How to build a quadcopter – Part I
Back in 2012 I read an article about the so called “Drones” and I was very excited about the idea of building my own drone. I will share my experience and show you how to build a quadcopter. In Part I you will find which parts you need for building it. I will update this article regularly with the newest coming parts, because the parts I bought in 2012 are mostly outdated.
Basic components for a quadcopter:
4 x Motors
4 x ESCs
4 x Propellers
Transmitter and Receiver
The frame is a very essential part of a quadcopter. Many beginners underestimate its importance. A bad frame will cause vibrations and vibrations are the biggest problem for multicopters. My personal advise is to avoid plastic frames. I used a X525 glass fiber frame for my first quadcopter, but now I prefer carbon fiber frames because of the light weight and durability. I can absolutely recommend using a smaller frame, like the 250mm and 350mm class. It is just easier to fly.
The flight controller is the brain of every multicopter. There are many different flight controllers on the market and there is no “the best flight controller”. Some have more sensors, like barometer and compass, and can use GPS for autonomous flights. Others are made for the best possible flight experience, like KK2.1 or Naze32. To choose the best one for your needs first clarify what are going to do with your quadcopter.
You will also need four electric brushless motors. On my first quadcopter I used “D2830 1000kv” motors from Turnigy. These were fine for the X525 frame, but are be too big for 250mm class frame. You choose the right motor according to your frame size and expected total weight of the quadcopter.
After you choose the motor, check its manual or datasheet. You will find the current in Amps (A) according to the propeller and battery combination. By knowing this you can pick the right ESCs (Electronic Speed Controller). For example: the MN2206 2000kv T-Motor draw a maximum of 8 (A) with 6×2 propeller on 3S battery (11.1V). The ESCs should be rated for at least 10 (A). For achieving best flight performance the ESCs need to have a special multicopter firmware installed. You can check my tutorial how to flash yours or buy ESCs with stock flashed firmware.
For a quadcopter you need two clockwise (CW) and two counter clockwise (CCW) propellers. The propeller size is typically in inches. Pick the right size according to your frame and motor size. I build my first quadcopter with 10” propellers. On most 250mm class frames you can use max 6” propellers. It is a good decision to buy some more propellers for replacement.
On multicopters we use Lithium Polymer batteries (LiPo). The weight of the battery is a significant % of the total weight. Too big or too small battery will dramatically reduce your flight time. I do not recommend using LiPo’s with voltage over 11.V (3S) for a beginner. 4S and 6S voltage batteries are for advanced pilots. For example: a typical 250mm quadcopter will be fine with a 3S 1300mAh battery. And if you are building a 350mm quadcopter, go for 3S 2200mAh.
To control your drone you will need transmitter and receiver. You will be ok with a simple 4 Channel (4CH) radio, but is much better to have at least 6 channels. I bough myself a Turnigy 9x a.k.a. FlySky. It has 8 channels, can be upgraded and flashed with better firmware. It is a great value for its price and I still use it. If you need more range and functionality for an reasonable price, take the FrSky Taranis.
Read how to connect everything in Part II. If you have any kind of questions or want to give me a feedback, please do not hesitate to leave a comment