The first step to learning how to build and fly a miniquad is understanding how all of the parts come together to make it work. That is the purpose of this post. If you are already an experienced builder, you probably won't get any new information from here. The diagram below shows a FPV miniquad that has been broken down into it's individual components. These parts each have a description that is accessible by hovering over the part with your mouse, which should cause a grey box to appear. If that doesn't work, the textual descriptions have also been posted below the diagram.
Motor The electric motors are what spin the propellers to generate thrust. Differential thrust on each arm is used to rotate the miniquad forwards and backwards and left and right. Combined thrust from all motors at once causes the quadcopter to shoot upwards. As the motors turn, they also generate torque. Like a helicopter without a tail-rotor, this torque causes each arm to want to spin in the opposite direction of the motor. However, on a quadcopter, 2 of the motors are turning clockwise and 2 are turning counter-clockwise. By varying the amount of power these two sets of motors are given, a rotation of the quadcopter about the axis seen when looking straight down at it from above, called yaw, is also achieved. This is how a quadcopter is maneuverable on all 3 flight axes. The motors in racing miniquads are always brushless DC outrunner motors. Motors generally cost between $10-$30 apiece and you will need 4 of them.

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Propeller The propellers are responsible for turning the motors rotation into downwards thrust. In other words, they are what make the miniquad fly. Propellers are made from plastic and occasionally carbon fiber. They are the consumable components of miniquads – when you are learning to fly you will go through tens to hundreds of propellers. Luckily, they generally cost $.50 apiece or less.
Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) The ESC is the computer that controls the electric motors. Their primary function is to interpret the signals sent from the flight controller and translate that into the complicated switching logic which makes the motors spin at different speeds. How well an ESC does this can make a significant impact on miniquad performance. Each motor must have it's own ESC, so there will be 4 ESCs on every quadcopter. Typically, they are placed on the arms of the quadcopter underneath the propwash for optimal cooling. ESCs generally cost between $10-$30 apeice.

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Flight Controller The Flight Controller (sometimes termed “FC”) is the brain of the miniquad. It contains a gyroscopic sensor that is tied to a computer processor that detects rotational movement of the quad across any of the 3 rotational axes and commands the ESCs to counter that movement, keeping the quad flying straight and level at all times. It is also the flight controllers duties to respond to commands from the pilot, received through the radio control receiver (RC RX). Flight controllers generally cost between $20-$40. Click to read more.
Power Distribution Board The PDB contains the connectors which plug directly into the flight battery. It is responsible for routing power to each of the ESCs and motors, as well as providing the correct type of power (correct voltage) to the flight controller, RC system, and video transmitter. PDBs can cost between $5-$30. Click to read more.
RC Receiver The RC Receiver is a wireless command receiver that takes its commands from the RC transmitter, which is the controller you hold in your hands that looks like an advanced Xbox or PS4 controller. RC receiver and transmitter brands are generally paired, and different types of receivers will not talk to different types of transmitters. Most miniquad pilots use RC systems that operate on the 2.4GHz frequency band: the same band that Bluetooth, WiFi, and your microwave oven operate on. Hundreds of radio control systems can operate on this band at once no problems. An RC receiver can cost between $20 and $80. Click to read more.
Video Transmitter The video transmitter, or video TX, connects to the flight camera to transmit a video feed directly to wearable goggles or a monitor near the pilot. Most miniquads use the 5.8GHz bands to transmit video, which is the same band used by some WiFi routers. Video transmitters generally cost between $30 and $60. Click to read more.
Frame The frame is the outer skeleton of the miniquad. It is generally a set of flat plates that are laser-cut out of carbon fiber which are sandwiched together with aluminum screws and standoffs. It consists of two major parts: the four arms, on which the motors are mounted, and the body, where the electronics reside. A good frame is generally built extremely tough, such that you will rarely be replacing or fixing it, even after repeated crashes. Frames generally cost between $40-$120.

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FPV Flight Camera Miniquad pilots generally fly with separate flight cameras and HD recording cameras (like a gopro). The reason for this is almost entirely latency. Latency is the amount of time it takes for a camera to take a picture of something and then be able to send it to your eyeballs. The latency of a HD camera like a GoPro can be as much as half of a second (500ms). However, FPV (first person view) pilots found out long ago that the small cameras made for the security industry have almost no latency and fit perfectly onto radio controlled vehicles. Thus, most miniquads nowadays fly with modified variants of miniature security cameras onboard. These generally cost between $30 and $50.
Battery Like Tesla cars, laptops and Boeing 787s, miniquad use lithium batteries as their power sources. These batteries have a huge amount of power packed into a small, lightweight packaging. They are generally categorized by the voltage they put out, “3S” for 11.1V batteries on the low-power side, and “4s” for 14.8V batteries on the high-power side. A battery in a racing miniquad generally only lasts 3-5 minutes, so most pilots carry several of them at all times. Batteries for mini-quads generally cost $12-$40.

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