How to build a Quadcopter

A few years ago I read an article about the so called “Drones” and I was very excited about the idea of building my own drone. Last year after my final-exams I had a lot of time, so I decided to build my first QuadCopter. My budget was about 300 $. The most popular website I found was: So I started buying the parts. Here are the ones I bought, but you can choose your own if you have a bigger budget:

First you need a frame, where you will mount the motors and the electronic-parts. I chose a X525 Glass Fiber frame for 15.25 $. It looks cool and is very durable. A year after I work on my own frame, but as a beginner it was the best choice.

For a QuadCopter you need naturally 4 electric motors. I chose this one: Turnigy D2830-11 1000kv for 9,5 $. I’m still using these in my own quadcopter. There are some better motors, but they are more expensive too.

For all types of MultiCopters (Quadcopter, Hexacopter, Octocopter, Tricopter) you need the so called “speed controllers” (ESC). A speed controller is the electric part, which regulate how fast your motor will spin. My choice was a  HobbyKing 30A BlueSeries Brushless Speed Controller. One of these cost about 11 $. As you have 4 motors on a quadcopter, you also need 4 speed controllers. In February I was able to upgrade the firmware of the speed controllers with the very popular SimonK. It is specially created for multirotors and there was a big difference before and after the software upgrade. To do this you need a little bit of solder skills. As I said if you have a bit bigger budget you can directly buy four of the Afro 30A Speed Controller, which is already upgraded with the SimonK firmware. This one cost about 14 $.

Probably the most important part of every multicopter is the Flight Controller or Flight Board. There are some extremely good flight controllers such as the DJI Naza. Here is a link for the DJI Products Website. This one cost about 300 $. So it was too much for my budget. I decided to get the Hobbyking KK 2.0 Board for 30 $. For that price it is a very good flight controller, but it lacks the altitude hold because there is no barometer on the board. My copter is still with this board and it still works well after a lot of crashes. Last month Hobbyking introduced the successor of the KK 2.0 board – the KK 2.1 board. Practically it is the same board with upgraded software and some upgraded sensors. It still doesn’t have a altitude hold. And it still costs 30 $. Another good flight controller is the APM 2.6 by 3D-Robotics with GPS. This could be my next flight controller, but now I don’t have the 240 $ for it. There are clones of this board, but is always good choice to support the original one if you have the resources $$$.

For a quadcopter you also need 2 x Standard Rotation and 2 x Right Hand Rotation propellers. I decided that the best propeller size for my quadcopter build is 10×4.5. So I bought this pack for 2,6 $ from Hobbyking. Well I bought 3 packs for the case I will crash my quadcopter. And… I crashed it many times… so it was a good decision.

At first I bought a 2200mAh 3S 40C LiPo battery for 15$ and it was ok, but then I decided that I need more flight time, so I bought also a 3300mAh 3S 30C LiPo for 26 $. The first one has 3.5mm connector and the second one 4mm connector.

As a beginner I didn’t knew that the KK 2.0 flight board comes without cables to the receiver. So I didn’t buy these Male to Male Servo Leads for 4 $. Then I bought these on ebay for much more.

You will need some 3.5mm gold connectors and 4mm gold connectors for the speed controllers and for the battery. If you don’t want to solder, then you will need to buy presoldered ESCs (such as the Afro 30A speed controller) and this 3.5mm Power Breakout Cable. The last one can be used with the 3300mAh 3S LiPo battery. I also bought some zip ties.

Annnddd last but not least you need a transmitter for your drone. For a multirotor a simple 4 Channel radio will be ok. The KK 2.0 board have also a Self-level-feature, so you will need 5 CH. My first choice was the DX6i by Spektrum. It is a very good radio but it was too expensive for me, so I got the cheap Turnigy 9x. It is also a very good 9 Channel radio for 50 $. It has not the design and build quality of the Spektrum, but for a beginner it was and still is a good choice.

So my order was about 230 $ and 40 $ for shipping, overall 270 $ for my first quadcopter. It is still not a small amount of money, but the feeling of building your own drone and then see it flying … priceless.

p.s. In the next weeks I will also blog about the build process and my troubles with the quadcopter.