LAST UPDATED: 11/11/2016
Building Mini Quads can be a minefield when it comes to component selection due to the ever increasing number of products on the market and continued improvements in technology as the hobby develops.
Odds are, the parts we would recommend you buy six months ago probably wouldn't be the same parts today. That being said, this doesn't mean to say that the quads we flew six months ago were no good - we loved them and most of the time they were far faster and more powerful than we could even handle. However, new components, new protocols, new firmware and generally different styles of building are constantly being introduced. We will update this build as things change - some parts will stay recommended for a long time, others will be replaced by superior options quite quickly - that's just the nature of the beast!
We don't expect everyone to agree with us with every component choice but rest assured that we see a lot of products come and go. Many don't even make it to sale so we know the ones which perform and the ones which are reliable. If you want to try different components or something is out of stock, many of the parts listed below are interchangeable so just let us know and we can recommend suitable alternatives.
NB: Prices listed are correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.
The QAV210 has taken the QAV250's crown as the go to mini quad frame of choice. With a wealth of accessories and spares available, choosing a popular frame is a smart move as you'll find spares readily available and plenty of other people's builds which you can learn from. You'll struggle to break Lumenier's 3mm high quality 3K carbon fibre unibody base plate but if you're that way inclined, there is a 4mm upgrade plate available.
At nearly half the price of the QAV250, the QAV210 takes all the standard 250 class components; it spins 5" propellers and has a shorter MTM distance giving you an agile and responsive airframe.
NOTE: The QAV210 ships with a Lumenier 4Power PDB which needs a Pololu voltage regulator (not included) to provide your system with 5V or 12V power. We think it makes more sense to replace the PDB entirely - see below for our recommended replacement PDB.
Flight Controller: 1x AfroFlight Acro Naze32 Control Board
It's looking likely that in the near future, flight controller firmware will begin to make more and more use of faster F3/F4 processors but until that point, for the vast majority of people, the Naze32's F1 processor is easily up for the job. Add to that the vast amount of literature available throughout the community, we just can't recommend any other flight controller than the Naze32.
Provided you're buying a geniune Naze32 from Abusemark (like ours), the quality of the boards is second to none. If you're happy soldering, then you'll find the Naze32 takes solder very easily - if you're not then you may want to opt for our Soldering Service.
Emax motors have always been a favourite of ours - their low price belies their reliability and performance every time. The 2205 2300kv motor is perfectly suited to a 210 size airframe spinning 5" props. Rated up to 4S, they will happily spin high pitch props such as 5045BNs and the specially design cooling fins will direct air over the coils, keeping them cooler for longer. You can't go wrong with an Emax motor!
You could also consider the DYS SE2205 motors, pretty much on par with the EMAX motors.
When Little Bees first hit the market, it quickly became clear that they were going to be very popular. A fast SiLabs processor and dedicated drivers for the N-Channel MOSFETs make the Little Bees the ideal choice for almost any mini quad build.
Made from glass fibre reinforced PC, DAL T5040 V2 are the obvious balance between efficiency and raw power. You probably won't be replacing these quite as often as we used to do with older nylon props but it's still a good idea to get a few packs just in case.
Power Distribution: 1x Matek Mini Power Hub V3 PDB
The Matek Mini Power Hub V3 PDB has both 5V and 12V stepdown voltage regulators on board. It's designed to be stacked directly beneath your flight controller using standard 30.5mm pitch mounting holes and features solder jumpers for selecting 5V/12V power for your camera and flight controller.
The PDB also comes with clear wiring diagrams for connections with or without an OSD. Given that the Matek V3 PDB is less than the price of a single Pololu module, it would be difficult to jusify not including this in your build!
If opting for FPV then consider the Matek HUBOSD which has a simple on screen display built in!
We have split the RC gear into two options, a budget option and a higher end option. Go for the budget option if you just want a low cost taste for mini quads and go for the higher end option if you can see yourself getting really stuck into the hobby!
Budget Option - FlySky FS-i6 6CH Transmitter + FS-iA6B Receiver
Sold under various different rebranded names, the FlySky FS-i6 is and is a solid performer at a very reasonable price point and it's a great choice for getting started with mini quads. While it is a little on the large side, the FS-iA6B receiver has diversity antennae for improved reception and supports PPM output to your flight controller (making the wiring much neater).
With a possible range of over 1km, the AFHDS2A protocol puts this transmitter beyond what many would consider a 'park flyer' but a little less than 'full range'. It has a three position switch, two potentiometers, solid battery life, a comfortable grip and a 20 model memory. It's quite possible for many people that they won't ever need a better radio system than this excellent value combo.
Higher End Option
The FrSky Taranis has taken the mini quad world by storm and is undoubtedly it's transmitter of choice. FrSky's ACCST protocol is rock solid with a range exceeding 2km. There is a great selection of telemetry sensors and receivers, each suited to different applications (see below for our recommended receiver).
Another huge benefit of opting for the Taranis, is simply the fact that so many other people are using it - you will find endless tutorials and setup guides on the internet making your life so much easier. The Taranis can be as simple or as complicated as you like - getting your first mini quad set up and bound won't take you too long and if you want to do anything more tricky then you can be sure that somebody will already have done it.
With a 60 model memory, actively developed open source software, voice alerts, haptic feedback and a range of telemetry options, the Taranis will do everything you need it to without breaking a sweat. You simply won't find another radio system which is as feature rich as the Taranis at the same price point.
Higher End Option (Receiver) - FrSky X4R-SB 3/16CH Receiver with SBUS, CPPM & Telemetry
You'll may have seen a lot of reference to the older D4R-II receiver but don't be fooled! The newer X4R-SB is the same size and supports the lower latency SBUS protocol. Most newer flight controllers support native SBUS input but if your doesn't, you can still use the CPPM protocol with a special bind process.
The diversity whisker antennae snap easily onto the receiver using u.FL connectors. This means that you can replace them in no time at all should they get chewed up by your props - you can even replace them with amplified PCB antennae for (up to) 25% greater range.
You don't necessarily need to buy your FPV gear at the same time as the rest of your build; many people build their first mini quads and then add FPV into the equation at a later stage. This can spread the cost of building and gives a bit of LOS flying experience before you dive into FPV.
The HS1177 has established itself as the go to FPV camera for mini quad flyers. It's fully configurable OSD and neat form factor make it perfect for FPV. The CCD sensor puts the HS1177 in front of other cameras with CMOS sensors due to its excellent light change handling. Furthermore, many frames (such as the QAV210) have been specifically designed around cameras with this form factor so don't forget about that when selecting your camera.
If you were tempted to use your GoPro, Mobius or similar HD recording camera, then think again. The latency introduced by most HD recording cameras and their poor light handling makes these quite unsuitable for FPV live feed use - keep these for recording your flights to view afterwards.
FPV Transmitter (VTX) - Foxeer TM25 Switcher 5.8GHz 40CH Video Transmitter (SMA)
In a world where video transmitters seem to die for no apparent reason, the Foxeer 25/200mW is good choice providing good value for money and adjustable power outputs.
This video transmitter supports the newer RaceBand channels and can also be set to output just 25mW making it UK legal - perfect for those looking to compete at officially organised race events.
Also Consider: TBS Unify Pro 5G8 HV 5.8GHz Mini FPV Transmitter (SMA) - Made by Team Black Sheep and featuring an adjustable power output this higher quality FPV transmitter is good alternative choice.
Circularly Polarized Antennae - TBS Triumph 5.8GHz Antenna RHCP (RP-SMA) (2 Pack)
If you think you can use those little black linear antennae which come with your video transmitter and receiver, think again! These will work at close range but any further away, on a constantly banking quad, you will find that your signal drops out far too much. Without boring you with the specifics of radio waves and antenna design, omni-directional circular polarized antennae are far better suited to mini quad applications.
Your antennae are the single most important factor in your FPV setup so it's best not to skimp in this department. The TBS Triumph antennas are proven as being reliable and perform well. The extra small footprint and positionable coax cable make the Triumphs our antenna of choice for mini quad FPV.