What are FPV Frames?

Every FPV drone quadcoptor quarters very intricate yet delicate electrical components. And it is very important to safeguard them in order to increase the shelf life of these drones. We need to provide protection for our man in shining armor. Well, the frame is fundamentally the suit of armor that helps in protecting everything that constitutes our drone. Choosing the perfect frame essentially results in getting your foot in the door with drone technology. While deciding a frame, one must go for a sturdy frame while keeping in mind that it doesn’t impede an individual’s flight experience. Let me provide some more details to give you a wider perspective.

The size of the frame is measured in millimeters by calculating the longest distance between two motors. And then those frames are categorized. A frame measuring less than 150mm along the diagonal will be classified as a micro-frame whereas a size greater than 150mm falls into the mini class. When choosing a frame material, one must opt for something that is rugged, strong, durable yet lightweight (one must avoid any extra weight while flying). Carbon fiber ticks all these boxes and hence is widely preferred. Another material falling into our preferred criteria is HDPE, which expands to high-density polythene, although they are not as strong as carbon fiber. They are more flexible than carbon fibers which enhances the overall durability. Many frames opt for a more customized design by combining aluminum or 3D printed TPU with carbon fiber.

Naming convention:
The naming convention for frames is rather interesting (not as complex as organic chemistry, trust me). Let me simplify it for you. A simple numeric prefix (tri, quad, hexa) is accepted followed by “copter”. For example, a tricopter, a quadcopter and so on.

There are various different styles of frame out there, although all are related to the stance of the arms and the shape and size of the electronics carriage. A true X, as the name suggests is in the form of a cross, with motors on the end of each arm. This configuration aids in providing maximum balance along all axes as the perpendicular distance between each mounted motor is essentially the same. A wide X is an improvement on the true X, with arms having a wider spread towards the outside. The center space provides the perfect place to mount a camera and a battery.

Let's rotate a wide X by 90 degrees. What you get is another variant of a drone frame, called the stretch X. The stretch X is typically favored by racers seeking more stability on the pitch axis, which can improve control when the quadcopter is racing at high speed. So the drones you see while binging on those drone racing clips have a stretch X variant of frame. Interesting, right? Now while mounting an HD camera on your drone, the propellers might block the view. Fear not, a dead cat frame comes to your rescue. This is achieved by increasing the perpendicular distance between the two front motors. It is also beneficial in accommodating uniquely shaped center carriages.

Let's explore an older version of a frame style, the H style, but their demand has declined lately because of a rather awkward configuration which eventually makes it bulkier than its counterparts. The HX is a new version of the H frame. Instead of placing the arms at the tip and tail of the carriage, a true X, wide X, or stretch X configuration is applied, most often wide or true X. A Z quad uses two similar base plates mounted on top of each other to produce a stepped geometric configuration between the front and rear motors. It helps in preventing a rush of turbulent air directed towards the rear motors during a forward ascent.

A plus frame has the same footprint as an X frame that has been turned around by about 45 degrees. This helps in achieving finer control as each motor is in charge of rotational motion along a single axis. In order to minimize drag as much as possible, opt for vertical arms as they rotate the orientation of the arms to produce the smallest possible surface area. Durability is usually not compromised as the arm may still maintain width, however, construction of the frame is often more complex than standard horizontal frames.

Now, the battery can be mounted either on the top or at the bottom, completely dependent on the preference of the pilot. Although, freestyle frames are typically designed with a top-mounted battery to support a battery and an HD camera.

A pod has a close resemblance to a canopy. It is primarily meant to provide protective enclosure for sensitive components. FPV drone pods are 3D printed in TPU or sometimes even created by molding carbon fiber or polycarbonate. A pod can also contain high power electronics, such as the video transmitter, preventing overheating issues from airflow.

All that glitters is not gold, as you've often heard. Therefore don’t give into appealing aesthetics while choosing a frame, because the primary goal here is to deliver the best flight experience that can only be achieved by keeping in mind the right size, weight, and style of frame that is under your consideration.

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What are FPV drones?
What are FPV drones?