The TBS Source One V5 frame has been released for a few months now but it seems many people aren’t aware of it. In this review I will go through all the improvements and changes from the previous V4, and some potential issues you might run into when using the new Source One V5 frame.
The Source One FPV drone frame is an affordable that I’d recommend to beginners as well as advanced FPV pilots. It’s a popular open source frame initiated by TBS, which means there are lots of spare parts, mods and 3D printed accessory designs available, and it’s also constantly being updated to improve performance and meet the latest hardware requirements.
Where To Buy?
- GetFPV: https://oscarliang.com/product-dg3f
- AliExpress: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_DEidP4J
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/3U1wyt8
- RDQ: https://oscarliang.com/product-nf0f
- Frame carbon fibre parts: Top plate, bottom plate #1, bottom plate #2, 2x camera plates, 4x arms, 1x arm locking wedge, battery pad
- Screw & Standoff set:
- 16x M3x10mm hex screws (for standoffs)
- 4x M3x12mm hex screws (for bottom plates and arms)
- 4x M3x14mm hex screws (for bottom plates and arms)
- 4x M3 30mm standoffs (front, outer diameter 5mm)
- 4x M3 22mm standoffs (back, outer diameter 5mm)
- 8x M3 press insert nuts (already installed on bottom plate)
Source One V5 Specifications
- Wheelbase (diagonal motor to motor distance): 226mm
- Propeller Size Support Up to 5.2-inch
- Split Bottom Plates Design
- Supports Micro FPV Camera (19mm width)
- FC/ESC Stack Mounting: 20x20mm and 30.5×30.5mm
- Carbon Fibre Thickness:
- Arm thickness: 6mm
- Top Plate: 2mm
- Middle Plate: 2mm
- Bottom Plate: 2.5mm
- Arms Spacer: 6mm
- Camera plate: 2mm
- Standoff height: 30 and 22mm
- Lipo Battery Pad Included, stack screws not included
- Weight: 118g, 128g with battery pad
Closer Look at the Source One V5
The V4 iteration wasn’t particularly popular among FPV pilots due to concern about durability, many still prefer the V3. You can still find the V3 on sale in some places even though it’s a few years old: https://oscarliang.com/product-n828
The Source One V5 seems to be a complete overhaul and hopes to address some of the issues on the V4. There are 3 major changes in the V5:
- Thicker 6mm arms
- Split bottom plate design
- Arm locking wedge
No manual or documentation included, but doesn’t take much to figure out how to assemble it.
It’s fairly good quality carbon fibre and cut very cleanly, I didn’t get any carbon dusts on my fingers like some other budget frames. Note that the edges are not chamfered, you can do it yourself if you wish.
One major complaint in the V4 was how weak the arms were, because they had a much skinnier design and only 4mm thick. In the V5, the arms remains pretty narrow, but thickness has been beefed up to 6mm. And the protruded arm tip provides some protection to the motor in crashes.
The newly added arm locking wedge should improve frame durability and rigidity.
I have seen some nasty damages / cracks in the bottom plate in the V4 frame, and the new “split deck” design in the V5 might be a solution to that. There are now two separate bottom plates that sandwich the arms. Note that the front bottom plate are slightly thicker than the rear bottom plate, as the front usually take a harder hit in crashes.
It’s not as spacious as the previous Source One frames because it’s narrower, and the back has less height. If you are coming from the previous iterations, you will find it slightly harder to fit your components. There is 20x20mm mounting holes on the back for installing an analoug VTX or Caddx Vista, and comfortably fit many other components in it. But those holes are M3 size, if you plan to use M2 hardware make sure to get some washers.
Note that the bottom plate is quite narrow, and it won’t cover the whole 4in1 ESC with 30x30mm mounting – the edges of the ESC will be more exposed than the last version.
It’s a common concern that the FC stack is mounted on the arm screws, which means vibration from the motors might be transferred more directly to the flight controller. The V4 had similar design, and to be honest I didn’t find it to be too much of an issue, but it might be with some poorer quality parts. I will report back if I have noise problems with this.
This design decision reduces the number of screws required (hence lighter), and makes arm replacement possible without taking apart the whole quad. It would have been better if the stack had its own separate screws.
Talking about stack screws, these are not included. I’d recommend M3 30mm screws for the stack, those will leave about 3mm clearance to the top plate. The frame comes with the exact number of screws, no spare at all so make sure you don’t lose them!
For a clean and easy build, you definitely want to get some 3D printed TPU parts for things like antennas, buzzer and FPV camera if you are not using a micro size. Of course these are not included with the frame to keep the cost down. There should be plenty of designs on Thingiverse you can print it yourself or get somebody to do it for you.
The V5 is considerably heavier than the V4 (almost 20g more), which is reasonable given how much thicker the arms are and the additional arm lock.
Most frames out there come with a battery strap, I still wish the Source One would do the same too since those straps typically costs less than $0.5 each to make.
V3 vs V4 vs V5 – Which Frame Should You Get?
Without getting into too much detail, the V3 is the community favourite because of its durability. However it’s also very heavy, flies like a tank. The arms are very wide too which contributes to the robustness, and also good if you use standalone ESC.
The developers tried to make the V4 lighter, at the cost of durability. It’s known to be the weakest of the 3 iterations, breaks easily especially the arm and bottom plate. I’d avoid the V4 if possible.
The V5 uses a different approach, it’s lighter than the V3 with increased durability compared to the V4. The stack is a bit more exposed which raises concern but for me personally it’s been fine so far. This is what I’d recommend if you are building with digital FPV systems.