Picture of Cheap, Sturdy, 1-Hour Quadcopter
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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)

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it was cool

how can i get a perfect video of yours?

VasilisT4 months ago

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 :)

VasilisT VasilisT4 months ago

here is when it flies...

n8schwemmer4 months ago
I ordered the parts you put in the link but the motor shafts are reversed. Any help on how to solve this problem??
JesseE16 months ago

Awesome !

PavloV16 months ago

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?

PavloV16 months ago

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!

I had purchases all the parts and forgot to order the motor mounts.

vgangwar18 months ago

m using 1400 KV Bldc

30 A ESC
3S 20C 2500mAh Lipo
kkmulticopter flight control board
and flysky Ct6b and r6b tx rx..

unable to get it to fly..?
it weighs...760 gms without lipo...add another 200 gms of lipo...

michaelhughes8 months ago

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 "program" Turnigy 9XR Transmitter Mode 2 (No Module) and related suggested module? Could you provide a little more detail on that. Thanks!

TeamC28 months ago
What is the software you used to make the templates?
marhar (author)  TeamC28 months ago
Microsoft Word.

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"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!

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.
Here is my question:
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,

Here are some parts that I found that may be useful (I haven't built a quadcopter yet) :

Motors: SunnySky Angel A2212 980KV; link: x4

Propellers: hobbyking propellers, pick your own, there are many varieties; link:

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: (arduino) ; (gyroscopic sensor))

Power distribution board:

Battery: just find a good one that will work judging from specs

Controller: get the one you want to use

Frame: make it out of pvc pipe.

markee01078110 months ago

Nice project!

Stan1y11 months ago
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
elliot42061 year ago

is it a problem to have motors that are over 1100kv?

elliot42061 year ago

How much did the total build cost, and how long can the quadcopter run for?

robertabt1 year ago
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 ( ) is good value or not? be great to hear back from you.

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 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).

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.
why should people expect no support through is it solely the house organ of 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.. is another place you can get help....


karan111 year ago
hey..your instructables are really helpful..but i have a little 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.
Wormeater1 year ago
does the size of the arms matter because i can find a 3/4 by 3/4 piece of wood
can i get more information about power distribution
since i m in mechanical field so i don't know the ic circuits !
response will be appreciated.
rply asap
agoaga1 year ago
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
eriknf1 year ago
What is the run time for your model?
AndrewAF11 year ago
Looks good!! What was the total price.
NinjaBoy121 year ago
How long did it take to build?
marhar (author)  NinjaBoy121 year ago
If you watch the timelapse, it shows about 52 minutes from start to flight.
csphar1 year ago
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?
marhar (author)  csphar1 year ago
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
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?

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?

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?:
-ESC's for each motor
-applicable battery
-wireless controller receiver?(see previous question)

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:

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.
First of all, awesome write up. Really leads me to believe I can build one myself and I just might have to. My primary goal with an RC Quad is aerial video for motorcycle racing, will this power setup lift a GoPro camera? Or is that too much weight?
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