I'm interested in getting a quad copter type uav, and have a few basic questions before deciding how to start. I think I'd like to get a kit (like the one here at store.diydrones), and build it myself, as it will be more rewarding than buying it RTF, and I should gain some knowledge on how to fix it when things go wrong.

However, I'm a bit concerned that I may get stuck and not know enough about how to continue, whether it's about how to connect a receiver up, soldering problems, or whatever. I'm a software engineer by trade, not a mechanical/electrical engineer, though I've built some RC cars and a (small) helicopter in the past. 

My question then becomes, would you recommend a kit to a noob? Or is my lack of knowledge going to be more of a burden, to the point of making it exceedingly difficult to be able to achieve stable flight? I know buying it pre-built is more expensive, but if it's hardly going to fly or fly poorly building it myself, I'd rather spend the extra money to get something I know will work.

Assuming things go well, the next thing I'd want to do is add a camera, then maybe an FPV setup.

Any advice and/or pointers to good beginner information would be awesome.


- Blake

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Hi Blake and welcome.

I was tossing up between the kit of RTF myself when I purchased from here.  I'm glad I got the kit though as I now understand how everything fits together, feel i'm in a better position to tune it better and when it crashes, fix it quicker.

All the information you need to build it is contained within these forums (be it through the manual, wikis or questions that have already been asked) but if all else fails, you can just pose another question.  Even if you get the RTF version, you'll still need to do some things to it.

Building it (quad in my case) it isn't that difficult...  It's the tuning that takes the time.


Blake, maybe do both :)

I bought a kit, built it but was having trouble learning to fly the plane, so I bought a small, slow RTF plane to teach myself to fly on. So maybe by the kit for the 'Drone', and get a 'toy' quad RTF if you want something to learn to fly on.

Blake I am a software guy, it is 'harder' to do a kit, but you feel more accomplishment and gain a lot more experience and you can learn soldering and all the other skills that are needed to build something (I built a fixed wing not a quad).

The best place to start for beginners, depends on what your current skills and experience are. One thing I found very interesting and helpful when I started was other peoples build logs as it gives you an idea of what they had to do to build something. I am sure that there is some build logs for the 3DR quads if you search around for them.

Good Luck

That's actually not a bad idea re getting to flying toys. (;  And if you get a Spektrum DX8 with additional receivers, even easier. (;

But speaking of build logs, I have just about finished mine and was going to post it somewhere.  Will just have to hurry that up.

Great, thanks for the input guys. I went ahead and bought the kit, we'll see how it goes.

As for the radio, I'm not quite sure what to do about that. It seems the DX8 is very popular, but the amazon reviews for it worry me a bit (cutting out during flight). Is the DX8 the preferred radio? Would that be better than an Aurora 9?


Yes, the Spektrum radios are popular, but I'm not sure why.  Lots of guys at my club have them, and they also have lots of problems.   IMO, you would be much better off going for... well really almost anything else.  Maybe the Aurora, or pick up something like a used Futaba 9C and put an FrSky 2.4GHz module in it.

The kit is more rewarding and you'll know how and why everything goes together.  You do however need to have some basic soldering skills and a good soldering iron.  The instruction manuals have come along way over the last couple years and are explained very well.  This is the best place to start Arducopter Wiki

*looks at his Spektrum DX8 and waves his fist accordingly*

Touch wood nothing bad will happen to mine...  I've used it for a little while now and never had any drop outs.  I do wonder though, if you're in an area with many of them if that would cause a problem.  I know with spread spectrum, frequency hopping etc etc it shouldn't but still have to wonder.

Anyway, BOT, congrats on the purchase Blake and let me know if you run into any troubles when building it.  Although, you'll get lots of help from almost anyone on here. (:

I have heard a lot and read a lot of posts on how bad Spektrum radio gear is.  I personally cant understand why this is.  I fly with 2 other people, almost daily in the summer and on weekends around this time of year.  I can speak for the others when I say we have had 0 problems with our DX8's and 6i's.  We fly in a park surrounded by wifi routers.  If you take an analyzer out to the field and look at all the SSIDs that show up its crazy.  We have around 100+ flights, 0 issues due to radio drop out.  Now that isn't to say we dont have accidents, its usually, pilot error, or mechanical failure.  If you are on a budget I think the DX8 is the best price / performance.  They had a deal on where you would get 3 receivers with a new radio, which makes it even better.  As always caveat emptor.  Cheers,


I have over 600 flights with my DX7s and not a single problem caused by the radio.


I would recommend a 3DR kit to a noob. Why?

#1 - This community. #2 - I've read the documents for other projects...(critics of 3DR obiviously have not read other sites).

That being said, RC gear opinion/feedback is like discussing politics and religion.

Look for the best deal and hold the seller to task for warranty support. REGARDLESS of the brand, learn as much about how it works, how it can fail, and how it performs before trying to put your aircraft in the air.


Well, Blake, you are where I was about 6-months ago.  I was lucky to have a mentor who preceded me by a few months as well.  I built the 3DR Hexacopter kit (but the APM was already assembled) because I wanted the extra lift capacity for carrying a camera and large battery.

If you are comfortable with a soldering iron, then get the kit and use the extra funds to buy spare parts, because you will likely crash during flight training.  At the least, get an extra set of props.  I would advise also a spare motor and motor arm.  The assembly instructions in the Wiki are pretty well done, but the answers are sometimes a bit hard to find.

This forum is a pretty good place to ask questions.

But you're in luck because I am in Westford, so you could drop by and compare notes on our copters.  I also have an AR.Drone modified with an R/C transmitter which really helps learn the basics of flying a multirotor.  You are welcome to borrow it.


My specs:
ArduCopter HEXA 3DR Frame
APM 2.0 Purple Full Kit Assembled
Motor AC2836-358, 880Kv
ArduCopter ESC 20 Amp
Propellers: 12X45 EPP Style
MB1200 XL-MaxSonar-EZ0
3DR GPS uBlox LEA-6
Firmware: 2.8.1
Mission Planner: 1.2.17
Radio: Spektrum DX7

Another thing that was very helpful to me when i was learning was to practice in a simulator, as I had no remote control experience when I started, I used http://rcdeskpilot.com/ but they don't do multi rotor compters, but I am sure that there is one out there that you will be able to find. Its cheaper to crash in a simulator ;)

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