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QuadCopters – How to get started

I have been watching different videos of QuadCopters recently and I’ve been pretty amused. The way they fly and the way they control their movements is unbelievable – it almost looks like a bug.

If you don’t know what a QuadCopter is, you should definitely have a look at the video below where some advanced features of cooperating Quadcopters are displayed:

So I decided to start reading some more about the materials behind these QuadCopters and how they manage to stabilize in the air.

In this blog post I will try to describe the different steps I have been thru to plan, design and build the prototype of my QuadCopter. There will be coming some more blog posts later on describing how to get the QuadCopter running, programming it, tuning it etc.

This blog post is divided into 3 parts

  1. What is a QuadCopter
    1. Brushless motors
    2. Propellers
    3. Roll, Pitch and Yaw
    4. ESC – Electronic Speed Controller
    5. Battery
    6. The frame
    7. Frame configuration
    8. Inertial Measurement Unit
    9. Controller electronics
  2. Initial decisions
    1. Theoretical calculator
  3. Conclusion

What is a QuadCopter

In short terms a QuadCopter is what the name says a ‘copter’-like device with four rotors (quad). You might have seen one in action before, as they are being commercialized for police and monitoring use. You can also find them as toys, fx the AR Drone or even universities have been playing with them, developing swarms with them

QuadCopters can be found and built in many different sizes. All from the tiny ones that isn’t much larger than a CD ROM and up to QuadCopters with a motor-to-motor length of more than a meter.

To plan and build a QuadCopter there is a lot of terms you need to understand. So before planning my design I searched the internet for good resources for DIY QuadCopter and found the following links to be the best:

To give you a better understanding of what a QuadCopter contains I will now go thru some of the parts it contains.

Brushless motors

As I said QuadCopters do have 4 motors with a propeller each. Most of the times the so called Brushless Motors are used to drive the propellers.

Brushless motors are a bit similar to normal DC motors in the way that coils and magnets are used to drive the shaft. Though the brushless motors do not have a brush on the shaft which takes care of switching the power direction in the coils, and this is why they are called brushless.

Instead the brushless motors have three coils on the inner (center) of the motor, which is fixed to the mounting. On the outer side it contains a number of magnets mounted to a cylinder that is attached to the rotating shaft. So the coils are fixed which means wires can go directly to them and therefor there is no need for a brush.

Brushless motor internal

The reason why QuadCopters use brushless motors instead of normal DC motors is the much higher speeds and less power usage for the same speed. The brushless motors are more efficient as there is no power lost as there is in the brush-transition on the DC motors.

Brushed motor internal

On this diagram of the brushed motor you will see that it is the coil that is rotating instead of the magnets as on the brushless.

Brushless motors come in many different varieties, where the size and the current consumption differ. When selecting your brushless motor you should take care of the weight, the size, which kind of propeller you are going to use, so everything matches up with the current consumption.

When looking for the brushless motors you should notice the specifications, especially the so called “Kv-rating”. The Kv-rating is an indication on how many RPMs the motor will do if provided with x-number of volts. The RPMs can be calculated in this way: RPM=Kv*U


On each of the brushless motors there are mounted a propeller. You might not have noticed this on the pictures, but the 4 propellers are actually not identical. If you have a look at the CrazyFlie picture above you will notice that the front and the back propellers are tilted to the right, while the left and right propellers are tilted to the left.

QuadCopter Plus configuration

This reason for this is that the motor torque of and the law of physics will make the QuadCopter spin around itself if all the propellers were rotating the same way, without any chance of stabilizing it. By making the propeller pairs spin in each direction, but also having opposite tilting, all of them will provide lifting thrust without spinning in the same direction. This makes it possible for the QuadCopter to stabilize the yaw rotation, which is the rotation around itself.

The propellers come in different diameters and pitches (tilting). You would have to decide which one to use according to your frame size, and when that decision is made you should chose your motors according to that.

Some of the standard propeller sizes used for QuadCopters are:

  • EPP1045 – 10″ diameter and 4.5″ pitch – this is the most popular one, good for mid-sized quads
  • APC 1047 – 10″ diameter and 4.7″ pitch – much similar to the one above
  • EPP0845 – 8″ diameter and 4.5″ pitch – regularly used in smaller quads
  • EPP1245 – 12″ diameter and 4.5″ pitch – used for larger quads which requires lot of thrust
  • EPP0938 – 9″ diameter and 3.8″ pitch – used in smaller quads

In general you should select your propeller according to the following four tips:

  1. The diameter of the propeller indicates how much air the propeller will be able to “move” while the pitch indicates how much air the propeller moves all the time – not said that you can use this in any way to calculate the air moved.
  2. The larger diameter and pitch the more thru the propeller can provide. But be-aware that a large pitch makes it much harder for the motor to drive it, it requires much more power, but in the end it will be able to lift more weight.
  3. When using high RPM motors you should go for the smaller or mid-sized propellers
  4. When using low RPM motors you should go for the larger propellers as you can run into troubles with the small ones not being able to lift the quad at low speed (RPM)
  5. A faster rotating propeller (small diameter and small pitch) is used when you have a motor that runs at a high RPM (Kv > 1000) and can provide a decent amount of torque.
  6. A slower rotating propeller (longer or larger pitch) is used when you have a motor that manages fewer revolutions but can provide more torque.

Roll, Pitch and Yaw

For this matter let’s just sum up what Roll, Pitch and Yaw is, as we are going to use these terms much more.

Roll, Pitch and Yaw is some well used terms from the aircraft terminology. The terms are used to describe the objects orientation around each of its axis. Have a look at the picture below and I think you will understand the terms.

ESC – Electronic Speed Controller

As the brushless motors are multi-phased, normally 3 phases, you can’t just apply power to it to make it spin. The motors requires some special phase-control electronics that is capable of generating three high frequency signals with different but controllable phases, but the electronics should also be able to source a lot of current as the motors can be very “power-hungry”.

Turnigy Plush 18A ESC

In this case we got the Electronic Speed Controllers, known as ESC’s. The ESCs is simply a brushless motor controller board with battery input and a three phase output for the motors. For the control it is usually just a simple PPM signal (similar to PWM) that ranges from 1ms (min speed=turn off) to 2ms (max speed) in pulse width. The frequency of the signals does also vary a lot from controller to controller, but for a QuadCopter it is recommended to get a controller that supports at least 200Hz or even better 300Hz PPM signal, as it should be possible to change the motor speeds very quickly to adjust the QuadCopter to the stable position. It is also possible to get ESCs that is controlled thru OneWire of I2C. These tends to be much more expensive though, but sometimes it is also possible to “mod” other ESCs to add the I2C feature.

Turnigy Plush ESC Electronics

ESCs can be found in many different variants, where the source current is the most important factor. You should always chose an ESC with about 10A or more in sourcing current as what your motor will require.

ESC High Power FETs

Another important factor is its’ programming facilities, as some ESCs support range programming while others do not. This means that with some ESCs you don’t necessarily have to use the “1ms to 2ms” range, but you can adjust it to your own needs – this is especially useful when we are going to make our own controller board.


All this leads to the battery, the power source for the whole device. For the battery two types can be used, whereof one of them is highly recommended. The NiMH and the LiPo. I won’t say much about the NiMH as most communities tells us to stay away from these for driving QuadCopters as they first and foremost are not able to provide enough current and secondly they weight a lot more than LiPo batteries when they have the necessary current ratings.

Instead we should talk about LiPo batteries, but in this world there are also a lot of different variants of these too. LiPo batteries can be found in packs of everything from a single cell (3.7V) to over 10 cells (37V). The cells are usually connected in series, making the voltage higher but giving the same amount of amp-hours.

For a QuadCopter you should go after the 3SP1 batteries which means 3 cells connected in series as 1 parallel (just forget the parallel, as it has no sense because we just use 3 cells in series). This should give us 11.1V but at fully charged it actually gives us around 12V instead.

For a brushless motor with a Kv-rating of 1000, this gives us a maximum of 12000 rounds per minute. This number is totally fictive as the battery voltage will drop immediately to around 11.1V (at fully charged state) when current is being drained. Anyways, this gives us a good idea about how fast the propellers will be spinning!

ZIPPY Flightmax Battery, 4000mAh 25C

As for the battery capacity regards you should make some calculations on how much power your motors will draw and then decide how long flight time you want and how much influence the battery weight should have on the total weight. A good rule of thumb is that you with four EPP1045 propellers and four Kv=1000 rated motor will get the number of minutes of full throttle flight time as the same number of amp-hours in your battery capacity. This means that if you have a 4000mAh battery, you will get around 4 minutes of full throttle flight time – though with a 1KG total weight you will get around 16 minutes of hover.

Another thing to be-aware of when selecting the right battery is the discharge rate, formerly known as the C-value. The C-value together with the battery capacity indicates how much current you are able to source from the battery. The calculations follow this simple rule: MaxSource = DischargeRate x Capacity

Take the Zippy4000 from the image above, which has a discharge rate of 20C and a capacity of 4000mAh. With this battery you will be able to source a maximum of 20Cx4000mAh = 80A. So in this case you should make sure that the total amount of current drawn by your motors (ESCs) won’t exceed 80A.

To make some more detailed calculations about your specific design I recommend you to visit the free xcopterCalc – Calculator for Multicopters. I will tell more about this in the “Initial decisions” section.

The frame

Every part in a QuadCopter design works together and the frame is the one joining all of them. The frame can be designed in many ways with many different kinds of materials. The important things are to make it rigid and to minimize the vibrations coming from the motors.

A QuadCopter frame consists of two to three parts which don’t necessarily have to be of the same material:

  • The center part where the electronics and sensors are mounted
  • Four arms mounted to the center part
  • Four motor brackets connecting the motors to the arms

There are three kinds of materials that I recommend using for a QuadCopter frame:

  • Carbon Fiber
  • Aluminium
  • Plywood or MDF

Carbon fiber is the most rigid and vibration absorbant of the three materials but is also by far the most expensive.

Most of the times the arms used in QuadCopters are made of hollow aluminium square rails which makes the QuadCopter relatively light weight but still makes it rigid. The problem with these hollow aluminium rails are the vibrations, as they aren’t damped and will therefor vibrate to the center part and maybe mess up the sensor readings.

Instead solid MDF plates could be cut out for the arms as they will absorb the vibrations much better than the aluminium. Unfortunately we have another problem then, as the MDF plates are not very rigid and will break if the QuadCopter falls to the ground.

As for the center part everything from carbon fiber, aluminium or plywood can be used. Plywood is commonly seen as the center part because it is light weight, easy to work with and is reliable and rigid so it can hold the four arms together as required.

The arm length varies a lot from QuadCopter to QuadCopter as it is up to the individual to decide how big he would like his quad to be. In the QuadCopter terminology we use the abbreviation “motor-to-motor distance” to explain the distance for the center of one motor to the center of another motor of the same arm (or in the same direction).

The motor to motor distance decision goes hand in hand with the propeller diameter decision, as you should definitely make enough space between the propellers. Usual QuadCopters with EPP1045 propellers, which means a propeller diameter of 10″, has a motor to motor distance of around 60 cm ~ 24″, though it will be possible to make it less. Others with smaller propellers, fx with a diameter of 8″ or less, will be able to have a motor to motor distance of around 12″.

Frame configuration

Another decision to make is in which configuration you would like to fly your QuadCopter – here I think about in which way front is.

We have two types of frame configurations, the X and the +. The X configuration looks like this:

QuadCopter X configuration

While the + configuration looks like this:

QuadCopter Plus configuration

The difference is how the motors have to be controlled. For the + configuration the motor controlling is fairly simple as you just have one motor assigned to each direction. The negative aspect of the + configuration though is that you only have a single motor to provide extra thrust (speed up) when you want to move to another direction. In the X configuration you will always have two motors working together on changing direction.

IMU – Inertial Measurement Unit

Wow, I think this post is getting really big, and I haven’t even talked about the fun part yet – the IMU.

The Inertial Measurement Unit is the sensor system of the QuadCopter. The main purpose of the Inertial Measurement Unit is to calculate the orientation of the quad – the three orientation angles, Roll, Pitch and Yaw. These angles are then fed into some controlling electronics that uses those angles to calculate the required changes in the motor speeds.

The IMU consists of at least 6 sensors, also known as 6DOF. These sensors should be a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope. Sometimes another sensor, a 3-axis magnetometer, is added for better Yaw stability.

Sparkfun 9DOF Stick

The accelerometers measures acceleration as the name indicates. Now you would think, “Why the heck do we need to measure acceleration to know the orientation?”, but yet again there is another law of physics – the gravity. The gravity is actually a downwards acceleration towards the center of earth, which to all objects makes a downward force keeping the objects on the surface. The accelerometer is actually measuring force, so the downwards gravity acceleration will also be measured by the accelerometer.

As the accelerometer sensor can measure the acceleration in three directions we can actually calculate how the accelerometer is oriented against the surface.

Sparkfun 9DOF Stick

Fx when the accelerometer is held as the image above, the X axis will show positive 1g, while all the other two axis will show 0g.

Now the next question rises, “Why isn’t the accelerometer then enough to measure the orientation?”. The problem lies in the way the accelerometer works, because it isn’t very stable. If only the accelerometer were used to calculate the orientation even the smallest movements of the accelerometer will mess up the orientation. So if mounted on a QuadCopter with vibrating motors it will be no good.

Instead we use a gyroscope to address this problem. A gyroscope measure angular velocity, in other words the rotational speed around the three axis. The output of a gyroscope is given in radians per second or degrees per second. With both the accelerometer and gyroscope readings we are now able to distinguish between movement/vibration going up, down, left or right or rotation of the sensor, which is what we would like to know.

Final question, “Then why didn’t we just use the gyroscope when it can tell us the rotational movement?”. Yet again the problem lies in how the sensor works. The gyroscope tends to drift a lot, which means that if you start rotating the sensor, the gyroscope will output the angular velocity, but when you stop it doesn’t necessarily go back to 0 deg/s. If you then just used the gyroscope readings you will get an orientation that continues to move slowly (drifts) even when you stopped rotating the sensor.

This is why both sensors has to be used together to calculate a good and useful orientation.

For the Yaw rotational movement the accelerometer can’t be used as the reference sensor as it could with the Roll and Pitch movement. Instead a magnetometer is sometimes used. A 3-axis magnetometer measures the magnetic field that affects the sensor in all three directions. As the earth contains a magnetic field on the North- and South Pole, the magnetic sensor can be used to determine where north and south is located. The locations of these poles can then be used as a reference together with the angular velocity around Yaw from the gyroscope, to calculate a stable Yaw angle.

I won’t go more into details on how these calculations are done in this post. I will write another post soon with more details on these algorithms.

The 3 different sensors usually come in QFN or BGA packages which make it hard to do your own development with them. Instead people usually buy an IMU sensor board with 6DOF or 9DOF or even buy a complete IMU unit with processor and sensors.

Here is a list of some of the commercial available IMU sensors boards and units.

IMU sensor boards:

IMU units:

The raw sensor boards I’ve seen in use works either digitally by I2C or by analog. I prefer to use the digital boards as I2C is so easy and fast. Though if you got a fast processor with some good analog inputs capable of sampling fast enough, the analog boards seems to be more inexpensive than the digital ones.

The difference between the IMU sensors boards and the IMU units is that the IMU units contain a microprocessor. Usually it’s a small 8-bit microprocessor which will do the calculation of Pitch, Roll and Yaw by the use of some kind of algorithm. The calculated data will then be put out on a serial bus or sometimes also available by I2C or SPI.

The choice of IMU is going to reflect which kind of controller board you are going to use. So before rushing out buying one of these boards you should read the next section about the controller boards, as some of them do already contain the different sensors.

Controlling electronics

QuadCopters can be programmed and controlled in many different ways but the most common ones are by RC transmitter in either Rate (acrobatic) or Stable mode. You can either buy an already commercial available controller board or build one yourself. Someone is also doing a mixup by buying some of the parts, like an Arduino and the sensors but then they make the shield and some of the software themselves.

Here is a list of some of the commercial available controller boards that I have met on my way thru the QuadCopter jungle.

Some of the controller boards already contain the required sensors while other requires you to buy these on a separate board.

The AeroQuad MEGA Shield

The AeroQuad board is fx a shield for the Arduino, either the Arduino UNO or the Arduino MEGA. The AeroQuad board requires the Sparkfun 9DOF stick which is soldered to the shield.

The ArduPilot board contains an ATMEGA328, the same as on the Arduino UNO. Like the AeroQuad shield this board doesn’t contain any sensors either. You would have to buy fx the ArduIMU and connect it to the board to use it.

The OpenPilot is a more advanced board which contains a 72MHz ARM Cortex-M3 processor, the STM32. The board also includes a 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope. Together with the board comes a great piece of software for the PC to calibrate, tune and especially set waypoints for your QuadCopter if you have installed a GPS module – which I will be talking more about in the next section.

OpenPilot ARM Cortex-M3 board

As I said earlier QuadCopters are usually controlled in either Rate (acrobatic) or Stable mode. The difference is the way the controller board interprets the orientational feedback together with your RC transmitter joysticks.

In Rate mode only the Gyroscope values are used to control the QuadCopter. The joysticks on your RC transmitter are then used to set the desired rotation rate of the 3 different axes. In this mode you can control your QuadCopters speed of rotation around the 3 axis, though if you release the joysticks it doesn’t automatically re-balance. This is useful when doing acrobatics with your QuadCopter as you can tilt it a bit to the right, release your joysticks, and then your QuadCopter will keep that set position.

For the beginner the Rate mode is a bit hard to start with so instead you should start with the Stable mode. In the Stable mode all the sensors are used to determine the QuadCopters orientation in the air. This orientation is then used to calculate the speed of the 4 rotors to keep the QuadCopter balanced, being plan with the surface. The joysticks on your RC transmitter are then used to set the desired angle for the different axes. So if you would like to move your QuadCopter forward a bit you should simply tilt one of the joysticks so the desired Pitch angle will be changed. When releasing the joysticks the angle will be reset and the QuadCopter will be stable again.

Extended options

Other options such as GPS, Ultrasonic sensor, Barometric pressure sensor etc. can be used to add even more orientational features to the QuadCopter.

A GPS unit can fx be used to measure speed and use that in the calculation of the movement. It is especially also usefull if you would like to make your own UAV (Unmanned aerial vehicle), which needs to know its’ exact position.

An Ultrasonic sensor can be mounted on the bottom of the QuadCopter to measure the distance to ground. This is usefull if you would like to make a quad that should be stable in the height without having you to adjust the motor thrust all the time.

A Barometric pressure sensor can be used for the same purpose, though the Barometric pressure sensor works best when you get up high, as the pressure doesn’t differ a lot when close to ground.

The best altitude combination will be to use both an Ultrasonic sensor and a Barometric pressure sensor at the same time.

Initial decisions

I hope the walkthrough of the different parts gave you an idea of which parts you should be looking for and how big you would like to make your quad. Now it is up to you to select the right parts for your QuadCopter and this is not an easy task. To help you with this I’ve made this 1-2-3 list to get you started.

To find the different materials like motors, ESCs, batteries etc. I recommend you to visit HobbyKing, a very good, popular and inexpensive RC webshop in China. www.hobbyking.com

  1. Motor to motor distance: Decide which size of QuadCopter you would like to built.
  2. Propeller size: Decide your propeller size and pitch. The size should reflect your motor to motor distance choice.
  3. Motor selection: By looking at fx HobbyKing and our description find the appropriate motors for your QuadCopter.
  4. ESC and Battery selection: By looking at the selected motors you should be able to select the proper ESCs. The battery capacity is decided on the basis of how long flight time you would like, but have the weight in mind.
  5. Theoretical Confirmation: Check and confirm that your QuadCopter will be able to fly with your selected parts. Please see the next section about the Theoretical calculator.

Theoretical calculator

To ease the confirmation process where you would have to calculate the thrust from each motor and use the total weight to see if your QuadCopter were able to lift off and hover, Markus Mueller have made a very easy to use online calculator for this exact purpose.
The calculator is called “xcopterCalc – Calculator for Multicopters” and can be used to calculate many different parameters of your QuadCopter. The great thing about the calculator is all of the already prefilled information of different motors, ESCs, batteries etc. This really speeds up the process.

Here I have attached a screenshot of the calculations done on the behalf of my QuadCopter project.

Our design parameters in the xcopterCalc

From this calculator we can see that we will be able to hover with the QuadCopter for around 12 minutes when the battery is normally charged. If our decisions were wrong and something would not work well as supposed to the calculator will tell us that too. Fx let us increase our QuadCopter weight from 1500 grams to 2500 grams.

To heavy = throttle problems

Then you will see that it tells us that we won’t be able to maneuver the QuadCopter that well because the required throttle for hovering is at 94% of the total throttle. The calculator will also check that the selected battery is able to deliver enough current for all the motors at full speed.

I really find this calculator very nice and easy to use, and if you like the calculator as much as I do I recommend you to donate a couple of dollars to Markus Mueller.


The last step for you is now to buy all the required materials, electronics etc. which definitely can be an expensive affair. But if you are excited to build your own QuadCopter from scratch it is definitely going to be a fun and instructive project, which might end up taking a lot of time – but hey! isn’t that what projects are for -> to be developed.

When you have completed the assembly of your QuadCopter you might want to take a look at the “How to Fly a Quadcopter ? The Ultimate Guide” by UAVCoach to avoid making the begginer mistakes and collisions. There guide provides a great ressource for initial flight planning and tutorials on how to get comfortable with flying a QuadCopter without crashing. The guide

Please do not hesitate writing a comment or giving us some feedback on this article. We hope you learnt something by reading all this, and hopefully you will soon have made your own QuadCopter.

Categories: Guides, Multirotors, TKJ Electronics Tags:
  1. June 1st, 2013 at 00:47 | #1

    Dear Lefteris.
    I am so sorry for the late reply. I have been out of the office for quite a while so I have been unable to make replies in here.
    Please feel free to use parts of our article in your presentation, though please remember a reference to our site.

    Regards Thomas

  2. Sree
    June 22nd, 2013 at 16:27 | #2

    Hi Thomas..

    Firstly I need to thank you for posting such an amazing article, which I found useful to know about many parts and their functioning..

    I’m a newbie to the electronics and quadrotor stuff. I’m in a great dilemma in choosing the parts of the copter.. I need to build a medium Quadcopter with the motor to motor distance about 13″ inch and the weight would be somewhat high around 1000g.. Can you suggest me the parts which suits my spec..

    What about the parts required to build a CrazyFlie?? (It looks cute.. 🙂 )

    What would be the range if I use Zigbee??

    Should I dump the program into the controller or would it be pre-programmed?

    What about if I use OpenPilot?

    I’m sorry for asking you such questions and wasting your valuable time.. But please help me as I’m not aware of these basics..

    Thank You.

  3. Sree
    June 23rd, 2013 at 08:27 | #3

    I’ve selected the following components for the quad..
    Can you comment on my selection.?

    ZIPPY Flightmax 5000mAh 3S1P 25C
    TURNIGY Plush 25amp Speed Controller
    Hobbyking X525 V3 Glass Fiber Quadcopter Frame 600mm
    2-APC Style Propeller 8x4R, 2-APC Style Propeller 8x4
    Turnigy Aerodrive SK3 -- 2826-1240kv Brushless Outrunner Motor
    HobbyKing Multi-Rotor Control Board V3.0 (Atmega328 PA)
    Hobby King 2.4Ghz 4Ch Tx & Rx V2 (Mode 2)

    Please suggest me about thr Tx & Rx in particular..

    Thank you.

  4. Leigh
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:53 | #4

    Hi Thomas, brilliant page and by far the most helpful I have seen. What I am interested in though is building an autonomous quadcopter that will launch, hover move and land all preprogrammed, preferably with the use of an ultrasonic sensor. Everyone talks about this board and that but do you know where I can look to find out how to actually programme such a board and in what language or compiler?
    thanks for your help

  5. ShanKid
    September 28th, 2013 at 06:27 | #5

    Terrible review. Thanks a lot mate. I am considering to build my own quadcopter and this post is being incredible useful. Thanks a lot for all the documentation, experience and different approaches. You should put also a donation box area for your hard work!

  6. ShanKid
    September 28th, 2013 at 06:49 | #6

    ShanKid :
    Terrible review. Thanks a lot mate. I am considering to build my own quadcopter and this post is being incredible useful. Thanks a lot for all the documentation, experience and different approaches. You should put also a donation box area for your hard work!

    Saw the donation box. Do you have a bitcoin address?
    PS: did you made the follow up post with the design you commented? I cant find it.

  7. September 30th, 2013 at 21:58 | #7

    Hi ShanKid.
    No, sorry to dissapoint you but we haven’t been using Bitcoins for quite a while.

    The follow up post for the design has not been made due to a dramatic change of the design.
    We have decided to go for a premium frame, the QAV500 from fpvmanuals.
    The hardware development itself has been postponed as we have been working on getting the best performance out of this frame and quadcopter.

    This is of course unfortunate and I will let you know as soon as the development is continue or if we start on a nother quadcopter project.
    Right now I can reveal that we are planning to make a PCB-frame-based nano quadcopter in the nearest future.

    Kind regards
    Thomas Jespersen

  8. Sree
    November 8th, 2013 at 16:57 | #8

    I am new to quadcopter building. And I had prepared a part list.. Can you comment on it..??

    Turnigy Talon Carbon Fiber Quadcopter Frame
    TURNIGY Plush 25amp Speed Controller
    Hobbyking KK2.0 Multi-rotor LCD Flight Control Board
    Turnigy 9X 9Ch Transmitter w/ Module & 8ch Receiver (Mode 2) (v2 Firmware)
    TURNIGY BESC Programming Card
    Turnigy Aerodrive SK3 -- 3530-1340kv Brushless Outrunner Motor
    JXF 8x4 / 203 x 102mm Poly Composite propeller
    JM 8x4 /203x102mm propeller
    ZIPPY Flightmax 5000mAh 3S1P 25C

    I need to give a exhibit at a National level event.. So selected Carbon fiber frame to reduce vibrations..

    And I want to add a camera and speaker to it.. How can I..??

  9. November 8th, 2013 at 23:40 | #9

    Your specifications seems alright EXCEPT for the propeller decision.
    Try and use the calculator (eCalc) you will also notice that you will end up having quite a high hover throttle.
    I would recommend you to use 10″x4.7″ propellers instead, which will also increase your total flight time.

    Regards Thomas

  10. Sree
  11. Sree
    November 9th, 2013 at 14:27 | #11

    turnigy park480 -- 1320kv, 10″x4.5″ Props.. 3300mAh 25/35C, Turnigy Plush 25A.. Is this ok then..?? For a model weight of 1750 gms..!!! (you may think ridiculous..) … Linear hover throttle% = 56%..

  12. November 30th, 2013 at 10:57 | #12

    hii.. thomas i’m a b.tech final student and interested in doing project on quad-copter based.
    actually i want to know how long can a quadcopter fly??
    if it can fly around 30 to 40 minutes then my project works else i should try something…
    please respond

  13. January 18th, 2014 at 10:36 | #13

    Sorry for the late reply.
    I guess you must have concluded as well that these kind of Quadcopters might not be suitable for your project if you need 30 to 40 minutes of flight time.
    Usually you get around 10-20 minutes but this is very dependent on the configuration (size, weight, motor choice and propeller choice) together with the size and weight of the battery.

    There isn’t really a golden rule of thumb for the flight time, but at least to what I’ve experienced it will be very difficult to achive 40 minutes of flight time!

    Regards Thomas

  14. January 26th, 2014 at 04:00 | #14

    Superb website you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any community forums that cover
    the same topics talked about in this article? I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can
    get feedback from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks a lot!

  15. January 27th, 2014 at 17:17 | #15

    @beginner drones
    Yes there is actually a very good and well known community and forum site called RCGroups.
    You should check out their Multirotor section -- http://www.rcgroups.com/aircraft-electric-multirotors-790/

    Regards Thomas

  16. hassan
    February 14th, 2014 at 11:58 | #16

    hi there em using 960kv motor with 30A ESC and using 5000mAh battery for my quad copter …..i dont knw much its flight time is.is this can uplift 1400g weight???? kindly help me ..give me some methematical solutions

  17. February 17th, 2014 at 23:44 | #17

    Short answer is NO.
    With such a heavy Quad, in your case approximately around 2.400g or more, you will definitely need some 1100kV or higher motors!
    I would try and find some 1300kV or higher motors together with 10x4.5″ propellers.

    Regards Thomas

  18. March 18th, 2014 at 13:01 | #18

    Great post and information! I’m planning on linking to this site from mine, I think that my readers would find it really valuable. We focus more on ready to fly models but your description of how quadcopters actually fly and the components is really awesome -- keep up the good work!

  19. sgr dvkr
    September 21st, 2014 at 10:06 | #19

    Need cicuit diagram of quadcopter cause i want to make it

  20. September 21st, 2014 at 11:19 | #20

    @sgr dvkr
    What do you mean with circuit diagram of the quadcopter? What do you need?
    A mechanical diagram or the wiring? Please have in mind that this post is just an explanation of the different options and available boards, not a dedicated “how to build” a quadcopter step-by-step guide.

  21. Anur Ten
    October 18th, 2014 at 02:36 | #21

    Dear sir,
    I’m a student.I’m interested in making a QuadCopter for a one of my school project.I like to make a QuadCopter shown in this link http://blog.tkjelectronics.dk/wp-content/uploads/CrazyFlie-400x267.jpg.sir give me full description of parts that i should use for it,i mean that the serial or description of motor,where to buy them(can i use ebay?) and the full structure of the circuit diagram..because i hope to design the circuit diagram also.I kindly request your help

    Thank you,

  22. October 18th, 2014 at 19:48 | #22

    @Anur Ten
    The quadcopter shown in this picture is the CrazyFlie which can be purchased directly from SeeedStudio if you like.
    But as you request all the materials including design schematics, BOM lists, firmware etc. can be found on their Wiki page: http://wiki.bitcraze.se/projects:crazyflie:index

    Regards Thomas

  23. chris324
    October 18th, 2014 at 23:31 | #23

    congratulations on your website. I was wondering , you haven’t said nothing about remote control and I’m kind of new to this so I would appreciate your help on this topic.
    Regards Chris

  24. October 19th, 2014 at 00:39 | #24

    Hi Chris.
    Welcome to the blog.
    Yeah, you definitely spotted a missing but very important thing there.
    I would recommend the Turnigy 9X or the latest 9XR series of transmitters.

    These are good quality transmitters with a number of customization options, especially on the 9XR. And then they are fairly priced as well.

    Regards Thomas

  25. October 27th, 2014 at 20:40 | #25

    Hi thomas its nice to see such comments and form for which people are looking for and your response i am very new to this and i do not new much about this but very much interested in quads i like to fly have the feeling of flying myself some day, anyways i but that small helle from the super market just for fun and fly them but can not fly like normal it keeps on dropping on ground but sill i want to make one of my one quad and fly i watch youtube most of the time to see and look how people are flying and how do they make them also fly them i like these from these forms and web site like hobbyking and ebay chinabuye and so many also i like the see so many guies playing with there quads is you could help me with the start i like with GPS and FPV on my quad i request you to advice me as you prefer list to start for long time i meen as long as thanks shukur.wyq@gmail.com

  26. November 8th, 2014 at 23:06 | #26

    To get started building your own drone and going from the toys helicopters, which might be great for initial “inexpensive” flight training, to the larger drones you will first have to set a budget.
    Real drones are not cheap and it is difficult to build your own proper drone for less than at least $200. And if you need the transmitter as well we are talking around $300-$400 for a home-built beginner model. Therefor no GPS nor FPV.
    So please be aware that joining the community of quadcopter and drone building is not a cheap hobby, as you will also crash a couple of times needing replacement parts. But this is the part where you learn a lot about controlling the drone, the mechanical parts of the drone and especially stability (and stability problems).

    I wish you the best of luck with your future drone.
    Regards Thomas

  27. VAMSHI
    January 23rd, 2015 at 14:54 | #27

    REALLY IMP Hi, this is vamshi, i planning to design a frame… how do i go about it.. all my dimensions of the quad are in place… even if i design how can i be sure that the design is gonna be good for flight. i cant afford to fly and check bec if the equipment gets damaged .. so pls pls help me how i go abt it..

  28. alex
    January 30th, 2015 at 21:30 | #28

    Hey can i use dvd motors instead

  29. February 3rd, 2015 at 14:34 | #29

    First of, why would you want to use these motors at all?
    Secondly I am unsure if you can use these motors at all. The physical force applied on to the quadcopter motors when spinning due to the drag from the propellers would not be tolerated by the very small DVD motors.
    But it is indeed a great hack if you succeed -- so feel free to try.

  30. February 3rd, 2015 at 14:38 | #30

    Designing a good and reliable frame comes down to the mechanical dimensions, structure and assembly. Most people would say this requires a mechanical engineering degree to be good at.
    So if you need a well-designed and robust quadcopter frame I would not recommend you to design and build it yourself.
    But if you want to challenge yourself and experience the fun part of building your own frame and getting it to fly you should indeed do so. This is what I did!
    My frame didn’t fly very well though compared to the new commercially available frames I’ve now tried. But it was fun building and I got a lot of knowledge about the quads by doing so.

  31. March 1st, 2015 at 03:06 | #31

    I love your page and all the info. I am as excited as you all are for the future containing these machines. I am a new small business owner called Seattle Drone Sales Arial tech Innovations LLC. I want more of everything to do with this subject. You have my full attention and respect see you soon. Don D.

  32. March 1st, 2015 at 19:08 | #32

    @Donald R Daniels
    Thanks a lot for your kind words.
    I wish you the best of luck with your new company.
    Please let me know if you are ever in need for any help with regular electronics development or drone based development.

    Regards Thomas

  33. April 26th, 2015 at 18:26 | #33

    Thank you very much, I struggled on why we need Gyro, and accelerometer together, and what is the gyro, and accelerometer is before I read your article. Now I totally understand.

  34. Arnav
    August 2nd, 2015 at 12:22 | #34

    @thomas jespersen,
    great work man.I think this is the only comprehensive guide available on the internet!
    thank you.
    I have got a few questions:
    I recently built a wireless gesture controlled mouse using frdm-kl25z mbed board (arm m0) which has a on-board accelerometer and nRF24l01+ module for wireless communication. Is it possible to extend the same concept to control the quad using the same parts for the ?gesture controlled quad??!

  35. August 31st, 2015 at 23:57 | #35

    Super-useful post, filled to the tee with authentic content. Thanks 🙂

    I remember that biggest thing for me in the beginning was understanding the difference between brushed and brushless motors. It seems trivial now, but back then, it was like a whole different world! Once you learn, you never look at quadcopters the same way.

    Have a good one, I’ll be back soon 🙂

    David @ http://www.beginnerflyer.com

  36. Saqlain
    September 8th, 2015 at 16:07 | #36

    Hi Thomas ….
    I want to build quadcopter.
    Which type of microcontroller can i use?
    I want to use 89c51
    Can i use that on its board

  37. Saqlain
    September 8th, 2015 at 16:09 | #37

    Plzz guide me about quadcopter …i want to build it under 300$.Is it possible?

  38. November 24th, 2015 at 22:47 | #38

    This is a truly amazing article on quadcopters.

    I particularly found the explanations of the X and + configurations interesting.

    The formation flight in the video is so precise, how do you go about it?

  39. January 14th, 2016 at 01:03 | #39

    Great post! Thank you!

  40. Rodrigo
    June 5th, 2016 at 01:54 | #40

    @Ralph REITER
    Hi Ralph, do you can share your code of the quadcopter with the STM32F4-Discovery ? i started build the quadcopter using the same board, thank’s.

  41. Kaushik
    August 28th, 2016 at 08:24 | #41

    Hi Thomas
    Nice article I have planning to build aa quadcopter for my project which can be used for agriculture actually I am new to this so I want to know the components which can be used to make the quadcopter fly so it could spray and put seeds

  42. September 16th, 2016 at 06:24 | #42

    If you have no experience in building nor flying quadcopter I would not recommend to start building one instead.
    You should rather buy a complete already finished and tested quadcopter or if to be used for agriculture carrying tasks (to spray) you should probably consider a Hexacopter or even Octocopter depending on the payload weight.
    I can recommend that you take a look at the DJI F550 if you want a hexacopter in the lower price range but a drone that you can modify and add your own equipment to.

  43. mayur
    January 20th, 2017 at 07:36 | #43

    dear sir,

    i want to make a quad copter for 1.5 kg weight.
    kindly you know me about how to select and also want to all component size: frame, motor, propeller, battery, controller etc.
    if you have any calculation about design and selection for frame & propeller and size then please send that on my email. i really confused about how chose propeller based on frame dimension.
    email : mayurakbari94@gmail.com

    thanks & warm regards,

  44. January 23rd, 2017 at 21:30 | #44

    When you say that you want to make a quadcopter “for 1.5 kg weight” is that then the desired weight of the quadcopter of the desired tolerable payload weight?
    For heavy lifting drones the most efficient choice is to allow bigger diameter propellers and increased pitch. This requires some beefy motors though.
    Take a look at the following guide to find more specific DIY-builds: http://ardupilot.org/copter/docs/build-your-own-multicopter.html

    As an example for lifting a 2KG payload you might consider a Tarot FY650 Frame:

    And 4 Tigermotor MN4010 475 KV motors

    And 15 x 5 or 16 x 5 props with lots of 4 Cell LiPo and 30 amp ESCs.

    Should be capable of lifting 4 KG total (including payload) and leave about a 50% reserve thrust (6kg total) (really minimum needed).

    This is really the minimum needed to do what you are looking to do.

    Notice that the motor is quite pricey ($86 / pcs) so if you want to find any alternative make sure that it is rated to provide at least 1500 grams of thrust without burning out.

    You need 15″ or 16″ props to acheive the efficiency necessary to lift this kind of weight with reasonable flight times. And that is why the bigger motors with the lower KV are required.

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