Introduction: Completely Scratch Built Tricopter

Picture of Completely Scratch Built Tricopter

Hello all. Hope you know about Drones aka multirotors.

Now most of us know that these flying machines are quiet cossstttlyyyyy.

So i decided to find ways to make em cheap and fast and efficient.

So heres the equation. Less motors = Less ESC = Less price.

Unfortunately less motors mean MOVING PARTS.

quadcopters are quiet costly, Dualcopters are too slow and plain boring.(apologies to those who like them).

So i built a Tricopter. Its fast carries just enough to support your fpv system and is cheap.

I got mine built for around 100 USD or 6000 Rupees.

Plus i have also made my own flight controller that kinda reduces the price.

If you like it pleeeasssse vote in the arduino everything contest.

Step 1: Gather Em Up!

Picture of Gather Em Up!

3x ESC's

3x Propellers (7x3.8)

3x Brushless Motors

1x Arduino Mega 2560, 1280 or ADK

1x Lipo battery. Suggested 25c 3000 mah but i did'nt have one.

Adafruit Motor Shield PURELY OPTIONAL....... Only for convenient Wiring.

Mpu 6050

Baseplate. (just any strong piece of hdpe or aluminum with holes in it.)

Wooden Booms, Aluminum Boooms, Carbon fiber (YOUR CHOICE) Suggested Aluminum

Screws nuts and bolts not in pics.

Twist ties not in pics

Female to male wires and male to male and female to female wires not in pics

Metal Gear servo not in pic

Long nail not in pics

And of course a Tx and Rx.

Step 2: The Frame Contruction

Picture of The Frame Contruction

Screw on the baseplate and the wooden frame ( a clothes hanger in my case.)

You should get something like it is in the second pic.

The length of the arms is preferrably 15 cm.

Step 3: The Back Leg

Picture of The Back Leg

Drill through the back leg.

Then bolt it onto the baseplate.

Your Tricopter frame must look something like it is in pic 2.

Step 4: Yaw Mechanism

Picture of Yaw Mechanism

Arguably the backbone of the tricopter. The yaw mechanism was quiet hard to be honest.

I experimented so many different designs when i knew all it takes is a rotating shaft and a base attached to a servo.

So heres my own yaw.

So what i did was that i hammered a nail through a piece of wood.

Used a rusty cycle spoke as pushrods.

attached the push rod onto the servo horn

attached the servo at the very back end of the tricopter

and then i hammered the nail into the wooden boom i was using as the back leg.

so it (the base) tilts as the servo rotates.

The video shows how it works. Sorry for the coughs :)

Step 5: Halfway Through

Picture of Halfway Through

So your tricopter should look like this.

now our concentration will shift from the mechanically related part to the electronics.

Step 6: Motor Mounting.

Picture of Motor Mounting.

As simple as it sounds screw the motors onto the frame.

Do this on all 3 sides.

It should look somewhat similar to pic 2.

Step 7: Attach the Props

Picture of Attach the Props

All you need to do is attach props.

All should be CW props or those without R written on them.

Step 8: Attach the ESC's

Picture of Attach the ESC's

The esc's are a very important part of this build. They convert dc current from battery to ac current for the motor.

They will make the motors produce the beeping sounds and drive them and configure endpoints.

All you need to do is tape them onto the frame.

Remember solder bullet connectors onto your esc's. They are really useful, I will explain in the next step.

Step 9: Connect Your Motor to the ESC

Picture of Connect Your Motor to the ESC

Bear in mind that there is no order in which you connect the 3 wires together.

Just connect them and see in which direction the air is blowing.

If it blows down no problem if it blows up Reverse ANY two wires and it will be correct.

Use male bullet connectors on the motor and female on the esc.

I used 3.5 mm bullets. 9 pairs.

Step 10: Power Distribution

Picture of Power Distribution

Now for power distribution.

Use wires thick enough to withstand the current you will be passing through it.

if you used xt60 connectors. Use male on the esc side (the one with two poking outward)

so connect 1 male to the battery.

This male header is connected to 3 female headers using 3 wires soldered into the connector.

Pictures speak more.

Now just run it through your frame.

Step 11: Flight Controller

Picture of Flight Controller

This is the BRAIN of the tricopter.

The one i made is based on multiwii.

Go to this website and download the software.

once you have opened the arduino sketch go to the tab config.h and if you are using arduino mega choose multiwii mega as your flight controller and uncomment tri as your multirotor.

Here are the connections.

also available here

3 Rear
6 Left

5 Right

2 Yaw Servo

Vin to any one of the esc's +ve

gnd to any one of the esc's gnd.

then connect all esc's gnd to the arduino's gnd.

the 5v pin of the mpu 6050 to 5v of arduino.

Gnd to gnd of the mpu 6050

scl to scl of mega

sda to sda of the mega.

Receiver throttle to A8

Roll to A9

Pitch to A10

Yaw to A11.

For more details access the link

Step 12: Attach Landing Gear and Go With the Wind.

Picture of Attach Landing Gear and Go With the Wind.

Now attach the landing gear in my case pvc.

Calibrate your multirotor.

Do the PID tuning or use this setting (works good with most multiritors). P=4 I=0.035 D=15.

Now go fly away.

Now i am a good builder but i kinda did not get the knack of the flying part. (Crashed it more times than i flew!).

So heres a different video of what you could see with fpv.

So hope you enjoyed it and were successful with your own multirotor.


diy_bloke (author)2016-05-15

from the yaw mechanism i understand that tha piece of wood follows the position of the servo arm. Couldnt the servo arm then not be the yaw?

robobot3112 (author)diy_bloke2016-05-16

that also can be done. I have lately been experimenting with the motor right onto the servo. So far I only broke 2 servos so if youre using weak motors with low thrust that is the best but with these large motors that produce 0.8 kg thrust it may be a problem

diy_bloke (author)robobot31122016-05-16

ok tnx

diy_bloke (author)diy_bloke2016-05-17

I took the liberty of uploading a slightly better illustration of a DIY yaw mechanism. Weight is supported so not carried fully by the servo

robobot3112 (author)diy_bloke2016-05-17

that's a much better yaw mechanism, I did not have access to power tools so i could'nt make one of that kind.

diy_bloke (author)robobot31122016-05-17

I think with a small saw and a handdril you already could have gotten very far :-)

robobot3112 (author)diy_bloke2016-05-17

you have any idea of integrating that onto foam-board??

i'm working on a tricopter made using foam-board and am puzzled by the yaw mechanism.

I received a hacksaw yesterday so im trying to make that

diy_bloke (author)robobot31122016-05-17

well if the foamboard is strong enough to cope with the pull of the propellors it is strong enough to carry the yaw but i would make it from plastic. cut the sides from sturdy thin plastic like a milk jug and use the foamboard to fill the space. at the sid where the servo is mame the plastic sides a bit longer and attach to the foam, either with gle or a bolt or a ziptie

robobot3112 (author)diy_bloke2016-05-18

sounds like a solution.

diy_bloke (author)robobot31122016-05-18

I may give it a try too.
Won't be using a coathanger though :-)

robobot3112 (author)diy_bloke2016-05-18

booms would work better. I used a coat hanger because it was at the desired angle.

diy_bloke (author)robobot31122016-05-18

understand, nothing wrong with using what u can get

cliffyd (author)2016-04-24

seriously bro I know we're on a diy site here but it looks like you dug out the materials from under your deck that's been there for 5 yrs. The garbage coptor! Lol nice hook up of the electronics tho.

robobot3112 (author)cliffyd2016-04-24

btw only 2 years not 5

cliffyd (author)robobot31122016-05-04


diy_bloke (author)cliffyd2016-05-15

McGyver would be proud of it :-)

robobot3112 (author)cliffyd2016-04-24


robobot3112 (author)2016-03-03

the battery was faulty at arrival :(
now its gonna take a month more to get replaced :(

tawhid2614 (author)2016-02-04

i made it

robobot3112 (author)tawhid26142016-02-05

great. Glad you had luck with it.

Timofte Andrei (author)2016-01-16

where is the video with the thing flying?

I donot have a battery now my old lipo (the one in the pictures) is over-drained.

I will post one as soon as i receive my battery (in about 2 weeks time).

thipshop made it! (author)2016-01-14

Please note that erroneous installing propeller. And the position of the control box.

robobot3112 (author)thipshop2016-01-14

well i donot think that it is anything serious. It hovered just normal.Before attempting even i thought it cannot be done, i experimented and it worked. This flew more like a T-copter than the normal tricopter. It is not a worry at all. IF you face any problem just install the wooden boom the other way round for a more tricopter like front leg

Note :As long as your gyro is good you need not worry about anything.

pj200 (author)2016-01-14

You can enter the left overs contest

robobot3112 (author)pj2002016-01-14

unfortunately the contest is closed :(

robobot3112 (author)pj2002016-01-14

thanks for the suggestion. Appreciated.

vmohan5 (author)2016-01-13

please get us the ckt diagrams and codes that we can try it pls

robobot3112 (author)vmohan52016-01-13

this is the code.

robobot3112 (author)vmohan52016-01-13

Here it is. Go by the mega connection diagram if you use mega.

Or if you use nano, pro mini, uno, or any other go by the other diagrams

hbapna (author)2016-01-13

loved your efficient way man :)

robobot3112 (author)hbapna2016-01-13

thanks. At least now i know someone else thinks it's efficient ;)

KusalW (author)2016-01-11

can you upload a correct diagram with all the connections? please. and please give the code too.

robobot3112 (author)KusalW2016-01-12

the code and the connection diagram is available on but if it helps i will soon upload them

gvpatel22 (author)2016-01-11

Appriciable, very useful for my students. Demo possible?

robobot3112 (author)gvpatel222016-01-12

thanks. Yes i will soon post a video after i get another battery.

This one got over-drained after the 3rd test flight.

Abhishekkuksal (author)2016-01-11

And also from where did you get that all of the parts like motor ESC and battery?

ebay is a more than convenient way of sourcing these parts

Abhishekkuksal (author)2016-01-11

But what communication you are using with MPU6050


The communication with the mpu is just 12c communication

robobot3112 (author)robobot31122016-01-11

*i2c not 12c

Abhishekkuksal (author)2016-01-11

Indian...nice build by the way...I appreciate you....

About This Instructable




Bio: The world is a Roller coaster, Im the operator.
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