Back in early 2018 I pulled together a list of field tools and tool sets for FPV. The number of dedicated FPV tool sets then was very limited. Now it’s 2021, and time for an update. While a lot of the tools and kits in the first round are no longer available, several manufacturers have now stepped up to fill the void and the discerning FPV enthusiast has much more choice. We’re going to take a closer look at these dedicated sets to see how they stack up.
All of the kits in this roundup cover the absolute minimum for quad repair, which is hex drivers in 1.5mm, 2.0mm, and 2.5mm, some form of side cutter, and an 8mm nut driver (for props). They all also have a zippered case to keep things together. But having the right tool for the job can make a huge difference in what you can accomplish and how effective your repair is, so choosing the right set for you can still make a lot of difference.
RaceDayQuads Tool Kit V2
RDQ easily won our 2018 tool kit round-up with the only set that really seemed to be dedicated to FPV quadcopter pilots. That V1 kit has been in part of my field bag since then and I’ve carried out a great deal of builds and repairs with it. Everything has held up quite well. The original kit has been updated to the RDQ 9 Piece Drone Tool Kit V2, which is an improvement in many ways. Beyond the basics, this set has a Philips screwdriver, bent-nose pliers, flush cutters, serrated tweezers, and scissors. That fills up the case almost fully, with one available space for another long tool.
Fine-tipped serrated tweezers are unique to this kit and are awesome for holding wires in small spaces. Of all the kits in this roundup, this has the best prop tool with a big beefy handle and a driver head that fits any prop I’ve used. This kit is great for FPV pilots who fly racing and freestyle quadcopters from micros on up. It’s also the least expensive kit here at only $20.
NewBeeDrone Tool Kit
Next we have the NewBeeDrone Tool Kit. NBD has been cranking out great products that aren’t just drone parts. This tool set goes well beyond the basics with a full suite of portable soldering tools! There’s also straight tweezers, wire cutters, and a small Phillips screwdriver. The very small Philips screwdriver in this kit skews toward micro quad repair—not surprising coming from NewBeeDrone—but the other tools are all suitable all the way up to full-size 5″ racers. The prop tool is high quality and one side has an inset ratchet which makes prop changes easy. The ratchet, however, does not handle props with a recessed hub. For those you’ll have to use the open end of the wrench at an angle, which is prone to slipping and not very comfortable. While all the tool slots are full, the case has a zippered pouch that can carry a few more tools before reaching capacity.
At $50, it’s the most expensive kit on this list by a good margin, but adding a portable soldering iron and soldering supplies to any of the other kits will erase the price difference. Having the ability to solder in the field can make the difference between flying (or racing) all day long and heading home early after an unlucky crash. The soldering iron is temperature controlled and has a chisel tip. The ergonomics aren’t as good as a bench-top iron, but I was able to solder joints confidently. You can power the iron from 4S to 6S (higher works better) and the kit includes a cable with an XT-60 adapter so your flight batteries can help get the job done.
Ethix Tool Case
Another new set is the Ethix Tool Case. This kit puts more emphasis on the user’s experience with a soft suede-like exterior, and it’s the only kit in this round-up where you can read the labels on each driver without removing them from the case! It seems to skew a bit more toward bench use rather than a field set. Wire strippers and diamond files are certainly useful, but generally aren’t for the kind of work you do while you’re out. All of the needed hex drivers are included, but no pliers or tweezers for poking into small spaces. Like the NewBeeDrone kit, the 8mm ratchet wrench will be really nice for most props but will have trouble with recessed hubs. The 5.5mm nut driver is much less common, so check your gear to see if you have that need. The case offers a pouch for small parts and has one expansion slot available.
ReadyMadeRC Tool Kit
RMRC has also entered this space with the RMRC 13 Piece Tool Kit. This kit seems geared toward a wider area of the hobby than just FPV quadcopters, which isn’t surprising since RMRC carries quite a lot of other RC vehicles. The 3mm hex and 5.5mm nuts are not so common as to be essential tools, and I’ve never seen a flat-headed screw on a quadcopter nor come across one with a 10mm nut at all. Beyond the wide driver selection is a pair of scissors and needle-nosed pliers with integrated cutter. These will help with some repairs but aren’t quite as perfect in tiny spaces as tweezers. All of the drivers are good quality. If you have need of these other driver sizes, though, (maybe for your other RC gear,) you’ll appreciate having them all together in a single kit. The case also has a few open spaces left for you to add specific additional tools to customize it for you.
Here’s a comparison of each kit’s tool selection
|1.5mm Hex Driver||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2.0mm Hex Driver||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2.5mm Hex Driver||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|3.0mm Hex Driver||No||No||No||Yes|
|Philips Driver||Micro||PH1||No||3mm and 5mm|
|5.5mm Nut Driver||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|8mm Nut Driver/Prop Tool||Driver||Ratcheted Wrench||Ratcheted Wrench||Driver|
|10mm Nut Driver||No||No||No||Yes|
|Tweezers||Straight, ESD||Straight, Serrated, ESD||No||No|
|Wire Strippers||No||No||Yes, with cutter||No|
|Pliers||No||Bent||No||Straight w/ cutter|
|Soldering Iron, stand, flux||Yes||No||No||No|
|Round and flat files||No||No||Yes||No|
For most FPV pilots, it’s still hard to beat the value of the RaceDayQuads kit. It’s the least expensive and a very versatile kit with a great selection of tools. On the other hand, NewBeeDrone offers a kit with a full soldering suite that can keep you flying all day. These two are clearly most geared toward the functional needs of the serious FPV racer or freestyle pilot, and I would most easily recommend these two. It’s harder to call a winner this time around and depends how much you want to spend and what capabilities you want.
The Ethix kit leans more toward clean builds, but doesn’t include many tools that make difficult repairs easy like tweezers, pliers, or a Philips driver. The RMRC kit seems to lean toward repairing a wider range of craft—including a few tools that get little to no use in FPV quads—but also skips some of the nicer build tools like tweezers and wire cutters. If one of these kits appeal to you, by all means pick one up—they are still high quality tools with uses beyond FPV.