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

This page is for all the people who love to rip, but have to stay under 250 grams. Whether you live in the USA and don’t want to register your quad, or you live in a country with a near-total ban on any drone over 250g, this page is for you.

One of the biggest problems with sub-250g freestyle is that, as the quad gets lighter, it doesn’t “fling” like a freestyle quad should. As soon as you get off the throttle, it stops moving, because it hasn’t got the mass to overcome air resistance. So the goal of this page will be to get as close to 250g as possible without going over. Builds like Tiny Whoops and Toothpicks, which are significantly less than 250g will be covered on another page. Builds like 95mm Cinewhoops, which fly really poorly for freestyle, will also not be covered on this page.

The next question is: what’s the best prop size for this category? There’s no one right answer. Flight characteristics will improve as the props get larger, but durability will go down. So part of the decision is how hard you intend to crash and how willing you are to put money and time into repairs.

Ahren Ciotti says 3” is king for sub-250 freestyle. The weight-vs.-prop-area (also known as disc loading) is similar to a mid-weight five inch, which produces similar flight characteristics. Ciotti likes to build 3” freestyle quads around 200-210g with a “hybrid” style camera (a single camera that records HD video on board while also acting as an FPV camera).

JB’s favorite is 3.5” props. A 3.5” quad can be built out to about 240 grams. The disc loading is just a bit lower than Ciotti’s 3” build, but flight time and power are improved due to the larger props. To get a 3.5” build under 250g, smaller motors are typically used, which means less torque on a larger prop, so getting a perfect PID tune may be more difficult.

The final entry in this category is the Ummagawd 2Fiddy, designed by Tommy Tibajia. I always felt that 5” sub-250g was pointless. To get the weight down, you had to give up too much in terms of durability; and the disc loading was so low that the quad was super floaty and not fun to fly. The 2Fiddy changed all that. Obviously, Tommy can’t defy the laws of physics, but it doesn’t feel super-floaty like other sub-250g 5” I’ve flown. The durability is not as high as a 3” or 3.5”, but it’s not made of glass either. And oh my gosh how good it flies. The responsiveness, acceleration, and sharp cornering are ridiculous. If you plan to crash a lot, the 2Fiddy may not be for your, but if your focus is purely on flight performance, it’s the best experience I’ve ever had under 250g.

By the way: forget about carrying a GoPro in this category. Even a “naked GoPro” puts most of these builds over the 250g limit, and wouldn’t be durable enough for freestyle bashing. An Insta360 Go might work on the 3” builds.

BIND N FLY / RTF

GEPRC SMART35 (3.5”)

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – Analog / DJI HD
Purchase at GetFPV – Analog / DJI HD
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – Analog / DJI HD
Purchase at Banggood – Analog / DJI HD
Purchase at Amazon – Analog / DJI HD

The GEPRC Smart35 was the quad that convinced me that 3.5” was the best all-round prop size for sub-250g freestyle. Its 1404 motors are the standard for 3.5” freestyle under 250g; a larger motor would give better performance, but put the quad over the 250g limit. The frame is simple and robust. A single-piece bottom plate improves durability, but means if you do break an arm, you’ll be replacing the whole thing. One notable feature is that it mounts the Vista video transmitter to the top plate, which avoids putting mass and vibration into the flight control stack, as well as simplifying maintenance. The analog version of the quad comes with a 600 mW video transmitter, which is pretty good for this size category, although more power would always be nice. The flight controller is AIO (all in one) style with integrated 35 amp ESC.

Emax is one of the best, most consistent manufacturers of bind-n-fly quadcopters in all of FPV. Almost every one of their BnF quads is near the top of its category in value, flight performance, capabilities, and durability. The Babyhawk II upholds this reputation. The frame is incredibly durable. The 1404 motors are the standard for 3.5” freestyle under 250g; a larger motor would give better performance, but put the quad over the 250g limit. It comes with an F4 flight controller, which may limit upgradeability in the future, but will perform fine today. The 25 amp ESC is the weak spot in this build, if there is one; we’d prefer to see a little higher rating to increase durability. Recommended battery is an 850 mAh 4S with XT30 connector, which should come in under 100g, putting the entire quad around 240g all up weight.

I said everything that I want to say about this quad up in the introduction section of this page. Basically, if you want sub-250g five inch, I think this is one of the only options worth looking at. The 2Fiddy is available with both 6S and 4S motor kv. Tommy prefers the 6S, but this requires a very small 6S battery that basically only Ummagawd sells. If you get the 4S version, performance is still excellent. The bind-n-fly versions are only available with DJI video, but nothing is stopping you from building your own analog version.

MORE MASSIVE DRONER
CWM BESPOKE BUILD

Purchase at Catalyst Machineworks

If you want one of the best builders in the world to hand-make you exactly the racing drone that’s best for you, this is it. Catalyst Machineworks designs, manufactures, and builds, some of the coolest racing and freestyle drones in the world. They’ll work with you to help decide on the best parts to meet your needs, then build the quad, test-fly it, and send it to you.

AVANQUADS AVIO 3

Purchase at Avantquads – Analog with Caddx Baby Ratel / HD with Nebula Pro

I’ll be honest. I struggled to find a great 3″ bind-n-fly to fit this category. It seems like most of the big manufacturers have switched to 3.5″. Then a commenter on my livestream reminded me of AvantQuads. Even before 250g was a thing, AvantQuads was designing high-performance, lightweight racing and freestyle frames. Even better: they sell bind-n-fly versions!

Although the Avio is a more race-focused frame, I’ve selected it for this category because its raw flight performance is so exceptional. It’s got a bottom-mount battery, which some people say isn’t as good for freestyle. I bet you won’t mind once you fly it.

The beauty of this 3″ quad is that it comes in well under 250g. Its dry weight is about 100g for the analog version and 125g for the DJI version. Add about 100g for the battery and you’ve got enough weight left to run some HD cameras!

Three versions of the quad are linked above. The DJI version speaks for itself. The analog version can be ordered with the Baby Ratel (better, but more expensive) or the Runcam Nano (not as good, but cheaper).

FRAMES

BQE RIP SQUEAK v2
4″ FRAME

The BQE RipSqueak is simple, incredibly durable, and super compact. This frame is available with different-length arms. The 3” version is definitely going to come in under 250g; you might be able to build the 4” version under 250g but it’ll be tougher, especially if you’re using a DJI vTX like Vista.

The RipSqueak can mount a 25mm toothpick FC, a 20mm stack, or a 16mm stack. The “short-body” version doesn’t fit a 20mm accessory in the rear of the frame, so if you need to use a 20mm vTX or Caddx Vista, you’ll want the “Digi Edition” (not yet launched at this time). The short-body frame is designed for a micro-sized vTX like the TBS Unify Pro32 Nano.

The Holybro Kopis Racing is available in 3” only. It’s inexpensive and ultra-compact. It hasn’t got a rear 20mm mounting space, but it’s got enough height for a three-high stack, so you can easily install an ESC, FC, and vTX. It’s one of the only frames on this page to accept both 20mm and 30mm electronics; it’s not cut to mount a 25mm toothpick style FC. Because of its compact size, this frame is recommended only for analog builds. To fit a Caddx Vista would require extending the standoffs, which would compromise weight and handling.

The QAV-S mini 3” is one of the roomier, heavier frames in this category. It’s ideal for a sub-250g 3” build with Caddx Vista, since it has 20mm mounting holes behind the main FC stack. It’s drilled for 25mm AIO toothpick FC, 20mm FC/ESC stack, and 16mm FC/ESC stack, but not 30mm (full size) FC/ESC stack.

If you’re planning to build an analog quad, Ciotti recommends something lighter than the QAV-S mini. The extra size of the QAV-S mini isn’t needed on an analog build, and the extra weight would be better spent on a bigger battery.

The ImpulseRC Apex Micro 3” is similar in weight to the QAV-S Mini, at 58 grams. So our recommendation is the same: if you’re doing a DJI build and need the extra room to fit a Caddx Vista, consider this frame; but for an analog build, the Apex is overkill.

The Apex has 4mm arms for increased durability, although Ciotti argues this actually puts more stress on the (more expensive and fragile) motors. The thicker arms probably give superior resonance characteristics, although we’re not aware of any tests that verify this. The Apex also has mounting only for 20mm electronics (both front and rear), so those wanting to use 25mm AIO toothpick FC or 16mm stacks will have to look elsewhere.

Like other Apex frames, this one comes with a one year replacement warranty.

GEPRC ST35 (3.5”)

Purchase at Banggood

This is the same frame used in the GEPRC Smart35 bind-n-fly, described above. It’s one of the only 3.5” frames available now, so if you want to build one yourself, this may be one of your only choices. It has mounting for 25mm AIO toothpick FC and 20mm FC/ESC stack, but not 16mm FC/ESC or 30mm. One of the most interesting aspects of this frame is that it mounts the Caddx Vista on the top plate. This, when paired with a Toothpick-style AIO FC, gets both the Vista and FC/ESC into a compact frame that doesn’t require rear 20mm mounting holes. Of course, there’s plenty of room for a 3-high FC/ESC/vTX stack if you’re going analog.

This is the same frame used in the Ummagawd 2Fiddy BnF described above. Keeping this build under 250 grams will require extremely careful parts selection. If you decide to deviate from Tommy’s parts list, be sure to check the weight of your parts. You’ll definitely want to stay with a 25mm AIO toothpick-style FC. Get the highest amp rating you can afford! Tommy builds the 2Fiddy out with DJI, but the 20mm mount in the rear can handle an analog vTX as well.

The AOS 3.5 is Chris Rosser’s attempt to make the ultimate frame for sub250 flight. He’s applied his knowledge as an aero thermal engineer to design frames with superior resonance characteristics and durability. This means you can reduce filtering in the flight controller substantially, which results in improved latency and propwash handling. Most 3.5″ frames build out to just barely under 250 grams, but the AOS 3.5’s skillful design means it can be built as light as 225 grams, without compromising durability or flight characteristics. Feel free to use a bigger battery if you like!

MOTORS

Choosing motors for a sub-250g build requires a careful balance of weight and performance. Especially as you go to larger prop sizes, you often are forced to choose slightly under-sized motors, which compromises torque and responsiveness. That’s just the tradeoff that the 250g limit forces on you.

Experts differ on whether it’s worth using 6S in this size class. Some motors are not available in 6S kv. If you use 6S and you’re forced to buy a 4S kv for some reason, you can assign a 66% motor output limit in Betaflight to reduce the motor rpm down to safe levels.

FOR 3” OR LIGHT 3.5” BUILDS

BROTHERHOBBY 1504.5
3950 KV (4S) / 2950 KV (6S)

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – 3950 kv / 2950 kv
Purchase at GetFPV – 3950 kv / 2950 kv
Purchase at Pyro Drone – 3950 kv / 2950 kv
Purchase at Banggood – 3950 kv / 2950 kv

Brotherhobby’s 1504.5 motor is just about the perfect size for 3” freestyle. It’s got plenty of torque for 3” props, without being so big and heavy that it affects handling. Frankly, this would probably be a better motor for 3.5” props than the 1404 size that’s typically used. The problem is weight. The 1504 motor is about 4 grams heavier than a 1404, and 3.5” builds are right up against the 250g limit to begin with. If you could ensure your 3.5” build was under 250g with these motors (for example, if you were building an analog quad instead of a DJI one), they’d be a great choice.

FOR 3” OR 3.5” BUILDS

These are the same motors used on the BabyHawk 2 HD. They continue the Emax Eco line’s tradition of offering great value at reasonable prices.

The Xing2 1404 brings big-motor premium features to small motors. Features like single-piece bell and curved/slotted magnets. This is also one of the best looking motors in this size class.

FPVCYCLE 16MM
IMPERIAL 3700kv

Purchase at FPVCycle

If there’s an FPVCycle Imperial motor in your class, chances are it’s one of the best motors you can choose. Bob Roogi (Kabab FPV) is fanatical about testing a huge variety of motor sizes and designs to find the best one for each application. For the sub250g 3″ to 3.5″ class, FPVCycle recommends the 16mm Imperial motor. This motor is significantly larger than the 1404 motors that are commonly used (and heavier–about 13g vs. about 8g) but it’s got gobs more torque that a 3.5″ prop really needs. The only question is whether you’ll be able to shave that weight somewhere else to keep the build under 250g.

All the other motors in this class mount T-mount style props. The FPVCycle 16mm is one of the first motors to come with an M3 prop shaft. One big advantage is that the internal shaft of the motor can be 3mm, which significantly increases durability compared to the 2mm shaft used in other motors in this class. But it’ll limit prop selection somewhat. Currently, almost no M3 shaft props are made. The motors come with a M3 to M5 adapter, so you can use “standard” props, but almost all props in this size are T-mount–at least today.

If you’re sure that you can keep your overall weight under 250g, or if you don’t care about fudging the numbers a little bit, the FPVCycle 16mm is one of the best motors you can get for 3″ or 3.5″ props.

FOR 5” 2FIDDY BUILDS

UMMAGAWD AEROLIGHT 2004
2400KV (4S) / 1600KV (6S)

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – 2400 kv / 1600 kv
Purchase at GetFPV – 2400 kv / 1600 kv
Purchase at Amazon – 2400 kv / 1600 kv
Purchase at Ummagawd – 2400 kv / 1600 kv

Tommy Tibajia developed this motor specifically for use with the 2Fiddy. One thing that makes it unique is its 2-screw base, which matches the arms on the 2Fiddy to save weight.

BROTHERHOBBY 2004
2100 kv / 3150 kv

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – 2100 kv / 3150 kv
Purchase at GetFPV – 2100 kv / 3150 kv
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – 2100 kv / 3150 kv
Purchase at Catalyst Machineworks – 2100 kv / 3150 kv

The BrotherHobby 2004 is the one in this category that I have the most direct experience with. If you want my personal endorsement, this is it.

AXIS FLYING AF204
1810 kv / 2910 kv

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – 1810 kv / 2910 kv
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – 1810 kv / 2910 kv
Purchase at Pyro-Drone – 1810 kv / 2910 kv
Purchase at Banggood – 1810 kv / 2910 kv

Axis Flying was founded by some employees of T-Motor who broke off to form their own company. With a pedigree like that, you’d expect Axis motors to be the best! The company is still new enough that we can’t say for sure whether they deserve the premium prices they ask for their motors. But they sure look good on paper, if you’re willing to take a chance.

The Axis 2004 motor comes in slightly lower kv for this class. The 4S motor is 2910 kv, and the 6S motor is 1810 kv. As a result, these motors will make a bit less power than their higher rpm alternatives, but flight time will be a little longer.

FLIGHT CONTROLLER & ESC

Two sizes of flight controller and ESC are commonly used in this class. With a 20mm FC and ESC, there will be two separate boards, stacked on top of each other with spacers. The advantage of this style is that if the ESC or FC dies, you can replace just that component. The disadvantage of this style is that it takes up more space in the frame.

The 2nd type is a 25mm all-in-one (AIO) FC and ESC. This is also known as a “toothpick” FC, because it was first used in toothpick-style quads. This style combines the FC and ESC into a single board. A 25mm toothpick AIO takes up less space in the build and may be lighter. The disadvantage is that they are often more expensive and less durable than separate FC/ESC stacks. And if any part of it breaks, you’re replacing the whole thing.

You may also hear about 16mm sized FC/ESC stacks. These are even smaller and lighter, but we don’t recommend them for this category because they aren’t as durable.

When selecting an FC/ESC combo, make sure that the frame you’re intending to use is able to mount the size of FC/ESC that you’re getting. Some frames aren’t drilled for 25mm AIO toothpick FC. Also, make sure your ESC amp rating is sufficient. For 3” and 3.5” props, we suggest a minimum of 30 amps (but more is better). For the 2Fiddy, Tommy recommends a 45 amp ESC. Bear in mind that a 20mm or 25mm ESC rated for 50 amps is not going to have the same durability as a 50 amp ESC used on a larger quad, so don’t be afraid to get a ESC with a larger amp rating if you can.

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.

AIKON F7 FC &
AIKON PRO 20X20 ESC (DJI READY)

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 20X20 ESC

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

This AIO toothpick-style flight controller is recommended by Tommy Tibajia for his 2Fiddy build. If it can take the abuse of 5” props and 2004 motors, it can surely also be used for a 3.5” or a 3” build. Down-side? It’s expensive! But it’s one of the best designed and most fully-featured toothpick style FC made. For example, it has five full UARTs available, so you can run basically all the accessories you could possibly want (GPS, receiver, DJI, etc).

The ESC on this combo runs blheli_s, so you’ll need to flash JESC, JazzMaverick, or BlueJay firmware to it if you want to use bidirectional dshot.

This FC has a 5v regulator, for powering your receiver, camera, and a 5v video transmitter. If your video transmitter needs a higher voltage, it must be able to run off your battery voltage, since the FC does not have a 9v or 12v voltage regulator.

iFlight makes a similar FC, the Beast H7. Don’t buy this one by mistake. It’s more expensive and has some compatibility issues with Betaflight 4.2. When 4.3 releases, these issues may be fixed, but for now the F7 is the one we recommend.

This AIO toothpick-style flight controller is the same one used on the GEPRC Smart35. It’s suitable for use on a 3.5” or 3” build, but nothing larger. With only two available UARTs, you’ll be able to hook up your receiver, your video transmitter or DJI uit, and nothing else. Hope that’s ok

The ESC on this combo runs blheli_s, so you’ll need to flash JESC, JazzMaverick, or BlueJay firmware to it if you want to use bidirectoinal dshot.

This FC has a 5v regulator, for powering your receiver, camera, and a 5v video transmitter. If your video transmitter needs a higher voltage, it must be able to run off your battery voltage, since the FC does not have a 9v or 12v voltage regulator.

est

FLYWOOD GOKU GN745
W/ 40A BLHELI32 ESC

Purchase at RaceDayQuads
Purchase at GetFPV
Purchase at Amazon

This AIO toothpick-style flight controller sports an F7 processor and a blheli32 ESC, which means it’ll support bidirectional DSHOT and RPM filtering out of the box, as well as other advanced features of blheli32.

How did Flywoo fit seven full UARTs on a board this small? There are a bunch of solder pads right on the edge of the board. This FC will be a little more difficult to solder to than some others, but its feature set is unparalleled! It’s got a barometer on board, a 5v / 2A regulator, and a 9v 1.5A regulator. It’s even got 8 MB of blackbox memory on board!

VIDEO TRANSMITTER (ANALOG)

Once upon a time, “race focused” vTX topped out at 200 mW. Not any more. The Nano Pro32 hits 500 mW “or more” in an incredibly tiny package. Since it’s a Unify, you know it’ll give strong, clean video. If you’re using Crossfire, the Unify vTX can integrate with the Crossfire system’s MyVTX function, letting you change settings directly from your Crossfire system.

This vTX is the go-to of Ahren Ciotti, who specializes in micro-sized builds. He says, “I’ve had amazing luck with the (better than the 2x more expensive Unify Pro32 Nano to be honest) and they even have a microphone on board!” That’s good enough for me.

Rush makes some of the best value vTX on the market. The build quality and performance are similar to high-priced alternatives, but at a mid-tier price. The Rush Tiny Tank is fully licensed by TBS to support SmartAudio, so it should integrate with Crossfire peripherals just like a TBS vTX. The main limitation of the Tiny Tank is its max 350 mW output power. If all you do is race, that doesn’t really matter, since you’ll be at 25 mW most of the time.

GHOST HYBRID V2
UNO / DUO

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – Uno / Duo
Purchase at GetFPV – Uno / Duo
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – Uno / Duo
Purchase at Pyro Drone – Uno / Duo

The Ghost Hybrid combines an ImmersionRC Tramp vTX and a Ghost receiver in one 20mm board. In case it’s not obvious, if you’re not using Ghost control link, this isn’t for you. But if you are using Ghost, this makes for an incredibly simple and clean build. The vTX outputs up to 600 mW, with the same clean and consistent performance Tramp has always delivered.

Links above go to both the Uno and the Duo version of the Hybrid. The Uno version has a single-channel Ghost receiver; the Duo version has a 2-channel diversity Ghost receiver. Advantage of the Duo is that you have two antennas to help cover nulls when flying long range. When flying short range, the two channels can be used by the Ghost system to provide a high-speed control link with very little packet loss, optimal for racing.

TBS TRACER / CROSSFIRE SIXTY9

Purchase at GetFPV – Tracer / Crossfire
Purchase at Pyro Drone – Tracer / Crossfire
Purchase at ReadyMadeRC – Tracer / Crossfire
Purchase at Amazon – Tracer / Crossfire
Purchase at Team Blacksheep – Tracer / Crossfire

The TBS Sixty9 combines a Unify video transmitter with a Tracer or Crossfire receiver in a single 20mm form factor. The 20mm board is easy to mount above your FC and ESC if your frame has room for a three-high stack; or it can mount on the 20mm space in the rear of most low-profile frames. Integrating the vTX and receiver saves a few steps in wiring and makes mounting simple.

Compared to a Unify Nano, the Sixty9 has higher output power–at least on paper. It starts at 1 watt, but reduces power quickly as heat builds up. Since racers usually run at 25 mW, this isn’t really an issue.

The AKK race vTX costs about $10 at the time of this writing. It doesn’t have the same quality, durability, or output power (max 200 mW) as the other options, but if you’re racing on a budget, you can’t really go wrong with this one.

The Rush Tank Ultimate is the highest powered 20mm-mount vTX I know of. It outputs up to 800 mW of clean video! It supports all of the features you’d expect from a premium vTX, including SmartAudio, microphone input, and 5v regulator for powering a camera. If your frame supports a 20mm vTX mount and you want the most range and penetration available, this is the one I’d choose.

FPV CAMERAS (ANALOG)

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE
RUNCAM PHOENIX 2 JB EDITION

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.

This camera was added to the list after a livestream question asking for a great night-time camera. Ciotti recommended the Toothless Nano Starlight as performing well in both day and night time and said he uses it on all his micro builds. As far as I’m concerned, that should put it near the top of anybody’s list. One note: this is a “nano” sized camera, meaning it’s 14mm wide. Most frames in this category are sized for a “micro” sized camera (19mm wide) and will need an adapter to hold this camera. Fortunately, the Toothless comes with a bracket to adapt it to 19mm.

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.

The Runcam Hybrid combines a low-latency analog FPV camera and a 4k HD camera into one unit. The analog signal is sent to the vTX while the 4k HD video is recorded to an SD card on board the quadcopter.
If you are looking to record HD video on a sub-250g quad, your options are extremely limited. This is the most compact, lightest way of recording HD video on a quadcopter.

The tradeoff is image quality. You won’t mistake the Hybrid’s video for a GoPro. Ciotti uses these on his sub-250g 3” builds and the best he can say is that the image is “shockingly decent”. The weakest aspect of the camera’s image is its exposure algorithm, which is “all over the place” as the quad flies from dark to light areas. Ciotti also says this is the first split-style camera that has taken crashes without immediately exploding.

The Hybrid uses 20mm mounting, so you’ll probably need a frame with rear 20mm mounting holes, or a tall frame that can take a 3-high stack of 20mm FC, ESC, and Hybrid. If you’re trying to stay under 250g while including the Hybrid in your build, you’ll probably need to stick to 3” props and frames, although anything is possible if you try hard enough).

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. Video transmitters typically have U.FL or MMCX connectors, due to their small size. These may plug in to a “pigtail” wire that ends in an SMA or RP-SMA connector. For racing, it’s most common to buy an antenna with an MMCX or U.FL connector, because it saves size and weight compared to a pigtail. These antennas are typically held to the frame with 3D printed accessories. Keeping the antenna close to the frame vs. out on a long stalk shortens the range of the video signal (not really an issue for racing) but increases durability.

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

Of the antennas below, the Axii 2 and Triumph Pro are the high-end options. They cost about twice as much as the budget options and, to be honest, their specs are not that different, at least on paper. The main thing you get with the high-end options is consistency of manufacturing. You can feel confident you won’t get a dud, which is always a risk when buying cheap antennas.

The Xilo Axii is just the V1 of the Axii, and performs very similar to the Axii 2. The TrueRC OCP may be the value star of the group. It’s extremely durable, and TrueRC is no slouch when it comes to manufacturing and quality control. Finally, the Foxeer Lollipop is the budget choice. These are basically a copy of the Axii’s design, but are not made to the same standards. If you get a good one, it’ll be fine; but your chances of getting a dud are higher. And unless you have an antenna tester, you may never know you’re not getting the range you could be.

LUMENIER AXII 2 U.FL & MMCX

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at GetFPV – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at Pyro Drone – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at Catalyst Machineworks – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at Banggood – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at Amazon – U.FL / MMCX

LUMENIER XILO AXII U.FL & MMCX

Purchase at GetFPV – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at Amazon – U.FL / MMCX

TBS TRIUMPH PRO U.FL & MMCX

Purchase at GetFPV – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at NewBeeDrone – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at Pyro Drone – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at ReadyMadeRC – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at Amazon – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at Team Blacksheep – U.FL / MMCX

FOXEER LOLLIPOP U.FL & MMCX

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at Pyro Drone – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at RotorRiot – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at ReadyMadeRC – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at Banggood – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at Amazon – U.FL / MMCX

TRUERC OCP
U.FL & MMCX

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – U.FL / MMCX
Purchase at ReadyMadeRC – U.FL / MMCX

BATTERIES

Selecting a battery for the sub-250g freestyle category is complicated by the strict weight limit. The lighter you build your quad, the more weight you can afford to spend on battery; and the heavier the quad, the smaller and lighter the battery must be. We’ll recommend batteries that work for typical builds.

When shopping for packs in this size/weight range, pay close attention to whether the pack is labeled as HV (high voltage) or not. An HV battery is charged to 4.35 volts not 4.2 volts. This means you get more mAh than a standard LiPo of similar size. But you can’t just cram more voltage into a tiny cell and expect it to perform as well as a larger cell! HV packs don’t perform as well as their increased mAh would suggest. So if you see a 650 mAh pack that looks suspiciously small, check whether it’s marked as HV, and most likely just pass it up if so. There are some situations where super-light HV packs are the right choice. Just not this category.

C rating of these packs ranges from about 70C at the “budget” end to about 95C at the “premium” end. You’ll pay about 1/3 more for the “premium” ones but especially when packs are this small, the higher C rating will probably be noticeable. That being said, the “budget” ones are just fine.

For 3.5″ builds, a 4S 850 mAh battery weighing about 100-150g is just about as big as you can get while still staying under the 250g limit. For a 3″ build, in theory you could use a heavier battery and still be under the weight limit, but 3″ props will make less thrust, so the heavier battery will make the quad fly worse. In other words, these are also great packs for 3″ props.

Ciotti says: I like the R-Line 850 mAh best. The GNB are almost as good. The CNHL is noticeably heavier and has less performance. The BetaFPV 4S 850 actually outperforms the CNHL in my experience. I had low expectations from that battery, but they’ve been totally fine.

4S FOR 3″ AND 3.5″

RDQ 4S
850 mAh 75C

Purchase at RaceDayQuads

FOR THE 2FIDDY

The Ummagawd 2Fiddy has a very limited selection of batteries. Tommy strongly prefers a 6S build, using the GNB 6S 380 mAh HV. Earlier in the page, we wrote that we’re not convinced there is much advantage to 6S in this category, but obviously Ummagawd disagrees. We also said that HV packs should usually be avoided, except in special cases. This is one of those cases. The 2Fiddy itself weighs about 180-185 grams, which leaves about 65 grams for the battery. At that point, the only way to get decent flight times is to make the packs HV.

6S FOR 3″ AND 3.5″

In this size category, we’re not convinced that 6S batteries give much performance advantage. And if you go up in voltage, you have to go to smaller cell sizes to keep the overall pack weight where it needs to be. And smaller cells perform worse than larger ones, an effect that accelerates as you get down to this size. As a result, most of these packs are a little bit larger and heavier than the comparable 4S pack. Frankly, we feel 4S is the better choice, but if you decide to go with 6S, here are some choices.

RDQ 6S
650 mAh 70C

Purchase at RaceDayQuads

PROPS

FOR 3” BUILDS

DAL CYCLONE

Purchase at RaceDayQuads – T3018 / T3028
Purchase at Pyro Drone – T3018 / T3028
Purchase at Banggood – T3018 / T3028

FOR 3.5” BUILDS

FOR 5” 2FIDDY BUILDS