TBS Source One - Build a 6S FPV Freestyler

By Whiffles on Aug 21, 2019

50  5,639  34

Want to learn how to build an FPV rig? This guide will walk you through your first FPV freestyle build. These parts were hand-picked to balance cost and maximize performance. The TBS Source One is a popular frame for it's low cost, high quality carbon fiber. It's easy to work with and provides more than enough space for your electronics. We've got a 32bit 4-in-1 ESC to bring you the smoothest flights and fewer solders as well as the popular TBS Unify video transmitter (VTX).

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Tools

This build requires some soldering experience, but could also be a great way to practice. I highly recommend a flux pen, good 63/37 leaded solder and a quality soldering iron. Here are the tools and supplies you'll need. I've included direct links below in the part list.

  • Soldering iron
  • 2.0mm hex driver
  • 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

The frame kit and motors come with all the hardware you need, so you don't need to buy any additional hardware. I used blue countersunk washers and screws to add a little color, but those are entirely optional. What's great about a frame like this is you can embellish a little.

Frame Assembly

We're using the TBS Source One V3 which offers a couple new features over the V2, but most notably the arms mount below the base plate. This provides more space for the stack, but in our case we've got more than enough space. At least the battery strap won't rub against the components! The main thing to keep in mind is to orient the silver press nuts upward. Sandwich the arms with the small plate at the very bottom. Insert the screws upward and use the 4 tallest screws in the middle for the stack.

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Motors

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Mounting the motors is pretty straightforward. Use the "For 4mm arms" screws and some blue Loctite to ensure they won't vibrate loose. I used some 1/4" Para-Max to sleeve the motor wires, but you can also secure the wires to the arms with electrical tape. If you do want to take that route you'll want to use some 14mm shrink tube to cover the ends of the sleeving.

Before you start soldering you should remove the flight controller from the 4-in-1 ESC to make it a little easier. Now I rotated the ESC board so the motor wires solder to the side and the battery tab points toward the back. This isn't the intended orientation, but I prefer to have my motor pads accessible. Plus you can add a capacitor and it'll be protected inside the frame. You'll need to paste some commands later during the Betaflight configuration to address the orientation change, but it's very easy to do and the commands are available below.

  1. Remove the nylon standoffs from the side you're soldering so you don't accidentally melt them.
  2. Flux and tin each motor pad ensuring each is completely coated with a bubble of solder.
    • These are pretty long pads so you'll want to push the solder back so it looks more like a loaf than a ball.
  3. 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.
    • Take your time and press the wire into the solder slowly to avoid bridging the pads.
  4. If you used sleeving be sure to melt the shrink tube over the ends.

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Power Connector

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Now it's time to solder the power lead. Unfortunately this stack doesn't come with an XT60 or wire, so you'll need to buy those separately. I took the opportunity to use all black. There's just something attractive about two black wires and a black XT60. Just make sure you've got the polarity correct!

  1. Solder the wires to the XT60 connector first and add shrink tube to cover the joints.
  2. Flux and add solder to the battery pads on the 4-in-1 ESC and solder the wires to the pads.
    • I soldered the wires to the pads horizontally, ignoring the vertical grooves.
    • Try to solder them so the battery lead points out toward the side of the quad. This will require cutting one wire slightly shorter than the other.
  3. Solder the capacitor on top of the battery leads.
    • The striped side of the capacitor is negative.
    • Make sure the capacitor angles upward so you've got room to mount the VTX behind the stack.

Binding the Receiver

Now that you've got power you can add the receiver and bind it. I used the FrSky XM+, but you'll need to choose a receiver that matches your radio.

  1. Solder 3 wires to the 5v, GND and SBUS pads on the receiver.
    • I borrowed some wire from the camera. It's got enough to spare.
  2. Solder these wires to the 5v, GND and R3 pads on the flight controller (FC).
    • Refer to the photo for wire placement.
  3. Add your flight controller to the stack and re-connect it to the 4-in-1 ESC with the included wire harness.
    • Make sure the arrow on the FC points forward.
  4. Bind your receiver
    • Be sure to double check that you don't have continuity between your main battery leads and use a smoke stopper if you have one.
    • Hold the bind button on the receiver while you plug the main battery in. (It's helpful to clamp this button down with tweezers to free your hand)
    • Put your radio into bind mode and make sure you're bound.
  5. Now that you're bound you can add some shrink tube to your receiver and put it in front of your flight controller.
  6. Attach small zip-ties to your front arms and shrink tube the antennas to the zip ties.
  7. Secure the flight controller with the included nylon nuts.

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Camera

Next we can add the camera. First you'll want to screw the side plates to the camera and mount it onto the frame to measure the wire. Remove the purple wire and connect the wire harness to the back of the camera. Cut the wire giving yourself a little slack to adjust the camera angle. Refer to the photo for wire placement. "VI" stands for video input.

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Video Transmitter

Now for the last component, the VTX. Remove the 5V output and GND wires from the harness. We don't need those. We're using the FC to power the camera instead. This leaves just 4 wires. You'll want to use the B+ pad to power the VTX as well as the adjacent GND pad. Use "VO" for video output and use TX6 for the data wire. This allows you to control the VTX via your On-Screen-Display (OSD). Refer to the wiring diagram included with the TBS Unify transmitter.

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Camera Configuration

Now that you've wired the camera and VTX you can adjust your camera settings. Plug your quad in and check that you've got a video feed in your goggles. Then, plug the included camera joystick onto the connector behind your camera. Mainly all you want to do is disable the camera OSD. We'll be using the Betaflight OSD instead. Press and hold the up button to access the OSD menu. Disable each option and save.

Finishing Up

Now it's time to wrap it up! Screw the aluminum standoffs to the bottom plate and mount the top plate. Since I used countersunk washers I had to cut deeper grooves into the battery pad. Just make sure it lines up with the holes on the top plate. It's also a good idea to zip-tie the battery lead to the an aluminum standoff to reduce stress on your stack in the event of a battery ejection. Add your antenna and zip-tie it to the top plate, and finally you should zip-tie the motor wires to the arms to avoid snags.

Betaflight Configuration

If you don't already have them, you'll need to download Betaflight Configurator [Download] and the BLHeli_32 Configurator [Download].

  1. First go to the Firmware Flasher and choose "KAKUTEF4V2" 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 UART3 click Serial RX for your receiver.
    • On UART5 set the sensor input to "ESC".
    • Set the UART6 Peripherals to "VTX (SmartAudio)".
    • 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, ESC Sensor, Anti Gravity and Dynamic Filter
    • Under DSHOT Beacon Configuration enable RX set
    • Click Save and Reboot
  5. On the Power & Battery tab
    • Set the Current Meter Source to ESC Sensor
    • Set the Voltage Meter Battery Scale to 112.
  6. Go to the CLI tab and paste the following commands to map the motors:
resource MOTOR 1 A03
resource MOTOR 2 B00
resource MOTOR 3 A02
resource MOTOR 4 B01
save

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.
    • I like to add about 4 or 5 to both deadbands to smooth out gimbal jitter.
  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 with the beeper on the last position. Otherwise it'll beep when you don't have your radio on.
  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 Betaflight Configurator and open BLHeli_32 Configurator
    • Connect and Read Settings
    • Reverse each ESC that needs to be reversed. This is done by un-selecting the other ESCs at the bottom and saving them one at a time.
    • Set the PWM Frequency to 48kHz of each ESC.
    • As an added bonus you can change the ESC startup music.
    • Reconnect to Betaflight Configurator to test the motor directions.
  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.

Challenges

This was a really straightforward build. The soldering can be a slight challenge as the pads are pretty close together. Just take your time and apply flux when the solder starts to stick to your iron. To solder to the flight controller add a small ball of solder to the pad then push the wire straight down through the ball into the hole below. Lightly tug at each one to make sure you've got a solid connection. Other than that I had a hard time getting a nice clean ball of solder around the battery leads. I prefer square battery tabs, but these get the job done.

Maiden Flight

When installing your props make sure to pay attention to the rotation direction illustrated on the Configuration tab in Betaflight. If you're 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 edge need to rotate toward the sides of the quad. Make sure the lock nuts are tight but not extremely tight. Conduct your first hover test in a safe place where you won't damage anything or hurt yourself and then you should be ready to enjoy some FPV!

Don't want to build?

Rotorbuilds has partnered with GetFPV to offer an RTF version of this quad. Get it pre-built and ready to bind to your FrSky radio here: TBS Source One Quadcopter 6S RTF.

Photos

Part List

Frame

TBS Source One 5" Frame V3 (48 builds)
Getfpv.com
$26.99

Flight Controller

Holybro Kakute V2 - Tekko32 4-in-1 ESC Combo (4 builds)
Getfpv.com
$86.00

Motors

4 x EMAX ECO 2207 Brushless Motor (5 builds)
Getfpv.com
$47.96

Propellers

Lumenier 5x5.3x3 - Gate Breaker Propeller (Set of 4 - Transparent Blue) (7 builds)
Getfpv.com
$3.99

Propellers

Azure Power 5148 SFP (Strong Fast Props)
Getfpv.com
$3.19

FPV Camera

Foxeer Arrow Mini Pro - Blue (3 builds)
Getfpv.com
$21.99

FPV Transmitter

TBS Unify Pro HV 5G8 - Race (SMA) (516 builds)
Getfpv.com
$24.95

Antenna

Menace Thrasher 5.8GHz Antenna (RHCP) (2 builds)
Getfpv.com
$8.99

Receiver

FrSky XM+ SBUS Mini Receiver (1174 builds)
Getfpv.com
$13.99

Batteries

XILO 1250mAh 6s 75c Lipo Battery
Getfpv.com
$29.99

Radio

FrSky X-Lite Pro - 2.4GHz Radio Controller (Deep Sea Blue)
Getfpv.com
$199.99

Goggles

Fat Shark Dominator HDO FPV Goggles (77 builds)
Getfpv.com
$449.99

HD Camera

GoPro HERO7 Black Action Camera (36 builds)
Getfpv.com
$399.99

Hardware

Metric socket countersunk, Class 12.9 steel M3 (10 pcs.) (2 builds)
Pyrodrone.com
$2.99

Hardware

M3 Countersunk Washer (1 Pc.) (2 builds)
Pyrodrone.com
$0.19

Misc Parts

Lumenier Indestructible Kevlar Lipo Strap - 16x250mm (3pcs)
Getfpv.com
$6.99

Misc Parts

PARACORD PLANET 1/4 Inch para-Max Paracord 1200 lb Tensile Strength (Gold, 10 Feet) (5 builds)
Amazon.com
$6.49

Misc Parts

Black XT60 Power Connectors (5 Pair) (7 builds)
Getfpv.com
$4.99

Misc Parts

Silicone Wire 14awg (1mtr) (4 builds)
Getfpv.com
$1.99

Video Receiver

ImmersionRC rapidFIRE w/ Analog PLUS Goggle Receiver Module (92 builds)
Getfpv.com
$159.99

Battery Charger

ISDT Q6 Pro BattGo 300W 14A Battery Balance Charger (8 builds)
Getfpv.com
$59.99

Soldering Iron

Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station FX-888D FX-888 (blue & yellow) (12 builds)
Amazon.com
$99.42

Backpack

FPV Session Backpack by Think Tank Photo (3 builds)
Getfpv.com
$149.99

Misc Supplies

Heat Shrink Tube Assortment Box - 508pcs Black (3 builds)
Getfpv.com
$9.99

Misc Supplies

Kester 959T Soldering Flux Pen-Pak by TekLine 12ml No-Clean Low-Solids (2 builds)
Amazon.com
$7.40

Misc Supplies

Kester 24-6337-8800 50 Activated Rosin Cored Wire Solder Roll, 245 No-Clean, 63/37 Alloy, 0.031" Diameter (6 builds)
Amazon.com
$21.85
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Discussion

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Onita   24 hours ago  

Is it possible to put the controller: Holybro Kakute V2 - Atlatl HV V2 - Tekko32 35A 4-in-1 ESC Combo instead of the Holybro Kakute V2 - Tekko32 4-in-1 ESC Combo?

Whiffles   24 hours ago 

You mean you want to replace the TBS Unify with the Atlatl HV V2? Sure, that's no problem! You can stack it above the flight controller and using the same wiring.

Onita   14 hours ago 

Thank you for your answer :)

madhanvasudevan   2 days ago  

This is super cool build. Building this as my first quad (have cinewhoop). What Kv motors should i choose?

Whiffles   2 days ago 

Depends on whether or not you want to fly 6S. If you just want to start on 4S then you can get the 2400kv motors. If you want to fly 6S then get the 1700kv.

JasonFPV0   7 days ago  

What do you think about those props?

Whiffles   6 days ago 

So far so good! I'm not very sensitive to prop changes though, so I may not be the best person to ask.

JasonFPV0   6 days ago 

Hm, interesting. I was using cyclone 5050's but then I tried Johnny props and they were a lot smoother but also decently less powerful. I'm hoping the azures will have a nice balance, and the other ones just look sweet.

maaloufixe   9 days ago  

hello, on the tbs unify pro hv it's mentioned to be wired directly to the lipo. is it ok to power it from a 5v source like you did? thanks

Whiffles   8 days ago 
1

I wired it to the B+ pad which is direct power from the lipo.

Vietnow   17 days ago  

any video on how it flys?

Show 1 more comment
Vietnow   17 days ago 

cool, dji build video would be good also.

Whiffles   15 days ago 
1

I'm planning a DJI build next.

Vietnow   15 days ago 

cool that bandolero is a cool frame.

Codyflys   23 days ago  
1

As a complete absolute beginner, I have a few questions If anyone could answer I'd greatly appreciate it. I have been told to use the FRsky Qx7 Radio, which doesn't include a battery/charger. and even sourcing it to the cheapest places it would run around $150.00 after battery/charger/radio purchase. I was thinking I may as well buy a X9D for $200 that already comes with the charger/battery/radio? Is the X-lite pro a better option? And my bigger question is the difference between the "S" Is 4S fine for freestyle drone flight? What is the advantage to 6S? Longer flight times?. I'd like longer flight time without giving up performance. if possible... Also what about wiring? Is it good to have spare wire and at what guage do I want the wire, I have 100 other questions I'll probably end up asking eventually If i knew people in the community, but sadly I'm new and it's definitely a bit daunting to get into. I have some money to spend on the hobby though I'm not trying to spend an absurd amount. I was going to pick the Eachine EV200D's as a set of goggles to reduce my build cost down as well, could go with cheap box goggles but I have been told to avoid those. I also thought about just buying the radio/battery/charger and doing some sim flights whilst I figure out a build, but now im stuck deciding on the radio :/

kwadkenstine   22 days ago 
1

Hi. Go the sim option. look into multi protocall radios like the jumper brand also use it for sim.
4s v6s . after you can fly pack after pack without crashing and smashing props every second flight, then 6s becomes viable, untill then spend the money not spent on 6s batts on props and repairs..
goggles I Can recomend skyzone , i have the 02x , aiomway commander and fatshark dom v4 .
All of these are good solid goggles , but i rank them as above.,
Wire is something that just seems to multiply in the corner all by its selfe once you start building.
hope this helps

Whiffles   21 days ago 
1

I love the X-Lite. It's a great compact radio. You just need to keep in mind compatibility. The new X-Lite Pro and the X-Lite S use their newer ACCESS protocol. They still support ACCST D16 which covers about 90% of the quads out there, but there are still some that only support D8. For example the original EMAX Tinyhawk is only D8. You might also want to consider the X9 Lite. It's also an ACCESS radio, but a great value. Plus it takes 18650 batteries. It doesn't have an internal charger, but you can add an internal charger for a few dollars.

Between 4S and 6S the difference is very subtle. You'll generally be able to squeeze an extra 30-45 seconds of full power out of a 6S battery, but we've been using 4S for years without any issues. You just need to consider the battery cost. 6S packs have come down in price considerably over the past few months though. Also, if you build for 6S with 1700kv motors you generally don't want to use 4S batteries on such a low kv rating. Either you choose one or the other and stick with it for your entire fleet.

If you do this long enough you'll have enough spare wire to build several quads. You may want to buy some 16awg wire for the battery leads as that doesn't always come with the kits. Its better to invest in a wide variety of shrink tube, m2 and m3 screws.

As for the headset I'd look at the FatShark Recon V3. It's a great budget headset. It doesn't have all the features of the EV800D, but it's a high quality set and the optics are easier on the eyes IMO.

You should definitely invest in a radio first and start out on sims. Then you can graduate to a micro like the Tinyhawk S and ultimately end up at 5".

Turbotron9000   22 days ago  

Definitely going to be picking this one up, thanks! I see Brain3D has a GoPro Hero7 mount for this frame. Would you suggest that one, or something else?

Whiffles   22 days ago 
1

If it's made for this frame then it should do the trick!

JUSTiFLY_FPV   23 days ago  

Is the paracord planet stuff what you used for your motor wire sheathing? On amazon it doesn't look hollow?
Please let me know, thanks.

Whiffles   23 days ago 
1

That's it, just pull the threading out from inside.

stefun   27 days ago  

Nice build but I have a newbie question. Can I use this build with 4s batteries because I want to build it with DJI digital system? Does everything else remain the same?

Whiffles   27 days ago 

Sure, you can use 4S but make sure you get 2400kv motors rather than the 1700kv. I don't think the DJI system will fit though. It's pretty big.

Trashyfpv   28 days ago  

What size are the countersunk M3 screws you used? 6mm?

Whiffles   28 days ago 

These are 8mm but I recommend 10mm.

Trashyfpv   28 days ago 
1

Awesome , thanks, great build and guide!

Trashyfpv   28 days ago  

Does the Source One come with the battery pad?

Whiffles   28 days ago 

Yes! It's a nice bonus for the price.

Trashyfpv   28 days ago 
1

Thank you for getting back to me!

Vietnow   29 days ago  

any video of you flying

Whiffles   29 days ago 

Not yet, still need to take it out.

Piposch   29 days ago  

Hi
do you think this build would be possible with ah armattan rooster frame ?

Whiffles   29 days ago 

I believe that should work, but I'd double check the height of the stack against the stack space.

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Want to learn how to build an FPV rig? This guide will walk you through your first FPV freestyle build. These parts were hand-picked to balance cost and maximize performance. The TBS Source One is a popular frame for it's low cost, high quality carbon fiber. It's easy to work with and provides more than enough space for your electronics. We've got a 32bit 4-in-1 ESC to bring you the smoothest flights..

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