Should you invest in a pre-assembled FPV drone or build your own from scratch? What sets BNF, RTF, and PNP drone kits apart from one another? In this article, we’ll break down what these acronyms mean and how they impact your buying decision.
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What’s BNF, RTF and PNP?
When picking up FPV drone kits, you’ll encounter acronyms like BNF, RTF, and PNP. These are crucial in helping you to make an informed decision when purchasing an FPV drone kit. It indicates what components and equipment are included.
Prebuilt FPV drone kits, namely BNF, RTF and PNP, each come with their set of components, here are the definitions:
BNF stands for Bind-n-Fly. BNF drones come with the drone with radio receiver installed, but the radio transmitter (remote), battery and charger, and FPV goggles are typically not included. These components need to be purchased separately. Rarely battery and charger may be included. This is a popular type of drone kit if you already own most of the equipment like chargers, goggles and radio.
One of the main advantages of BNF aircraft is the flexibility it offers to the user. With a BNF aircraft, the user can choose the transmitter that best suits their needs, whether it be a basic radio or a more advanced one with additional features. This allows the user to customize their flying experience to their own preferences.
However, BNF aircraft do have some drawbacks. One of the main drawbacks is that the user must have some knowledge and experience with binding the transmitter to the receiver. This can be a bit tricky for those who are new to the hobby, and may require some assistance from more experienced pilots.
RTF stands for Ready-to-Fly. RTF drone kits include all necessary components to get started – the drone, a receiver, a radio, and a battery with charger. Most RTF kits also include FPV goggles. It gives you the peace of mind, you don’t need to buy anything else. While the gear is not the best quality, and has minimal features, but it will get you started on a low budget. However in my experience, new pilots tend to outgrow the goggles and radios in RTF kits within months if they fly on a regular basis, so eventually you’d probably have to spend extra on better gear if you want extra features.
PNP stands for Plug-and-Play. PNP drones come with only the drone, and a radio receiver is not included and you need to install your own, which involves taking the drone apart.
What Components are Included in FPV Drone Kits?
To help visualize the differences, here’s a table summarizing what’s typically included in the BNF, RTF, and PNP kits. Remember, these are general trends, and specific inclusions can vary based on the product and manufacturer, so make sure to check the product page before buying:
Prebuilt FPV Drone Kit Vs. Building Your Own Drone: Which is Better?
I talked about buying vs building in detail in my FPV drone buyer’s guide, here’re the key points:
Prebuilt FPV Drone Kits
- Saves Time: Prebuilt drones save you the hassle of assembly. The RTF models, for instance, require minimal setup time, allowing you to get airborne quickly.
- Less Technical Knowledge Required: Prebuilt drones like RTF and BNF require less technical know-how, making them an excellent choice for beginners.
- Limited Customization: With prebuilt drones, customization options are often limited. You can’t choose your own specific parts or components unless you modify the drone post-purchase.
- Challenging Repair: For beginners, repair could be difficult due to limited knowledge and experience. Also the drone may be built in an unfamiliar way which can further complicate the repair process.
Things to consider:
- Cost: while prebuilt drones usually offer a better deal than sourcing components individually, it’s not always necessary the case. It’s wise to break down the costs—check the price of each component. This way, you can ensure you’re really getting bang for your buck.
- Tuning: Some pre-built drones offer excellent tuning out of the box, saving you the hassle. However, this isn’t a guarantee and some can fly terribly, so do your homework—read my reviews before committing.
Building Your Own Drones from Scratch
- Complete Customization: Building your own drone gives you the freedom to select each component based on your specific needs and preferences. This allows for a more personalized drone flying experience.
- Understanding of Inner Workings: Assembling a drone from scratch provides you with a thorough understanding of how the drone works, which can be extremely useful for troubleshooting and performing repairs.
- Time-consuming: Building a drone from scratch can be a time-consuming process, especially for beginners. It requires careful assembly and configuration of all components.
- Technical Knowledge Required: DIY drones require a good understanding of drone technology and how the different parts work together. For those new to the hobby, this steep learning curve can be challenging.
Wrapping Up: Making the Right Choice
The choice between a prebuilt drone kit and building your own drone largely depends on your equipment, comfort level with drone configuration, and budget. Custom built drones offer more flexibility and customization potential, while RTF and BNF kits offer convenience and an instant ready-to-fly experience.
For those new to FPV flying or who prefer a hassle-free setup, RTF drones are an ideal choice. They offer a complete package with minimal assembly and setup time, enabling you to get to the flying experience quickly. However, the included radio controller (remote) and FPV goggles might not be top-tier, but they’re more than capable of getting you off the ground without breaking the bank.
- RTF kits I’ve reviewed: https://oscarliang.com/tag/rtf/
Should you wish to start with quality gear without buying everything twice, you might want to consider my radio and FPV goggles recommendations. Pair these with a BNF drone and you’ll have your own radio and goggles ready to go.
- BNF drones I’ve reviewed: https://oscarliang.com/tag/bnf/
If you’re eyeing a specific radio link not provided by the drone manufacturer, a PNP drone allows you to install your preferred receiver.
However, if customization and flexibility are your priorities, and you’re not afraid of DIY and tinkering, you should consider building your own drone. Not only will this allow you to hand-pick your favourite components tailored to your specific requirements, but you’ll also gain comprehensive knowledge of your drone. This in-depth understanding will prove invaluable when the time comes for repairs and troubleshooting. In the end, the choice is yours – and the sky’s the limit!
- Drone parts that I recommend for your own build: https://oscarliang.com/best-5-inch-fpv-drone-parts/