The FPV Lounge. Advice for beginners and experts - Ask a question

This is a thread to ask questions on building a drone from scratch. Be it fpv or not.

Do you want to get into drone building and / or fpv, but not sure how to start? Post a question or two. It will be answered, discussed, re-answered, argued over, dollies thrown out of the pram and then easily searchable for other would-be builders. But rest assured, you’ll get an all round answer.

An all in one thread for help and tips for the beginner.

hope this works

I’ll start it off.

A typical drone consists of:

  • Motors
  • Motor controllers (esc’s)
  • Flight controller
  • Transmitter and Receiver
  • A drone frame
  • Props
  • A battery (Lipo or Li-ion)
  • Flight controller software

These are connected up using wires, either soldered or just using snap in connectors.
For fpv, more parts are required, like goggles, a camera and a video transmitter.


A nice up to date photo there… (not)

These days people don’t tend to use Power Delivery Boards (PDBs) and separate ESCs in all but the largest of quadcopters. Usually these days a 4in1 ESC board which combines all of those parts into one “simple” board is the way it goes. Infact often you also find the Flight Controller (FC) on the same board and it becomes an All-In-One board (AIO).

Beginners. @Yith is correct. Building a drone can be tricky. Weight is important, so if you can get a part that combines another part, it will benefit you. Like the FC (flight controller) and ESC (motor controller).

This is an FC and ESC:


This is both. An AIO. One board instead of two:



The disadvantage with this is that the electronics part most likely to fail in an exciting* way is one of your ESCs. The old FC + PDB + 4x ESC way meant that when** that happened all you lost was a single ESC. With an AIO or 4in1 board you will have to replace the whole thing, which would be more expensive.

Of course once you get to larger quads the single ESCs become a lot cheaper than a 4in1 to replace and a the weight is not so much of an issue. So the old FC + PDB + 4x ESC is back to being the preferred way to go.

Right, I think we’ve covered that enough. :slight_smile:

(* flames and smoke)
(** it will happen to everyone eventually)

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Great idea, Karl. Well done mate.

I love building stuff but am always baffled by the new terminology. And I am sure I am not alone. This thread will help loads.

Scrap that. Confused again.

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But I used all those terms in my previous post…!! :person_facepalming:

FC = Flight Controller
This is the brain of the quadcopter. It has a microcontroller on it, usually an STM chip, F411, F405, F722, H743, etc… This runs the flight controller software: Betaflight, iNav, KISS, ardupilot (etc). It also has gyros and accelerometers, Barometer for height measurements, On Screen Display (OSD) chip for analog video and loads of serial ports to connect to other peripherals (eg GPS, Receiver (RX)). It also has connections to the…

ESC = Electronic Speed Controller
This converts the signals from the FC into electrical impulses to drive the brushless motors. Each motor needs a separate ESC, so on a quadcopter you have 4 of them.

PDB = Power Delivery Board
This takes the battery voltage and passes it to the components that need it at the voltages they need it at. These days this is usually done within the 4in1 ESC, with battery voltage also being passed to the FC which has it’s own way to reduce the battery voltage down to 5V (or whatever is needed)

I saw that lastminute face palm.

It seemed to need it…

It was in jest, but highlighted my point nicely.

FC = Flight Controller

Perhaps a sticky at the top of the thread for abbreviations. I appreciate there are only 8 posts, but I am sure this thread will grow. And if newbies (me included) don’t immediately know what “FC” refers to … then they might remain ‘confused’.

Pass. Just throwing some thoughts out there, Richard.

LOL… there’s one thing that tech has lots of and FPV especially… abbreviations…

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Might need the help of @GADC_Committee for that

Lets see how it pans out though first

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Anyway… oscar has it covered already…

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Wow. That is some list. Very handy though, I have bookmarked, thanks.

Apart from size/convenience of the All in One board, should newbies rule out anything but AIOs? Is this the way to go? Or if someone invests in a FC + ESC (oh god, I’m at it now), will they find themselves a month later regretting it?

If you fly hard, You’ll break something. If it’s an all in one board, you’ll need another. If its all separate, its cheaper to repair.

You’ll need one esc per motor. But the 4 in 1 esc’s are more durable. Probably because single esc’s are mounted on the frame arms and are prone to prop strike.

So that begs the question … what’s the cost difference between a:

  • FC + ESC
  • AIO

Good question. Solved via internet shop research :laughing:. But be aware, and this is only my opinion…

Buy a frame that looks cool, then size it up to fit the other stuff in. If it can only fit an AIO in then so be it.

Frame comes first imo

One day, I’ll get this one

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So … Frame first, then what?