You will come across tons of mini quadcopter frames but it is never easy to decide which one is the best for you. It goes without saying that you ought to have more than one frame in your armory. However, if you are looking for the best mini quadcopter frame for FPV, here are a few things that you need to keep in mind. I will also endeavor to provide links to some very handy comparative data compiled by a drone enthusiast that presents an apt comparison of the quadcopter frames. I hope that it will assist you in making an informed decision.
Propeller size of a mini quadcopter frame
Before you buy a mini quadcopter frame, propeller size is the most important thing that you need to keep in mind. The frame’s wheelbase determines the size of the propellers compatible with the frame.
Racing quadcopters generally support propeller sizes of 3”, 4”, 5” and 6”. Each of them have their own advantages and disadvantages.
are micro class frames. If you want to get the advantage of the Federal Aviation Administration’s 250g rule exemption, a 3” quadcopter is the best bet. They are light in weight and highly durable owing to the carbon fiber build. Moreover, the inertia is so much that no serious damage can be done to the frame. 3” frames offer plenty of fun to the drone enthusiasts and can be flown anywhere you desire; whether in a local park or in your backyard. Since they are very light in weight, so flying them in windy conditions is fraught with risk as the strong winds will easily wipe them away.
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3” propellers offer decent flight duration owing to the small size of accompanying motors and lightweight.
Theoretically, you can carry a GoPro action camera with a 3” frame but you will have to compromise your performance in that case. A DVR will be a better option if you want to capture your aerial flights.
are another great option. They are small in size and you can easily fit a 4” propeller with a 180mm wheelbase in an H configuration. You can also fit them on a 150 to 160mm wheelbase in an X configuration. 4” propellers are similar in performance to 5” propellers and if adjusted appropriately, can even outperform 5” quadcopters. Typically, the smaller the propeller, the easier it is to maneuver along tight corners and congested spaces. 4” frames in their appropriate configuration can easily carry GoPro action cameras.
are simply magnificent. Top dronies such as Charpu, Skitzo, Steele, FinalGlide, JohnnyFPV, Juz70, T-Bone, etc. love to fly 5” drones. Propellers of this size are extremely suitable for racing and performing stunning aerial tricks. These frames are able to lift GoPro action cameras with seamless ease. If you want to capture your aerial flights, they are the best option out there.
are engineered to offer speed and lots of it. You get tremendous thrust from the large sized propellers but for that you should have a battery that is able to furnish all the requisite current. 6” propellers are not as sharp around tight corners in contrast to smaller propellers.
Best Racing Mini Quadcopter Frame
Weight is the most important thing that has to be taken into consideration when building a racing quadcopter. Lighter frames are more agile owing to their lesser inertia. This lets them alter directions and accelerate at lot quicker rates in comparison with larger frames. The components also dictate the overall weight of your device but can comfortably get rid of about 40 to 50g of weight by using a frame of the right size.
The profile of the mini quadcopter frame is another important to notice in a racing quadcopter. The amount of carbon fiber used in the frame is really critical. Frames that boast thinner arms such as the HyperLite Floss produce less drag so they can attain faster speeds. These kinds of frames really prove to be handy in races where even a millisecond can make a difference.
So, you should look for an appropriate blend of light frame and thin profile. The lightweight will enable you to alter directions and accelerate at a quicker rate and the thinner profile will ensure that you are able to mitigate the drag; thereby enhancing the speed of your aircraft.
Alien FPV frames or MQC are also great frames but they are bulky and more suitable for freestyle flying where the inertia of the device is harnessed to get lifted in the air and keep flying.
In addition to propeller size, motor size is also really crucial. Motors of certain sizes are more compatible with propellers of their relative dimensions. When you purchase a frame for your quadcopter, ensure that you are familiar with the motors and the mounting holes in your frame.
For a 3” propeller, the motor size will be 11xx or 13xx. 11xx motors will be rather clumsy in performance and compatible with 2S or 3S batteries. 13xx motors will be high powered beasts and suitable for even 4S batteries.
Drone enthusiasts are using 1407 motors on 3”, 4” and light weight 5” frames these days. Frames that lift 1306 motors can also carry 1407 motors.
Motor sizes of 13xx, 18xx and 22xx will be suitable for 4” propellers. These are quite versatile. Generally, a miniframe that is able to lift a 18xx motor will also lift 13xx motors. But larger mounting holes will be required for 22xx motors. The ZMR180 from FPVModel.com is available in two variations: one engineered for 18xx motors with smaller mounting holes and the other for 22xx motors with larger mounting holes.
18xx will be the motor size for lesser thrust and frames of 5” and 6” size. Similarly, 22xx motors will be supported by 5” and 6” frames. The older ZMR250 frames had smaller 18xx mounting patterns but the newer 22xx mounting holes are larger.
If you are running 1806 motors for 5” propellers, you will feel the urge of upgrading them sooner rather than later. I went through the same experience with my first build ZMR250. I felt that the 1806 motors were simply not offering the requisite level of performance so I decided to upgrade. If you get the 22xx motors right from the outset, you can use the 3S batteries and as you become more adept at flying a drone, you will only need to upgrade your battery packs.
Nevertheless, when you purchase a frame, ensure that it is able to fit the motors that you prefer.
Carbon Fiber Thickness
Your frame will be solid and rowdier if it has more carbon fiber content. However, it will end up making your frame bulkier. Small, lightweight frames are generally 2 to 2.5mm in thickness. Larger frames, on the other hand, designed for 4” propellers and higher have a thickness of 3 to 3.5mm.
If your frame has 4mm of carbon fiber content, the frame will be absolutely formidable. So that is what you should be looking for. A lighter 3” frame should be fine with a 3mm thickness.
Keep in mind that the arms constitute the thickest portion of the mini quadcopter frame. In case it is a unibody frame, the bottom half makes up the thickest part. With a thickness of 1.5 to 2mm, the top plate is the thinnest since it is rarely damaged. Therefore, most of the warranties only cover the bottom plate and the arms.
Unibody vs Separate arms
Some frames come with a single bottom plate which comprises the main plate and the arms. My ZMR180 boasts this design and it is quite a cool one. It enables the user to assemble the frame swiftly. However, if you break one arm, the whole bottom plate will have to be substituted.
The single bottom plate also has another benefit in the fact that there are lesser metal bolts holding the frame intact so you can end up shedding a few ounces of weight.
As we all know, weight is a crucial factor that has an impact on the eventual performance of your quadcopter. Typically, the lighter your quadcopter is, the nimbler it is. The mini quadcopter frame is the heaviest part of the machine next to the battery.
Nevertheless, I have been using ZMR180 for the last six months and have come across some ugly crashes into electricity poles and concrete but both my arms are intact till now.
Assembly becomes a bit of a pain in the ass with separate arms but a separate arm can be easily swapped with a spare one in case of damage due to a crash.
X vs H
A lot of arguments have been floating around among drone enthusiasts regarding the pros and cons associated with X frames and H frames. ZMR180, ZMR250 and QAV style frames are the traditional H frames.
There are pilots who believe that the difference between the X and H frames is so massive that once you get addicted to using the X frame, you inevitably become an expert.
Center stack and long middle are the two types of X frames. Owing to the fact that the entire weight of the quadcopter is concentrated in the center of the frames and the motors tend to perform in the same way from all the perspectives, the center stack frames are easy to customize. Moreover, less drag ensures faster flight.
Shen Drones Krieger and X Labs Shrike are a couple of examples of such frames.
The X frames are not easy to build. The X frames with a long middle stack are a hybrid of the X and H frames. Since the weight is distributed throughout the entire section, so tuning is not easy.
Alien and ZMR X210 are examples of such frames.
I have placed an order for my X frames. So, as soon as I get one, I’ll post my review for you guys.
Bottom mounted battery vs Top Mounted Battery
I am not sure if it really is a big concern for a lot of people out there. But I believe that it is quite an important issue.
Majority of the X frames boast little area at the top; thereby coercing the users to mount the battery at the bottom half. This is quite important as far as racing goes since almost the entire weight is centered and drag is reduce, so you will get lots of speed from your quadcopter.
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Your battery can be the first component to get damaged in case of a crash. I am quite worried about hard landings as well since battery also serves the dual purpose of being the landing gear.
Budget is the most important of all the factors involved. How much money are you willing to spend on your frame?
FPV mini quadcopter frame is available in a wide range of prices. It all boils down to your personal choice of how much you are willing to spend on your frame.
During my search for a 5” X frame build, I was tempted to buy the Alien 5” but it cost around $130 which was too much for me. That is why I bought the ZMR X210 for $50.
I am not in favor of really cheap frames since the quality of carbon fiber is questionable. My Shen Drones Shrieker was slightly expensive for my micro quadcopter frame as it cost around $30. But it boasts a good quality of carbon fiber. The Alien 5” frame would have been quite a solid choice as well but I am satisfied with my FPVModel carbon fiber.
Opt for Armattan or Flynocerous frames in case you have a crash since they offer lifetime warranties on their carbon fiber. In such cases, even if you break the frame once, an investment of $50 should be a good one.