How To Build A Quadcopter From Scratch: Top Tutorials
Learning how to build a quadcopter is not easy. That's why we have taken out the hard part of figuring out how to build it and found the best quadcopter tutorials. Now you will learn how to build a quadcopter.
Now these are in no specific order. All of these are some of the top tutorials that we found. Check them out:
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Best Quadcopter Building Tutorials
A drone is a considerable investment, so you may want to build one at some point. Assembling it is an easy process if you have the right tools. All drone pilots should have some knowledge of their parts, and of the building process. Here are some advice as to how to create a quadcopter.
Parts of Quadcopters:
- Frame - A frame to support it. It would have electrical components and brackets that cotain motor propellers. You can make a support structure out of Ice-cream sticks.
- Propellers - of course, will give the drone flight. It should have Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC) to power its motors.
- Batteries - Every quadcopter has batteries. You should preferably use Lipo Batteries as they are light.
You will need coreless motors, propellers, batteries, popsicle sticks, a transmitter and a receiver to build a drone. Quadcopter Arena expresses the quantities in the article "How to Build A Quadcopter".
The same article explains how to create a personal quadcopter. The process involves measuring popsicle sticks, drilling holes, cutting mounts for propellers, installing its batteries, cutting colored tape and fitting LED lights.
Building a multi-rotor drone is generally quite a simple approach if you’re already familiar with the process. Whether it’s a DIY quadcopter built using parts that can be easily found at online stores or a ready-to-fly consumer drone such as the DJI Mavic Pro, all multi-rotors are fundamentally the same. Once you fully understand all the systems that are needed and how they’re put together, building a drone no longer seems like a daunting task.
The factors you need to consider before you begin building a drone are:
Purpose (aerial photography, FPV racing, casual flying, etc.)
The platform (tricopter, quadcopter, hexacopter, etc.) and size of your drone
Once you’ve determined these factors, you will have a better idea of what parts to purchase for your build. For example, an aerial photography drone is a machine that does not have to fly incredibly fast. It is more focused on stable flight and steady hovering in windy conditions. An FPV racer, on the other hand, does not need steady hovering but is built for aggressive flying at high speeds.
No matter what drone you’re building, they all have the same fundamental systems:
Flight controller / autopilot
Propulsion (propellers, ESCs and motors)
Power (battery and power distribution board)
Radio control (transmitter and receiver)
This brief tutorial describes how to build a drone that uses brushless motors. Once you’ve determined the purpose, platform and budget for your build, you can then decide on what parts to buy. This can be a bit tricky because the parts you select have to be compatible with one another.
For example, a 2212 / 920KV motor is not suitable with a short 5045 propeller which is meant for small FPV racers. A drone with such a prop-motor combination will not be able to generate enough thrust for take off. On the other hand, using a prop that is too long for the motor can cause it to overheat and get damaged. To determine if your parts are compatible, ask the seller or refer to online recommendations.
Step 1 -- Frame
The easiest part of building a drone is the frame. Multi-rotor frame kits are widely available online and at hobby stores. Prices range from $10 for a basic kit such as the F450 to well over $100 for more complicated designs such as the DAYA 550. Plastic is commonly used for the cheaper frames while the more expensive ones tend to have carbon fiber parts.
When assembling the frame, it is a good idea to use blue thread locker to secure the bolts or screws. This is because drones are exposed to a lot of vibration when flying so screws may come loose after many flights. Please remember not to use thread locker on plastic screws or screws that go into plastic threads as this can cause damage to the plastic parts.
Step 2 -- Power
These days, drones are mostly powered by lithium polymer (Li Po) batteries. Get one with a capacity and voltage that is suitable for your build. To distribute power to the various systems on your drone, a power distribution board (PDB) is needed. Some frame kits such as the S500 have a basic built-in PDB.
If your frame doesn’t have a PDB, get one that can handle 2S to 4S batteries with a 5V BEC output for devices such as a 5.8G FPV transmitter that usually run on 5V. Solder a connector to the PDB so you can connect your battery to it.
Step 3 -- Flight Controller and Propulsion
The flight controller (FC) is the brains of the drone and should be mounted in a secure spot preferably isolated from vibration as much as possible. Mounting the FC on a vibration damping platform is a great way to do this.
At this point, the motors and propellers can be mounted. Use blue thread locker to secure the motors onto the frame. If you are using brushless motors, you can now solder the ESC (Electronic Servo Controller) power wires to the PDB. Make sure that your ESCs and motors are compatible with the voltage of your battery.
Each ESC has three output wires which should be soldered to the three input wires of the motor it is connected to. Do not worry about which wire connects to which at this point. Simply use wire connectors to temporarily connect the wires.
Step 4 -- Setting up the FC
Flight controllers such as APM 2.8 or Naze32 have USB ports that you can connect to using a computer. Configure your FC to suit your build. Most FCs have online documentation and tutorials that you can refer to for configuration.
Most FC apps such as Mission Planner (for APM) allow you to power up the motors. This allows you to configure the spin direction of your motors. Remember to remove your propellers when doing this for safety reasons. Before you can power up the motors, you need to first connect the ESC signal input wires into your FC motor output. This allows the FC to communicate with the ESCs which then tells the motors how fast to spin.
At this point, some of your motors may not be spinning in the right direction. To correct this, simply swap any one of the output wires that connects to the input wires of the motor to change its spin direction. Once all your motors are spinning correctly, you can remove the temporary wire connectors and permanently solder the wires. Use heat shrinks to cover the exposed parts of the wires.
If you cannot power up the motors with your FC app, then you need to do so using the radio transmitter (remote controller). The next step explains how to set up your radio.
Step 5 -- Radio Control
A drone’s radio control typically consists of two major components -- a radio transmitter (Tx) and radio receiver (Rx). The receiver is installed on the drone and is connected to the FC. It receives radio control signals from the transmitter and relays them to the FC.
There are different types of radio systems around and you should use a Tx and Rx that are compatible with one another. For example, a DSM2/DSMX are only compatible with Spektrum transmitters. After installing the receiver on the drone, configure the radio system in the FC app. This is needed to determine the functions of the various switches, buttons and sticks on your Tx.
With the radio system installed and configured, your drone is now ready to fly. Bear in mind that this tutorial is only a brief summary on how to build a drone. It certainly lacks the details a beginner needs. Click here for the full guide on how to build a quadcopter here to read the full tutorial which is available as a series of articles.
If you need help figuring out how to fly a quadcopter first then check out our guide on flight simulators.
FliteTest Race Quad Build
Check out this article to learn how to build a FT210 Race quadcopter. The guys over at Flite test do a great job at going into details so you don't miss a thing. They also have videos so if you're a visual learner you can follow along.
They have pictures and everything is explained in great detail. It's a massive 2800+ word article. You don't need to go nowhere else. Get all your quadcopter building questions answered there.
FVP - Fightclub - How To Build FVP Quadcopter
At FVP Flightclub they use the EMAX Nighthawk 250 Pro kit. They have videos and pictures to outline exactly what they did. The quadcopter building tutorial is very descriptive and does a great job at teaching beginners. Be sure to check them out.
From Where I Drone Custom Photography Drone Tutorial
This article walks you through the basics of what you need to know for building your own custom photography drone. It covers what gear you'll need, the specs you'll need to consider for your aircraft and info about gimbals.
FVPCentral - Building Performance Quadcopter
At FVPCentral they create a quadcopter for only 120$. This is the perfect quadcopter building tutorial for those who are on a budget. They do an excellent job at outlining exactly what you're going to need. There tutorial is broken up into 3 different sections.
1. What you will need
2. The Building
3. The flashing and set up
ArduPilot - Multicopter building tutorial
This is an extremely detailed guide into how to set up a quadcopter. The guy over at ardupilot know exactly what they're talking about.
It's very detailed, they even have pages explaining how to install GPS and load firmware. If you want your own self created quadcopter to be as advanced as possible then this guide is for you.
DroneLab - How to Build A Drone
The guys over at drone lab do a great job at explaining what you need. They outline the basics and it's a great way for a beginner to learn how to build a quadcopter from scratch. They explain in detail what each part is and what it does. They also have pictures so you can follow along with them. Be sure to check them out.
Drone Test FVP Quadcopter Guide
The guys at drone test build a mini FVP 250 quadcopter in this guide. They use the Silver Blade #37 kit. To make it easy to follow along with them they describe in detail exactly what they used. A great guide for those who are beginners and want to learn step by step. They have great pictures to go along with it.