After a lot of trial and error with DIY quadcopter builds and trying my hand at a few DIY quadcopter frames, including my favorite - the Lunchbox Copter, I wanted to build a quad around a frame that would be stable in flight and strong enough to withstand the occasional hard landing. Now that I’ve gotten a fair amount of flying experience under my belt, I want to have a sturdy quad on hand that I can fly consistently for a long time and use as a platform for FPV or GoPro aerial video. I also wanted to use a frame that is widely available in case I need spare parts. I decided to give the DJI Flame Wheel F450 a try.
What’s in the box
Center plates, four arms, hardware for assembly, velcro and strap for battery, and wires for the power distribution board
The Flame Wheel is one of the most popular frames out there for a number of good reasons:
- It’s relatively inexpensive at around $40
- It is famously durable (check out this hilarious video of a DJI employee trying unsuccessfully to smash a Flame Wheel).
- The center plate doubles as a power distribution board which tidies things up quite a bit and allowed me to get rid of my ugly DIY wiring harness.
- The design is really well thought out – it’s a compact frame but I never felt cramped for space. Plenty of room for receiver, control board, ESCs, and battery, with mounting options and room to spare for a GoPro or other camera setup.
- As one of the most popular quadcopter frames on the market, there is a wide variety of spare parts and accessories to choose from such as landing gears, gimbals, etc.
My one complaint about the Flame Wheel F450 is that I wish it had longer legs. Each leg is only a couple of inches long which means the propellers are close to the ground on take off and landing. I fly on grass frequently so takeoffs and landings can be a little turbulent with the props so low.
Like most good products in the hobby quadcopter market, cheap clones of the Flame Wheel F450 appeared almost instantly. You can now get a near identical copy for a fraction of the cost of a name brand frame. Here’s one available on Amazon with Prime shipping and includes a built in power distribution board if you’re in the market for a budget option.
Overall I must say that I am very happy with the F450. The combination of price, durability, and intelligent configuration more than make up for its shortcomings. It’s lightweight and flies well, allowing me to focus on other things like aerial video instead of worrying about my frame falling apart.