The Ultimate Miniquad “Getting Started” Guide

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So you’ve just seen the latest Charpu video online, have some money saved up, and want to get into the hobby. Or you got a toy quadcopter for your birthday, have flown the piss out of it, and want to move on to something bigger, faster and more exciting. Or you’ve been in the hobby for awhile and are about to build a new quadcopter. This is the page for you.

As we’re sure you already know (or are soon to find out), there is a lot of things you will have to learn to move up to the “big boy” quadcopters. When we got into the hobby, we were quite frankly flabbergasted by the lack of cohesive knowledge regarding building and flying miniquads. Don’t get us wrong, all of the information you will ever need to know is out there. It’s just spread out across several public forums, hundreds of blog posts and tons of YouTube videos. If you don’t know what you are looking for, you are in for a painful ride.

Our goal with this site is to organize all that. Bring the best information we found from all over the Internet together into one cohesive guide that will get you through the entire process of learning to fly, researching and buying parts, building your quadcopter and finally flying it. Where there were gaps, we filled it. Our articles also serve as extensions of this guide, providing even more references to valuable blogs, videos and forums you can go to to do more research.

The goal of this page is to:

  1. Provide a neatly-organized directory of articles and videos that can get a newbie with absolutely no experience in the hobby flying.
  2. Keep this directory up to date so that the miniquad you build will have the most up to date hardware and software, meaning you spend less money making the same purchasing mistakes we, and most others in the hobby have.

Having said that, let’s get into it.

If you are totally new to the hobby, we highly suggest you start from section (1) below and read everything linked in (1) and (2). It could save you a ton of money or prevent you from chopping a finger off or burning down your house.

If you’re not new to model aircraft, you can probably skip around a bit. A few portions of section (1) and (2) are still a good idea to read. Other than that, skip to section (4).

If you’re an experienced miniquad pilot and are visiting this page to use as a reference for building a new miniquad just skip to section (5).

 

Section 1: Radio Control, FPV, and miniquad basics (learn to fly)

Hubsan X4

This section documents the basics on drones / quadcopters / multicopters / etc.  This is a great place to start if you want to learn the basics, refresh on terminology, or want to start training without actually buying anything too expensive.

      1. Types of drones – toys, racers, and more!
      2. What you need to know before getting into the hobby
      3. Anatomy of an FPV miniquad
      4. Starting FPV Racing FAQ
      5. Common terms and acronyms in the hobby
      6. FPV Racing Simulators: the ultimate list of FPV simulators!
        1. Simulator Reviews
          1. FPV Freerider Review
          2. FPV Freerider Recharged Review
          3. Liftoff Review
          4. HOTPROPS Review
        1. Setting up your Taranis to be used as a simulator controller.
        2. The most effective way to train using a simulator.
      7. Learning to fly using a micro quad – the ultimate beginners guide to flying.
        1. Selecting your first micro quad
        2. Planning and prep for training
        3. Locations – where to fly
        4. Training exercises – flying and training exercises

 

Section 2: Advanced Learning & Research

P1080150So you’ve decided you want to build a quadcopter. The articles in this section will help you understand what decisions you need to make before buying parts, what the parts do, how to pick the best one, and where to buy it from. It also touches on some of the legal issues in the hobby as well as some important safety topics you should be aware of.

    1. Decisions you will need to make before purchasing anything..
    2. What to look for when selecting miniquad components..
      1. ESCs
      2. Motors
      3. Flight controllers
      4. PDBs
      5. Frames
      6. FPV Video Transmitters
      7. Propellers
      8. Radio Systems – RC Transmitters and Receivers
      9. FPV Antennae – RCModelReviews
      10. FPV Cameras – RCModelReviews
      11. Spare parts
    3. What to look for when selecting equipment..
      1. Radio TX Link
      2. Video Goggles Link
      3. HD Action Cameras Link also Video
      4. Battery Charger Link
    4. Buying options: build from Kit vs RTF vs parts
    5. Where to buy stuff
      1. Choosing a retailer
      2. Propwashed miniquad vendors listing
    6. Legality
      1. Do you need to register your drone with the FAA?
      2. Is flying FPV legal where you live?
      3. Do you need an amateur radio operators (HAM) license?
    7. Safety
      1. How to protect yourself from your flying blender.
      2. LiPo Battery Safety
      3. How to pick a flying site.
      4. Interacting with the public while flying

 

Section 3: Community

This section will cover the community and hopefully help you find other like minded individuals interested in flying!

  1. Quadcopter YouTube channels to check out
  2. Active miniquad blogs and community sites
    1. Propwashed.com (this site!)
    2. Multicopter subreddit – Great resource for information, entertainment, and information on quadcopters
    3. OscarLiang.net  – resource for technical topics mainly covering quadcopters
    4. FliteTest – Build videos, reviews, and details on all things RC aircraft (not just focused on quadcopters)
  3. Active online forums for miniquads
    1. RCGroups – Quite simply the biggest forum and best resource for anyone getting into the hobby.
    2. FPVLab – Another popular forum that leans more towards the technical, DIY side of the hobby.
  4. Drone racing
    1. Things to bring to your first event
    2. Things to know when flying with other people
    3. Organizations / Leagues
      1. Drone Racing League
      2. MultiGP
      3. IDRA – International Drone Racing Association
      4. Drone Racers – Racing events and news
      5. DR1 Racing
      6. F3Expo

 

Section 4: Equipment and Tools

Having the right tools available will make your life a lot easier when it comes to building your quad. In this section, we go over all of the one-time-purchase equipment you will need. We also discuss nice-to-haves and explain why you may want to buy them. Finally, we link some tutorials for some of the common things you may want to do with this equipment.

    1. Purchasing Tools
      1. What order should equipment by purchased in?
      2. Tools needed for building a quadcopter
    2. Using your tools
      1. Soldering 101
      2. How to use a multimeter
      3. Battery charging guide
        1. Charge multiple batteries at once Link
        2. Battery safety
    3. Advanced video receivers (diversity / ground stations / etc)
    4. 3D printing and quadcopters
      1. Using 3D printing for drones and quadcopters
      2. Creating your own quadcopter parts using SketchUp

Section 5: Building your miniquad

So you have all your equipment and parts and you’re ready to build your miniquad. This section covers the basics of miniquad assembly.

    1. How to build a racing drone
      1. Frame Assembly
      2. ESC Installation
      3. Flight Controller Wiring
      4. FPV System Assembly
      5. Finalizing your build
      6. Plugging it in for the first time
    2. Software Setup Guide
      1. Configuring your RC Transmitter (Taranis/Spektrum/FlySky)
      2. Flashing firmware
      3. Configuring BLHeli ESCs
      4. Configuring Betaflight
      5. Advanced software setup tips (filters, srates, etc)
    3. Blackbox Logging
      1. Setting up Blackbox
      2. Using Blackbox Explorer to view logs
      3. Finding common problems with Blackbox
    4. Advanced components:
      1. OSDs Options (Oscarliang) MinimOSD Setup (OscarLiang)
      2. LEDs Link (Oscarliang)
    5. PIDs
      1. Getting your first tune with in-flight adjustments
      2. Basic guide Link (Oscarliang)
      3. Advanced guide Link (iflyquad) Link (Joshua Bardwell)
    6. Building tips
      1. Crashworthiness – How to improve your quadcopter’s durability
      2. Protect your electronics with a “Smoke Stopper”

 

Section 6: Flying

flyin_over_treeThis section focuses on learning to fly and advice on how to improve your aerial skills.

    1. Beginner tips for becoming a better pilot
    2. Getting into rate mode
    3. Moving from intermediate advanced flying.
    4. Getting into racing
      1. Practicing for racing
      2. Setting up a course at home
      3. Gear you need for racing

 

Section 7: Taking the hobby further

The section covers different ways you can extend your flying hobby!  Topics such as 3d printing, gear addons, and other related concepts can be found here!

    1. Gear Addons
      1. Battery Connector Covers

 

Anything missing?

Do you have any links that you think would fit well into the framework above? We are always willing to link to good content, send us an e-mail:

community@propwashed.com

 

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