I’m not sure where the urge came from, but around January 2013 I found myself fancying a quadcopter. Being a bit of a hacker, a ready made one wasn’t going to cut it, so I started to look into the DIY route.

After a bit of research I figured they were pretty simple things, just needing:

  • A frame
  • four motors and props - two ccw and two cw rotation
  • four ESCs
  • standard receiver
  • Lipo
  • Flight controller

All except the last item were straight forward, the flight controller needed a bit more research. After much googling and reading of forums I figured flight controllers came into two distinct categories. The first being simple flight controllers which you configure for your frame, and then fly them as a RC model. The second and more complex offered the ability to actually program flight paths and have some degree of autonomous flight.

So the bits I ordered are as follows:

Parts list


After a bit of thought I went for the Hobby King SK450 (Broken link http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=33982) glass fibre frame, apart from being cheap this frame also has an optionĀ of longer legs - useful if you want to sling a camera underneath and a different middle plate which changes it from a symmetrical X shape to one where the front pair of props are wider apart. I thought this might be useful if I start to use it for some basic aerial photography.


As for the motors, I did quite a lot of research eventually picking something at best by educated guess and at worse at random! I went for Turnigy D2836 (Broken link http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=29063)/8 1100Kv brushless outrunners. These came with little aluminium mounts and prop adapters which mean I had less to buy. They also came qwith 3.5mm bullet connectors which meant less soldering.


Again, some research, some guess-work and a bit of luck lead me grab four 25 AMP (Broken link http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=29328) ESCs again from Turnigy range.


You’ll be spotting a theme here, but more guesswork and luck led me to a pack of four 8x4.5 slow fly (Broken link http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=35234) props, Hobby King also helpfully selling a four pack of reversed (Broken link http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=35235) props for the two counter-rotating props.


At the time I ordered the bits for the Quad I didn’t have many LiPos so I picked a 2700mah, 3S{.broken_link}, which give gives me 8-10 mins of flight time.

Flight Controller

I ended up buying an Arducopter APM, which deserves more than a sentence, so I’ll write about that later on.

Other bits

The other bits and bobs I bought are as follows:

  • Power distribution board - You don’t need this, it simply takes the power from the battery and presents four pairs of 3.5mm female bullet connectors for the ESCs to plug into. Saves you wiring up your own loom.
  • Lots of 3.5mm bullets & heat shrink tubing!
  • Standard 6 channel RX for my radio (Spektrum)
  • Good few handfuls of nylon tie wraps and double-sided velcro

And thats it!

I’ll write-up more as I build the thing.