So you finally decided to get your hands on multirotors and searching for some good tutorials to build your first quadcopter. Well, there are many tutorials available there on the internet but in this guide, we are providing you a step-by-step guide to build your very own quadcopter. Firstly, you have to buy the quadcopter parts as mentioned below and either you can buy them from your local RC stores or an online retailer.
Building a quadcopter is not a tough game without coding with some famous boards like APM, KK2.1.XX, DJI Naza, Naze, etc. because they provide their very own firmware to make the process easily and get an instant fly but if you choose to use a very own custom firmware then you have to know about coding and using some open source boards like Raspberry Pi or Arduino.
How to build?
In this guide, we will be using a very famous flight controller- ArduPilot mega a.k.a APM. This board is easy to setup and configure, comes with pre-built firmware, offers various flight modes and famous by his another title as open source pilot system.
Know more about APM
The ardupilot board is famous for his open source pilot system based on another famous open-source protyping board- Arduino Mega 2560.
- This autopilot can control fixed-wing aircraft, multi-rotor helicopters, as well as traditional helicopters.
- It is a full autopilot capable for autonomous stabilization, way-point based navigation and two way telemetry.
- Powerful ground control software – Mission Planner, also used for configuring the board and provides a good UI.
- 4MB of onboard data-logging memory. Missions are automatically datalogged and can be exported to KML
- Built-in hardware failsafe processor, can return-to-launch on radio loss
Choosing the Quadcopter parts
Before further proceeding to steps, Lets know about the basic component of a drone or quadcopter. here we listed the required parts for building a quadcopter.
- Quadcopter Frame – you can go for 450mm frames or a 550 as it’s the best preferred for beginners. It comes with PDB(power distribution board).
- 4 x Motors – For beginners, I would recommend buying those 900-1000 KV motors. Some famous brands are sunnysky, emax,dji etc.
- 4 x ESC – Esc’s are required to control the speed of your motors with a pwm signal 0-255 i.e. 0-5 volts. You should go for a 30A esc’s with a bec output of 5V/2A.
- Propellors – Buy a 10×4.5 inch prop.
- APM 2.6/2.8 – Be sure not to buy the duplicate boards, go for ArduCopter printed boards. You can either buy 2.6 or 2.8 version.
- Gps module – A Gps module is required with apm for attaining a gps lock to try out the several flight modes like loiter, pos.hold. Autonomous etc. You can buy a 6M Gps module.
- Transmitter + Receiver – Buying a transmitter is a one-time investment so you should go for a good one. APM supports max 8 channel input so you can buy a 8 or 6 channel transmitter from some famous brands like Flysky, Futaba, Spectrum, Taranis etc.
- APM Damping plate – It is a optional part but highly recommended to get a good stability.
- Lipo Battery – This is the most crucial part of a quadcopter. Remember that increasing the mAh and C rating will increase the weight of quadcopter. So for beginner, buy a 2200 – 4200 mAh battery with a 25-50 C discharge rate.
- Lipo Charger – A charger is required for charging your lipo battery. Make sure that you should go for a balance charger for a healthy life of the lipo battery.
Other Accessories you need:
There are some small parts also required like hex screws, hex screwdriver, heat shrink tube, gold bullet connectors male and female (for esc’s and motors), Soldering wire with iron or pencil, male deans tplug connector/xt60/Bullet connectors.
Steps for building your first Quadcopter
STEP 1: First take out the PDB (power distribution board) and solder all the 4 esc’s to the board as shown in the picture below. Make sure that the red goes to + and black goes to – .
STEP 2 :Solder the bullet connectors on each of the motor and esc’s so they can plug into each other.
STEP 3:Mount the motors on the frame with the hex screws provided and make sure they got a perfect fit.
STEP 4:Install al the four esc’s on each of the frame arms and fasten it with some zip ties so they don’t hang in the mid air. Connect all the motors with esc’s with the help of those golden bullet plugs and make sure that you heat shrink the bullet connectors with some heat shrink tubes.
STEP 5:Solder the male tplug/xt60/bullet/ec3 connectors on the PDB to connect the battery.
STEP 6: Now mount the flight controller(APM) on the top of the frame with the help of the damoing plate and with some double sided tapes and also use a gps stand to mount the gps module on the top of the frame.
Step-1: Finally, connect the GPS module with the flight controller.The 2 wire of the GPS module goes to the I2C port and the other 4 wire goes to the GPS port located on the top of the Apm board.
Step-2: Now each of the esc should be having three wires each i.e. positive, negative, signal wire. The front right esc goes to pin 1 of output, back left esc goes to pin 2, similarly the front left esc goes to pin 3 and last arms esc goes to pin 4.
Step 3: Wiring the receiver.
This part is pretty much simple, just connect all the signal pins of receiver to the signal pins of input side(make sure you connect them in the correct way). Now power the receiver with a positive pin and a negative pin from input side to any channel of the receiver. Refer to the picture above for guidance.
Configuring APM Board via mission planner:
- Download the mission planner software from here.
- First of all we will be required to install the firmware onto the apm board, but prior of that we have to install the drivers so that our board can be detected.
- Just connect your apm board to your pc via micro usb cable and the drivers will be downloaded automatically. If not, then you manually install the drivers for Arduino Mega 2560.
- After installing the drivers, open the mission planner software. Don’t hit the connect button now.
- Make sure you are connected to internet .Press the Initial Setup tab in mission planner and and click on wizard.
- Now first select that which type of model you are using. Here we are using Quadcopter X.
- Follow the other step-by-step instructions in the wizard which will configure the board and make it ready to fly.
Move your throttle stick to its extreme position and turn on the transmitter and leave it.
Now follow the Final steps to calibrating ESCs
Step-1: Now connect the battery to your quad and you will hear some beeps. Now disconnect the battery.
Step 2: Leaving the throttle stick up only, again connect the battery and you will hear some beeps again.
Step 3: Now move the throttle stick completely down and again you will hear some beeps.
Step 4: Your esc’s are now calibrated and make sure they are starting all together by arming the quad(throttle stick to extreme down-right). It will be armed and raise the throttle stick a little to make sure that all motors are starting together.
Its time for Flying your very own Quadcopter!
Your quadcopter is now ready to fly but before that make sure you know all the controls of the transmitter, if you don’t then you can also watch some YouTube videos and learn to fly. Never connect the battery to your quad when your quad apm fc is plugged in your pc.