Here's a quadcopter build that we did in under an hour to win a bet.  We've got some experience building and took some shortcuts (such as using a flight controller from another unit, saving us the time of having to configure it), but I think it's reasonable to say that most makers could build this frame and get everything installed in a day, and still have some time left over to start flying it.

The frame is made from wood... 3/4" x 3/4" fir for the arms, and 1/4" plywood for the body.  It's cheap and sturdy... It will take some pretty serious abuse, and if you break it it's easy to repair.  The power system (motors, motor controllers, battery) is pretty standard, and uses easily obtainable parts.  The flight controller board is an Ardupilot Mega.

About us:  We're Mark Harrison and Andreas Oesterer.  We've been flying planes, multicopters, and assorted drones for a couple of years.  If you like this instructable, come visit us and see what else we're up to!



(photo note)
Almost all the images here have interesting and laboriously typed  "image notes" -- mousing over them gives details about what is being shown.  The default view of little pictures don't show the image notes, but you can see them if you embiggen them by clicking on the first image of each set.
tl;dr: click on the first image of each set to see photo commentary.)
(end photo note)

Step 1: Parts

You've got some flexibility in ordering parts.  You can pay more or less for things like the radio and flight controller.  There's a lot of flexibility in these specs, so if you can get some motors, etc, in the same ball park they will probably work well for you.


arms: 3/4" x 3/4" fir stick (approx 5 ft)
center plates: 1/4'' or 5mm Plywood (approx 6"x18”)
Machine screws & bolts, and washers 
landing gear: 4 wiffle balls
zip ties
battery mount: 3/8" x 3/8" stick (approx 1 ft)
Bamboo Skewers
Piece of soft foam about 1/2'' thick, slightly bigger than your flight control board
velcro, double-sided(approx 8'')
velcro, single-sided, sticky, soft side (approx 6'')

Power System

battery: LiPo 3S 3000-4000mAh (we like this one: 3S 3000 mAh 25-50C)
4 x 40A Turnigy Plush ESC (motor controller)
4 x NTM 35 1100 KV motors
10"x3.8"  APC SF Props
2 10"x3.8" APC SFP (counter clockwise) props (buy some extras of each prop for when you crash)
power distribution board, presoldered or homemade power distributor

Radio System (remote controller)

This is what we use regularly.  Our preference is for FrSky gear.  We have found it to be highest quality, and quite reasonably priced.

HobbyKing 9xr
FrSky module and receiver


TFrSky Taranis

Here's a cheaper entry-level system.

Flight Control Board

There are quite a few options available.  Here are two options that I've used and can vouch for:

3D Robotics Ardupilot Mega  ($234).  full featured autopilot, full autonomous operation, ground control capabilities.

HobbyKing KK2 ($30). basic quadcopter flight, acrobatic and stabilized modes.


saw, drill, hot glue gun

<p>where did you get the 1/2&quot; soft foam?</p>
It's some scrap packing foam, I pulled it out of a recycle bin. I think often PCs and other electronics equipment is shipped using that kind of foam in the box.
<p>ok thankyou</p>
<p>Hi i build one very easy. Follow me or contact me if you need any help :) I LOVE this project and i ll eb glad to help you out :) https://www.facebook.com/billy.tziv/media_set?set=a.661193940645977.1073741828.100002661302461&amp;type=3</p>
thanks bro
<p>here is when it flies... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Owe9xYcIFCk</p>
<p>can i make quadcopter with wired......but how can i move forward or backwards</p>
<p>how this think will be cheap</p>
<p>Can I have the circuit diagram please...??</p>
<p>what thinks do i need to make this one</p>
sir is your copter unstable at home at low height mine is unstable...or plzz guide me
it was cool
<p>how can i get a perfect video of yours?</p>
I ordered the parts you put in the link but the motor shafts are reversed. Any help on how to solve this problem??
<p>It look like our product:FLYPRO X400-See more at :http://www.hobbywow.com/en-flypro-drone-x400-with-devo-7-fpv-rc-quadcopter-rtf-2-4ghz-p237040.htm,do you think so?</p>
<p>Help! When I arm my kk2.1.5 nothing happens when I move the throttle! I've done a receiver test, a factory reset, and same thing. When I go onto the main screen it tells me that my battery is at -1.9V, related issue? Help please! I've also made sure the motors and ESCs work by plugging them straight into the receiver and they work just fine.</p>
<p>Awesome ! </p>
<p>What if my ESC don't connect to the motors? I have four ESCs and none of their respective three wires have connectors to the brushless motors... Any ideas? Was it a manufacturing error or something?</p>
<p>Very cool, but what brand of motor mounts did you use? Also, I might have over looked this while reading, but I don't see a link for the motor mounts anywhere. If possible could you add a link for that? Thanks! </p><p>I had purchases all the parts and forgot to order the motor mounts. </p>
<p>m using 1400 KV Bldc</p><p>30 A ESC<br>3S 20C 2500mAh Lipo<br>kkmulticopter flight control board<br>and flysky Ct6b and r6b tx rx..<br><br>unable to get it to fly..?<br>it weighs...760 gms without lipo...add another 200 gms of lipo...</p><p><br><br></p>
<p>I really want to build this with my grandsons. I have ordered the radio equipment, etc. and I would like to be in a position to commence the project once we have all of the parts. Here is my quandary. How do I &quot;program&quot; <a href="http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=31544" rel="nofollow" style="">Turnigy 9XR Transmitter Mode 2 (No Module)</a> and related suggested module? Could you provide a little more detail on that. Thanks!</p>
What is the software you used to make the templates?
Microsoft Word.
<p>hey instructables! First off let me say that this is a wonderful guide and it's what convinced me to take the leap into mulitrotors. So I purchased the battery, motors(1100kv) and escs(40a) specified in this instructable. Along with a 550mm frame, some 10&quot;4.5 props, a kk2.1.5 fc, and the turnigy 9xr. Being completely new to this, I got these parts based upon hours of reading and what not. But there's nothing quite like some real world feed back from the community. Does anybody see any holes in this setup? Advice, recommendations, words. Thanks! </p>
Hi, I'm 15 and I'm looking to build a quadcopter, I have never made one before. I've read through your instructable, and I find it very interesting, it has motivated me to try and build my own. <br>Here is my question: <br>I am on a limited budget and I am trying to build this quadcopter as inexpensively as possible. And I am wondering if I could use the HobbyKing 4ch Tx Rx remote instead of the more expensive ones you recommended. Do you think this would be an issue with the quadcopter or if it wouldn't send a signal far enough, or are there any other issues that could be a problem? Any other suggestions for someone who hasn't built anything like this before, <br>Thanks
<p>Here are some parts that I found that may be useful (I haven't built a quadcopter yet) :</p><p>Motors: SunnySky Angel A2212 980KV; link: <a href="http://www.hobbywow.com/en-sunnysky-angel-a2212-980kv-outrunner-brushless-motor-for-rc-quadcopter-p236025.htm?source=ProductListAds&id=18283950120&currency=usd&country=US" rel="nofollow">http://www.hobbywow.com/en-sunnysky-angel-a2212-98...</a> x4</p><p>Propellers: hobbyking propellers, pick your own, there are many varieties; link: <a href="http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__562__501__Multi_Rotors_Parts-Propellers.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__562__50...</a></p><p>Flight control system: Hobbyking KK2.1.5 Multi-rotor LCD Flight Control Board With 6050MPU And Atmel 644PA (I would reccomend a mini arduino board and an MPU-6050 gyroscopic sensor, link to both: <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/131141127299?lpid=82" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/131141127299?lpid=82 </a> (arduino) ; <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/251413239297?lpid=82" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/251413239297?lpid=82 </a> (gyroscopic sensor))</p><p>Power distribution board: <a href="http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__28255__Hobby_King_Quadcopter_Power_Distribution_Board_USA_Warehouse_.html?strSearch=power%20distribution" rel="nofollow">http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__28255__...</a></p><p>Battery: just find a good one that will work judging from specs</p><p>Controller: get the one you want to use</p><p>Frame: make it out of pvc pipe.</p>
<p>Nice project!</p>
I'll vouch for electric motors and props being dangerous I have a miss shaped index finger thanks to an early experiment with electric flight
<p>is it a problem to have motors that are over 1100kv?</p>
<p>How much did the total build cost, and how long can the quadcopter run for?</p>
Hi, i've been wanting to buy/make a quadcopter for quite a while now so when i saw this i did a bit of research on the parts you say to use, i went for the most expensive first, and my question is do you think this ( http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__37328__HKPilot_Mega_V2_5_Flight_Controller_USB_GYRO_ACC_MAG_BARO.html ) is good value or not? be great to hear back from you. <br> <br>Thanks
That HK board is a clone of the 3DR original. Clones are OK since the HW and SW of the APM are open sourced. The only question is whether it works 100% like the original. They might have used different components. Might be advisable to look for feedback from previous buyers. You should not expect any support from the diydrones.com community if you have problems with your clone. Please remember that you also need the GPS module for fully autonomous operation (and return to home features). <br> <br>The great thing about the APM is that you can use it in a x-copter, helicopter, plane, flying wing, boat or car. There is no other autopilot on the market with similar broad capabilities. <br>
why should people expect no support through diydrones.com.?. is it solely the house organ of 3drobotics.com or is it a truly open diydrones site(hint its the latter).. no matter who founded it... All flight controllers are discussed there as well as the clones, we even welcome old paparazzi folk like myself.. <br>rcgroups.com is another place you can get help.... <br> <br> gwen <br> <br>
hey..your instructables are really helpful..but i have a little doubt..how do you control the current to the brushless motors so that the motors don't burn. I am using 1270kv outrunner with max watt- 204W and max current- 20A ratings and im using 3s LIPO battery..i need aprox 500 gm of thrust from one motor. So how do i make sure i don't burn my motor? please help.
does the size of the arms matter because i can find a 3/4 by 3/4 piece of wood
cool <br>can i get more information about power distribution <br>since i m in mechanical field so i don't know the ic circuits ! <br>response will be appreciated. <br>rply asap <br>
cool, hope i can make it too (from indonesia)
Hi, is there anyway to build this with custom flight computer? we have to do this from scratch in an MEng group project. - I.e. we have to write the control program in C
What is the run time for your model?
Looks good!! What was the total price.
How long did it take to build? <br>
If you watch the timelapse, it shows about 52 minutes from start to flight.
Does the OrangeRx T-SIX 2.4GHz DSM2 6CH Programmable Transmitter w/10 Model Memory (Mode 2) work with FrSky D8R-II Plus - 8 Channel Receiver w/ telemetry?
No, the DSM2 protocol is not compatible with the FrSky protocol. You can use any of the OrangeRx receivers from HobbyKing, or the (very excellent) LemonRx receivers from lemon-rx.com.
Hi, do you happen to have a document or ible on connecting an APM? Preferably one of the newer 2.5-2.6 models? I am slightly confused how they interface with a manual flight controller? Do you have to get a separate DSM2 receiver to connect to the APM? <br> <br>Also I've seen that to wire the ESC's to the motors correctly is done by trial and error? This doesn't seem right to me, is there not a schematic indicating which wires from the motor go to which wires on the ESC or did I just get terribly bad information? <br> <br>If I wanted to build a basic autonomous tri-quad etc. do you have an essentials parts list to use with the APM w/GPS? Would this be correct?: <br>-ESC's for each motor <br>-APM w/GPS <br>-applicable battery <br>-Motors <br>-Props <br>-wireless controller receiver?(see previous question) <br> <br>One last question, sorry for the bombardment, in a tri-copter build do all the props spin the same direction or no? Thanks!
Trial and Error might sound unscientific but there is method to the madness: <br> <br>The ESC and BL motor each have three wires (one for each phase). No matter how you connect them the motor will spin. However the direction in which the motor will turn can't be predicted without trying it first. If the motor spins the wrong direction, any two wires can be swapped. Since the ESCs and BL motors are usually connected with bullet connectors this is a quick task.
got it, that makes sense. Thanks!
Seems I should not seek forum advice first, go straight to the source... my bad. <br> <br>http://copter.ardupilot.com/quick-start-assembly/

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