the 20mm holes.

Despite this quirk, the Hobbywing Xrotor Micro F7 is a great FC at a decent price, paired with an exceptionally good ESC.

AIKON F7 FC & AIKON PRO ESC (DJI READY)
20MM FC & ESC

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – FC / ESC
Purchase at GetFPV – FC / ESC
Purchase at Pyro Drone – FC / ESC
Purchase at Catalyst Machineworks – FC / ESC
Purchase at Banggood – FC / ESC

Aikon has made some of the strongest, most durable ESC’s on the market for years. It’s no surprise that their 20mm Aikon Pro ESC is one of the few that can stand up to the abuse of FPV racing. The Aikon flight controller has an F7 processor with plenty of UARTs for peripherals. It’s got a built in 10v regulator to power DJI (if you choose to race on DJI, this is your pick) or your analog vTX. It’s even got a built in pit switch to let you power down your vTX with an aux switch. The main down-side of this FC is that the solder pads are very small, but that’s sort of true for all 20mm FC so maybe it doesn’t matter.

BRAIN FPV RADIX LI FC &
HOBBYWING 40A 4-IN-1
20MM FC & ESC

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – FC / ESC
Purchase at GetFPV – FC / ESC
Purchase at Pyro Drone – FC / ESC

There are a couple of things that make the Radix Li unique. First, it’s manufactured by BrainFPV in Portland, Oregon, USA. If you’re American and want to support a small domestic manufacturer, this is one of your only options. BrainFPV hand-checks each board before shipping, providing a level of quality and customer service that giant companies shipping thousands of flight controllers can’t match. BrainFPV also uses a different gyro chip on their FC. The Bosch gyro is designed for automotive application and has built in filtering that some argue gives better results than the Invensense gyros on most other FC’s. (To be fair, some argue it gives worse results, but BrianFPV definitely has its fans.) BrainFPV pairs with a Hobbywing ESC, which has an excellent reputation for durability. It’s also the ESC used by Evan Turner (HeadsUpFPV) in his race builds as of this writing.

One major gotcha of this FC and ESC combo is that its 5v regulator is sized only for powering a camera and receiver. It can’t power a vTX. And many micro-sized vTX are designed to run only off of 5v, which means they can’t be used with the Radix Li. If your vTX is one of these, then the Radix Li is probably not the best choice for your FC and ESC.

If you look closely at this flight controller, you might guess that it’s actually made by Aikon and sold under T-Motor’s branding. The layout is very similar and the features are nearly identical. No matter who makes it, T-Motor has a great reputation for quality and performance. But mostly, I’m including it as an alternative in case the Aikon is out of stock. It’s also the FC used by Evan Turner (HeadsUpFPV) in his race builds as of this writing.

REDUX32 V2
20MM ESC

Purchase at ReduxAir

Unlike the other entries, this one is going to start with the ESC, not the FC. Redux Air makes what might be the toughest, highest performance 20mm ESC available today. It uses the same larger, higher-rated FETs used on 30mm ESC’s. How do they fit? The board spills over the sides of the 20mm mounting holes, so you’ll want to make sure it’ll fit into your frame. In my opinion, this is one of the best 20mm ESC’s you can buy today. If you can find it in stock.

This ESC can be paired with almost any FC, but you will probably have to re-arrange the order of the wires in the harness connecting them together.

This is the FC if you want something inexpensive that will get the job done. At the time of this writing, the other FC on this list go for about $60; this one is closer to $40. And it’s got an F7 processor too! What’s it give up? It’s only got four UARTs instead of five, but racers typically don’t need a lot of UARTs anyway; it lacks features like vTX pit switch; it’s only got a 5v regulator, so your vTX needs to run on 5v if you want the cleanest video possible; and it doesn’t have a plug or regulator for DJI (not really relevant to most racers).

You might expect me to pair this up with the Foxeer Reaper ESC, but I’m not. The Reaper looks great on paper, but it’s still too new to have proven it’s reliable and tough enough to make it onto this list. The Reaper is priced the same as the best ESC’s out there. You might as well just buy one of them.

VIDEO TRANSMITTER (ANALOG)

TBS UNIFY 5G8 PRO32 HV VTX

The Unify Pro32 is the latest edition of what many people consider to be the best FPV video transmitter made. It keeps all the standard features that the Unify is known for: clean power transmission, honest output power rating, bulletproof reliability, and support for pit mode and SmartAudio. The Pro32 HV is not quite as thin as the original Unify, but it’s still pretty trim and will easily fit into even tight builds.

The Pro32 ups the output power to 1000 mW “or more”. This is a refreshingly honest approach. Most vTX advertise a nominal output power then output somewhat less. The Pro32 also supports remote control by Crossfire interface. This is useful for fixed-wing pilots flying without a flight controller. You can connect the vTX directly to your Crossfire receiver and adjust channel and output power via the Crossfire system. This is great because the Unify’s button-press / LED-flash interface is awful to use in the field.

Another feature of the Pro32 is that it has built in USB interface which allows firmware update and configuration via the TBS Agent X software on PC.

If what you want is absolute maximum range, consider the Rush Tank Solo. Its top power is simply listed as “MAX”, but it’s reported to be well over 1 watt. RushFPV video transmitters are extremely high quality, at a lower price than a brand like TBS Unify. The main drawback of the Solo is its size. You’ll definitely want to make sure it’ll fit nicely into your frame before you buy it.

Most if not all frames today have 20mm-spaced mounting holes in the rear of the frame, perfect for mounting a video transmitter like the Rush Tank Mini. Most 20mm vTX max out around 400 mW, but the Rush Tank Mini goes up to 800 mW — more than enough for penetrating obstacles while flying freestyle. This is one of my favorite vTX for ease of mounting, high output power, good build quality and durability.

If you want the absolute maximum range and penetration, there’s no substitute for more mW of output power. But that power comes with a price: big, heavy video transmitters. What about lightweight racing rigs or micro-size quads like 3″ and below?

That’s where the Rush Tiny Tank comes in. It weighs only 1.4 grams and is 12.5mm x 17mm in size. It’ll fit in almost any build. And you don’t give up functionality either! It supports SmartAudio (obviously), pit mode, and has output power up to 350 mW. This vTX can’t compete with its big brothers when it comes to maximum range and penetration. But gram for gram, it delivers in ways that few other vTX can.

FPV CAMERAS (ANALOG)

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE

I believe that an FPV camera’s job is to communicate information to the pilot so that they can fly better. That means the best image for FPV is not always the one that looks the best to spectators. I worked with Runcam to customize the Phoenix 2 to deliver the things I look for in an FPV camera.

The contrast and brightness on the JB Phoenix 2 have been tweaked to maximize dynamic range, so you see details in shadow and highlight. Sharpening has been lowered to reduce haloing and shimmer. Finally, I asked Runcam to add digital camera control capability, so you can tweak the camera settings using your flight controller, instead of having to carry a camera joystick with you to the field.

The only way to truly know if this camera is best for you is to take a look at the image in my review.

FOXEER ARROW MICRO PRO

Purchase at GetFPV

FOXEER ARROW MICRO PRO FPV CAMERA

The Arrow Micro Pro is priced around $20, same as the Caddx F2. They’re both excellent cameras for the price. The Arrow uses a CCD sensor, so it’ll have a slightly more contrasty image, and slightly better exposure handling. However, to my eye, the Caddx looks better overall. You won’t go wrong with either, but if you know that you like a “CCD style” or “CMOS style” image better, pick the camera that suits.

The Foxeer T-Rex boasts the highest resolution sensor of any FPV camera I know, at 1500 tvl. When I first heard this, I wondered whether it was just marketing hype. After all, an SD video feed only has so much resolution, so can you really tell the difference if the camera has higher resolution? After trying the camera out, I think the answer is yes. The difference is small, but there. The T-Rex should be the choice of somebody who wants the absolute most detail you can get from an analog FPV feed.

If you pick up this camera, be aware the input voltage only goes up to 16v, so be careful you don’t feed it from excess voltage and fry it.

BEST FOR LOW-LIGHT FLYING

None of the typical FPV cameras are true night-vision cameras, but the Foxeer Cat V3 is as close as you’re likely to get. The Cat has higher light sensitivity than other FPV cameras, to make flying at dusk or under bright moonlight as easy as possible. The big objection to true “starlight” cameras is that they’re unusable in daytime. Fortunately, the Cat avoids that problem. Its daylight image is perfectly usable, if not quite on par with the best dedicated daylight cameras. If you’re looking for one camera to fly at high noon or after dark, the Foxeer Micro Cat is the one we recommend.

VIDEO ANTENNAS FOR VTX AND GOGGLES

There are three important things to know about video antennas. First, they come in left-handed (LHCP) and right-handed (RHCP) varieties, and you must put the same variety on your quadcopter and your goggles. Most pilots fly RHCP, and that’s what I recommend you start with too. There isn’t any performance difference, but having the same type as everyone else will let you watch them in your goggles.

Second, they come with different connectors: SMA and RP-SMA. Whatever kind of connector came on your video transmitter and your goggles, you have to buy the same kind on the antenna, or they won’t screw together. Don’t assume that the goggles and the vTX will have the same connector either.

Third, you should never power up your video transmitter without an antenna attached. This can damage or destroy the video transmitter.

FOXEER LOLLIPOP
V4 / V+

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – V4 / V+
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – V4
Purchase at Pyro Drone – V4
Purchase at Rotor Riot – V4
Purchase at Banggood – V4 / V+
Purchase at Makefire – V4 / V+

This antenna is durable, cheap, and it’s available in all major connectors: SMA, RP-SMA, MMCX, and UFL. It’s even available in different colors if you like to coordinate! Its RF performance isn’t up to the level of more expensive ones, but it’ll get the job done. At this price, you won’t feel shy about picking up some spares.

Rush has been known for making high-quality, mid-priced video transmitters. Now they’re taking that same philosophy to antennas. These aren’t the cheapest antennas you can buy, but the quality and consistency is way better than the “cheapest antennas you can buy”. There are a ton of varieties so make sure you get the right polarity (LH or RH — most FPV pilots use RH, but DJI uses LH by default) and connector (MMCX, UFL, SMA, or RPSMA). Not all varieties are available at all stores so if you can’t find what you want, shop around!

At first glance, the Xilo Axii looks identical to the Lumenier Axii. But the Xilo Axii is half the price. So what’s the difference? Umm…. good question. If you want to know the truth, these are the ones I usually put on my own builds and they seem to do well for me. The main disadvantage of the Xilo Axii is that it’s only available at GetFPV, so international buyers would probably prefer the Rush or the Lollipop.

LUMENIER AXII 2 OMNIDIRECTONAL VIDEO ANTENNA

The Axii has everything you could ask for from an FPV antenna. It’s got an even coverage pattern so there are no surprise dead zones when you fly behind yourself or overhead. Its axial ratio is nearly perfect, which means it’s good at rejecting multipath and interference from reverse-polarized antennas. It’s not too big. It’s nearly indestructible. And it’s available in a variety of sizes and connectors, for any application.

When you buy the Axii, make sure you’re getting the right one. It comes in a standard length, with SMA or RP-SMA connector. It also comes with thin coaxial cable and U.FL or MMCX connector, for direct-connection to your vTX. Finally, it comes in “stubby” and “long distance” varieties. My personal favorite is the “stubby”. Placing the antenna very close to the quadcopter’s frame reduces range, but significantly increases durability. If you plan to use the UFL or MMCX version, make sure you’ve got a 3D printed mount to hold it, as the coax itself is too floppy to use for mounting (these are also sold at GetFPV). Finally, remember that you must have matching LH (left-hand) or RH (right-hand) antennas on your quad and goggles. Lumenier colors LH antennas white and RH antennas black to help you remember.

I’ve been using this as my goggle omni antenna for the last few months, and it’s amazing. The most impressive spec is its near-perfect axial ratio, which means it’ll reject multipath distortion better. But the honest reason I like this antenna is knowing that it’s built by the techs over at Video Aerial Systems. When they say that they test every antenna before it ships, I believe them. So I feel confident that I haven’t accidentally gotten a bad antenna without knowing it.

Although this is an amazing goggle antenna, I don’t prefer to use it on my quads. The Ion design is a little too fragile for the kind of beating my quads take. But as a goggle antenna, I think it’s possibly the best omni you can get.

BATTERIES

Batteries for 5” freestyle will almost always be 6S or 4S voltage. 6S offers slightly better performance especially towards the end of the pack, where it seems to feel like it has less voltage sag. (Be careful, as it’s easy to over-discharge 6S packs by not realizing they’re about to die.) 4S is slightly less expensive and less likely to fry ESC’s. Most pilots today are flying 6S, so if you’re on the fence, that’s probably the way to go.

GNB (GAONENG)

Purchase at Banggood – 1500 mAh 4S
Purchase at Makefire – 1500 mAh 4S
Purchase at Banggood – 1050 mAh 6S
Purchase at Banggood – All Other Sizes
Purchase at Makefire – All Other Sizes
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – 1500 mAh 4S
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – All Other Sizes
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – All Other Sizes

CNHL G+ SERIES

Purchase at RaceDayQuads –   1300 mAh 4S / 1500 mAh 4S
Purchase at GetFPV –   1300 mAh 4S / 1500 mAh 4S
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – 1300 mAh 4S / 1500 mAh 4S
Purchase at Amazon – 1300 mAH 4S

CNHL 4S 1300 MAH 100C BATTERY

RDQ SERIES (RACEDAYQUADS)

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – 1300 mAh 4S
Purcahse at RaceDayQuads – 1500 mAh 4S
Purchase at RaceDayQuads – 1000 mAh 6S

RDQ SERIES 100C BATTERY

All of the packs listed above give good performance at a reasonable price. Choose the smaller packs if you want a lighter, more agile quad, with slightly shorter flight time; choose the larger packs if you prioritize flight time over handling.

TATTU R-LINE 4.0

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – 1050 mAh 6S
Purchase at GetFPV – 1300 mAh 4S / 1050 mAh 6S
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – 1300 mAh 4S / 1050 mAh 6S
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – 1300 mAh 4S / 1050 mAh 6S
Purchase at Rotor Riot – 1300 mAh 4S / 1050 mAh 6S
Purchase at ReadyMadeRC – 1300 mAh 4S / 1050 mAh 6S
Purchase at Banggood – 1300 mAh 4S / 1050 mAh 6S
Purchase at Makefire – 1300 mAh 4S / 1050 mAh 6S

Tattu R-Line are some of the best batteries you can get. And the price reflects it. Given the chances of destroying a battery in a crash, you really have to ask yourself whether the additional performance of a premium battery is worth the price. Personally, I run budget packs and I’m happy with them, but if you want the absolute best performance, or if you’re very weight-sensitive, you won’t go wrong with the R-Line 4.0.

Oh by the way: it seems like almost nobody wants to carry the 4S version of this pack. I guess stores think all the high-end buyers are using 6S.

MR. STEELE THUNDERPOWER 1100

The specifications of this pack seem to defy physics. It’s an 1100 mAh 6S pack that weighs under 180 grams. I don’t know how Thunderpower has pulled this off, but whatever they did must have been difficult, because this is also an incredibly expensive pack. If you’re trying to shave every possible gram off of your build, this is the pack you’ll buy.

PROPS

SOMETIMES SMALLER IS BETTER?

T-MOTOR 4943 & AXIS 4943.5

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – 4943 / 4943.5
Purchase at GetFPV – 4943 / 4943.5
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – 4943 / 4943.5
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – 4943 / 4943.5
Purchase at Rotor Riot – 4943 / 4943.5
Purchase at FPVCrate – 4943 / 4943.5
Purchase at Banggood – 4943 / 4943.5
Purchase at Amazon – 4943 / 4943.5

Everybody seems to want MORE all the time. These props answer the question: what if LESS is better? These props are 4.9″ in diameter, which means yes, they make a little less thrust than a 5″ or 5.1″ prop. But they are significantly lighter, and that means they’re more responsive and smoother in flight. The reduction in thrust also improves throttle resolution at the expense of top end power. These props are particularly suited to very light 5″ builds (under 650 grams) which can feel floaty on larger props. They’re also great if you’re running just a little higher kv than is ideal.

FOR LIGHTWEIGHT FREESTYLE BUILDS

ETHIX SERIES

Purchase at GetFPV – S3 / S4 / S5
Purchase at RaceDayQuads – S3 / S4 / S5
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – S3 / S4 / S5
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – S3 / S4 / S5
Purchase at ReadyMadeRC – S3 / S4 / S5
Purchase at Amazon – S3 / S4 / S5

I always thought these props were overrated until I tried them on Mr. Steele’s actual quad. Then I got it. These props are terrible on heavier freestyle builds. That’s not what they’re made for. But on lightweight freestyle builds (5″ quads under 650 grams All Up Weight) they come alive.

Have you ever dove over an obstacle and then needed to catch yourself precisely at the bottom to fly through a gap? That’s where these props excel. You can find the exact throttle position you need quickly and precisely, without over-shooting or pulsing the throttle. They’re also easy on the battery for extended flight time. The tradeoff is that they lack the razor-sharp cornering and neck-snapping acceleration you get with higher-pitch props.

These props are best when used with a wider motor like a 2306. When used with a 2207 or 2208 motor, the taller stator’s non-linear throttle curve doesn’t fit as well with the Ethix props’ low-throttle linearity and precision.

Steele recommends the S3 for quads between 500-650g, up to about 3000′ above sea level. The S4 gives a little more thrust, especially suited for altitudes up to 10,000′. The S5 has the highest pitch and is for heavier quads up to 750g (such as carrying a GoPro). The S5 is also 18% gray to make it less visible if it’s in the camera’s view.

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE

The Gemfan 51477 is the perfect prop to pair with larger motors like 2407 and 2208, or even bigger!

Many freestyle pilots today are moving to larger motors, which allows the use of heavier props without compromising handling. This gives the best of both worlds: punch, speed, and smoothness. But only if the motor is paired with the right prop. A light prop doesn’t demand the torque that the bigger motors put out, and it doesn’t make enough thrust to counteract their weight. Too heavy a prop drives amp-draw through the roof, shortening flight times and killing batteries.

The Gemfan Hurricane 51477 hits the sweet spot between those extremes. It’s got enough pitch to make the most of the motors’ torque, without going overboard like the 51499 might. And its unique blade profile gives reasonably good control even at low throttle (something high-pitch props are often bad at.)

Of course I also love to run these props on smaller motors like 2207 and 2306. It makes great power, but the reduced torque of the motor means the prop isn’t as smooth and responsive as it is on larger motors.

FAST, PRECISE, AND DURABLE

GEMFAN HURRICANE 51466 / 51499

Purchase at RaceDayQuads 51466 / 51499
Purchase at GetFPV 51466 / 51499
Purchase at NewBeeDrone 51466 / 51499
Purchase at Pyro Drone 51466 / 51499
Purchase at Catalyst Machineworks 51466 / 51499
Purchase at ReadyMadeRC 51466 / 51499
Purchase at Banggood 51466 / 51499
Purchase at Amazon 51499

GEMFAN HURRICANE

I first came to love the Hurricane 51499 prop when I was searching for the best prop for my JB2407 motor. Because my quad was heavier, it was loose and imprecise in corners. The 51499 has razor sharp handling in corners and plenty of speed in the straights.

Although the Hurricane line was designed for racing, I like them for freestyle. They are not as smooth and controllable in the low end as some pilots would prefer. This is a great prop for somebody who wants to punch the throttle and get slammed back in their seat.

The Hurricanes are also designed to be durable. The hub is reinforced so that, after a crash, you can just bend them back and keep flying. This is advertised as making them suitable for racers, but I know freestyle pilots will appreciate it just as much.

If you have big, torquey motors and you want the most thrust and sharpest handling, choose the 51499 size. But you’ll need really healthy batteries or a really lightweight quad in order to keep you flight time up. The 51466 version is slightly easier on the battery, and may be a better choice for smaller motors, or higher-kv motors.

MORE EFFICIENT; LESS RESPONSIVE
GEMFAN F3S & F4S

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – F3S / F4S
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – F3S / F4S
Purchase at Pyro Drone  – F3S / F4S
Purchase at Rotor Riot – F3S / F4S
Purchase at Catalyst Machineworks – F3S / F4S
Purchase at FPVCycle – F3S / F4S
Purchase at FPVCrate – F3S / F4S
Purchase at Banggood – F3S / F4S
Purchase at Amazon – F3S / F4S

The F3S and F4S are Gemfan’s latest generation of freestyle props. They’re 5.1″ in diameter, which lets them use lower pitch without giving up thrust. The lower pitch helps with smoothness that freestyle pilots value and improves efficiency, but can make ultra-light builds feel too floaty. Like all freestyle props, they’re designed with durability in mind, so you can (hopefully) fly back home after a crash.

Pick the F3 if you’re using higher kv motors and/or value smoothness, predictability, and responsiveness over top-end power. Pick the F4 if you have lower kv motors and need more thrust, or if you just want a little more power.

ACCESSORIES

FPVCYCLE “CAP/DIODE SYSTEM”

Purchase at FPV Cycle 

Everybody knows that putting a capacitor on your build gives cleaner video and helps protect your ESC and other electronics from damaging voltage spikes. But capacitors can only do so much, and big, sharp spikes can still get through. Enter the TVS diode. A TVS diode chops the top off of voltage spikes, almost no matter how big they are.

So why don’t people use TVS diodes more often? Two reasons. First, you can usually get away without one. Capacitors do an ok job most of the time. Second, the specs for a TVS diode are a little more difficult to interpret than a capacitor’s, so it can be difficult to be sure you bought the right one.
That’s where this product comes in. The FPVCycle cap/diode system combines a capacitor and some TVS diodes into a single unit with pre-soldered wires. Just solder it to your ESC power pads and know you’re as protected as you can be from voltage spikes and electrical noise.

First, read the description of the FPVCycle cap/diode set, so you understand that a TVS diode is and why you need one.

The FETTEC spike absorber is just the TVS diode part of that, without the capacitor. Don’t go thinking you can omit the capacitor though! You’ve just got to provide your own. And you’ve got to solder on your own wires, while the FPVCycle one comes pre-soldered. And the FETTEC spike absorber is nearly the same price as the FPVCycle one. Just about the only thing the FETTEC product has over the FPVCycle is that it’s got three diodes, while the FPVCycle has two. Does that matter? I don’t actually know.

Bottom line: get the FPVCycle one if you can, but if it’s not available, the FETTEC is a fine alternative.

First, read the description of the FPVCycle cap/diode set, so you understand that a TVS diode is and why you need one.

The Rush power filter board includes a capacitor and TVS diodes, similar to the FPVCycle product. The main difference between them is the form factor. The Rush board is designed to be soldered underneath or on top of the XT60 pads of a Rush ESC. This clearly isn’t going to work for every ESC and every frame, but nothing’s stopping you from soldering wires to the Rush board and mounting it wherever is convenient. It’s definitely bigger than the alternatives though, and some builds will struggle to find a great place to mount it.