Building a quadcopter as a personal project. While the over-the-shelf options are entertaining (The Blade Nano Qx is a great indoor nanocopter), any serious model is far too expensive and not easily modifiable.

Building a multi-rotor from scratch means I can easily replace broken components without breaking the bank. It also means I can hand-pick the pieces to meet my purposes (acrobatics, FPV, arial photography, etc...). At first, I was eying components that put the copter into the $600-$700, however it has become increasingly apparent to me that one can create a reliable and performant quadcopter for $200 or less, if you know where to look.

Current Build

Frame: HobbyKing Q450 $15
Flight Controller: MultiWii Pro w/GPS $65
Motors: SunnySky 1260Kv (x4) $18
Speed Controllers: DYS SimonK 30A ESCs (x4) $14
Battery: Glacier 30C 2200mAh $22
Transmitter/Receiver: Turnigy 9X $65
Props: GemFan 8x4.5 (x4+) $2

In total, after buying the above components (along with a soldering iron, LiPo charger, and a half-dozen other components) I was set back about $450. I didn't buy the cheapest parts, you could drop the cost down another $50-$100 if you worked at it. However, compared to the over-the-counter devices, you'll be flying around with more money in your wallet.

The Q450 frame is simply a clone of the more expensive DJI 450. I'm planning on upgrading to another more FPV-friendly frame (perhaps the Hoverthings Flip FPV) and keeping the current one for testing and acrobatics.

I will post more information as the build progresses. Until that time, here's some other parts I reviewed during my search along with first impressions:

Other Flight Controllers

There are several other flight controllers that are worth mentioning. The MultiWii was simply the cheapest for what I wanted, but each has its own set of advantages:

KK 2.1.5 ($30)

  • Includes an on-board display for easy modification on the field
  • Lacks GPS support

CC3D ($90)

  • Small, performant.
  • Supposedly well built for acrobatic flying.

NAZA v2 ($300)

  • Professional grade, built for better automated flying.
  • Has ecosystem for various addons (bluetooth controls, GPS, etc...)

MultiWii Pro ($30-$70)

  • Various styles. Flexible.
  • Includes better sensors (barometer, 6-axis accelerometer, magnetometer, etc...)

Notable Frames

More Resources

Please note I am an absolute amateur at all this. This is just a record of my experiences. Please don't use the information I post as ground truth. Also, if you find any information on this post is in error, feel free to call me out in the comments below, I would really appreciate it!