Build your own Drone: How to build a drone from scratch [2021]

Unmanned aerial vehicles have gained popularity in recent years since their introduction on the consumer market.  

Aside from the fact that they are fun to fly, drones with cameras offer stunning aerial captures and even FPV that gives you a unique flying experience. 

The market is saturated with these cool gadgets and you can get your hands on one at a fairly decent price. 

That being said, some people still feel that there are lots they’re missing out on with pre-built drones. 

For this reason, many choose to build drones that best suit their needs especially when racing.

Building a drone opens a world of possibilities since you can customize your drone to your preferences. 

In this article, we will be showing you how to build your own drone so stick around!

You can also check out these pre-built racing drones if you wish.

Drone

Features

Price

Readytosky 220mm FPV Racing Drone Frame for Martian II...
  • Carbon fiber frame
  • Include propellers and battery strap
  • 220mm wheelbase
Crazepony 4pcs EMAX RS2205 2600KV Brushless Motor 3-4S 2CW...
  • Input voltage: 3S-4S(12.6 – 16.8v)
  • Brushless motor
  • Weight: 30g
2 Pairs 9450 Self-tightening Blades for Phantom 1, Phantom...
  • Sophisticated design
  • Self-tightening
  • Durable
AKK 30A 4 IN 1 2-6S Brushless ESC BLHeli_S Electronic Speed...
  • Blheli_S DShot150/300/600 firmware
  • three-in-one MOS driver
  • Easy to install
DJI Naza-M V2 Flight Controller Newest Version 2.0 with GPS...

Comes with:

  • Naza-M V2
  • PMU V2
  • GPS Module
  • LED Unit

Basic parts you’ll need to build your own drone

diy drone

Before we get into the process of how to build your own drone you need to know about the basic parts of a drone. 

You will need to have all these competence before commencing your drone building project. 

The basic components you’ll need are: 

The Frame 

You have two options when it comes to the frame for your drone. 

The first option is that you can choose to build it yourself and the second is buying a pre-built frame. 

Building your own frame isn’t that difficult but you will need some bit of engineering skills and knowledge of the materials you are going to use. 

You can use either lightweight metal plastic or even wood slats to build your frame. 

Whether you buy or build your frame, ensure that it is well constructed and made from durable materials since the frame is the backbone of your drone.

All other components will need to be attached to the frame so it should be sturdy enough. 

Motors 

The number of motors you need will depend on what type of drone you’re building. 

For instance, if you are building an ordinary quadcopter then you’ll need 4 motors but if you’re building a hexacopter you’ll need 6 motors and an octocopter will require 8 motors to fly. 

Be sure to get the right number of motors but no matter the type of drone, it is recommended to use brushless motors. 

This is because brushless motors are lighter on the battery and do not wear out as fast as brushed motors. 

Electronic speed controllers(ESCs)

ESC’s are essential components of your drone as they are in charge of delivering power to the motors. 

Just like the motors, the number of ESC you need will depend on the number of arms your drone is going to have. 

Propellers 

When looking for propellers ensure that you find ones that are a good fit and are made from durable materials. 

Propellers that fit better on your frame will deliver a better flying experience. 

Connectors  

Connectors are used to weld the motors and ESCs to the power distribution board. 

You will need 3.5mm connectors as well as 4.5mm connectors. 

Power Distribution Board 

The power distribution board is the board that connects the speed controllers the batteries 

Batteries 

The capacity and type of battery you choose for your drone will all depend on the type of drone you’re building. 

Most drones use Li-Po batteries and in this instance, Li-Po batteries also make sense since their power differs and you have a wide range to choose from. 

Mounting Pad 

The function of the mounting pad is to reduce vibrations which improves flight performance.

It stabilizes flight which means that photos and videos are clear, sharp and free from distortion.

Controller 

The controller is used to command the motors and tell them how to behave 

RC receiver 

The RC receiver is mounted on the drone while you have a transmitter on the ground to issue commands for your DIY drone. 

Camera 

Mounting a camera when building your own drone is optional. 

You can choose to mount a camera if you want to take aerial photos or capture stunning videos. 

When mounting a camera, try to go for one that can take high-quality 4K videos and detailed photos. 

If not go for a camera that best suits your needs 

USB key 

If you are going to be taking photos and videos then a USB key is necessary to save all your captured media.

Additional things you’ll need

Now that you’re familiar with the basic parts you need there are some additional things you need to gather up. 

These include:

  •  AWG silicone wires
  • Battery charger
  • Servo LED wire cables
  • Zip ties 
  • 3M command strips 
  • Thread locking compounds
  • Others 

You can also gather up different accessories for your drones.

It’ll all depend on what you are going for to make them more advanced. 

Simply put there are many different things you can do when building your own drone so the components you need will vary. 

You can also choose to buy a drone kit that comes with everything you need to build your own drone.

However, today, we will be showing you how to build a quadcopter. 

How to build a drone from scratch

If you’ve ever wondered how to make a drone then wonder no more as this section lays it out step by step. 

You’ll find that there are many different types of drones but many people opt for quadcopters since they are more efficient, easy to fly and build. 

Let’s get right to it. 

Making the frame 

The very first step in building your drone is ensuring that it has a frame. 

You can buy or build your frame all you have to do is make sure that it is sturdy enough. 

To build a wooden frame you will need to use a piece of wood that is longer than 60CM and is around 23 to 30MM thick. 

Cut the board in such a way that you get 2 60CM long and 30MM wide slats, 

That being said you can use other dimensions if you wish but these measurements will give you a pretty decent-sized quadcopter. 

These two slots are going to make the structure of your drone. 

The next step in building your frame is crossing the two slabs to make an X. 

You will also need a wooden sheet to make a rectangular piece that goes in the center of the frame. 

The size should be around 6×15 CM and about 2 mm thick. 

To attach the parts to each other, you will need some nails and glue. 

Do keep in mind if you are making a metal or second plastic frame, you can use the same dimensions but the way you connect the slats are going to be different. 

If you find that building your own frame is too tedious then you can opt to buy a premade frame like the one below. 

Readytosky 220mm FPV Racing Drone Frame

Readytosky 220mm FPV Racing Drone Frame for Martian II...

  • Carbon fiber frame
  • Include propellers and battery strap
  • 220mm wheelbase

Readytosky 220mm FPV Racing Drone Frame for Martian II…
  • ★ Full 3K Carbon Fiber airframe featuring a solid 4mm removable fpv frame arms.
  • ★★★Upgrade the lower board to 2mm,much stronger than before.
  • ★Easy Lipo Access (suggested Lipo is a 1550mah&2300mah 3 or 4s).
  • ★ Suitable for competition and free style fly,can be easily assembled.
  • ★★★If you need replacement arms,ASIN: B07BVBL885.

 Propellers, ESCs and Motors 

The propellers, ESC’s and motors are some of the most crucial components of a functioning drone. 

When purchasing these components ensure that you are buying from an authorized store or seller that guarantees quality and reliability. 

These three components must be in accordance with the size of your drone so keep this in mind when shopping for them. 

If you have no idea try to ask for assistance from someone at the store or the buyer if you are buying online. 

Multirotor drones produce greater speeds and guarantee a stable flight so keep this in mind when looking for motors. 

This is because each motor works with the other’s thrust points. 

Crazepony 4pcs EMAX RS2205 2600KV Brushless Motor

Crazepony 4pcs EMAX RS2205 2600KV Brushless Motor 3-4S 2CW...

  • Input voltage: 3S-4S(12.6 – 16.8v)
  • Brushless motor
  • Weight: 30g

Crazepony 4pcs EMAX RS2205 2600KV Brushless Motor 3-4S 2CW…
  • High Quality Guarantee:The new standard of EMAX RS2205-S 2600KV Brushless Motor is upgraded with…
  • Update Version:Compared to the RS2205, maintain the RS2205 2600KV Brushless Motor’s advantage, and 2…
  • Size and Design:This have a weight Approx 30g with a normal size-0.87*0.2 inch. 2205-S 2600KV…
  • More Power:By utilizing N52SH curved magnets, the pulling force between the stator and magnet is…
  • Support Your Racing Drone:This 2205S 2600KV brushless motor is perfect for your 210 220 250 280 FPV…

Moving on, it’s time to choose your propellers. 

Buy the affordable 9-inch metal propellers that can be found easily on the market. 

These propellers are very durable and won’t bend or break if it comes into contact with anything during the flight. 

On the other hand, if you want better performance then carbon props may be your best bet. 

Since you are building a quadcopter in this instance, you will need 4 ESCs or you can opt to get a 4 in 1 controller.

AKK 30A 4 IN 1 2-6S Brushless ESC BLHeli_S Electronic Speed Controller

AKK 30A 4 IN 1 2-6S Brushless ESC BLHeli_S Electronic Speed...
  • Blheli_S DShot150/300/600 firmware
  • three-in-one MOS driver
  • Easy to install
AKK 30A 4 IN 1 2-6S Brushless ESC BLHeli_S Electronic Speed…
  • Blheli_S DShot150/300/600 firmware.
  • Only 9.6g weight, mount holes 30x30mm
  • PWM Hardware, Damped Light technology
  • A new generation of three-in-one MOS driver
  • Support: DShot150/300/600 and Oneshot125/42

Assemble the motors 

The next step is the drill holes in the frame for the motors. 

Make sure to drill the holes in accordance with the distance between the screw holes on the motor. 

You should also make another hole to the clip and the shaft of the motor to move freely. 

That being said you may not have to do this action if the motor already comes with mountings. 

If that is the case all you have to do is put the motor in it please and fix it into the frame using the screws provided. 

Mounting the ESC’s 

Once the motors are securely in place at this time to mount the ESC. 

It is best to connect the ESC’s to the bottom side of the frame for several reasons that have to do with the functionality of the drone. 

One of the reasons includes the ability to unload the upper side of the drone where the other components can be added.  

Use zip ties the attached ESCs to the frame. 

This way the ESC’s are securely held in place while the unit is in the air. 

Add the landing gear 

Most crashes happen during landing and this is where the landing gear plays an important part.  

The landing gear significantly reduces shock when the drone lands to avoid anything breaking when the drone lands.

Landing gears can be made in several different ways and you can be creative and make it in your own unique ways. 

You can use metal, and other materials that are flexible and strong or anything that will reduce shock when the drone lands. 

One method that you can try is finding a metal pipe that is about 6 inches in diameter. 

Cut 4 1-2cm rings and add them to the frame using duct tape. 

Flight controller 

In order to fly every drone must have a control system. 

This electronic system is what allows the drone to remain stable in the air and process all the shifts and changes in direction and wind. 

You have two options when it comes to doing this step. 

The first option is to buy a ready-to-use controller or you can make the controller yourself 

If you do opt to build your own controller you will need to have some software knowledge and programming skills 

Building your own can be a complex process so if you aren’t sure how to do so, go with option one and buy a ready-to-use controller.

DJI Naza-M V2 Flight Controller

DJI Naza-M V2 Flight Controller Newest Version 2.0 with GPS...

Comes with:

  • Naza-M V2 
  • PMU V2
  • GPS Module
  • LED Unit
DJI Naza-M V2 Flight Controller Newest Version 2.0 with GPS…
  • DJI Naza-M V2 & GPS Combo in Original Sealed Box.
  • Included in the box:
  • NAZA M V2 MC – GPS – LED – PMU – Accessories
  • Authorized DJI US dealer
  • Made by DJI Innovations

Choosing a wireless remote control system

The wireless remote control system is the system that allows you to control the drone.

There are many available control systems in the market and you have the freedom to pick and choose the one that works best for the drone that you are building.

A few brands you may come across are Futaba Spektrum Turnigy FlySky and others.

Be sure to get all the details and understand the way the controller works before purchasing.

Mounting the flight controller

After you’ve settled on a flight controller that best suits your needs, it’s time to mount it. 

This can be done in several ways. 

You can choose to place it on the top of the frame in a certain direction. 

However, you will need to ensure that all the components are secured before calibrating your drone 

Again you can use zip ties to ensure that all the other components are well secured. 

There is a little trick that most builders use and that is to place a small piece of sponge on the underside of the flight controller.

This allows it to absorb and reduce vibrations from the motor to deliver a more stable flight which is of utmost importance when flying a drone.

Connect the flight controller to the ESCs 

Now that everything is secured, it is time to configure and connect the flight controller to the ESCs as well as the remote controller. 

To do this you will need to search the web to find an appropriate tutorial for a flight controller that you chose. 

The process for every flight controller will vary since it requires quite a bit of work including assembling, wiring and programming.

You can read more here in this how-to build Arduino drone guide that gives you a fair idea of this process.

You can also check out this video for a full tutorial on how to build a drone.

Final inspection

After finishing up connecting the flight controller to the ESCs and the remote controller, the time has finally come to test out the drone.

This test is going to let you know if you’ve done a great job and ensures that everything works as it should.

To begin testing, remove the propellers to do a small experiment with the remote controller.

Doing so minimizes the risk of breaking the propellers in the event the drone crashes during the test.

Find a suitable place to perform the test and try to test within the control range of the unit.

Take your time and give the drone a final look over and make sure everything is fully secured and will not fall off during flight.

Fly

how to build a drone from scratch

After making your final checks, make sure the battery is well connected also.

Find a big open space to fly because the drone can get damaged or cause serious damage as well.

Opt for an open flat area to minimize risks.

Once all of that is sorted, place your device on the ground and fire it up.

Use the flight controller and get the unit up in the air.

Try to go slow at first and fly at low altitudes so in case you lose control the unit can survive the crash.

Keep testing the drone and make notes of any flight corrections that need to be made so that you end up with a unit that does exactly what you want it to do.

Drone

Features

Price

Readytosky 220mm FPV Racing Drone Frame for Martian II...
  • Carbon fiber frame
  • Include propellers and battery strap
  • 220mm wheelbase
Crazepony 4pcs EMAX RS2205 2600KV Brushless Motor 3-4S 2CW...
  • Input voltage: 3S-4S(12.6 – 16.8v)
  • Brushless motor
  • Weight: 30g
2 Pairs 9450 Self-tightening Blades for Phantom 1, Phantom...
  • Sophisticated design
  • Self-tightening
  • Durable
AKK 30A 4 IN 1 2-6S Brushless ESC BLHeli_S Electronic Speed...
  • Blheli_S DShot150/300/600 firmware
  • three-in-one MOS driver
  • Easy to install
DJI Naza-M V2 Flight Controller Newest Version 2.0 with GPS...

Comes with:

  • Naza-M V2
  • PMU V2
  • GPS Module
  • LED Unit

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