The Dingo is a no-frills freestyle frame from SabotageRC. It’s not flashy, complicated, or even highly innovative—but we think this frame is still worth a look, especially for the builder on a budget. SabotageRC sent us the Dingo5 for review.

A full kit from SabotageRC is a welcome experience for builders.

The Dingo uses a fairly traditional formula in frame design: stacked plates with standoffs in between, in an “H” configuration. Removable arms allow you to choose between 5″ and 6″ lengths. While the Dingo looks like a pretty standard quad, there are some design choices that make it stand out. In the kit you’ll get everything you need to build up the frame, plus some hardware for a flight controller mount, a battery pad, and specialized camera-mount standoffs. You also get a branded battery strap, some sticky foam landing pads, and a couple big stickers. While there’s no included action camera mount, you get a fair amount of space provided at the front of the top plate with which to add your own. You’ll need to look to aftermarket parts or fire up your 3D-printer for the mount you want.

The frame supports both 20×20 and 36×36mm mounting patterns for flight controllers. It’s designed so that the front and rear sections by the standoffs are thicker and beefier, while the central section offers more vertical room to accommodate a taller stack. While the Dingo doesn’t offer quite as much interior space as many older frames, the parts we need to put inside have become smaller over the years and the extra space in the stack is where it’s needed most. You shouldn’t have much trouble fitting everything inside if you use newer parts. The specialized camera-mounting standoffs are a treat if you’ve ever tried to build a frame that doesn’t offer a mounting solution. (More than once I’ve just shoved my camera into a pile of hot glue!) The mount will only take micro-size cameras. The market is full of this size camera if you are buying new, but don’t plan on transferring an old HS1177 into this frame.

The SabotageRC Dingo5 frame kit

Durability

A SabotageRC Dingo5 arm showing direction of carbon fibers

Carbon that runs parallel to the arm will lend greater strength along its length and width where it’s needed most—but the top-most layer’s appearance doesn’t tell you what’s within.

The Dingo appears to be built with durability in mind. The plates are fairly standard for freestyle frames, at 3mm on the bottom plate, 2mm on the top plate, 4mm arms, and 1.5mm for the additional internal plates—that’s over 8mm of carbon where the arms attach. Since the arms are cut individually, it’s likely that they have the carbon weave oriented along their length and width, providing more strength in the direction where it’s needed most. Each piece of the frame is curved through every angle, reducing stress concentration points that cause other frames of similar thickness to break earlier. There aren’t many areas where the carbon is cut thin, and SabotageRC has avoided any unnecessary cutouts in the arms.

If an arm does break, replacing it shouldn’t be too difficult. Keep the arm on the opposing side attached and remove two screws holding the broken arm. It will slide out from between the two sandwiched plates. If you remove more than one arm at a time the frame will start to come apart, so be sure to only replace them one at a time.

Another item of note is SabotageRC’s parent company is Armattan—one of the most renowned for the quality of their frames and the guarantee behind them. While you don’t get Armattan’s lifetime guarantee with SabotageRC products, you do get a frame built from the same quality of materials and workmanship. The pieces in the kit reflect this, as they are all nicely milled and free from issues.

Some light crash testing by one reviewer isn’t really a representative sample, but I was very impressed with the results. Even after a particularly hard ram into a pole, I couldn’t detect any damage to the frame at all. It was hard to find where I even hit it. I’ve broken arms with much less forceful crashes on other frames.

Equipment Protection and Ease of Use

Dingo5 after crash showing smashed camera bit little to no damage

This crash destroyed the flight camera, but can you find evidence of the impact on the frame? It’s barely visible in two places and both are just slight discoloration.

Most of the components will be tucked away inside the frame unless you mount separate ESCs on each arm. Holes for zip-ties in the top plate offer a stable mount for the VTx antenna. Mounting here does mean you can’t completely remove the top plate without disconnecting other electronics, but the mount is strong and pretty much out of harm’s way. A printed part for receiver antennas might have been nice, but not a deal-breaker. Like many freestyle frames, no special protection is offered for an action camera. You’ll have to rely on whatever mount you bolt on to provide any impact resistance. Flight camera protection on the Dingo5 is only about average. The FPV camera peeks out a little from between the standoffs, which is enough to expose it to harm if you’re unlucky. This is exactly what happened to me, though, in the crash I mentioned above. The flight camera was a total loss even though the frame didn’t show a scratch.

There seems to be just the right amount of space inside so that building the frame isn’t a chore, but you end up with a fairly compact build without much space left over. You don’t have to do a lot of planning ahead; most components have a logcal mounting position that’s easy to get to. Only the receiver took a little thought to find a good home. One minor annoyance is there’s nothing to hold the battery strap in place. It’s not a problem in flight, but between flights the strap will fall off the frame. The design of the top plate is probably more durable as a result, since it doesn’t have any thin rails where the frame would usually hold the strap. If the strap falling off bothers you, a bit of double-sided tape should be enough to hold it in place.

Flight Performance

SabotageRC’s 2306 2300Kv “Booty” motor is a tried-and-true formula for 4S freestyle.

While this article focuses on the Dingo frame, you can get what you need to fly it from SabotageRC. The recommended parts are:

These parts all perform really well. Some may look at this list and turn up their nose at the 4S configuration on older ESCs, but it’s a proven combination with great performance. At 330g fully built, there’s more than enough power to throw the frame around and get lots of hang time. The extra benefits of a 32-bit ESC in freestyle flight are still largely academic. If you really want some higher-end parts or a 6S setup, you can choose to buy only some or no parts from SabotageRC and get the rest elsewhere.

We got the kit version and did our own assembly. I had to use a few build materials that weren’t included such as heat shrink, zip ties, and an XT-60 pigtail. You can opt to have SabotageRC build it for you, or you can buy the ARF option and only need to add your radio receiver.

On the above parts with a basic tune, the build flew really nicely. It has the power you expect from a rig with these specs and kept a nice, smooth feel through the air. This is a setup you can take out and fly with confidence that it’s going to work well, and you can experiment with. I feel like there’s a lot of room to play in the setup as well; after a brief test flight on stock PIDs, the motors were still cold. That indicates there is plenty of room to make adjustments to fit your style without worry about ruining the equipment from vibration and overheating. My only complaint on the build was a small amount of electrical noise getting into the video. It’s just a little visible even under load and perfectly usable for flying. I had my camera mishap before getting a chance to put a capacitor across the camera’s power lines, but that should be all that’s needed to clean it up completely.

Assembly and Build

SabotageRC Dingo5 during assembly

All the curved parts give the frame a flowing aesthetic. Specialized standoffs provide a simple mounting solution for a micro-sized camera.

Building the Dingo5 was easy and straightforward. Though no instructions are provided, it’s simple to figure out. Starting with the bottom plate, you run the larger screws upward and through the arms. A second set of plates sandwich in the arms. At the front the plates are cut so your camera has room to tilt, while at the rear there’s more material to mount onto. Put the standoffs on top with the special camera-mount standoffs up front, and a typical top plate caps the design. In addition to the frame hardware, you get some short standoffs to mount your flight controller onto.

I had to toss out these included FC standoffs and raise the board a bit more. Because the CLRacing F4’s battery connector pads are on the bottom, there just wasn’t enough room for the leads in between the FC and the raised rear deck. Other FCs and 4-in-1’s may or may not cause trouble here depending on their layout. Raising the FC allowed me room to put my receiver underneath, and route the receiver antennas through the space between decks that might otherwise be wasted. It made for a tidy build.

When it’s time to mount the VTx antenna to the top plate, lay down a layer of electrical tape first. This isolates the antenna connector from the frame. If the system is noisy elsewhere, having the antenna grounded to the frame can introduce a lot of video noise. Do this simple step now to save a lot of headaches down the road.

SabotageRC Dingo5 front view

Conclusion

Every component is black or gunmetal gray—even the motors, antenna, and the case for the camera. The overall look isn’t flashy at all, like many other quads try for. This really typifies the design philosophy that’s  carried throughout the build: “Just do what works”.

In all, the SabotageRC Dingo is a “fairly standard” package with a low, sleek look. Beyond the basic appearance is a frame that’s obviously been carefully engineered. This isn’t simply slapping some carbon and standoffs together, but a frame that considers durability, protection and ease of use. One of the great selling points of the Dingo? It’s less than $40. For that price you won’t be getting a class-leading warranty, highly innovative materials, or special extras that make you stand out—but instead you get a workhorse of a frame that does its job well and gets out of your way. Is that worth a few dollars more than the lowest-cost frames found elsewhere? We think so.

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