Build A Quadcopter From Scratch – Hardware Anatomy

This article explains the anatomy of a quadcopter, and what each component does in a quadcopter. This tutorial is an essential part of learning how to build a quadcopter from scratch.

How To Build A Quadcopter – Choosing Hardware

If you are planning on building a quadcopter from scratch but not sure where to start, you might find this guide useful. Mini Quad is the most versatile platform for FPV flying IMO, that can be used for racing, free-style flying and even aerial filming. Here is a guide on how to get into building and flying a mini quad.

This blog post is divided into a 2 sections

  1. What is a quadcopter
  2. How does a quadcopter fly?
  3. Going through each component on a quadcopter

What is a Quadcopter?

A quadcopter is a type of multicopters with 4 rotors, aka drone or UAV. A quadcopter has some similarity to a helicopter in terms of how they work, but because of its unique design they are more cost effective and easier to build as a small model. A Quadcopter also provides stable relatively flight performance, making them ideal for tasks such as surveillance and aerial photography.

Quadcopters exist in many different sizes. From as small as the size of your palm, to something big enough to carry a passenger.

Build a Quadcopter Build a Quadcopter

How does a quadcopter fly?

On a regular helicopter there is one big rotor to provide all the lifting power and a little tail rotor to offset the aerodynamic torque generated by the big rotor (without it, the helicopter would spin almost as fast as the propeller).

Unlike a helicopter, a quadrotor has four rotors that all work together to produce upward thrust. Each rotor provides 1/4 of the lift, so we can use cheaper and less powerful motors. The movement of a quadcopter is controlled by varying the relative thrusts of each rotor.

These rotors are typically aligned in a square, two on opposite sides of the square rotate in clockwise direction and the other two rotate in the opposite direction. If all rotors turn in the same direction, the craft would spin just like the regular helicopter without tail rotor (if you are not sure what I mean, check out this video). Yaw is induced by unbalanced aerodynamic torques. The aerodynamic torque of the first rotors pair cancelled out with the torque created by the other pair that rotates in the opposite direction, so if all four rotors apply equal thrust the quadcopter will just stay in the same direction.

To maintain balance, the quadcopter must be continuously taking measurements from the sensors, and making adjustments to the speed of each rotor to keep the body level.

Usually these adjustments are done autonomously by a sophisticated control system on the quadcopter in order to stay balanced. A quadcopter has four controllable degrees of freedom: Yaw, Roll, Pitch, and Altitude. Each degree of freedom can be controlled by adjusting the thrusts of each rotor.

  • Yaw (turning left and right) is controlled by turning up the speed of the regular rotating motors and taking away power from the counter rotating; by taking away the same amount that you put in on the regular rotors produces no extra lift (it won’t go higher) but since the counter torque is now less, the quadrotor rotates around yaw axis as explained earlier
  • Roll (tilting left and right) is controlled by increasing motor speed on either the left or right side, and lowering on the opposite ones
  • Pitch (tilting forward and backward, similar to nodding) is controlled the same way as roll

 

For example, to roll or pitch, one rotor’s thrust is decreased and the opposite rotor’s thrust is increased by the same amount. This causes the quadcopter to tilt. When the quadcopter tilts, the force vector splits into a horizontal component and a vertical component. This causes two things to happen: first, the quadcopter will begin to travel opposite the direction of the newly created horizontal component; Second, because the force vector has been split, the vertical component will be smaller, causing the quadcopter to begin to fall. In order to keep the quadcopter from falling, the thrust of each rotor must then be increased to compensate.

This illustrates how the adjustments made for each degree of freedom must work together to achieve a desired motion. And this is all done by the flight controller, all we polits on the ground only need to tell the quadcopter which way to go, or spin using a radio transmitter :) More advanced drones are even equipped with GPS and additional hardware/software to perform autonomous flights.

Quadcopter Anatomy and Components

The first step to build a quadcopter is to understand what hardware is in a quadcopter and how they are connected and work together.

A quadcopter consists of the following essential parts:

  • Frame – The structure that holds all the components together. They need to be designed to be strong, rigid and lightweight
  • Motors – brushless or brushed DC motors can be used on multirotors, they can provide the necessary thrust to lift the aircraft
  • ESC (electronic speed controller) – each motor is controlled by a separate ESC
  • Propellers
  • Battery – Power Source
  • Flight Controller
  • RC Transmitter/Rceiver
  • Optional parts

Frame

Frame is the structure or skeleton that holds all the components together. It’s generally a flat plate with arms that stick out. Quadcopter frames are usually made of carbon fibre, aluminium, durable plastic or wood. Frames should be tough against crash and rigid to minimize vibrations.

Here is a guide on how to choose mini quad frames.

Aluminium-Frame

A basic quadcopter frame consists of the following parts:

  • The center plate where the electronics are mounted
  • Four arms mounted to the center plate (aka booms)

Popular materials for quadcopter frames are:

  • Carbon Fiber
  • Aluminium
  • Wood, such as Plywood or MDF (Medium-density fibreboard)
  • Plastic
  • 3D printing such as PLA

Carbon fiber is probably the most popular choice due to its strength, excellent rigidity and light weight.

Hollow aluminium square rails is also popular for larger quadcopter arms because of its relatively light weight, rigidness and affordability. However aluminium could suffer from motor vibrations, as the damping effect is not as good as carbon fiber. In cases of severe vibration problem, it could mess up sensor readings.

Wood material such as MDF plates could be cut out for the arms as they are better at absorbing the vibrations than aluminium. Unfortunately the wood is not a very rigid material and can break easily in crashes.

The size of a quadcopter normally refers to as “motor-to-motor distance” or “wheelbase”. This is the distance between 2 diagonal motors. The motor to motor distance affects what size propellers you can use. Make sure you have enough space between the propeller and hardware, and that they don’t get caught by each other.

Brushed Motors

Brushed motors are basically DC motors. Those used in quadcopters are normally lighter than the brushless and they are often used in lower power builds. They are cheaper to replace, but have a much shorter lift cycle.

Electric Motors

The electric motors spin the propellers and generate thrust. There 2 types of electric motors for RC model multirotors: Brushed and brushless motors. Brushed motors are mainly used on smaller, lower power builds, while brushless motors are usually more powerful and used on larger builds.

To learn more about brushless motors here is a guide: https://oscarliang.com/quadcopter-motor-propeller/

A little background of Brushless motor. They are a bit similar to normal DC motors in the way that coils and magnets are used to drive the shaft. Though the brushless motors do not have a brush on the shaft which takes care of switching the power direction in the coils, and this is why they are called brushless. Instead the brushless motors have three coils on the inner (center) of the motor, which is attached to the motor base.

brushless_motor_1

On the outer side it contains a number of magnets mounted to a cylinder that is attached to the rotating shaft. So the coils are fixed which means wires can go directly to them and therefor there is no need for a brush.

brushless_motor

BrushlessMotor

Generally brushless motors spin in much higher speed and use less power at the same speed than DC motors. Also brushless motors don’t lose power in the brush-transition like the DC motors do, so it’s more energy efficient.

Brushless motors come in many different varieties, where the size and the current consumption differ. When selecting your brushless motor you should take care of the weight, the size, which kind of propeller you are going to use, so everything matches up with the current consumption.

Propellers

Spinning propellers is what generates thrust and make a quadcopter fly. They are usually made from durable plastic and occasionally carbon fiber and even woods.

To learn more about mini quad propellers, check out this guide: https://oscarliang.com/choose-propellers-mini-quad/

You might or might not have noticed, the 4 propellers on a quadcopter are actually not identical. You will see that 2 propellers have different directions. This is because 2 rotors rotates in the opposite directions to the other two.

images

The propellers come in different diameters and pitches (tilting). You would have to decide which one to use according to your frame size, and when that decision is made you should chose your motors according to that.

ESC – Electronic Speed Controller

ESC is a device that interpret signals from flight controller, and controls the speed of brushless motors. Brushed motors doesn’t require ESC because they can be driven simply by power transistors which are normally built into the flight controllers that are designed for brushed motors. Each motor requires an ESC to work.

To learn more about choosing ESC for quadcopters: https://oscarliang.com/choose-esc-racing-drones/

Brushless motors are multi-phased, normally 3 phases, so direct supply of DC power will not turn the motors on. The ESC generates three high frequency signals with different but controllable phases continually to keep the motor turning.

ESC-Turnigy-Plush

ESC is connected to the flight controller, and controlled by a PWM or digital signal. When selecting a suitable ESC, the most important factor is the current rating.

Flight Controller

Flight Controller (aka “FC”) is the brain of a quadcopter. A FC contains at least a micro processor (CPU), and a sensor which is also known as the inertial measurement unit (IMU).

To learn more about flight controllers: Choose Flight Controller for Quadcopter

The IMU is an electronic sensor device that measures the velocity, orientation and gravitational forces of the quadcopter. These measurements allow the controlling electronics to calculate the changes in the motor speeds. The IMU usually contains a Gyroscope (or Gyro) and a Accelerometer (Acc).

The accelerometer measures acceleration and also force, so the downwards gravity will also be sensed. As the accelerometer has three axis sensors, we can work out the orientation of the quadcopter.

Accelerometer-3-axis

A gyroscope measures angular velocity, in other words the rotational speed around the three axis.

Gyroscope-3-axis

If you love challenges, you can attempt to build a DIY FC, such as using Arduino to build your own flight controller.

Radio Receiver

A Quadcopter is usually controlled wirelessly by a radio transmitter, and the Radio Receiver (or RX) is what receives commands from the transmitter and tells the flight controller.

Check here for more info about radio transmitter and receiver.

RC transmitter and receiver can generally only paired in the same brand. 2.4GHz is the most popular frequency band for radio control, the same band that Bluetooth, WiFi, and your microwave operate on. Multiple 2.4GHz radio control systems can operate at the same time without any problem.

Battery

LiPo batteries are the power sources of the quadcopters. LiPo is used because of the high energy density and high discharge rate. LiPo batteries are rated by their nominal voltage (cell count), capacity and discharge rate.

To learn about the basics of LiPo batteries: LiPo Battery Beginner Guide for Drones and Quadcopters

Battery-Zippy-4000

This tutorial about battery I found very informative. I did a math model to estimate the flight time, which you might find interesting.

Power Distribution

Power distribution can exist in the form of a board (PCB) or harness.

The PDB contains the connectors which plug directly into the LiPo battery and it’s responsible for distributing power the ESCs and motors, as well as providing power to other electronics with the correct voltage.

FPV Camera

An FPV camera allows the pilot to wear video goggles and see what the quadcopter is seeing during flight. On a FPV mini quad, there are normally 2 cameras, one for real time video streaming, and the other for recording HD footage.

FPV cameras might not have the best video quality, but they are designed for wide dynamic range and low latency which is extremely important to FPV.

Learn more about how to choose FPV Camera.

Video Transmitter

Video transmitter, or VTX, connects to the FPV camera and transmit video feed directly to the FPV goggles or a monitor near the pilot. Most quadcopters these days use the 5.8GHz for video transmission.

Read more about video transmitters: How to choose VTX (Video Transmitter) for FPV Mini Quad

FPV Antenna

Every VTX requires an Antenna to transmit signal. This guide explains the basics of FPV antennas.

Optional Components

Other optional components for quadcopters are GPS modules, ultrasonic sensors, barometers etc. They can enhance the performance of your quadcopter, and bring in more features. However, you will need to make sure your flight controller supports these additional hardware.

A GPS module talks to the satellite and retrieve location information. We can use this information to calculate speed and path. GPS is essential for long range outdoor autonomous flights.

An ultrasonic sensor measures the distance between he aircraft and the ground, i.e. altitude. This is useful if you want to keep your copter away from the ground at a certain distance without manual control.

Ultrasonic sensors has a height limit, so you want measure higher altitude, you might consider a barometer. This sensor measures humidity and pressure to work out the altitude, so when the quadcopter is close to the ground (where these two factors doesn’t change much), it becomes ineffective. Therefore it is also common to use both of them at the same time to achieve best result.

Multirotor build examples

Now you have an understanding of what components there are, and what they do, you can now take a look at some quadcopters that people have built. Multicopter Examples Page

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has given you a better understanding how a quadcopter work, and what hardware is in a quadcopter. To learn more about flying a Quadcopter, see this beginner guide about control.

Please do not hesitate writing a comment or giving us some feedback on this article. The next post will be about the software side of the quadcopter.

Article created in Jun 2013, last updated in Mar 2017.

151 thoughts on “Build A Quadcopter From Scratch – Hardware Anatomy

  1. seyyed mahmoud

    Dear Sir,
    Thank you very much for your kind explanation and appreciate so much ….
    I am a professional modeler in designing ,building and flying the pattern model aircraft , and now a days i am fond of quad rotors for taking photos and film…so i am in lack of information and kindly request you how to design and then after building the quad rotors how can i set and adjust the heart of quad which is flight control ….
    I will be grateful if you do me a favor and guid me in this respect….
    Faithfully yours,
    S.M.Ghasemi

    Reply
  2. A.Nithiya shree

    Hi sir,
    I am a school student of age 18 .I have decided to do this multi copter as my first project. will i be successful? And is there any other tutorials like this in your site. Please let me know as soon as possible.
    Thanks a lot sir. This site was very much interesting……

    Reply
  3. pranavaraaj

    i need to know a thing:
    in batteries,there is a thing . max continuous discharge:30c(66.0a) and max burst discharge:60c(132.0a)
    what’s that mean about

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      “continuous” means you can discharge the battery all the time until it’s empty. “burst” means you can only discharge at that rate for a few seconds.. (normally 10 seconds)

      Reply
      1. pranavaraaj

        there are conditions for motor as *r and without *r for the top nut (bullet shaped)that should not be unscrewed while testing.what that mean

  4. morteza

    hello
    thanks a lot for good subject in your site.
    I have a question.
    If I want increase flight time of my quadcopter can I increas NUMBER of battery in quadcopter?
    goodbye

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      yes, by doing that you basically increase the max battery capacity. but you need to take into account the increase of weight, if it’s going to be worthy

      Reply
  5. Jason Anderson

    My team is working up to a design for a full scale Delorean QuadCopter build. All plastic vacuform and aluminum/carbon fiber frame. We are trying to find references for larger scale drones. Do you have any colleagues that might have a starting place for us? Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Chahat

    I was a good tutorial , but , what is the circuit arrangement or how do you arrange the components on the frame ?

    Reply
  7. srikanth

    hi oscar
    i have prepared a drone but i have a small problem i’m not able to get any signal to control board from reciever while reciever test. but i’m getting signal from transmitter to reciever but not able to get signal from reciever to control board.can you help us in any way

    Reply
  8. JAdame

    Hello, I had a few questions about building a quadcopter but is it possible to reach you privately or via email to ask these questions? Thank you

    Reply
  9. Ahmed Ali

    Hi Oscar.. My quad copter has takeover problem how can i fix it. the main problem is that one brushless motor is starting rotation before other three? i’m beginner please help

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Please could post your questions with some more detail (maybe with a short demo video) on the forum in the future: http://intoFPV.com … I don’t want to miss your comment, because I only check my blog comments once a week, but I use the forum daily!

      Reply
  10. Darin Douglas

    Hey Oscar,

    I really like your suggestions for building a drone from scratch. I was wanting to build one from scratch myself that could deliver Christmas presents to my friends that live in neighboring cities to mine and I want it to carry boxes up to 15 lbs and have an ability to fly up to 3 hours. If maybe you heard about the Amazon done, I’m really hoping for something similar to that. Additionally, I want it to have solar panels to recharge the battery up in the air. So what would be your suggestion on the various parts I may need for a very economical build? Any kind of help is appreciated, thank you very much in advance.

    Darin

    Reply
  11. virat desai

    hi Oscar
    thank u Oscar,but I need guidance for programming by own ,I knw embedded protocols ,c ,micro controller but im confused too so plz help me out

    Reply
  12. Sibi

    Hi Oscar..
    We are planning and design and fabricate a Quadcopter with a clamp and cutter attachment for harvesting coconuts. Any suggestion pls..

    Thanks in advance..

    Reply
  13. Bob Burrington

    Hi Oscar~
    I am a middle school Tech Ed teacher and a newbie to quadcopters and drones. I do have 3 3d printers and a laser engraver. My goal is to design a lesson for students to design and 3d print simple and basic mini quad copters. I would love to come up with a “kit” for hardware component parts that my students can design their shells around. As a newbie, I don’t know what parts I need (motors, controllers, ESC, battery,etc). I would like to use Arduino type controller as I think student would love flying a mini drone with their cell phone.
    Can you suggest any parts needed to get started with a simple mini or nano type quad copter? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Bob

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      maybe consider a micro quad i built recently. They are very easy to build, only takes an hour… a lot less dangerous than ordinary brushless multirotors, as they are not as powerful and much smaller. Check out the guide here

      Reply
  14. Yogesh

    Hi oscar..
    now I m selecting quadcopter topic for our final year project..please give information about transmission?,can I use zigbee
    or any else

    Reply
  15. MC

    “Hi Oscar” – I’m new to RC quads and I’m jumping right in and building a Hunter 400 V-Tail. Yep – I know that’s nuts, but it’s the craft I want. My question is: Do all quads need to have a PDB?
    Thnx – MC

    Reply
  16. Rafael

    Hi Oscar

    Do you have any additional info for drones controlled via Wi-Fi?

    Thanks for the information, it is excellent for beginners.

    Reply
  17. Abdul

    Hi Oscar, I love your tutorial, i want to build a quadcopter, and i’m using this as my guide. where is the post about the software, on how to go about the algorithm and programming, a link will be nice.
    Thanks

    Reply
  18. SL

    Hi Oscar, I have been researching the subject for the last few days and I have to say this is one of the best pieces I have read so far in terms of technical descriptions of how and why of things. really appreciate your hard work.

    Reply
  19. Frostwyrm

    Hi Oscar,
    Can I use arduino and xbee as tx and rx?
    And oh! Do I need anything else as other than the IMU and arduino for flight controller?

    Reply
  20. Seyoung P

    Oscar, I’m thinking about making a quadcopter with a smartphone on board. Smartphones have sensors like GPS, acceleromete, gyroscope, Magnetometer. I think I can use LTE network to control the drone. Bluetooth can be used for controlling ESC. I would like to hear your opinion, Oscar. Please mail me, and Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. WesleyBPeres

      I think this can help you if your planing to use Arduino.

      For Windows Phone: blog.arduino.cc/2015/04/30/microsoft-and-arduino-new-partnership/
      For Android: blog.arduino.cc/2013/07/18/how-to-control-arduino-board-using-an-android-phone/

      Reply
  21. gboediman

    dear Oscar,
    what a vivid tutorials. Im an art teacher and love r/c since a kid. For non.technical person like me, your blog is a treasures. May Godbless you! thnkyou.

    Reply
  22. Aktaruzzaman

    Dear Sir
    I want to build a capacity multicopter or Quadcopter. How can I get help for detail design and complete build.

    Regards

    Aktar

    Reply
  23. Ricky Armatis

    I am interested in building a quad copter that I can personally get into it and fly. I am thinking of using hydraulic motors with a central gas engine driving a hydraulic pump. With this set-up the motors should all run the same RPM. I know nothing about what props I need or motor speed, (basically nothing). Am I sounding dumb or is this a possibility? Thank you, Rick

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      I think it sounds too ambitious for someone just enter this hobby.
      it would be more realistic if you have experience building and flying a simple electric one first. they are a lot simpler than gas engine.

      Reply
  24. RANGANATH LAXMAN HALAGALI

    This is very good and thanks for sharing valuable information.
    1) I would like to know mathematical calculation for choosing each and every components.
    2) please share programming algorithms
    3) please share how to interface the sensors with microprocessor with algorithms.
    4) instead of going for micro controller i want to use processor so guide me which one is good.
    5) Even without using transmitter i want fly the copter so can you help me .

    Reply
  25. surya verma

    sir am going to build a quad-copter an am persuing b.tech from mechanical branch so,i want to know what type of calculations are i have to take in use and for what purposes plz explain it sir, and specially for finding thrust…..

    Reply
  26. SundayDriver

    Hi Oscar,

    I am currently coming from a Parrot Bebop drone and want something more exciting. I am planning on getting into this hobby full force. I have been researching for weeks for some things are still unclear. I’ve read all of your posts and just have a couple of questions. Can you please guide me in the right direction on my first build? I’m looking to build the best.

    What I DO Know:
    1) I want to start with a sporty hexacopter. I found some 290mm carbon fiber on ebay that look very cool. Is that big enough without being too big?
    2) I want sporty but I am spoiled by the Bebop video quality so I will need to be able to mount a gopro gimbal like the DJI phantom plus. I will remove this when FPV racing but need to have it for Real Estate photography.
    3) I need something with over 10 minutes fly time
    4) I want to use goggles, would love head tracking if possible.
    5) I want a flight controller for follow-me features, RTH, waypoints, etc

    So I have been able to find most of these parts online. Most are vague as to how well they will all work together. I’m comfortable with a soldering iron and decent at webcode, but how technical will I have to be to put this all together? I can’t imagine what is involved in programming a flight controller and what additional tools am I going to have to buy to get into this?

    So lots of research but lots more questions still. Hoping you can help.

    Reply
  27. Rahul

    Hi sir,
    . I’m very much intrested with your blog and wanted to build a quadcopter just for myself I’m a student of class 11 .the only thing that I wanted to know about the quadcopter is that what are the electronic equipments required to make a simple quadcopter at a cheap rate at home.sir if you don’t mind would you please share the list of things to make the quadcopter.
    . Thank you.

    Reply
  28. oz

    Great guide. I have one question though. If I wanted to connect an IMU with an on board processor to an Arduino 2560, do I need a 3.3v to 5v adaptor?

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      depends on your IMU, some only work with 3.3V which case you will need to convert voltage. some can take 5V which case you don’t.

      Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      you mean a quadcopter? the most basic components you will need are:
      Flight controller, ESCs, Motors, Radio transmitter/receiver, Propellers and a frame.
      if you are still not sure, read the article again.

      Reply
  29. ibraheem inam

    Thanks for informative artical.
    Sir I am badly stuck in stabling my quardcopter. Kindly tell me how can a effectively tune my PID controller for a stable flight. I am building it for academic purposes. Kindly guide if i am wrong. I applied one PID on 3 angles, and other PID on the 3 rates. There are six parameters per axis. How to tune them ?
    Thanks

    Reply
  30. ayushman

    awesome blog post on electronics concept.really helpful post for all the electronics students i was really waiting for this kind of post. thanx for sharing the post.

    Reply
  31. Abhay

    Hi, I found your article really useful!

    I’m planning to build my own quadcopter and here are the specifications:

    1. Total weight= 800-900g

    2. Motors: Avionic m1826/31 Kv1900 MICRO brushless motor

    Kv=1800, Power= 55W, Idle current=0.2A,

    (4 of these)

    3. Propellors: 10×4.5 propellors (4 of these)

    4. ESC: Avionic White SIMON-K 20Amp (4 of these)

    5. Battery: Wolfpack White 100mah 25C 7.4V

    6. Transmitter: Avionic Wifi receiver (for iOS and android)

    Are all of these fine?

    Also, I need to know how to program the ESC and gyros and other IMUs/Microcontrollers! I have no idea how to connect them or make them work!

    Reply
    1. Villager 34

      Get a flight controller such as cc3d or naze32, plug it in to a computer, get the appropriate program (librepilot for cc3d and cleanflight for naze) and use them to program the FC, and escs through the FC

      Reply
  32. Chan

    Hi Oscar – excellent article – keep them coming dude.

    I’ve seen some comments from users wanting to use a PIC to build the controller – has anyone made any progress with that? I would like to do the same – appreciate all help I can get.

    rgds,
    chan

    Reply
  33. shubham

    Oscar can u explain me working of auto level /self level in kk2 board self level is either stick or aux at starting it alwalys shows self level is off

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      with stick SL activation, you move your roll stick to the right, and then arm. does that work?
      if not, is your acc sensor calibrated?
      if it’s still doesn’t work, factory reset it, calibrate it, and try again.

      Reply
  34. gaurav dubariya

    i am building my own quadcopter but i didn,t get appropiate propelers for my quadcopter . so will any one tell me from where i get these propelers easily.

    Reply
  35. Ricky

    I really like what you guys are up too. This type
    of clever work and exposure! Keep up the terrific works guys I’ve added you guys to our
    blogroll.

    Reply
  36. Pedro V

    Oscar, Thanks for your article, it’s excelent!!
    It would be great when you already have the chapter “Make You Own Quadcopter Controller Board”.

    Thanks for all!

    Reply
  37. Vishal Dave

    Hey Oscar,
    Its good information for beginners who are starting with Quadcopter Projects.
    It will be helpful if u guide me in building a quad.
    I am learning abt these engineering concepts as i m not from dis background.
    I m from software background.
    So what i want to learn is To build a quad and control it thru mobile or computer.
    i have an Arduino Uno board so if u can help with further information.

    It will be really appreciating.

    Vishal Dave :)

    Reply
  38. Adrianna

    Hurrah! At last I got a web site from where I can
    genuinely take valuable data regarding my study and knowledge.

    Reply
  39. Chopper-flopper (Ray Hoh)

    Great stuff ! I am 67 years old so please don’t wait too long for the next installment ! Will you get into FPV as well? I have been building stuff– electrical mechanical since kindergarten, hold a couple of patents and an extinct
    pilots license and want to see this to the end. Thanks Ray

    Reply
  40. Jaimie

    I like the helpful info you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.
    I am quite sure I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!

    Reply
  41. Mrugank

    Excellent ! I found almost all the things that I had been looking for in your article. Looking forward to some more articles of yours.. Do you have any suggestions or related articles for way point navigation with quadcopters?

    Reply
  42. Fredric

    Hiya very cool blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Wonderful ..

    I will bookmark your web site and take the feeds also?
    I am glad to seek out so many helpful info right here in the publish,
    we want work out more techniques on this regard, thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  43. lefteris

    Hello,

    i was going through your tutorial , and i was wondering if instead of buying a flight controller i could use a μP like arduino and connect the 9DOF stick to it. Wouldn’t that just make the arduino itself a flight controller or am i mistaken ? I also want to add a gps module to it.

    If what im suggesting is possible, should i maye consider buying 2 arduino UNO or 1 mega 2560, will it handle all the information just one ?

    Lastly, i will have to figure out the algorithm at my own if i dont buy a flight controller right ?
    Thanks in advance

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      Hi, yes, you can use the Arduino + some gyro/acc/mag sensors to make a flight controller.
      You just need one Arduino, for basic usage UNO or Nano should be enought. but if you want to use GPS as well, you will need Mega.

      you don’t need to write your own code, Google Multiwii, it’s a flight controller software for Arduino.

      Reply
  44. Ronnie

    First off I loved this it was extremely helpful.
    Second, can I use Walkera Devo-7 Transmitter with the KK2.1 Multi-rotor LCD Flight Control Board from Hobbyking? And if not is there one relatively cheap that I can use with the KK2.1

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      Maybe, if you can find a RC receiver that can bind with your Walkera Transmitter.
      I don’t have a Walkera, and haven’t seen people done that before, so I can’t answer your questions.

      If you are looking for a brand new RC transmitter to use with the KK2.1 board, I would strongly recommend the Turnigy 9X transmitter!

      With a few modifications, you can turn this $50 transmitter into an excellent one that worth hundreds of dollars.

      Reply
      1. Ronnie

        Awesome, that’s cheaper than the Walkera (I’m on a low budget)
        You mentioned modifications, are they hard/ complicated to do? And how is it done?

  45. Sujith

    Hi Oscar ,
    You have mentioned in the middle
    ‘”Alternatively you can also use general purpose microcontroller, such as Arduino.

    [Coming soon]”

    Have you completed this and if so can you give me the link.

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      Hi Sujith

      Sorry I was thinking to build a complete quadcopter flight controller system using Arduino from ground, but it’s going to be a really big project, and I still haven’t find the time to do it yet.
      Actually there are existing Arduino flight controller software available, called Multiwii. Google it.

      thanks
      Oscar

      Reply
  46. Edword andi

    I think your quadcopter is really amazing. You have simply described its working and construction. We have a product called surface protection tapes which protect your instrument from scratches or other damages. You should this once.

    Reply
  47. Hunter

    I’m thinking about building get one for my senior project but wondering how much would all of the parts put together cost?

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      depends on your budgest, the min cost would be around $100 (not including the optional accessories like battery chargers and RC transmitter/receiver and so on)

      Reply
  48. Samira

    Hey there! I’ve been reading your website for a while now and
    finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout
    out from Lubbock Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the excellent work!

    Reply
  49. Gowtham

    Hi,
    Thanks for such a wonderful article about the basics of quadcopter. I was wondering if you can shed some light on how quickly the lift force generated by the motors changes when you change the velocity of the motor at 200 – 300Hz. Will you be able to change the lift generated also at the same frequency?

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      Very unlikely. You need to take in to account the momentum of the propellers. Larger and heavier propellers will have more momentum and will be slower responding to ESC signal changes. That’s why many people prefer using hexacopter even octocopter with smaller propellers in windy environment, so the thrust can be adjusted much faster and achieve better stability.

      Anyway, this might be an important factor that affects the performance of an aircraft, you shouldn’t be stuck with this until it really becomes a problem.

      Reply
  50. Nishant

    Thank you sir for your valuable advice. Would you please specify the dimensions of the arms and that of the main frame ?

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      what? the frame shown in this post? it’s just a random google image. The size of the frame is totally up to you and how much weight your multicopter can carry.

      Reply
  51. Carlo

    hey Oscar,

    add me up on facebook.. do u work within a team in this? or do you do this by yourself? thanks a lot for this info man.. can’t wait for d board and d other parts you’ve missed to put here.

    CarLo Mark

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      Hi, these are just research I have done, and put together. The software part requires understanding of some university level maths, which is taking me time to understand.
      However there are a lot of commercial flight controller available, such as my favourite starter board, the KK2.0.

      thanks
      Oscar

      Reply
  52. Mark

    Hello, and I would like to thank you for your valuable information.
    The reason I’m writing this is because I recently crashed my first quadcopter. Leave it to me to bite off more than I could chew. I built a Bumblebee that I bought from HK. If I only knew then. Now I have a $400 pile of parts. Luckily, the carbon fiber is what really got damaged, and I have enough parts to build a more solid quadcopter. Aluminum square tubing, 30 amp esc’s, and this time I’m going to use the Multiwii board that’s been sitting on the shelf. If I get in trouble, then next time I want to be able to hit a switch and watch it stabilize and do the RTH thing instead of walking out through the desert to gather up the broken parts.
    Can you recommend a software? Multiwii, Arducopter, Hefney. Which would be best for just playing? No ariel photography. The only reason I would put a camera on it would be so I could have FPV with something like a Fat Shark. I figure I could fly it better if it looked, to me, as if I were flying.
    Hope to pick your brain, Mark

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      Hey Mark.
      I know how it feels when carrying a crashed quadcopter home. I actually thought about giving up the hobby that afternoon, but the temptation is too hard to resist. :-D
      So software… If it’s just flying for fun, maybe a little FPV flying as well, I would personally just use the KK2.0, very stable, and easy to tune. Just make sure the board is well protected (get a case or something), you should be fine.
      As for Return to Home, you have limited options here. I don’t know if you even can do RTH in Multiwii, Arducopter and Naza are both quite good at this. I don’t know Hefney so can’t say much on this.
      I personally prefer Ardupilot interface. APM2.5 is $90 and the Cruis AIO pro is only $60 (can run multiwii as well).

      Reply
    2. Quadcopter101

      Mark,
      Please see my earlier October 29th comment above. An excellent starter for you would be a cheap toy quadcopter to learn the basics of flight. Don’t be put off by the word “toy”. Some of them are actually excellent flyers, and as mentioned perfect for learning flight skills. I personally recommend the $49 WLToys V212, as it is an excellent flyer for beginners and experts alike.

      If you still have the bug :) learning to fly with either of the above should help prevent losing your next high-end quadcopter.

      Reply
      1. Jenni

        Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It’s the little changes which will make the largest changes.
        Thanks a lot for sharing!

      1. Akshit Mishra

        First of all man. I think it is a great post. However, I want to write the code on my own so that I can call the drone actually mine. Could you please help me with that?
        Thanks in advance

  53. Marco Romano

    Where can i find the programming and software part of the tutorial? and also do you happen to have the circuit board setup? thank you!

    Reply
  54. Quadcopter101

    Nice review, but from the comments, I see many beginners getting ready to rush out and build their own. The end result is people who barely know how to fly are sending their sometimes quite heavy and expensive quads over populated areas. It is an accident waiting to happen, such as this guys first flight:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U8iHn_2l0U

    The following is intended to help fill in the missing critical pieces of information for new flyers. It’s one of the first intended to actually teach the basics of quadcopter flight, and is intended for beginners to intermediate quadcopter flyers. Inexpensive, very light-weight and ready-to-fly quadcopters are the only used in the example flying tutorials (no heavy build it yourself equipment here). I feel that a cheap $40 toy quadcopter will more than pay for itself by preventing the loss of a follow-on hobby grade quad (such as the Manhattan incident). For those considering this hobby, I highly recommend that you start slow, and learn to fly (and fly well) as your very first objective. After that, then consider stepping up in this hobby. You’ll be less likely to lose your quad, endanger pedestrians, and anger the public.

    http://quadcopter101.blogspot.com

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGjLL9Fd5wA

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      Try to look for RPM Range between 800 to 1200kv. and then try to find the thrust of that motor.
      another trick i use is to find the pre-built kit (e.g. on ebay) that has similar weight to your design, and see what motors they use, and find something similar for yourself.

      Reply
  55. akash

    hi sir,
    i m polytechnic electronics 3de year student.
    i want 2 make a Quadruplicate its self .so how i purchase items and where
    and what is the total pries of all parts.

    please tell me on luckakash@hotmail.com,+919808923821

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      really depends on what is the size and purpose of your quadcopter, FPV? aerophotography? or just fly around for fun?
      Start from sketch, you would expect to spend at least $200 for all the basic parts (like quadcopter parts, RC transmitter, Lipo charger etc)

      Reply
    1. Oscar

      Thanks, I try to only explain how a quadcopter works, and stay away from talking about the cost. Because they would involve advertising specific products and shops

      I think it’s best if you google what you need, you should be able to find a lot of answers. or ask question in the forum someone should be able to help you.

      Reply
  56. edu009

    thanks.Your article is very useful for everyone. I was a student in Vietnam. I’m working on quadcopter and troubled about the program, I use pic 18f4431. hope your new article in next time

    Reply
  57. Tharinda Thisara

    I am an undergraduate student and this was very much helpful to start, one of my undergraduate project.I am Not going to tell all the stuff which i gain from this article and so much thanks for the article….(Y)

    Reply
  58. Tirupathi behara,India

    Really I like this…
    I need some suggestion from this
    actually I have little interest to design ESC and all expect receiver transmiter and motors…
    for this case I need suggestion regarding this

    please help me..m’ am engineering student 5semister….
    please mail me with your views..
    thankyou
    mailid-tirupathibehara92@gmail.com

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      I think it would be more stable to have longer motor to motor distance. when motors gets too close, the air flow from one motor might affect others.
      Also it needs more work for one motor to move a certain angle when the frame arm is longer. So there is also a trade off between agility and stability there.

      Reply
  59. Fletch

    Firstly, thank you so much for all of the great overview and insight provided here! This sight was a gold mine, its really helped kick start my better understanding of the fundamentals of quad-copter basic functions and critical aspects. im a new enthusiast and hope to get building one soon. Im also going to try and add some extra optional functionality/purpose (stream-able video with possibly some form of objects/person tracking maybe?) to the copter via a raspberry pi, but that’s another avenue of thought.One thing at a time, my first priority is to get a working copter…

    As someone with a small but quite limited understanding of electronics i do think it may be useful (if not only for myself but possibly others) to supply a general basic “wired diagram” to better illustrate how these separate components should all be connected together?

    Some extra explanation of the flight controllers could be useful also (i know there’s some great info at the link you provided in this section), but as someone new to the RC world, some of this stuff im finding a bit overwhelming and difficult when browsing for parts, as there are not may other websites that are as informative as this one, especially shopping websites, who list the available features of the chip/board, but i guess this is just from my lack of electronics experience and limited understanding of the particular componets at this stage…

    The main question arising from this would be is a board that has built in sensors/IMU better than one you have to add ones onto? i know that the all in 1 boards probably come in at a higher price but, if buying all components separately, should all come to round about the same cost anyway right? would you have better control over the quality/amount of components with purchasing them separately, i guess overall the more sensors the better, right?

    anyways, sorry for the essay and keep up the great posts!

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      I am very happy that it helped you! :-)

      I think if you are not familiar with electronics, To start with, it would be a good idea to get a quadcopter kit, with a dedicated flight controller, like the KK2.0 (around $30) that includes the IMU too. there are tons of tutorials and demo on youtube. Because all the parts have been tested by some other people, you don’t have to worry about the hardware, and you can concentrate on the configuration and flying experience. Once you get a better understanding how it works, you can begin customize your quad a bit more, and buy different parts to improve it, or even build a new one with all the parts you want!

      I am currently building a new quadcopter, i like a bit of challenge this time, so I will be using the Arduino and get the IMU sensors separately. I have been posting articles with my progress on this blog.

      I am currently at the stage of waiting for parts delivered. as soon as i get them and test every working, i will write something more comprehensive.

      don’t hesitate to ask my any questions on the forum! :-D
      really looking forward to hearing from you about your progress

      Reply
      1. James Jaramillo

        Once you figure out building the flight controller from the arduino and the IMU please post. I am currently building a quadcopter for one of my engineering courses and we are attempting to create the flight controller as well. Goodluck

  60. Jonathan

    Hi! First of all, great post, thanks! I’m building a quad for a school project and I’m designing my own flight controller (I will use a PIC IC instead of an arduino) so this post is more or less a bible for what I’ll be doing. If you want, I could send you my schematics, BOM and code once I’m done, that way you could complete the FC section.

    Reply
  61. Jim

    Thanks for a clear, well-illustrated, brief explanation of the critical aspects. Please consider discussing photography and First Person Viewing. Quadcopters look useful for water rescue work to carry and drop a light line or float to people or a boat that can be used to retrieve a heavier rescue rope. That might be where First Person Viewing would be helpful.

    Reply
  62. Ulkesh Solanki

    please tell me which battery should i use to have flight of 15 min of a 1.5 kg quad copter without battery.
    or simply give me some relation between battery and time and weight

    Reply
  63. Sean

    Hey Oscar

    I have been very interested in quadcopters and have been looking in to learning more of the Theory to them. I was hopping you could point me in the right direction, maybe give me some lines to websites and stuff like that to help.

    what do you think of variable pitch quadcopter. like this one http://acl.mit.edu/projects/vpitch_quad.html

    This is some rely great stuff that your doing.
    Thank you for Reading

    Reply
  64. hrishkesh tawade

    The artcle was really helpful but flght controller and sensors should hav been explained in detail. could you please send me a site wherein i can find a detailed info on all this stuff

    Reply
  65. Jim Dewberry

    Great info, much appreciated. Request, please: What would you charge to design for me a quad or hex copter with a 50 pound lifting capacity? That is, motor and prop sizes and all components, the whole works with part numbers, and sources you would suggest or recommend? I’m pretty confident I can build it myself.
    Thank you,
    Jim D.

    Reply
  66. Abdun Nafay

    Great stuff Oscar. Just wondering if you will include the portion for making an own pid controller for stabilization of the copter. Will be wonderful to get it going here.

    Reply
    1. Oscar

      Hey, thanks! I will in the future posts write about every aspects of making a flying quadcopter. But at the moment I don’t have the budget for parts yet so I need to wait….

      Reply
  67. Mark G

    great job, I,m in the process of building one now.
    Using carbon fiber parts left over from off the F35 jet fighter.

    Reply
      1. quad

        Even want to learn more detailed theory, but couldn’t find any proper material, can you tell me what do you refer for theory?

  68. Paul Lakeman

    Many thanks for such an informative and well written article. I’m new to Quadcopters but hope to build one over the summer holidays with a number of students. Can’t wait to get started
    Looking forward to your next article

    Reply

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