First post...

I'm a photographer looking to get into flying a hexa/octocopter for aerial filming purposes. I have about a year of experience with video, working on commercial spots all over the midwest. 

My only flying experience is with a small Blade copter. While I know there will be a big leap from that to a multi rotor copter, I figure I just need to dive in. 

So my question is, where can I go to put together a solid list of parts to build one. I don't have the funds to drop $10,000 on a RTF product. I want to learn how everything works. I think building my own will greatly benefit me. 

I know I can google "building an octocopter". But I need to know what parts are better than others. What I can sacrifice as far as the BEST and MOST EXPENSIVE  parts. Where I will be fine with getting an off-brand part. And where is the best place to purchase the parts. 

Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. 

Thanks. 

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Hello Michael!

An octo for your *first* platform is probably not a good idea...especially if you want to DIY and build it.

I recommend starting with a DJI F450 kit and a 6 channel RC Tx you can afford.

We kinda like APM here (if you don't know) for the control electronics but for a starter quad, even a KK2 or the like will work

With that hardware, if you decide this is not your cup of tea, you can sell it easily -- as long as not totally wrecked.

With a F450 size, you can loft many small cameras and get a feel for the craft.

Then if you are really feeling confident, start collecting stuff for the octo. You will be able to use the RC TX (transmitter) on both.

Taking pictures from the air really involves two crafts - flying and the other part you already know. That is why you often see, in other countries, a pilot and a cameraman.

Let's see what others recommend and welcome!

-=Doug

In fact, there is excellent support on this site for that product (and its little brother).

http://copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/dji-f330-flamewheel/

-=Doug

Thanks for the info Doug. 

So the F450 is a quadcopter. Is there a reason you suggest starting with this type of copter? Are the hexa/octos harder to fly? Just more expensive?

You mentioned it will hold small cameras... Can it hold a Canon system? Along with that, what determines how heavy of a payload a copter can hold?

Is there a brand of Transmitter that is better than another? Or one you would recommend?

Thanks again for your help.

Something that can lift a DSLR is a very bad idea for a first real multi. Fly and crash somethign cheaper and learn a little first. Might save you a wedge in the long run.

I understand the thought behind that. Obviously I won't be putting my camera rig on it until I am completely confident in what I'm doing. 

But in the long run, why spend a considerable amount of money for a "cheaper" copter to learn on…only to spend even more on something better? Why not just get a better one right away?

For a newbie, there are twice as many places to make mistakes with an octo as compared to a quad.

Actually, the algorithm has probably got some exponential aspects because the combination of mistakes gets very large with the increase of motors, ESCs, wiring, and the like.

Octos are probably a good 3rd or 4th build -- seriously. I am just now building a Hexa  -- DJI F550.

Octos are larger and heavier than a quad. Best left until you have some 'skilz' built up.

I have 2 scratch build quads and one off-the-shelf toy quad in my flying stable now. A toy quad, like the Blade Nano Q or the Helimax 1SQ (I have the 1SQ) would be beneficial for flight training and quite affordable. If your RC heli was a coax type (two blades, one over the over - or worse, one with a horizontal blade tail motor), that experience won't help much in regards to a quad or any multirotor.

Other rotary wing gadgets I have:

  • Blade 120SR -- not a bad analog to a quad - fixed pitch heli
  • Nine Eagles Scout (coax for my grandkids)
  • 2 x Blade SR -- CP heli (the new redesign looks promising)
  • Blade 450 3D -- CP heli
  • Clone 450 -- CP heli

If you have a good local hobby shop, visit it. Many of the larger ones are now stocking parts and items for multirotors.

I buy RC gear, Transmitters (TX) and Receivers (RX) from US suppliers because of local support (that hobby shop relationship again). Shop around. Good names are:

  • Futaba
  • Spektrum
  • JR
  • Tactic

There are other brands and they have fans and zealots just like the ones I listed above. I prefer the list above because of local support.

-=Doug

Because it may be very gone, or destroyed quickly.   Good luck.  Start slow and low cost.  There is so many factors and learning curves that go into these things.  There is a reason a good camera ship costs a pile of money and may still end up in a pile.

Thank you all for your recommendations. I really appreciate it.

In regards to the Nano Q or the Helimax; learning on this small of a toy will help me when transferring to a larger build? And this would be better than going straight to the F450/550?

We want you to succeed but the path to success is built incrementally in this game.

If you really want to see a DIY Octo, you should look over Robert L's build. He is very experienced and still had problems with his...mostly motors, props. It makes very good, if long, reading.

-=Doug

I think so because you can take the muscle memory learned while flying either of those and apply it to a F450/550 machine.

After you get 'bored' with it (betcha lunch that does not happen), I am certain there are some kids that will love to get their fingers on the TX sticks.

If you don't want to spend the $$ on a small quad (less than $100 RTF), then think about simluation software like Real Flight 7, Phoenix, or others. The crash budget for a sim is zero. Again, once you get bored with that, sim software resells quickly.

-=Doug

Hi Michael,

I do understand wanting to get the biggest first...lol.  But on a serious note.........these things can be very dangerous if you not know what you are doing. The steps for your safety and others would be for you to learn first on a small machine that will do much less damage if you hit someone or something. If you start with something like the F450, you will quickly learn that even these small multi's have quite a punch. And if you happen to have a mishap and get a finger hit by a prop, you will be very happy that it was not a multi with much larger blades. So obviously, my advice to you, start small and learn everything you can from it, there is a lot to learn. In doing so, you will gain experience and most importantly, respect for your machine.

Hope this helps....cheers, Steve

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