Just getting started

Greetings...I'm interested getting started with DIY Drones, ArduCopters in particular. I have very limited experience. Can anyone recommend a good starter vehicl (rc helicopter, rc multicopter, etc.). I want to build up to an ArduCopter, but I kind of need a basic place to start. I'm a teacher, and I'm might bring students into the fold as well, but I reckon they'd need to start small as well. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. Thanks.


PS: I did read the Getting Started page of this website, but think I need flight time with something easier than full blown UAV.

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  • I'm fairly new too and will echo some of the other comments here.

    I started with a little HobbyKing MicroQuad with a KK2 board:


    But I killed it and transfered the pieces to a new frame:


    And then I killed that one and am waiting for some replacement props. (Hint: always buy extas.)

    In the meantime, I'm building up a DJI 450 kit that will eventually fly my GoPro camera and use APM 2.5+ as the control board.  But I wanna break the little one a few more times before I start flying more expensive gear.

  • I have been flying an Arducopter quad and a KK2.0 quad for about one year now. Before that, I never flew any RC aircraft successfully.So I still remember what it was like to be where you are right now.

    It is useful to recognize the difference between a multirotor like an Arducopter and one like the KK. Anybody can learn to steer an Arducopter (it is easy to fly) but flying a simpler, cheaper multitorotor like a KK has to be learned. However, KK multirotors can be made cheaply. Less than $120 (not including TX/RX). Trashing a $27 KK2 flight controller doesn't hurt as much as losing a $150/180 APM1/APM2. Thankfully, I've only trashed a KK2 flight controller so far.

    And you will crash. Have plenty of propellers on hand. I hand built some of my frames - it is not hard - and it insures that replacement parts are as close as the Home Depot.

    To reduce the incidence of crashing, practice on a simulator. I have AeroSIM-RC. It has saved me lot of money and time re-building crashed multirotors. You use your actual RC transmitter with the simulator so the experience is pretty realistic.

    Good luck.


  • T3
    If you want to just learn to fly, you could start with micro quad. They cost about $50. If you want to build something, then the 3DRobotics Quad is a good choice.
  • Full disclosure: I am also a newbie to quad copters, however I have three helicopters so I am used to flying.  

    Helicopters take hundreds (if not thousands) hours to master.  Quads with stabilization features like the APM make flying easy.  

    You need a frame, motors, ESCs, Props, a controller, and a TX/RX at a minimum.  After that, you can go further in with more sensing equipment, on up to full FPV flying, and HD video.  

    The place I would start would be the controller research.  In the end, I chose the APM because of the open source, the community, the arduino platform (Which I was familiar with) and the tools

    Then the frame.  You have loads of options here.  There's even a guy who built the entire frame out of glued legos.  Not a bad idea, as the replacement parts are cheap when you crash :)  and you will crash.  Stay away from Carbon fiber.  Looks cool, breaks easily.  I bought a delrin / aluminum sandwich frame.  Extremely durable.

    Don't know what you were looking to get out of a response, but hopefully this gets you started.  You have a long way to go...  If you've built other flying vehicles, you're quite a ways along in things like prop balancing, using loctite, center of gravity balancing, etc.

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