Complete 250 Mini Quad Parts List + FPV Quadcopter Component Choice
The Complete 250 Mini Q Parts List
Building your own quadcopter is fun but researching parts is laborious, so I have compiled a list of parts and brands for the 250 size mini quadcopter. It’s a great time saver and you won’t miss any amazing components for you mini quad. There are still a lot of info need to be added, such as review links, test data links for motors, build links for the frames etc. I will try my best to maintain and keep this list up to date. I am also hoping if anyone spot any good parts/links that I m missing, you can comment down below to let me know. This list is being updated on a daily basis! Please press F5 a few times to refresh page for update.
When it comes to picking parts for your mini quadcopter, it’s not straight forward. Some components are closely related to each other, and one component might limit the choices of another component. For example if right now you are running 5 inch propellers with 12A ESCs, but you decide to upgrade to 6 inch props, you might want to consider upgrading the ESCs to 18A as well due to the increase in power and current draw. In this case battery will also need to be looked at, to make sure your C rating and capacity meets the increase in current draw. That’s why it’s handy to have a part list available, so you know what choices you have.
Last update – 10 Aug 2015
Frame – Mini Quad Parts List
When you crash, the first thing that breaks usually is the Mini quad frame. So by carefully choosing a reliable frame can keep your downtime at the minimum, and save you money getting replacement parts.
Here are a list of popular frames, from the cheapest mini quad frame, to the most expensive. There is also information about price, material, size, and weight. Click the link below takes you to their official product sites, if there isn’t any I will link them to their discussion thread. If I missed any popular or well known mini quad frame please let me know.
If you built your mini quad using one of these frames, you are very welcomed to share your build log info with us. Just drop me the link and I will add it to the table.
Note that some frames are sold in a bundle with majority of the parts that you need, e.g. motors, ESCs, FC, Props etc. This is extremely easy for people especially beginners, as you don’t have to worry about each components. Also they are usually sold cheaper than buying each part separately.
Here are some bundle deals:
MassiveOverkill in RC Group (online store) just send me a link of a EMAX250 combo deal they are doing.
MyRCMart is doing a deal on RCX-H250 frame (looks like ZMR250).
Any regular quadcopter flight controller should work. But given the size of the mini quad, some smaller (33mm square size) flight controllers have mounting advantage. Here I will list some of the flight controllers that are known to work well with mini quad. For a better comparison chart, check out this post about how to choose flight controller too.
For the Naze32 and Flip32 mentioned, the default firmware/software is BaseFlight. There is now a new open source firmware called CleanFlight. It is a fork of BaseFlight with many bugs fixed, and many extra features. CleanFlight now also supports CC3D, great!
Motor for mini quad is a major decision, it affects your speed, flight time and performance. There are as many options as mini quadcopter frames if not more. But because mini quads mainly use 5 or 6 inch propellers, so I have found this list of motors based on size, weight, and popularity. Again, if I have missed any good motors please let me know. They are in price order, from cheap to expensive.
All the max thrust data below is quoted from the test data link provided, it does not mean it will give everyone the same result. Some motors might have been tested with higher voltage or larger propellers than what is recommended (4S LiPo, or 6′ prop), therefore you are advised to always consult the motor datasheet and run the motor within safe limit.
I have not tested all of these motors, but I have had good experience with Cobra motors. They are good quality, powerful yet smooth with 4S LiPo.
One extra note on the size of the motors. Many would assume fatter motors are more powerful (including myself), it’s not completely true. For example some 1806 motors generate more thrust than 2204 version of the same brand, under the same test condition. To determine motor power, make sure you look at the thrust test data available online. Remember, efficiency and current draw under different throttle are just as important as peak thrust.
Propellers is the “consumable” of the hobby. Especially so for mini quad because we love racing in the wood and fly through tiny holes, it’s inevitable to break props, lots of them. :)
Before the mini quad fever, the best and only 5 inch prop available to me was the Gemfan 5030. But since then, so many more props of different brands and materials started appearing on the market, each with unique characteristic. Since it’s not the most expensive item in building a quadcopter, it’s a good idea to get a few of each props you are interested in, and test them out yourself.
After decided on what motor and prop you are going to run, you should now know the current requirement for your mini quad. If not, check by reading the motor thrust tests data online, or do your own testing to find out what the max current draw of your choice of motor and prop combination is.
In this list we have the ESC current rating, price, input voltage, and weight. There is firmware/software used on the ESCs, if it isn’t specified below it means the ESC is using factory firmware. There are also custom firmware, such as SimonK and BLHeli. These custom firmware are known to perform better than factory firmware, that’s why many of us will flash the ESC to the latest version of SimonK or BLHeli firmware. Note that not all ESCs are flash-able.
Many resellers rebrand the same ESC. For example the RCTimer mini ESC are identical to the DYS mini ESC.
Once you have determined what motor, props and ESC you are going to put on your mini quad, you can now look at LiPo battery. The decisions you need to make are the following.
Cell Count – 2S? 3S? Or 4S?
Motor manufacturers usually would suggest how many cells LiPo you should use. It’s not necessarily true that a mini quad using 4S LiPo is faster than a 3S one. With the right motor/prop combo, a 3S mini quad can also beat one running 4S LiPo.
The most popular capacity range is between 1300mAh and 2200mAh for both 3S or 4S LiPo. Basically you need to find a good balance point between flight time and weight. More capacity gives you more time in the air, but it’s also heavier. I wrote a guide on how to choose LiPo battery before, where I used simple math to identify a suitable capacity value for my battery.
You should now know roughly what the max current your motors are going to draw, so you can now pick the battery with the correct C rating. Note that higher C rating batteries tend to be heavier as well. Here I explained what C rating is.
The way I calculate C rating, is by working out what the current draw is at 100% throttle. If I am going for 1300mah battery, and the maximum current draw is 48A (for 4 motors), I can work out what the C-rating I need.
C rating = peak current draw / capacity
which is 48/1.3 = 36.92. So any 1300mah battery that has a C rating around or higher than 37 should be good.
For instance, these battery would be the fine candidates for my example mini quad:
Some people believe low C rating battery works just as good, while some say if C rating is below requirement, the quad will be under-powered, and it could cause battery heating issues as well, which could shorten battery life.
The main brands for LiPo batteries are Turnigy Nano-Tech, Zippy, Gens Ace etc. There are so many different capacities and C ratings batteries, I am not going to list them all here. They are all widely available in online stores, just google them.
2DogRC sent me a link to their 1500mah 3S Lipo. They have 30C discharge rate (so max continous discharge current is 45A). It weights the same as those 1300mah Battery, but has 200mah extra capacity. However they are a bit pricey, $27 a piece.
There are many choices for vTX and vRX. You can even use different frequency for FPV such as 1.2GHz, 1.3GHz and 2.4GHz in some countries. The reason I prefer 5.8Ghz is because the tiny antenna, and the fact that mini quad doesn’t usually fly long range, so 5.8 should be enough for most people.
It’s important to know there are 4 common frequency bands used in 5.8Ghz video transmission, they are known as the A, B, E and F bands. Here is a 5.8Ghz Frequency band table that explain what the frequencies are in each band, and what brands uses them.
I have tried 3 different video transmitters on my mini quad, they all gave me good results. The ImmersionRC 5.8Ghz 600mW gave me the best range (coupled with ImmersionRC UNO Receiver), but the combo also costs a lot more. Boscam 600mW vTX also does a good job, and it’s compatible with most receivers (including the cheap RC305 – $15).
VTX and VRX come with stock antennas (whip or dipole). They work fine, but to get a better range and penetration it’s always advised to get the circular polarized antenna. Here is a tutorial on what is circular polarized antenna, and why it’s better dipole antenna.
To further improve range, sometimes helical antenna or patch antenna are used on the video receiver. They can give you more range, but they are also directional which means you will get weaker signal on your left and right. They come with different gains, they higher gain, the more directional it is. Here is a guide about how antenna gain affects range in FPV.
When choosing antennas for video transmitter and receiver, make sure the type of connectors are compatible. To learn the difference, check out the guide on SMA and PR-SMA connectors.
FPV Goggle / Monitor Display
FPV Goggles are famous for the immersive experience, and they are really compact and easy to carry around. Fatshark is the brand-name choice, very good quality. But they are also not cheap! If budget is a problem for you, it’s worth checking Hobbyking’s Quanum DIY goggle out, they are only $30.
There are also people using cheap LCD monitor, like myself. Not only being cheaper, it also allows you to look at your quad and around yourself, while flying FPV. And it’s more suitable for people who has eye issues and wear glasses. However under bright and sunny condition, visibility of the image is not as good as the FPV goggle. By adding a sun shield can improve that.
It’s worth knowing some FPV goggle comes with great features, such as built-in video receiver, DVR (digital video recorder), head tracking, etc. Make sure you understand what functionality and components they come with before deciding. For example the Fatshark predator is more of an FPV combo that come with almost everything you need (camera/transmitter/receiver/antenna).
OSD – On Screen Display
I think most people racing mini quad would agree we only need the simplest OSD, showing only current voltage level, and maybe a timer as well.
MinimOSD is a good value OSD, and if you are willing to do some extra work it can do a lot more than the other OSDs.
LC Power Filter and Voltage Regulator
LC Power Filter is used to reduce noise in the power supply. If you are powering your video transmitter and FPV camera with your main LiPo pack, you may or may not notice the jumping white lines across the picture when flying, this is when the LC filter comes into play. You can buy them from Hobbyking, or make one yourself.
If you are running 4S and want to power your 12V rated FPV gear with it, you can consider getting a voltage regulator, instead of using a separate 3S LiPo.
There are usually two cameras used on the same mini quad. FPV camera has been mentioned above which is used for actual flying. There is also another camera which we used for recording high definition (HD) videos. Most high quality videos you see on Youtube/Vimeo are filmed using these HD cameras. There are not a lot of choices at the moment for mini quadcopter due to the limitation on weight and size. The most common FPV recording cameras being the following.
The best known camera among these are probably the Mobius and GoPro. The Mobius has the advantage of being cheaper, lighter, smaller, yet capable of capture great quality footage, but it’s not as good as the GoPro.
The GoPro offers 3 editions, the most expensive one (black edition) can shoot 4K videos at 30fps. Despite the great footage quality, they are way more expensive than the rest of the cameras too. They are also a bit chunkier and heavier, so the Mobius might be more suitable for some of the low power mini quads.
808 keychain camera is also a good option for ultra light mini quad. It offers video out so you can use it as your FPV camera for video transmitter as well.
A long winded post, but should be useful for those who just got into this hobby, and looking to build their first 250 size mini quad.
Note: On this page some of the web links to the Hobbyking website, I inserted my affiliate code so if when someone purchase the item using my links, I get a very tiny bit of reward. You can support me by buying the items through the links I provided. :)