Do you really need the latest gear?

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I was watching a giveaway video today by GAPiT FPV in which he reviewed a GearBest 210 kit and put it up for a giveaway.

During the video, he made a comment which really caught my attention. He said that the components used in the build were not cutting edge, but 6 months ago, these same components blew everyone’s minds. The multi-rotor industry (especially when it comes to racing) is progressing at a ridiculous pace, and the technology is getting better and better every day.

But that begs the question – at what point does the better technology stop affecting your flying in a noticeable way? Sure, there is a certain caliber of gear and electronics that you need. But do you always need the very, very best, especially if you are flying for fun and as a hobby, occasionally participating in a local race?

Assuming you already have a decent radio and pair of goggles (splurge on these if you like, these are long term investments), let’s see what kind of components you would need. To illustrate my point, I’ll talk about motors and ESCs.

Motors

In the giveaway video mentioned above, the kit being given away uses the famous Emax Red Bottom RS2205/2300 KV motors. When these motors first came out, they took the miniquad scene by storm. On certain props, these motors could output over 1000 grams of thrust – a ridiculous amount at the time.

Nowadays, 1000 grams is pretty standard for motors of that size, and considering these same motors are being sold in economically priced kits, they’ve set the standard.

At the time of this article’s writing, a really awesome motor is the Tornado T2 2206/2300 kv motor. These motors can output 1300 grams or so of thrust using 5040×3 props, according to tests performed by Mini Quad Test Bench.

The Emax RS2205/2300 I mentioned above give 1170 grams or so of thrust using 5040×3 props according to Mini Quad Test Bench. To an everyday pilot, does the extra 150 grams of thrust really matter?

An average 5 inch build is going to be 400-500 grams with a lipo, and at full throttle, your motors will provide 8 times more thrust than the weight of the quadcopter. That’s a LOT of speed, and plenty of power to recover from acrobatic maneuvers.

An extra 600 grams(150 x 4) is going to bump the ratio to 9 times more, but at 8 times, will going to 9 times be really noticeable?

ESCs

ESCs are a little trickier, because the evolving protocols in ESC technology do make your quadcopter fly noticeably better, but it won’t really be a vast difference.

At the time of this writing, most ESCs have BLHeli_S firmware, and of course, KISS ESCs have their own proprietary firmware.

I thought that going from BLHeli to BLHeli_S would be a huge difference, but honestly, my old LittleBee Pros (BLHeli) running Multishot fly almost the same as my RacerStars (BLHeli_S) running MultiShot.

In fact, any discrepancies could probably be tuned about by a skilled pilot to the point that the difference between wouldn’t have such a drastic effect on your flying.

This is purely an anecdote, but it suffices to show what I mean. A few months ago, I was in Chicago and met with some local pilots. They were running MultiShot (new at the time) while I was still on OneShot. I candidly asked them if they really felt a difference, and their reaction was “Meh.”

Conclusion

What you should take away from this is that sure, there is a certain standard of gear you should run to be able to fly well (1806 motors on 4S running 5 inch props with ESCs on SimonK firmware is a no-no), but after one point, flying well will no longer be dependent on the quality of your gear but the amount of practice you can put in.

For freestyle flying, any motors that can produce at least 1000 grams of thrust on your prop of choice is more than sufficient.

If you’re into hardcore racing, maybe you’d want to have the best of the best of the best gear. But otherwise, decent gear can get you in the air for cheaper and still perform outstandingly.

For further reading:

http://fpvfrenzy.com/rc-transmitter-fpv-quadcopter/