Introduction: The Ultimate PVC Quadcopter

Whether you're a beginner looking for a quadcopter to help you get your feet wet in scratch building, or you're a little more experienced and are just searching for a cheap and reliable frame, look no further than The Ultimate PVC Quadcopter! This is a 450mm frame that is extremely cheap, at around $12 for all the hardware, and is extremely durable as well, mine withstanding dozens of near full speed crashes with nothing more than a couple of broken propellers! The electronics are 100% protected, either inside the PVC arms or underneath the lexan canopy, meaning 1: you'll never have to replace any electronic components and 2: you'll have the flyest (no pun intended :) ) looking DIY quadcopter around! This instructable is going to show you the creation process of this quadcopter and how to make it yourself!

Step 1: Introduction and Design

As a kid, I loved playing with PVC pipes and connectors and using them to create anything I could imagine. Many years later, I got a small drone for Christmas, which was lots of fun, but had a very low resolution camera and a short flight time. I wanted to buy a more professional drone, but being only a sophomore in high school there was no way I could have afforded it. I decided to design my own quadcopter to be powerful enough to lift a decent camera, have a more reasonable flight time, and most of all, be cost efficient. Because of my childhood experience with PVC pipes, I concluded that they could be used to construct a simple and durable quadcopter frame. I started to make some sketches and frame prototypes and eventually ended up with the designs above.

This frame uses 1" Schedule 21 PVC because it is thin walled, making it significantly lighter than, but just as sturdy as other pipe of the same size, and at 1" diameter, is wide enough to fit some of the electronics inside for a nice, clean look. Being able to protect the electronics on the inside of the frame is a major benefit of this quadcopter's design, as it saves me money and inconvenience because I don't have to replace any broken parts in the event of a crash. For the electronics plates and canopy I used Lexan polycarbonate because of its strength, lightness, and transparency for aesthetics. The design and choice of materials for this quadcopter stem from the fact that I believe tinkering can be a form of art, and that aesthetics are just as important as, and even compliment, functionality. To me, this quadcopter's appearance possesses the perfect combination of simplicity and complexity. Having the electronics hidden in the PVC arms makes the quadcopter appear elegant and simple, but leaving some wiring visible underneath the clear lexan canopy emphasizes the true intricacy of its design.

Now, without further ado, let's get building!

All drawings and diagrams were created by me either on paper or in Adobe Illustrator for iOS.

Step 2: What You'll Need

Here's what I used to construct this quadcopter. I've broken it down into parts needed for the frame and the power system, as well as the tools required.


Frame:

  • 1” Schedule 21 PVC pipe
  • 1” PVC cross connector
  • 8 x 10” Lexan sheet
  • 6 x 32 3” Phillips head screws x 4
  • 6 x 32 dome nuts x 4
  • M6 nylon lock nuts x 4
  • M6 washers
  • M3 screws
  • 1” nylon standoffs x 4
  • Zip ties
  • Double sided foam tape
  • Scotch tape
  • Velcro strip and adhesive Velcro squares
  • 4” PVC coupler for landing gear


Power System:

  • Aerosky 980kv brushless motors x 4
  • Hobbywing 20A ESC x 4
  • KK2.1.5 Flight Controller
  • Flysky FS-CT6B transmitter and receiver combo
  • Turnigy Nanotech 2200 mAh 45-90c 3s lipo battery
  • Imax B6 lipo charger
  • Lipo Battery Voltage Alarm
  • Gemfan 10” slowfly propellers (get more than 4 because you will break some)
  • 10 and 12 gauge silicon wire
  • XT60 connectors x at least 5 pairs
  • 3.5 mm bullet connectors - at least 12 pairs
  • male to male servo wires - at least 5
  • Heat shrink tubing
  • Wire Sleeving (optional)
  • JST connector (optional)


Tools:

  • PVC pipe cutter
  • Power drill
  • Allen wrench
  • Wire cutter/stripper
  • Soldering iron & solder
  • Vise Grip
  • Hacksaw
  • Heat gun or stove
  • Propeller Balancer
  • Glue Gun
  • Felt pen or sharpie

Step 3: Frame Assembly: Flattening Motor Mounts

For the first step of the frame build, we need to make a place to mount the motors. I flattened the ends of the pipe to create a nice flat area for the motors to mount onto the arms. For the arms I cut the PVC pipe into four 8 1/2” segments. I then marked a line around the pipe 2” away from the end. I heated the pipe over the stove, holding only the 2" area I marked over the burner until that end became soft and malleable. While the pipe was still hot and soft, I flattened it with a cutting board by lining up the edge of the cutting board with the sharpie line from earlier, and pressing down on it until it cooled off and became rigid again. I repeated this process for the 3 remaining arms.

Step 4: Frame Assembly: Lexan Plates

To mount and protect the flight controller and receiver, as well as hold the frame together, the quadcopter needs a system of center plates. I had the 8 x 10" Lexan sheet cut into two circles with diameters of 4 1/2" and 4 1/4" to be the bottom and top plates, respectively. The bottom plate is used as a platform for mounting the flight controller and receiver, and the top plate is a cover to protect them. The plates each have 4 holes drilled in an X pattern so that the four 6 x 32 screws can go through all 4 arms and through both of the plates to hold everything together. The plates are separated by 1" nylon standoffs which the 6 x 32 screws also go through. The screws are secured on top of the top plate with dome nuts.

Step 5: Frame Assembly: Drilling Motor Mounts

Now that the motor mounts are flattened and the Lexan plates are installed, it's time to drill the holes for the motor screws. I used a motor mount cross that matched the hole pattern of my motors to mark where the holes should be. After marking the holes with a sharpie, I drilled two holes 19mm across from each other for screws, and 1 large hole between them for clearance of the motor shaft.

Step 6: Making Landing Gear

It's always a good thing to have something for your quadcopter to land on. For mine, I made landing gear out of a 4" PVC coupler. I used a hacksaw to cut the coupler into four approximately 3/4" wide strips, and then put these strips into a pot of boiling water for about thirty seconds to soften them. I took them out and shaped them by hand into the landing legs. I attached the landing gear to the quadcopter's arms with zip ties. So far this landing gear works extremely well and is very springy, which helps absorb shock during hard landings.

Step 7: Power System: Overview

Now that the frame is complete we move on to the quadcopter’s power system. The power system consists of the motors, Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs), Wire harness, Flight controller, Transmitter, Receiver, and Battery. As shown in the diagram above, the motors connect to the ESCs, the ESCs connect to the wire harness, and the wire harness plugs into the battery. The transmitter (TX) sends a signal wirelessly to the receiver (RX), which sends that signal to the flight controller through the male to male servo wires. The flight controller translates that signal and sends it to the ESCs through the ESCs' servo wires. The ESCs then convert that signal into electric pulses that flow through the motors' phase wires and turn the motors. Now that we know how everything works, we can get started on the power system.

Step 8: Motors and ESCs

We have to get the motors and ESCs prepared to connect to each other and the wire harness. I soldered male 3.5 mm bullet connectors to each of the motor wires so they could plug into the ESCs, and sealed them with heat shrink. I made a little soldering jig by drilling holes into a plank of wood to hold the bullet connectors while I was soldering. I attached the motors to the arms' motor mounts with M3 screws and screwed them in with an allen wrench.


Since the ESCs came with female bullet connectors already installed, I just soldered male XT60 connectors to the battery end (red and black wires) of each ESC, to allow it to be plugged into the wire harness.

Step 9: Wire Harness and Electronics Installation

Wire Harness

One of the most important electrical components is the wire harness or battery splitter. This distributes power from the battery to all four ESCs and motors. To make the wire harness, I soldered a set (I'm referring to a pair of red and black wire as a set) of 10 gauge wire to a male XT60 connector and stripped the other end of the wires to about half an inch. I then cut and stripped four sets of 12 gauge wire, and soldered them to the set of 10 gauge wire. I soldered female XT60 connectors to the ends of the 12 gauge wires, and insulated everything with heat shrink. I also added a JST connector to the wire harness for an extra power lead just in case I wanted to add any other electronics like FPV gear or LED lights in the future.

Tip: When soldering a wire harness remember that the female connectors go on the "hot" end, or the side that power will flow out from. Male connectors are used on the opposite ends where the power will flow into. Also, remember to slide the heat shrink over the wires before soldering XT60 connectors onto them. If you forget to, you might have to desolder the connector, slide on the heat shrink, and solder the connector back on again which can be a real pain. Trust me, I know.

Electronics Installation
After making the wire harness I plugged the motors into the ESCs, connected the ESCs to the wire harness, and put the ESCs and wire harness inside the pipe frame. I also drilled holes in the arms for the battery plug from the wire harness and the ESC’s servo wires to come out. To prevent the ESCs from overheating inside the frame, I drilled three holes in the arms near the motor mounts to act as vents to cool the ESCs. The air pushed down by the propellers will flow through the holes and into the pipe to cool the electronics. I also drilled a hole underneath the motor mount to be an entry point to the inside of the pipe for the motors' phase wires to connect to the ESCs.

Step 10: Flight Controller and Receiver Connections

I mounted the flight controller and receiver to the lexan bottom plate using double sided foam tape. The foam tape works great at both holding the components on, and filtering vibrations before they reach the flight controller. Next, I connected the ESC servo leads to the flight controller.

To connect the ESC wires to the flight controller take the servo wire from each ESC and plug it in to the corresponding pins on the flight controller. For example, the front left motor is Motor 1, so the ESC servo wire from that motor will plug in to the first set of pins on the right side of the board. Motor 2's ESC servo wire will plug in to the second set of pins, Motor 3's the third, and Motor 4's the fourth. There are 8 sets of pins for ESC servo wires on the KK2 flight controller, but because this is a quadcopter with only 4 motors and ESCs, only the first 4 sets of pins will be used.

Motor 1 = front left, Motor 2 = front right, Motor 3 = back right, Motor 4 = back left.

Next, I connected the channels of the receiver to those of the flight controller. On the KK2 Flight Controller the receiver pins are on the left side of the board and the channel pins are Aileron, Elevator, Throttle, Rudder, and Auxiliary in that order, from front to back on the board. I connected the corresponding channels between the flight controller and receiver with male to male servo wires.

Tip: The pins closest to the inside of the flight control board are the signal pins, so the white/yellow wires must plug in to those.

Step 11: Programming the Flight Controller

MAKE SURE TO DO THIS STEP WITHOUT PROPELLERS

Before flying, the flight controller needs to be programmed and calibrated. This is one of the easiest steps, but could potentially be the most dangerous. Always make sure the propellers are not installed before configuring the flight controller to avoid injury. On the KK2 board the first thing to do is the receiver test. This makes sure that each stick on the transmitter is changing the correct value on the flight controller. If you find that a stick input is making a backwards output on the controller, (for example, left on the aileron stick shows up as a right aileron input on the flight controller) you can reverse this channel on the transmitter.

Next, is choosing the motor layout. Go to the KK2's main menu and select "Load Motor Layout". Because this drone has 4 motors, with 2 in the front and 2 in the back, select "QuadroCopter X mode". The flight controller will then show the motor layout and the direction the motors should spin. Motor 1 on the front left should spin clockwise, Motor 2 counterclockwise, Motor 3 clockwise, and Motor 4 counterclockwise.

Next calibrate the ESCs.

  1. Unplug the battery and turn off the transmitter
  2. Push the throttle all the way up on the transmitter while it is off.
  3. Turn on the transmitter
  4. Plug the battery in to the quadcopter
  5. Immediately press and hold buttons 1 and 4 on the KK2 board
  6. Once the screen displays "Throttle Passthrough" bring the throttle all the way down on the transmitter, while still holding buttons 1 and 4.
  7. The ESCs will beep indicating that all 4 ESCs are calibrated.

Next check the motor spin directions. To do this, power up and arm the quadcopter by plugging in the battery, turning on the transmitter, and bringing the throttle stick to the bottom right corner. The board will beep indicating that the quad is armed, meaning the motors are free to spin. Again, MAKE SURE THE PROPELLERS ARE OFF. Turn up the throttle and observe which direction the motors are spinning. Putting a piece of tape on the side of the motors may help with this step. The motors should spin according to the motor layout scheme. If a motor is spinning in the wrong direction, simply unplug and switch any two of the bullet connectors on the motors phase wires that connect to the ESCs, and the motor's spin will be reversed.

Lastly, calibrate the board's accelerometer.

  1. Place the quadcopter on a flat surface
  2. Go to the KK2 board's main menu and select "ACC Calibration"
  3. push continue and let the board calibrate itself

The flight controller is now calibrated and ready for flight!

Step 12: Balancing Propellers

We're almost done, but before installing the propellers they need to be balanced. There are many benefits to balancing propellers, such as increased motor longevity, "jello" or distortion-free video, and even a quieter quadcopter. Because many prop balancers are expensive, I decided to create my own. My prop balancer consists of a wooden dowel frame, some Neodymium magnets, and a "Fingertip Prop Balancer" I bought for a couple dollars on Amazon. The wooden frame has two booms that are about 6" tall that enable it to fit up to 12" propellers. On the ends of the booms are two Neodymium magnets hot glued to the frame. The fingertip prop balancer fits in between the magnets, only touching one of them, but is kept in place by the magnetic force of the other, resulting in an extremely sensitive and accurate prop balancer.

Balancing Blades

  1. Clamp the propeller with the fingertip prop balancer
  2. Place the fingertip balancer and propeller between the two magnets and set the propeller horizontally
  3. Whichever side of the prop falls is the heavy side, so tape should be added to the opposite blade to balance it out
  4. Place the blade horizontally again and if the blade falls to a side, remove or apply tape accordingly. The propeller will be able to stay horizontal when the blades are balanced.

Balancing the Hub

  1. Set the propeller vertically between the two magnets
  2. Whichever side falls is the heavy side of the hub, and hot glue should be added to the opposite side of the hub to balance it

If the propeller is able to stay in whatever position it is placed in without falling, then it is properly balanced and ready to be installed.

Step 13: Installing Propellers

The last step before flight is installing the propellers. Using the motor layout scheme, I installed clockwise propellers on the clockwise spinning motors and vice versa. Clockwise propellers have an "R" printed on them next to the size and pitch (ie. 1045R), while the counterclockwise propellers do not. I put two green propellers at the front and two white ones at the back to help me keep track of the quadcopter's orientation.

Instead of using the standard bells that come with the motors to hold the propellers (you might as well throw those away because they WILL come off in flight and make you crash), I secured my propellers with nylon lock nuts. The lock nuts have a special nylon ring inside of them which ensures that the propellers can never come off during flight. To tighten the lock nuts I used a vise grip. Under the lock nuts I installed a washer to help distribute the pressure from the nut on the propeller more evenly.

The frame is assembled, the electronics are installed, the flight controller is programmed, and the propellers are balanced and ready, so there's only one thing left to do. Take off!

Step 14: Battery and Voltage Alarm

The battery is held on the underside of the quadcopter with a velcro strip, that is sandwiched between the Lexan bottom plate and the PVC cross connector.

The battery voltage alarm is attached to the frame with a velcro adhesive square. Before taking off I plug in the battery's balance connector (white connector) to the battery voltage alarm. Once the battery's voltage drops below 10V during flight, the alarm will go off, telling me to land.

Step 15: Taking Flight!

If you're new to flying, fear not! Here is a quick guide on how to take off and more with your new quadcopter.

  1. Plug in the battery and voltage alarm, and turn on your transmitter.
  2. Arm your quadcopter by bringing the throttle stick (left stick on most transmitters) to the bottom right corner.
  3. Slowly bring the throttle up until the quadcopter is a few inches off the ground, then immediately land it. Congratulations! You've completed the hop test.
  4. Keep hopping until you feel comfortable being in the air.
  5. Hop higher and stay in the air longer and longer each time.
  6. Get a feel for your yaw, pitch, and roll authority as well while you hop.
  7. Practice moving the quadcopter forward, backward, left, and right while hovering.
  8. Once you have the basic movements down, practice using the yaw stick and controlling your rudder movements.

Whatever you do, don't show off, or try to do anything you're unsure of. With time your controls will become second nature to you, but for now just stick to the basics to avoid crashing.

Step 16: Conclusion

In conclusion, I can definitely say that I accomplished my goal of creating a cost efficient, durable quadcopter with a reasonable flight time! This build only cost me about $300 (probably even less without having to buy parts for prototyping), which is extremely cheap compared to most other drones of this size on the market. With this setup I can get around 11 minutes of flight time, which is a huge improvement from the flight time of my previous drone. The frame also turned out to be extremely robust, and has endured countless crashes, some at almost full speed into the side of my house or straight into the ground after attempting a flip, with the only damage ever being a couple of broken propellers. For aerial photos and video, this quadcopter can easily carry a video camera, which hangs from my diy camera tray made up of a library card with a camera mount stuck to it. This quadcopter allowed me to take the photos shown above.

I didn't have many big problems, or make any huge mistakes during this project, as I pretty much just came up with a design, and kept improving it until it became as good as I could make it. However, I did learn a few things which I would like to share with you to help you avoid possible issues in the future.

1. Don't go for the cheapest stuff you can find

The saying "you get what you pay for" is really coming to mind right now. Don't buy the cheapest things possible because all it will do is cause you to spend more money later. For example, I started out with a super cheap $8.99 soldering iron thinking it would save me money, only to have to buy a new, more expensive soldering iron later when the cheap one stopped working.

2. Don't be a perfectionist

While it may seem like being absolutely perfect is essential to building a good quadcopter, trust me on this one, all perfectionism will do is cause you to spend extra money, take a longer time to finish your build, and give you unnecessary stress. Of course, being absolutely exact and perfect with everything is nice, but quadcopters are smart enough to fly perfectly fine even if your build is just "good enough".

3. Don't rush

Building a quadcopter is a very exciting thing, but make sure you don't get too excited and jump in too soon. Thoroughly plan out your build first, so that you don't end up buying a ton of parts that you may not even need in the long run. (unless you're prototyping, however, in which buying parts you won't use on the final product is inevitable)

4. Hang in there

Building a drone from scratch is definitely a daunting task, and at times you may want to just give up, but please, don't do it. Do the research, ask for help online if you're confused, take a break, but whatever you do, don't give up, because there is nothing more rewarding than seeing something you built hover right before your eyes.

Thanks for Reading!

I really appreciate you stopping by to read this Instructable, and I hope it inspired you to build this drone, or even design your own! If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments below!

Happy Flying!

Comments

author
thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2016-09-29

For clarification, the FRAME is around $12 not the entire build :) Sorry for the misunderstanding!

author
Chloecheer494 made it!(author)2017-02-09

Hello! Great build and design good job on the award too! ;)

I have a question about adding a fpv camera, how would I do that? And what parts would I need?

Also, could you explain to me how to build the wire harness, in better detail? I don't quite understand how everything connects.

Thanks :)

author
Antonio+C.M made it!(author)2016-12-25

MERRY Christmas Thomas! I had to jump in after reading your reply. LOL! To think that someone would ask, that the $12.00 would cover the whole project made me laugh. I love it, simple design, most of the materials and the tools used we have at hand. I'm not a electronic savy guy, but I'm a mechanic inclined, kind of Joe of all trades, so I think I'll be able to tackle this project. My only concern is the weight of the PVC pipes. Any other dugestions, or comments about it?
Thanks!
Antonio M.

author
thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2016-12-26

Merry Christmas to you too! and for comparable drone prices I'd say around $500-$600, which is what originally compelled me to start this project haha. And thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed this and I hope your build goes well! I don't have any other comments or suggestions as of now but feel free to bring up any questions or issues you may have along the way.

author
gchorny made it!(author)2016-09-29

How much was the whole thing if you do t mind me asking?

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gchorny made it!(author)2016-09-29

Never mi d found the answer below :)

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Rustymay made it!(author)2016-12-05

With a $130 camera, our build is about $450.. We had none of the parts so we had to buy extra of many of the parts like shrink wrap ect..

author
Antonio+C.M made it!(author)2016-12-25

Merry Christmas and a healthy Hobby New Year! Now that you gave me the awnser about the cost, I may ask; How much a comparable one would cost, buying from a store/ online? If you happen to know. Thank you!

author
folkhero made it!(author)2017-03-28

Did you glue the arms into center or just press fit them?

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folkhero made it!(author)2017-03-28

Dumb question. Are you gluing the PVC arms in or just using the screws in the Lexan mounts to hold it together?

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ohoilett made it!(author)2016-12-25

This is pretty cool dude. I'm glad the 'copter is pretty durable too.

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thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2016-12-26

Hey thanks ohoilett! And so am I haha

author
caleb.works made it!(author)2017-03-28

what flight controller do you use

author
ZoeD17 made it!(author)2017-03-20

hello! Quadcopter is still not flying. One of the motor spins a lot slower than the others, I tested the motor with another esc and it works. I believe it's the esc, somehow it is not supplying enough power to the motor. I am using Simonk 20a escs. Thanks again for all the help.

author
ZoeD17 made it!(author)2017-03-05

Hello again! Sorry for asking a lot of questions.

So it turns out I had a bad motor, I was wondering if there is a way that I can turn this into a tricopter?

Would I simply take of the fourth arm, and then set the kk2 to tricopter?

Thank you so much for all of the help, iit is greatly appreciated! :)

author
thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2017-03-05

Hey, no problem questions are always appreciated!
And to make it a tricopter you would need a little bit more :) Tricopters need a servo tilt mechanism in order to yaw, so you'd have to buy a servo motor, create or buy a tilt mechanism, and hook it all up to the frame before you can even change the kk2 setting. So unless you genuinely want a tricopter, you're better off just ordering a new motor.

author
thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2017-02-28

I'm glad to hear your first problem is solved! The yaw input issue is most likely caused by one of two things. Either the servo wires from the receiver's yaw output is not plugged in to the right set of pins on the flight controller, or it is plugged in incorrectly, or the issue lies with the transmitter. Don't worry though, you can adjust the trim settings of your yaw stick by moving the slider underneath it, and if that doesn't work, if you're using the same transmitter as I did you can plug it into your computer and tweak the channel settings, (reversing etc). There's also lots of YouTube tutorials on how to do this.

Good Luck!

author
thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2017-02-27

Battery voltage could definitely be the problem... Do you have a battery voltage alarm? One of the only other things I can think of is that maybe the wiring harness has a bad solder joint?

author
thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2017-02-27

Hmm, try unplugging all of the esc servo leads from the flight controller except one. The escs servo leads have positive, negative, and signal wires, the positive lead sends 5v from the esc to the flight controller, and the board only needs one esc to receive power from. If, when you remove the three other escs from the board and it works, then you can remove then positive wire from the other 3 connectors. (just lift the pin on the servo connector and remove the wire) If not, then there is another problem. So try unplugging the 3 others and plug in the battery and please get back to me on what happens.

Good luck!

author
thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2017-02-24

Yes, you're going to need to bind your receiver and transmitter, but don't worry it's a pretty simple process and there's tons of YouTube videos and tutorials showing you how for your specific transmitter/receiver setup. As for the other issues, such as the flight controller, the board receives power through the ESCs servo leads when plugged into the pins. The "battery" connections are most likely for connecting a battery voltage alarm. Could you please send photos of your setup to help me find a solution? Also are you using the same parts as in my list or different ones?

author
Grosenfeld made it!(author)2017-01-08

Hi! Great job with the design. I just finished mine, but am having a big problem. I've spent two days searching, but can't seem to find the answer. The ESC calibration seems to work in that all for motors spin up at the same time. However, when I arm the unit and push up on the throttle, only three motors spin (2, 3 and 4). I can get 1 to spin by pulling back on the elevator, but it seems that all four should spin. I've swapped out m1 and m2 thinking that the problem could be with the motor or esc, but it does the same thing on m2 when I do that. Any ideas?

Thanks

author
thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2017-01-08

Hmm that's strange, maybe the esc's servo lead isn't fully connected to the flight control board or the connection from the flight controller to the receiver isn't solid, or, since you say that pulling back on elevator causes the motor to spin, maybe you could try fiddling with your transmitter and reversing the elevator channel. Honestly I'm not sure as there are a number of things that could be causing this. Have you done an acc calibration and made sure the quad was level before taking off? Would you mind sending a pic of your setup? maybe that will help.

author
Grosenfeld made it!(author)2017-01-09

As far as the connections go, I believe everything is correct, as the receiver test shows everything moving in the right direction. BTW, I'm using a KK2.15 Mini. The photo, albeit not that great, shows the connections. M1-4 are connected to motors 1-4 respectively. On the receiver, the signal pins for channels 1-5 are connected as follows:

Channel 1 – Aileron
Channel 2 – Elevator
Channel 3 – Signal – Throttle, Red to U+, Black to GND
Channel 4 – Rudder
Channel 5 – Aux

After fooling around with the Stick Scaling, I was able to get the motors to spin up more or less together. I think there is still a problem with the ESC calibration, so I’m going to work on it again tonight.

Stupid question – with auto level activated, should I expect to be able, at a minimum, to fire up the throttle and have the unit lift straight up without touching the other controls? As soon as I increase the throttle, the unit basically flips over. Can you share your PI and auto level settings with me – the ones that you used initially? Also, how does one know if the ESC's are calibrated correctly? I've been trying for hours, but I can't duplicate the beeps heard on various videos discussing ESC calibration...

Thanks again.

Receiver and Mini KK2.15.jpeg
author
thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2017-01-18

The problem may be that your board isn't in the center of your frame, it looks like it's off from the center which may be throwing it off. And as far as self level goes you'll still need to add input to the other controls to counter drifting unless you've got a gps setup installed. For the ESC calibration, if you're still having trouble, just follow how I did it again and see if it works :) good luck to you!

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crashman39 made it!(author)2017-01-02

AWESOME build skills man !! now all i have to do is get it done , Nice and easy to follow for the first quad.:)

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Leviathan17 made it!(author)2016-12-29

great I might just try that

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Jordan3650 made it!(author)2016-12-28

where do you buy the parts

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Antonio+C.M made it!(author)2016-12-26

Thanks!
Could the landing brackets be screwed or epoxied to the arms, instead of the wire ties? Or you chose that way to be more flexible to help absorbed the impact? At this point, after being put it to the task, there's any changes that you like to make? (Motors, propellers, etc.) Appreciate that you are taking the time to give me feedback. Take care!
Antonio Mesquita.

author
thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2016-12-26

You could probably screw or epoxy the landing legs on, but I've found that holding them on with zip ties helps the legs act as a crumple point during a crash or hard landing, meaning they'll break off and disperse some of the energy of the impact which seems to help a lot in keeping the overall craft safe. Also they can easily be slipped right back into the zipties which is nice. As far as changes go, i can't really think of any haha! The quad does everything I wanted it to pretty well!

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Antonio+C.M made it!(author)2016-12-26

Thanks! All make sense!

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KryptoTSD made it!(author)2016-12-25

Gonna try this!

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thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2016-12-26

Have fun!

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senortres made it!(author)2016-12-25

Duuuude. I love this frame design. Great idea.

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thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2016-12-26

Thank you I'm glad you liked it!

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jonno51 made it!(author)2016-12-25

hey bro, any info on gps for this quad?

thanks

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thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2016-12-26

As of now, there is no gps on this quad.

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ElChick made it!(author)2016-12-26

This is a fantastic 'Ible! Would you mind adding a section detailing your camera mount and type of camera used? I'd be curious to see how you did that as well.

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KimS11 made it!(author)2016-10-15

Great project, VERY thorough instructions.

Question, how did you cut the Lexan Disc, and cut the various holes so perfectly???

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Antonio+C.M made it!(author)2016-12-25

http://m.homedepot.com/p/Milwaukee-2-in-to-7-in-Dia-Adjustable-Hole-Cutter-49-56-0320/205744284?cm_mmc=Shopping%7cG%7cBase%7cPLA%7cD25T%7cPowerTools&gclid=Cj0KEQiA-f3CBRCbluKf4vu008kBEiQAl-iGq5qPDulY81QHtHj-BGoYHJZJf6SbfztA2_z5MWRIHrMaAnWq8P8HAQ&gclsrc=aw.ds

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Antonio+C.M made it!(author)2016-12-25

This will do it, you need a drill press, secure the lexan to a flat board using double tape and go very slow( Speed & Feed). Good luck. http://m.homedepot.com/p/Milwaukee-2-in-to-7-in-Dia-Adjustable-Hole-Cutter-49-56-0320/205744284?cm_mmc=Shopping%7cG%7cBase%7cPLA%7cD25T%7cPowerTools&gclid=Cj0KEQiA-f3CBRCbluKf4vu008kBEiQAl-iGq5qPDulY81QHtHj-BGoYHJZJf6SbfztA2_z5MWRIHrMaAnWq8P8HAQ&gclsrc=aw.ds

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thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2016-10-18

Thank you! I had the circles cut at a local windshield shop, and I just centered the circles on top of the pipe frame, and drilled straight through the lexan plates and the pvc arms so they line up :)

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Leviathan17 made it!(author)2016-12-19

love the PVC frame! Would it be possible to add a FPV system to it? Nice job!

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ChristopheV6 made it!(author)2016-10-25

Really amazing ! Quick questions :

1. would't it be worth extending the frame beyond the end of propellers to avoid breaking them in case of crash ?

2. could it work with two 20mm tubes above each other (and some screws or duct tape between)

3. more generally, is flight time doubled when battery is doubled ? If yes, why are so many drones limited to 8-12min flight time ?

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thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2016-11-24

Extending the frame to protect the propellers is a nice idea! I say go for it!

Unfortunately though battery life is not doubled as the battery is doubled because of weight. As the battery size increases more and more the weight also does, so having the largest battery would just weigh your quadcopter down and cause it to be less efficient. This is why most quads are limited to 8-12 min flight times.

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thorathome made it!(author)2016-11-18

Halfway there! I have a terrific airframe from Sch 30 and Lexan. Weighs in at 450g, though. Buying hardware this week and should be flying, soon. Thanks. Terrifically clear and helpful Instructables.

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thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2016-11-24

No problem! I'm glad this helped!

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Chloecheer494 made it!(author)2016-11-23

Hello great turorial, clear instructions, and overall nice build! :)
I'm new to the world of quadcopter sand was wondering if instead of 980kv motors I could use 920 kv motors?
Please get back to me soon! Thanks!

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thomasjarrett16 made it!(author)2016-11-24

Yes, you could use 920s if you liked. You may want to step up to a larger propeller say 11", and you might get a slightly different flight time as me because the motors would most likely draw a different amperage than mine do.

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OshanN made it!(author)2016-10-19

It's amazing

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illushinz made it!(author)2016-10-11

Great build, great documentation! So good, I'm building it too! Have almost all the parts here now.

Question - your motors are 930kv, apparently I ordered 2300kv... Your motors should top out just over 7K RPM, mine more like 17K. Do you think that will still work? Maybe it will just fly a billion miles an hour for 30 seconds?

Thanks!

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Bio: Just a high school senior who likes to make cool things!
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