I realize that not all of you want to sift through mountains of information before getting suggestions for gear, so I’ve put together this list of quick picks for all the gear you would need.
I’ve tried to split as many of the choices as possible into best of the best and slightly towards budget options. I have not listed the ABSOLUTE cheapest, since those things don’t really last that long.
Splurge: Taranis X9D Plus Special Edition
In the miniquad world, the Taranis X9D Plus is the king of transmitters. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other transmitters, fully customizable through the OpenTX firmware, has a JR module bay for other radio protocols, and the Special Edition has awesome hall sensor gimbals and a cool plate to boot. It has more switches than you can come up with uses for, and OpenTX can be made to do really anything you like.
Budget: Taranis Q X7
The Q X7 is the slightly watered down version of the X9D Plus. It has a slightly different design which may not suit pinchers, but runs the same OpenTX firmware, has a JR bay, and has less switches. There is also a SE version of this, which has the hall sensor gimbals and a more rugged exterior. Aside from ergonomics and less switches, you may not be able to tell the difference from the X9D Plus.
Splurge: Fat Shark Dominator HD3
The Dominator HD3s are the absolute top of the line when it comes to FPV goggles. The optics are great, you get a 4:3 display with a large field of view, and you can add any receiver module of your choice. Plus you get a lithium ion 18650 battery case(batteries come separately).
Budget: Eachine VRD2
If you’re on a tight budget, pick up some Eachine VR-D2 goggles. These have diversity built in, and are decent box style goggles for the money. You’ll like these when you start out, but you’ll want to upgrade soon once you have the cash. Clunky goggles are no fun to carry around!
Mid-way: Aomway Commanders
While they’re not that much cheaper than the Fat Shark Dominator HD3, the Commanders are still really decent goggles that have diversity built-in and have the sleek form factor that Fat Shark is famous for. When you consider that you’ll have to get batteries and a receiver for your Fat Sharks, both of which you can get in the Commanders, you may wish to save the money on goggles and get some lipos instead!
FPV Receiver for goggles
Splurge: LaForge Diversity Module
The LaForge Diversity module is the cream of the crop of (limited) diversity modules for Fat Sharks. The software is awesome, robust, customizable, and the reception is clear as crystal. The only issue? You need to get the LaForge receiver, then the diversity module separately, so it’s quite costly. If you have the moolah, get this.
Budget: RealACC RX5808
The RealACC RX5808 is a diversity module for Fat Shark goggles which is rather limited in features at an initial glance, but once you flash the Achilles firmware onto it, it gets supercharged and gets a LOT LOT better, even matching the LaForge module. The updated firmware is free 🙂
Splurge: ISDT D2
The ISDT D2 is a monster of a charger that can push out enough amps to charge an entire day’s worth of 1300 lipos in one go. ISDT has become the go-to brand in the lipo charger world, and for good reason. Their chargers are easy to use, well built, and do their job phenomenally.
Budget: ISDT SC-608
For a more budget ISDT charger(and smaller), get the ISDT SC-608. This is the charger I use, and it’s small enough to fit in your pocket. I can charge 6 lipos at once, which is fine with me, since I only have 7 or 8 lipos at a time anyhow!
Splurge: Thunder Power
These are the lipos that Mr Steele uses(and lots of other pro pilots). They’re not that much more expensive compared to other lipos, but the difference of $10 or so adds up when you get multiple lipos. However, these lipos perform and look great, so if you want to splurge, by all means!
Budget: CNHL or Infinity
ChinaHobbyLine and Infinity are budget lipo batteries that still fly incredibly well. In fact, I have some Tattu R-Lines and Inifnitys, and I prefer the Infinity packs any day. ChinaHobbyLine packs are great too, though shipping is a little prohibitive and expensive if you’re outside the USA.
Soldering Iron and tools
Splurge: Hakko Soldering Station
If you’re serious about soldering and have the space to set up a proper bench and work station, then you won’t regret picking up a Hakko soldering station. You can adjust the temperature to an exact degree and get it very hot, the components are great quality, and you can use the one iron for heavy soldering like PDBs and battery leads as well as delicate soldering like VTx and RX wires.Pick up a Hakko station here
If you don’t want to drop the cash for a Hakko, at least get a TS-100. I use one of these and it is my very favorite tool. You can adjust temperature up to 400 degrees, and it handles pretty much all soldering like a champ. Plus, it’s portable so you can take it on the field with you and run it off of a lipo, saving you a trip home where you can just fix something that broke right there!
Budget: Cheap soldering iron from Amazon
If you don’t want to spend $50 or more on a soldering iron right now, pick up any thin-tipped soldering iron from Amazon of at least 40W or more. That will do the job very nicely.Check out cheap soldering irons from Amazon
Receiver(Assuming you get FrSky)
Splurge: TBS Crossfire Micro TX and RX
TBS Crossfire has long range, the lowest latency to date, and really easy telemetry and expansion. What’s not to like? For freestyle pilots, the added range will be a welcome feature, and for racers, the clean frequency and reception will be just as well received.
Budget: FrSky R-XSR
The R-XSR is the best FrSky receiver out there period. It’s tiny at 1.5 grams, supports SBUS and full telemetry through the S. Port. You can run this on any setup from a 65mm micro all the way up to a 6″ quad without any problem at all.
Freestyle, Splurge: ImpulseRC Reverb or Armattan Rooster
The Reverb and Rooster are my go to frames right now. I have them both and I love them both. They’re both a little pricey, but the build quality is amazing and they’re incredibly strong, as they’ve managed to stand up to my abuse very well! For freestyling, these two frames have set the bar really high.
Freestyle, Budget: Martian 220 from Banggood
If you’re on a budget, get a Martian 220. It’s a clone of the Alien frame, but it’s spacious, an easy build, and fun to fly. It’s cheap, too, so you won’t really feel the bite in your wallet if you have to replace it.
Racing, Splurge: FLOSS V2
The Floss V2 is an incredibly well thought out frame with design touches like an FPV antenna mount that never gets in the way of your props, and super thin, quickly replaceable arms that let you really rip a track thanks to minimal air resistance. It’s also not that expensive. It only came under splurge because its the more expensive option of the two!
Racing, Budget: RealACC X210
The RealACC X210 is an amazing budget frame and hundreds if not thousands of people have had this frame as their first into miniquads. It’s sleek, lightweight, and strong.
Racing, Splurge: T-Motor F40 Pro II 2600 kV
I recently tried these motors and they’re just ROCKETS. On a track, these will rip and set the track on fire! They’re a bit costly, but if you’re looking for something top of the line, these are great. They’ll eat your batteries alive, though, so choose your props wisely :).
Racing, Budget: RCX 2207 2700 kV
If you’re not looking to spend too much but still want lots of raw power, then the RCX 2207 2700 kV are a good choice. RCX have long been awesome budget motors, delivering really good performance for relatively less money. Remember to deselect the warranty on the product page to save a bit more.
Freestyle, Splurge: Rotor Riot HypeTrains
The HypeTrains are my go-to motor for freestyling. They’re silky smooth, and have a very nice throttle curve that lets you be in full control in tight spaces, but still gives lots of raw power on higher throttles so you can get that boost of thrust when you want it.
Freestyle, Budget: RCX 2206 2400 kV OR DYS Samguk
The RCX 2206 and DYS Samguk are good budget motors for starting out. You can use these for weekend races or freestyling, and they’ll push out a respectable amount of thrust for a nice flying experience.
ESCs are plenty, and they’re quite cheap, too. You want BLHeli_S or BLHeli_32(unless you’re using KISS in which case you want KISS ESCs). For a typical 4S build running 5″ props, get 30A ESCs. For 6″ or 5S+ builds, get 35 or 40+ amp ESCs.
Note: I am more familiar and comfortable with Betaflight, so I have only listed Betaflight FCs here. KISS and Raceflight are also very good flight controllers.
Excellent quality: Bardwell F4
The Bardwell F4 is designed by Joshua Bardwell, and he’s tried to make it as miniquad-friendly as possible. There are pads for everything a miniquad pilot would need, and the pads are located in a way that makes the build very easy and fast.
Cheap but flyable: Omnibus F4 from Banggood
The Omnibus F4 is a great rough-and-tough flight controller that supports the Betaflight OSD. It’s cheap and easily replaceable. The only issue with the Omnibus F4 is the wiring is old fashioned like the Naze32, not evenly spaced out like the Bardwell F4 or the Betaflight F4 FC.
Best value for money: Runcam Swift 2
The Runcam Swift 2 is the camera that I run on all of my rigs. It’s an excellent, versatile camera with great image quality and doesn’t really break the bank. It’s not super cheap by any means, but the FPV feed has to be clear for a great flying experience, and the Runcam Swift 2 does it all: it handles light transitions well, is lightweight, and has really low latency.
Splurge: Runcam Eagle 2
If you’re willing to drop around $15-20 more then the Eagle 2 is a camera with phenomenal image quality. The Eagle 2 has super WDR(wide dynamic range) which makes the image really sharp and pop out at you. I have yet to try an Eagle, but I am planning on using it for a future build.
Cheap and budget: HS1177 clone from MyRCMart
Finally, if you just want to get in the air, then the HS1177 clone from MyRCMart will do the trick. It’s super cheap, and with a few tweaks to the settings, you can get it performing very nicely.
FPV transmitters are more than you can count, so really, you can get any 32 or 48 channel transmitter and get in the air. However, there are two transmitters I really like, because they support SmartAudio(the ability to change channels/power from the Betaflight OSD in your goggles or through your radio if you’re using OpenTX).
Both transmitters have antenna pigtails which are useful for mounting on the frame, especially since many new frames are designed around pigtails.
The AKK X2P and TBS Unify Pro HV are nearly identical except for a few minor differences, but with TBS, you have the backing of the TBS brand name.
Value for money: AKK X2PPick one up here
Splurge: TBS Unify Pro HV
I have three preferences when it comes to FPV antennas: pagoda antennas for great range and moderate durability, TBS Triumph antennas for good range and ridiculous durability, and Lumenier AXII antennas for moderate range and an insanely tiny profile – making it easy to fit anywhere and almost impossible to break.