iFlight XL5 V3 - The Easiest Build I've ever Done

By Whiffles on Jan 15, 2019

46  4,815  35

The iFlight XL5 V3 is a fantastic freestyle frame for the price. It features chamfered edges on some very nice quality carbon fiber. My goal for this build was to use high quality components at a relatively low price. Not only that, but I managed to reduce the number of solder points to the bare minimum. I've never built such a plug-in-play quad! The flight controller has an integrated VTX and doesn't require any soldering. All you need to solder are the motor wires, the power leads and the receiver. Very cool!

I reached out to XT-Xinte to sponsor this build because they've been going above and beyond to stock the products I request and their prices are second to none. They also set up a $5 coupon for RotorBuilds users by following this link.

Features

  • F4 flight controller
  • 600mw video transmitter
  • Eagle 2 CMOS camera
  • Current sensor
  • Quality 2306 motors
  • Only 17 solder points

Alt Tag

Tools

While this is a fairly easy build, you'll still need a number of tools. The most important is the soldering iron. I recommend a good quality iron like the Hakko 888D. While it's a little pricey, it's well worth it if you plan to stay in the hobby for long. Here's what you'll need:

  • Soldering iron
  • 1.5mm and 2.0mm hex drivers
  • Industrial Tweezers
  • Wire cutter/stripper
  • Scissors
  • Heat gun or lighter
  • Ruler and cutting mat
  • Multimeter

Additional Supplies

  • A variety of heat shrink tube sizes
  • Blue Loctite
  • Zip ties (small)
  • 63/37 leaded solder
  • Liquid soldering flux pen

Hardware

I used countersunk washers and flat top screws to attach the top plate, but these aren't necessary. I just did it to add a little color. The frame includes button-top screws, so these embellishments aren't required. Also, the motors don't come with screws, so you'll need to buy some M3x6mm hex screws. I recommend buying a set of 100 as they're really handy to keep around. Also, I didn't use the hardware intended to mount the stack. Instead I combined some screws from the frame with the anti-vibration mounts listed below in the part list.

Frame Assembly

The frame comes with great instructions, so there's not much more to add here. The press nuts don't grip the carbon, so I needed to use my prop wrench to hold them in place while I tightened the screws. Also, pay attention to the pointy bits at the tip of the arms. Its easy to screw an arm in backwards if you aren't paying attention.

To mount the FC + ESC stack use the 15mm screws included with the frame. Use the black rubber bits that came with the stack to isolate the 4-in-1 ESC from the frame. Finally attach the anti-vibration standoffs to fix the 4-in-1 ESC into place. Don't add the flight controller until later.

Alt TagAlt Tag

Motors

While it's optional I like to sleeve my motor wires with 1/4" Para-Max. It's also a great way to add a little color to your build. Keep in mind that the traditional 550 Paracord is too narrow for all 3 motor wires.

  1. Cut 4 pieces of cord to 7 cm lengths, remove the inner core and, with a lighter, melt the ends to prevent frays.
  2. Sleeve the motor wires and add a couple 2cm pieces of 12mm shrink tube to cover the ends.
  3. Screw your motors onto the arms using M3x6mm screws and blue Loctite.
  4. Flux and tin each motor pad ensuring each is completely coated with a bubble of solder.
  5. If you're right-handed start from the rightmost motor pad and solder all 6 wires from right to left.
    • If you're left handed start from the left.
    • Cut each wire to length as you go, not all at once.
  6. Position the shrink tube over the ends of the cord and melt it. You can use a heat gun to make quick work of this, but don't hold it over your FC too long.

Alt TagAlt Tag

Power Connector

The flight controller comes with a little capacitor, so we might as well use it! These help with voltage spikes and can clean up interference in the video feed. Ensuring the polarity is correct you can cradle it into the main battery lead grooves at a downward angle. Apply a bit of solder to hold it into place then snip the ends so they don't protrude. Then you can fill the gaps with more solder to cradle the main battery leads on top. Just don't fill it so much that the solder leaks out through the bottom.

Alt Tag

Binding the Receiver

This flight controller is great! It comes with a wire connector for your receiver. I used the FrSky XM+, but you can use any SBUS compatible 3.3v or 5v receiver.

Alt Tag

  1. Unless you're using a 3.3v serial receiver remove the green wire from the RX wire harness.
  2. Solder the 3 wires to the correct pads on the receiver.
  3. Add your flight controller to the stack and connect it to the 4-in-1 ESC with the included wire harness.
  4. Now you'll want to attach your VTX antenna because the next step requires powering it up. You never want to power your VTX without an antenna as that could lead to overheating and damage.
  5. Bind your receiver
    • Plug your receiver into the flight controller.
    • Be sure to double check that you don't have continuity between your main battery leads.
    • Hold your receiver bind button and plug your main battery in.
    • Put your radio into bind mode to get the bind.
  6. Now that you're bound you can tuck your receiver away under the stack.
    • Loosen your 4-in-1 ESC
    • Cut a piece of shrink tube to the length of your receiver and loosely melt it on.
    • Slide it under the 4-in-1 ESC so the antennas diverge in both directions.
    • Attach small zip-ties to your front arms and shrink tube the antennas to the zip ties.
  7. Put it all back together and secure your flight controller with a set of nylon nuts.

    Alt Tag

Camera

The Runcam Eagle 2 is no longer available, but the Runcam Micro Eagle is a fantastic alternative. Just be sure to choose the version that includes the clear bracket to give it the width to mount on this frame.

Before you plug your camera in you need to attach the side plates. Use the M2 screws included with the camera and a single nylon spacer. Sandwich the spacer between the camera and one of the side plates to get the spacing right. Use the camera plug that came with the flight controller to plug the camera in and seat it onto the frame.

Now that you've wired the camera you can adjust your camera settings. Plug your battery in and check that the video feed is functioning. Then, using the included joystick you can plug it into the connector on the back of the camera. This is entirely optional though. I'd test the default settings to see if you like them and make adjustments later.

Alt Tag

Finishing Up

Now all you need to do is mount the top plate and fasten the VTX antenna. Screw the standoffs onto the top plate first. You can either use the included 6mm screws or the countersunk washers like I did. To secure the VTX antenna it's a good idea to hold it in place with a ziptie or two. I just used the hole in the back to hold it in place.

The frame came with a foam battery pad, but I opted to use a sticky pad. These grip the battery much better and reduce the chances of an ejection. I linked a sticky pad below in the misc parts, but you'll need to cut it to size. It doesn't have adhesive on the back so you may want to adhere it with some VHB tape or you could just buy something like Ummagrip.

Attach the top plate to the bottom plate and the build is complete!

Alt Tag

Betaflight Configuration

If you don't already have them, you'll need to download Betaflight Configurator [Download] and the BLHeli Configurator [Download].

  1. First go to the Firmware Flasher and choose "OMNIBUSF4SD" as well as the latest stable release of Betaflight.
  2. Click "Load Firmware [Online]" and then "Flash Firmware" to update your flight controller. Once complete, click "Connect"
  3. On the Ports tab
    • On UART6 click Serial RX for your receiver.
    • Set the UART3 Peripherals to "IRC Tramp".
    • Click Save and Reboot
  4. On the Configuration tab
    • Under ESC/Motor Features select DSHOT600
    • If want to fly "props out" with reversed motors, select "Motor direction is reversed" below the illustration. (This is optional)
    • Under System configuration set PID loop frequency to 8 kHz.
    • Under Receiver choose your receiver mode. For the XM+ choose "Serial-based receiver" and "SBUS"
    • Under Arming set the Max arm angle to 180 (Only if you keep the accelerometer turned on)
    • Under Other Features enable: Airmode, OSD, Anti Gravity and Dynamic Filter
    • Under DSHOT Beacon Configuration enable the beacon
    • Click Save and Reboot

To complete the remaining steps you'll need to apply lipo power to your build:

  1. On the Receiver tab ensure your pitch, roll, throttle and yaw are being applied correctly. Adjust your transmitter and Channel Map as needed.
  2. On the Modes tab
    • Assign an Aux switch to arm and disarm your quad.
    • Assign another Aux switch to enable Horizon or Angle mode if you need them.
    • Assign the Beeper and "Flip over after crash" to a 3rd and/or 4th switch. I like to assign them both to a single 3 point toggle switch.
  3. On the Motors tab enable the motor test and apply a small amount power to check the rotation of each motor. Take note of any that need to be reversed.
  4. Disconnect from the Betaflight Configurator and open BLHeli Configurator
    • Connect and Read Settings
    • Flash all ESCs to the latest firmware available.
    • Reverse the motor direction of any motors that need it. (The numbers correspond to the same numbers in Betaflight)
    • Save and reconnect to Betaflight Configurator to test the motor direction.
  5. On the OSD tab
    • Check all of the features you want and arrange your OSD as desired.

And that's it! The default Failsafe settings are generally fine, but make sure they work by arming your quad, applying a small amount of throttle and turning off your transmitter. It should shut down after a short moment.

Maiden Flight

When installing your props make sure to pay attention to the directions illustrated on the Configuration tab in Betaflight. If you are flying "props in" then the leading edges of each prop needs to rotate toward the front and rear of the quad. If you are flying "props out" then the leading edges need to rotate toward the sides of the quad. Make sure the lock nuts are tight, but they don't need to be extremely tight. Conduct your first hover test in a safe place where you won't damage anything or hurt yourself.

Photos

Part List

Frame

iFlight XL5 V3 240mm FPV Freestyle Frame Kit Carbon Fiber for RC Racer Quadcopter DIY Drone
Xt-xinte.com
$34.99

Flight Controller

LDARC KK Super Fly Tower 30.5*30.5 F4+OSD+VTX 40A BLHELIS 4 in 1 ESC 600MW Adjustable Transmmitter for FPV Racing Drone Quadcopt
Xt-xinte.com
$65.50

Motors

4 x LDARC XT2306 2500KV CW CCW Motor for FPV Racing Drone Quadcopter Lightweight Design Silver Plate Line
Xt-xinte.com
$39.24

Propellers

Gemfan HULKIE 5055S 3 Blade PC Propeller CW CCW Propeller Prop For GT2206-2300KV Brushless Motors FPV Racing Drone Quadcopter
Xt-xinte.com
$1.42

FPV Camera

RunCam Micro Eagle FPV Camera 800TVL 1/1.8 CMOS Sensor NTSC / PAL 16:9 / 4:3 Switchable 5-36V for FPV Quadcopter Racing Drone
Xt-xinte.com
$36.36

Antenna

Newest EMAX Pagoda 3B by Maarten Baert VTX Antenna Pagoda Pro
Xt-xinte.com
$4.74

Receiver

FX400R Frsky D16 Mini Receiver Compatible 2.4G SBUS Output with smart port Telemetry for RC Model FPV Drone Quadcopter
Xt-xinte.com
$10.24

Transmitter

Jumper T12 PLUS Open Source 16ch Radio with JP4-in-1 Multi-protocol RF Module With HALL Gimbal for RC Drone Car Boat (3 builds)
Xt-xinte.com
$98.10

Misc Parts

Suleve™ M3CH4 M3 Carbon Steel Countersunk Hex Socket Screw 6-20mm Flat Head Hex Screw Metric 100pcs (2 builds)
Banggood.com
$4.07

Misc Parts

DYS RTM10 Motor Bullet Cap Aluminum Quick Release Wrench Tool for 4MM 5.5MM 8MM 10MM Screw Nuts (2 builds)
Banggood.com
$3.89

Misc Parts

2 x 10pcs M3 Aluminum Alloy Colorful Countersunk Screw Gasket Washer Hexagon Socket Head Washer for RC FPV Racing Drone Decoration
Xt-xinte.com
$5.26

Misc Parts

Diatone M3x6 Inner Hexagon Screw Pack 20pcs For RC Drone FPV Racing Multi Rotor (2 builds)
Banggood.com
$1.69

Misc Parts

JMT 4pcs M3 Flight Controller Anti-Vibration Fixed Screws Mounting VD Rubber Pillar For CC3D FC FPV Racing Drone
Xt-xinte.com
$0.36

Misc Parts

1 PCS XT60 Male Connector Female Connector With 10CM 14AWG Silicone Wire Cable
Xt-xinte.com
$0.33

Misc Parts

6 Pcs 3M VHB Adhesive Sticky 3 Concave 3 Flat Sticker for Gopro hero 1 2 3 Helmet Mount Red GITUP GIT1 GIT2
Xt-xinte.com
$0.33

Misc Parts

Car Dashboard Sticky Magic Anti-slip PU Pad Non-slip Mat
Xt-xinte.com
$0.17
Show stores (2)

Discussion

Sign in to comment

Torch007   14 mins ago  

Another beautiful build bro. Any thoughts on using the lowrider version of this frame? Too tight? I notice HecticFPV slammed his with 20mm standoffs..

Hectic_FPV   3 days ago  

Sweet build! I love my XL5, slammed it with some 20mm standoffs, CL Racing F4S, DYS 30a 4 in 1 ESC and some DYS Samguk Wei 2207 2600kv motors. Wish I could have afforded some different motors but right now that's all I had money for but it flies like a dream and has plenty of power.

Whiffles   1 day ago 

The Samguks are still a great value, but the bearings just start to go bad a little earlier than most motors.

Hectic_FPV   1 day ago 
1

Yes the bearings are definitely the weak point of the DYS Samguk motors which is why I purchased some better bearings so when they do go I can replace them :)

Hoamou   2 days ago  

Hi, im want to build my first quand and im wondering which one would be the best to start. This one or your wizard killer mark 3?

Whiffles   1 day ago 

Definitely this one. It out-performs the Mark III in just about every way.

Aurora130   6 days ago  

Very cool! Very clean build and a great price point. I am currently flying a build that is around $150, and this sort of setup will definately be in the future for me.
I was wondering were to by the covering you used for the wires from the ESCs to the motors.
Thanks in advance.

Show 2 more comments
Aurora130   6 days ago 

Sorry for asking a question that can be answered by reading a little! ;)

Aurora130   6 days ago 

Never mind. . .

Whiffles   6 days ago 

Have a look at the video. You can see how I did it. Also, don't use Paracord 550 because it's too narrow. You need "Para-Max".

alexandersmith89   13 days ago  

random question but how did you get such nice photos of this build?

Whiffles   13 days ago 
4

It's all about lighting and camera settings. I always shoot in ISO 100 with bright 5000k LED bulbs in a light box. Here's a photo of my setup.

Popeye63   15 days ago  

Hi there! I am new to the site and to drone building, so far I have just been running car bashers & crawlers, from 1/12th to 1/5 in motors & engines, a lot of them my own designs & customisation. Now I would like to start into building a drone and I really liked the (iFlight XL5 V3) you showed. Would you consider this a good build to start off with. I would apprecate and input and advice you would give me, Thank You very much and I hope to here from you soon.
Regards.

Popeye63

Whiffles   15 days ago 

Welcome to the site! Yes, this is a perfect first build. I chose the parts specifically with that in mind. Watch the video to get an idea of the process. I'll be doing a configuration video next.

LunaFPV   19 days ago  

Are the holes in the front and the back for mounting 20x20 boards?

Whiffles   19 days ago 

Unfortunately they are not. I don't know why they didn't space them out to 20x20.

W4SMT   25 days ago  

The motors are currently out of stock at Xt-xinte.com. Could you recommend an alternative? Also would a Runcam Split Mini 2 fit?

Whiffles   24 days ago 

I was going to recommend the iFlight Xing 2207, but that's also out of stock. Another couple suggestions are the iFlight Xing 2206 or the iFlight Tachyon. I believe the Split Mini 2 will fit as there are 20mm mounting holes under the camera, but you may also want to look at the Caddx Turtle V2. I think it's got a slightly better board design.

W4SMT   23 days ago 

I ended up ordering the KK's from Banggood @ $14.95!! Also went with the Eagle 2 camera for now. The Caddx Turtle looks good.. I like the idea of having the HD DVR on board rather than recording the transmitted video. This will be my first build. I assume a 4s 1500mAh Lipo strapped to the top would be adequate? Thanks much for the help!

Whiffles   23 days ago 

Yep, I'm still waiting on a mount for my Hero7. I'll be sure to post some photos when it's all suited up for flight. Just a strap or two on top with a battery pad should do the trick. You might also want to zip-tie the XT60 up against one of the rear standoffs so it doesn't get into prop-strike range.

JC250   Jan 15, 2019  

How are the motors? Never seen them before

Whiffles   Jan 15, 2019 

I haven't flown it yet, but they sound really smooth on the bench. They're certainly a huge step up from any other $10 motor.

JC250   Jan 17, 2019 

I'd be curious to find how it performs compared to the RCX LS2207

Whiffles   Jan 17, 2019 

I haven't tried the RCX LS2207, but these definitely have a premium build quality to them.

daichfpv   Jan 17, 2019  

cheap and clean build! this hobby has come a long way!

Whiffles   Jan 17, 2019 
1

No doubt! But what I like about this stack is the connectors for the RX and camera. This isn't anything new and we've even seen a trend away from that for the past couple years. What's old is new again.

Whiffles   Jan 17, 2019 

Remember the Sirin? This FC reminds me a lot of it, but that board was way overpriced.

daichfpv   Jan 17, 2019 

Don't remember, must have been before my time :P
Well I dabbled with multiwii in 2014 but then came back mid 2017

JazzXP   Jan 15, 2019  

Any thoughts about using a pigtail and stubby antenna?

Whiffles   Jan 15, 2019 

That can work, but it's ideal to have the antenna reach as high as possible. I kinda wish this antenna was a little longer.

JazzXP   Jan 15, 2019 

It just seemed like it was embedded a fair way in. It looks pretty nice that way though!

thumbtwiddler   Jan 15, 2019  
1

nice build! have you tried soft mounting the motors? I've found that it helps a lot in vibration reduction and gets you some really smooth footage

Whiffles   Jan 15, 2019 
1

I've tried it in the past, but it didn't seem to make any difference. The soft mounted FC and capacitor should be more than enough.

Guides & Reviews

46 4,815  35
Jan 15, 2019

The iFlight XL5 V3 is a fantastic freestyle frame for the price. It features chamfered edges on some very nice quality carbon fiber. My goal for this build was to use high quality components at a relatively low price. Not only that, but I managed to reduce the number of solder points to the bare minimum. I've never built such a plug-in-play quad! The flight controller has an integrated VTX and doesn't..

Read more
14 2,835 
Nov 16, 2018

Update! Happymodel has released a new V2 Frame which uses a more durable plastic. The Happymodel Mobula7 is one of those rare treats to hit the micro scene. Countless models hit the market every month, but this one just happens to check all the boxes. It's a 2S brushless micro with a 75mm motor stance. It's slightly larger than the more traditional 65mm brushed micros, but it's still quite small...

Read more