Jun 102012
 
 June 10, 2012  Posted by  Components, Frames  Add comments

The original Flame Wheel F450 is a frame made by DJI with molded arms and fiberglass center plates with a built in power distribution PCB. The impressive video above demonstrates its durability.

The price of the F450 frame was recently lowered dramatically making me very interested in it and other similar frames sold under the names HJ450, RM450 and Q450. There may be others too! I have read varying opinions about these frames over the last few months, so I was curious to find out for myself.

Continue reading to see what I discovered…

Clones

There are a lot of frames that look almost exactly the same as the original F450. It is hard to know if these are built in the same factory using the same materials or cheap knock offs. I couldn’t resolve this issue without ordering and comparing all of them, which I didn’t do. However, as inexpensive as the original F450 is after the price reduction, some of the clones are even less expensive.

The Q450 from HobbyKing is one of the least expensive. They also sell one with a built-in power distribution PCB. The PCB serves the purpose of a wiring harness with the ESCs soldered directly to the board. Personally, I don’t like the idea of soldering my ESCs to a frame because I like to be able to move them easily between different frames.

Vibrations?

One of the knocks against these frame is that they vibrate a lot because the molded arms are too flexible making it hard to stabilize and fly. Here is a video from youtube demonstrating this issue with the DJI F450:

Note that the description does say “it flies ok”. So how big of an issue is this and does it cause problems? Further investigation led me to this video from Warthox, who is one of the best quadcopter pilots I have seen. In the video he is flying an unnamed clone frame:

Well, that video convinced me to give one a try. I probably should have ordered one of the original DJI frames, but I found a good deal on an HJ450 in the classified section of RCGroups and bought it. I have no idea where it originally came from. You can see my frame pictured below. Obviously, this frame may be completely different from the DJI original or other similar frames, but I like this one a lot.

HJ450 Quadcopter Frame

HJ450 Quadcopter Frame

HJ450 Frame

I have not flown my frame much beyond hovering it in my backyard, but so far it is very stable. I flew it with my TMF Pro flight controller. Here are a few things I like about it:

  • Inexpensive
  • Strong molded arms and landing gear
  • Tabbed center plates for mounting a camera, etc.
  • Flat arms make it easy to attach ESCs
  • Different arm colors to help determine orientation
  • Solid bolts and threads

I had a couple of easy to fix issues with my HJ450 frame.

  1. There weren’t mounting  holes in the correct position for my flight controller. I drilled my own.
  2. The motor screws that came with my motors were not long enough. Luckily, I had some longer screws that I cut off with a Dremel tool and they worked great.

Conclusion

Mileage may vary and the parts list may be different depending on the specific frame purchased. The orginal DJI F450 is probably the safest bet, but there are less expensive clones. I like my HJ450. It is durable and stable. At the current price of $32 for the DJI F450 and even less for the similar frames, they are definitely worth a try.

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  4 Responses to “DJI Flame Wheel F450 Quadcopter Frame and Clones”

  1. First guy is nutty…if it twists, that could be good instead of being stiff and transmitting vibrations to the center/body of the multi-rotor (and camera area). EPP planes are flexible too!

  2. I’m flying an F450 frame (original DJI) and I’d like to point out that once you load it with battery, control unit and everything else you need to fly well… it’s not so indestructible any more. I’ve already manage to break two arms, once falling from just over 2m height (both times due to contact with vegetation). Having said that replacement parts are cheap and readily available.

  3. HI,

    I own one of the original dji F450 frames, but it certainly doesn’t twist like in the video, mine is pretty stiff.
    Of course there should be some movement possible so it can disperse impact force when crashing.

    Why not solder the ESC directly on the PCB? With the original f450 you also solder it directly btw. Using plugs creates an extra failure point, due to vibrations plugs can become loose. And how often do you change ESC’s on your frame?

    btw, very cool flying in the video from Warthox. Its like all the “cool” 3d flying vids you see with with normal heli’s, and this is the quadcopter’s answer :)

    thanks for pointing out there are clones, didn’t know, but always handy.

    • Hey Ido,

      I think the PCBs are fine. I just find myself constantly switching things around on different quads. Maybe when I settle down with a couple of favorite quads I will leave them alone, ha.

      Cheers,
      Britt

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