For more than 3 years I have been flying an f450 type quad. During this time it changed 3 sets of engines, 2 sets of ESCs and propellers from cheap Turnigy to T-motor, finally settling on the E300 kit from DJI. Such kit can be ordered on ebay. So, why didn’t I buy a Phantom?
For around 300$ you get an ARF kit with: decent 2312E motors which never became hot is my case; 15 Amp opto ESCs which provide rapid accelerations for fighting against the wind; self-tightening props that simplify the pre-flight assembly; and a NAZA controller with GPS and LED module.
2. Easy and cheap to fix
Drones like to crash. Even experienced pilots are kissing walls or digging the ground with their copters sometimes. It will happen with you and the main question is the price you will have to pay. The f450 is probably the simplest frame you can buy. Even after a hard crash you just have to replace one or two arms (~ 2$ each). In contrast the Phantom’s body costs around 60$.
3. Easy to upgrade
On f450 you are not restricted to use only DJI-friendly products. This allows to save some money and choose the desired parts:
I have bought a simple gimbal for Gopro and an Aomway 1000mw 5.8Ghz transmitter. It works fine, gives around 500 m range, and the cooler is quite helpful as well.
Skyzone sk-702 is a decent all-in-one solution for a ground station. No wires, a receiver and a battery are inside. Folding blinds are also very useful. The cheaper version comes without a recorder.
OSD. I decided to take a clone “osd N2”, twice cheaper than the original. It works well, even some Chinese symbols on the screen make no problem, as their meaning is clear.
Recently I added a head tracker, so the gimbal follows my head’s movements. You can see it in the video.
Even now, having a choice between a Phantom and the f450, I would still take the last. Its main advantage is the freedom of tuning/upgrading the system on a small budget. Commercial RTF drones are quite limited in this sense. Moreover, in both cases some handwork is unavoidable (if you don’t plan to throw the Phantom away after a first crash). So why not to start straight ahead with a cheap and flexible system like f450 frame + E300 kit?