I will share with you tips and tricks on building, maintaining and flying mini quad (aka racing drones. Some of which also apply to other RC quadcopters.
Quadcopter Building Tips
- How to solder beginner guide – choose good soldering tools, how to solder wires, header pins, through holes, XT60 connectors etc
- Prepare/chamfer frame edges – Sometimes your new carbon fibre frame comes with very sharp edges, it’s a good idea to file them
- Check if your motor screws are touching winding – very important as this is probably the #1 cause of motor related issues
- Building first mini quad after flying RTF models – wondering where to begin with building after having some flying experience with a RTF quad?
- Tools and spare parts you should get for building/flying quadcopters
- Soft Mounting FC and Motors – Soft mounting FC and/or motors can reduce the amount of noise getting to your gyro and improves flight performance
- What AWG (gauge) wire to use for LiPo XT60, ESC and motor? – This post answers some of the common questions what wire sizes to use in a quadcopter
- 3S vs 4S Mini Quad – which setup is better for beginners? The one running 3S LiPo battery or 4S? What are the differences?
- Installing Capacitors in a quadcopter – capacitors can help reduce noise in power, which can largely improve your FPV video and flight performance
- Use Loctite glue on your motor screws – Loctite glue is very useful for preventing screws from loosening especially important in a moving aircraft
- How to keep FC/PDB stack low – in situations where the frame has a limited height (such as micro quad) you would have to keep the FC stack as low as possible
- PDB or Harness for power distribution – The pro’s and con’s of the 2 ways of connecting your battery to ESC
- Mount your 900MHz RX antenna properly – (Crossfire or R9M) in order to get the most range out of your long range RC system
- Board Camera Easy Mounting for mini quad
- 3D Print ZMR250 Arm Spacers
- Recycling Cables and Spray Bottle Plastic Tube
- How to Mount Vibration Dampers – The easiest way!
- Use Antenna extension lead to protect your VTX
- Which Buzzer to buy and use in a quadcopter?
Quadcopter Maintaining Tips
- How to repair RX (radio receiver) antennas – it’s pretty common to damage RX antennas, and it’s easier than you think to fix/replace them
- How to remove stripped aluminium screws – aluminium screws are soft and often stripped and become impossible to remove, here I will show you how I tackle it
- Protect your LiPo batteries from physical damage – An excellent way to protect our LiPo batteries is to cover them with protection such as rubber heatshrink or PVC corners
- Keep LiPo balance leads out of the way – or they can get damaged by spinning propellers in the air (guide coming soon)
Quadcopter Flying Tips
- Use ESC/Motor beeping as lost model alarm – your motor and ESC can make sound and they can replace or backup your lost model beeper
- Common quadcopter technical issues – there are many common issues we tend to have with FC, ESC, motors, and FPV system
- Maximum flight time – things you can do in a quad to stay in the air longer
- Tilted angle motor mounts – allows your copter to fly forward faster without much camera tilt angle
- DIY GoPro/XiaomiYi Camera protective Case
Other Little Tips That Help Your Flying and Building
Use all 4 motor screws!
It’s best to use all 4 motor screws when mounting motors on the frame, unless you are really striving for light weight. Motors make vibration and your screws can get loose during flight! Having 4 screws minimizes the chance of losing your motor mid air.
In a crash, your front motors often take the impact. So it makes sense to use motor protectors on the front motors to minimize the damage. These protectors can be 3D printed.
ESC / Motor Wires Protector
Your propellers are soft plastic, and they can bend and strike your ESC or motor wires mounted on the arms in a crash (aka prop deflection). Simply put a piece of hard plastic cover on top of the arms will prevent it :) You can get the material form broken propellers, or water bottles.
Use Nylon Standoffs / Screws for FC Stack
Try to use nylon/plastic hardware for your flight controller, PDB and 4in1 ESC. Sometimes the holes in these components are connected to the ground, If you use metal hardware, the ground will be connected to the frame (carbon fibre).
Cover Electronics with Tape when Soldering
You can drop solder on components accidentally when soldering and destroy that part! Cover it with tape so it won’t happen!
Board Camera Easy Mounting for Mini Quad
Mini Quad FPV camera mounting.
It’s always tricky how to mount your FPV board camera on the mini quad frame, especially as you fly faster, the more angle tilted the camera needs to be.
Solution: I use material that is widely available, 2mm zip ties, nylon spacer, and vibration dampening balls. As the balls are elastic, and can be squeezed, we can adjust the zip tie to make whatever angle we want.
In fact, as you progress, you can actually go back, and close the zip tie a bit tighter to achieve a larger angle, so you don’t have to replace anything.
Someone also suggested to use sticky foam to replace the vibration balls and spacers.
3D Print ZMR250 Arm Spacers
Simple but useful trick to hide the distribution board and the ESCs QAV250 frame. 3D printed spacers make 10 mm space between the 1st and 2nd level to hide all electronics.
As you can see there is a lot of space in the frame for the FPV, camera, etc…
(this is a ready to fly quad – the controller, ESCs, motors, distribution board and the receiver already installed)
Recycling Cables and Spray Bottle Plastic Tube
Recycle – Household spray bottles are a source of plastic tube for standoffs/ spacers/ antenna protectors.
Recycle – Old USB, SCART and HDMI cables contain lots of useful narrow gauge wire….
How to Mount Vibration Dampers – The easiest way!
DIY GoPro/XiaomiYi Camera protective Case
Use recycled motor packaging (in this case i used Cobra 2204 motor foam). The foam needs to be able to fit the gorpo in there. Cut some holes for the USB connection and SD card, also for the record button.
But an extra piece of foam to cover the LCD screen as well. And it also works well as a camera damping system as the foam absorb some vibration.
Use Antenna extension lead to protect your VTX
I see some people report problems that they ripped the antenna holder off the VTX, along with the solder copper pads, which is irreversible, very very difficult to fix.
Best way to prevent this from happening again, is to use an antenna extension lead, fix the other end on the frame so it takes the impact in a crash, and not the VTX antenna connector.
- Aug 2015 – Article Created
- Jun 2017 – Article updated with 8 more tips
- Oct 2018 – Updated with a few more tips