My PROJET MQ-9 Reaper 98" Build

3689402065?profile=originalControl Diagram finished 4/28/11

I know these servos are cheap but have some pretty good reviews, I hope they can handle well.  The reason I chose to use 8 mini servos as apposed to the recommended 4 mini and 2 standard is to try to make space.  How you wonder?  Well being able to eliminate the linkage cables in the plane I plan to build an access panel under the plane so I cam mount electronics near the CG, I also hope to make access there to make some kind of removable wing brackets for easier transport.  One major complaint of the MQ-9 is lack of space, however I plan to make scale missiles to house batteries under the wings and open up the fuse lodge, by doing all this I will probably not know what to do with all the extra space!  The super brain esc should be great for data logging. 



I purchased my PROJET MQ-9 Reaper from for around $166 shipped. Very Nice looking Plane. Recieved on 4/18/11 in great shape, well packaged.

For the TX/RX I plan to use a Turnigy 9x from hobby king. (Ordered 4/18/11, cost $53.79, it was perfect timing to get it while it was in stock, only lasted a few hours online.)


I plan to install a programmer to add new firm wire updates.
I will get a Pocket AVR Programmer. You can find out some good info here on Hacking the Turnigy 9x by Chris Anderson.

Those interested SmartieParts offers a Turnigy programmer that is solderless and includes a backlight screen. They even offer various colors.

I Plan to use er9x as my firm wire since it has ArduPilot Binaries all ready to download and install and tweek. They even have a tutorial download on VTail mixing.

Naturally I plan to order the Ardupilot Mega kit from the store, and in another build phase in the future the APM Telemetry kit.

For the motor: (Ordered 4/18/11 from, cost $23.53)

Specs - from
Model: TR50-45
Input Voltage : 8~22V (3~5S Li-po)
Kv : 890 rpm/V within 10%
Dimentions : 50mm X 45mm
Shaft diameter : 8mm
Weight : 260g
Recommended model weight : 900~1500g
Power equivalent : .36,2stroke
Stator Dimentions: 40x10mm
Speed Controller Required: 60A+
Estimated Power: 700W +

One customer commented that they got 12x6 APC E 54.90A 15.12v 830W 10290rpm 2989g ef 77 % on a 4S lipo. I plan to use 3S for mine but at least I know that if I need more power I can change to a 4S. My total estimated weight on my entire build is somewhere between 7.5-8.5lbs. Most people seem to recommend 100w per lb. but since this is a gentle flyer running it less than that should be fine but I estimate I need to keep around at least 76-85w per lb.

Many customers gave this motor good praises which is why I decided to try it out.

For the power cells I plan to use (4x) Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 20C Lipo Pack I plan to use all 4 for motor for 8800mAh or use one for other electronics. I plan to use various model rocket parts to build 4 scale Hellfire missiles which I plan to house the 4 batteries. This will free up a lot of space in the fuse lodge for the electronics. Plus make it a little easier to balance the plane, I will also make pods to hold two per side and do my best to make it look like the real deal.

Spec. from, ordered 4/18/09 on sale for $8.49 each!
Minimum Capacity: 2200mAh (True 100% Capacity)
Configuration: 3S1P / 11.1v / 3Cell
Constant Discharge: 20C
Peak Discharge (10sec): 30C
Pack Weight: 185g
Pack Size: 103 x 33 x 24mm
Charge Plug: JST-XH
Discharge Plug: XT60

If this proves to be too much weight I will drop down to two batteries. 4 will add 740g not counting with what I come up with for the missiles.

Also ordered on 4/19/11 from hobbyking is a T3 Blade EP Propeller 12x8 / 305x204mm for $3.33 and Aluminum Prop Spinner 58mm / 2.25inch diameter for $6.24.

Still not sure what to do for the servo's. Have some ideas but still researching.

Still a long way down the road but my beginning plans for a ground station will include an old Dual Core PC board I have with a 10-15" LCD built into a suitcase ran off lipo batteries. Still researching this but a ground station is probably close to a year away at this point.

Other plans are to come up with a pan/tilt setup for the camera ball, I plan to make my own probably using a dome from a mini security camera dome. I hope to use a Zoom camera for this but due to budget limitations I will probably just use a 600tvl Sony HAD CCD. I have a StealthCam Epic HD 720p video camera with a wide angle lense I plan to hack and use for FPV video out the front of the fuse lodge. It has a SD card built in and also will output live video. I plan to use a video switcher which I will change between cameras in Autopilot. Hobbyking has some decent looking packages for CCD cameras with transmitter that I will probably go with they also have a cheap Pan/Tilt rig that just needs servos.

I am also researching the idea to use a Pan/Tilt/Zoom network camera with Ethernet ran to external transmitter, it may also be possible to hook it up to the ArduPilot with an adapter and use this for telemetry. Still have a lot of research here, but so far this idea is rather expensive and I am having a hard time finding a setup that will transmit enough data at a decent distance that is light weight.


Now before anyone posts, I will admit that through my research most say that this is not the best platform for a lot of weight or electronics.  I plan on looking into adding some extra strength to the wings and as long as I keep the airspeed up this plane should handle well. With wide gentle turns it should be fine, I have no delusions of pulling high G turns barrel rolls or other acrobatic maneuvers. From my limited research on the real MQ-9 it is not a particularly slow flying aircraft.  It was designed more for range and endurance.  Im sure that if the engine cut out on it, it will still fall at steep rate.  However I can confirm my theory.


Some great info for those of you working on this plane or thinking about it:


These videos are done by NightFlyyer, they were also used by NitroPlanes on the site, they are great videos.  This guy has definitly forgotten more abour RC than I will ever learn.  He has a lot of knowledge and a lot of great videos on youtube something like 470!!!  Worth checking a lot of them out.


Big Remote Control MQ-9 Reaper Predator Drone Aircraft w/ Bigger Motor & External FPV Camera

MQ-9 Reaper 98" 4-Ch Brushless RC UAV Predator/Drone Aircraft * Build & Maiden Flight *

Big Remote Control MQ-9 Reaper Predator Drone Aircraft w/ Bigger Motor & External FPV Camera

MQ-9 Reaper UAV Drone. Comprehensive Review & Maiden Flight with 3 Cameras

MQ-9 Reaper UAV Drone Part 2. FLYING ONLY!


Here is a nice flight video on nitroplane's site:

UAV MQ-9 Reaper 2500mm Military R/C Drone by ProJet


Great build video's on Youtube:

By glazier808


98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 1

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 2

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 3

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 4

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 5

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 6

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 7

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 8

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 9

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 10

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 11

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 12

98" MQ-9 Reaper Pt. 13

98" MQ-9 Reaper Light Test Pt. 1

98" MQ-9 Reaper Light Test Pt. 2

Glazier808 did a great job, his MQ-9 looks amazing and I will definitly use some of his ideas/techniques. Especially the lights.


Some other videos found on you tube for Nitroplane's Projet MQ-9

The Drone has flown

RC Reaper Camera Turret


The following are by MrReaperKeeper - sadly his plan crashed.

Fwrd avionics bay.3gp

MQ-9 Maiden Crash 6-5-10.AVI

MTS Ball set up.3gp


Here are some forum postings online on builds of the MQ-9

ProJet MQ-9 Build (Tips/Tricks) (


Here is a build going on here at DIYDrones

Wohooo! My MQ9 has arrived! - By Ersin Acar


There is some more info out there if you have something I dont let me know and I will add it, if I find more I will add it.


I hope to start my build very soon just need a few more small things, I plan to post video's and photos of the progress so stay tuned.  This is a long term project for me, 6-12 months before it gets in the air.  It will take that much time for me to get all the parts and money ect, and build, research, program, play math wizard, ect.  and if you just read this whole post and havent bought a MQ-9 you should, you clearly want one, lmao....


Update 4/24/2011


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  • I would like to purchase one of these models if anyone has one for sale. I am looking for a kit or partially assembled one. I do not need any R/C gear nor motors ( I have tons of that! lol!)

    If you have one you haven't gotten around to building or one you have grown tired of flying, let me know.

    Thank you!

  • Hi Zacharia,

    I am interested in 2 fully built MQ-9 Reaper 98" units (including: top of the line servos, ESC, motor, OSD, auto pilot, and GPS)  Would you be interested in doing this project?


  •   Please give me an update.

    How easy is this to fly. also how easy is it to land.


  • CoG is a big issue with this plane when taxiing. See how I solved mine! I moved the wheels slightly back, batteries on wings for fine CG adjustment and wing brace to counter tendency of wing fold in flight.

  • I am using a 815W 900kv motor with a 60 amp esc swinging a 3 blade 12x8.  The motor is hobbyking

    This motor is heavy.  I think I am going to have CoG issues.  Even with a 4s battery and a gopro camera in the front it is barely balanced on the wheels.  My original planes were to hang batteries from the wings in a missile like configuration on some type of track so I could fine tune the CoG with different equipment configs, but now I am afraid that with the batteries hanging just in front of the CoG and that motor in the back it will be really heavy once I get enough equipment in the front to balance it.  I have not actually tried that configuration yet.

  • I have a kit too and have been reviewing botmites build Can't figure out what motor he used since nothing I find fits his parameters.

    Electric Motor:  ~850W Max. Outrunner, approx. ~ 900 rpm/v or k/v , rated 3S to 5S, ESC 100 Amps,

  • Let me know how you're doing with that motor & prop & Esc combo once you get it in the air! take off weight about 9 lbs - 9.5 lbs, what is your recommendation combo, thanks.

  • I have the same plane with the idea of using the APM...would be interested in your progress and steps taken..

  • Yeah, he sold it to me. I am making slow progress.  I have assembled it and taxied it down the street.  I am learning how to set up APM 2.5 that I plan to use in it.  I also need to get some more flying experience before I take this bird to the air.  It is slow going right now with my other RC projects (hexacopter, USS Hawaii model, USS Reagan model) also vying for my hobby time.  Slowly but surely.  See this link for a pic

  • Wow I missed a lot of comments on need to pay more attention on DiyDrones...Well I hope that the info I posted has helped any one...Looking at the photos and other builds out there I still love the look of this plane...still beautiful...Like I said a few months ago I moved into a quadcopter, things are progressing rather fast now, Ive got a lot of stuff done.  I have a site going on it if anyone is interested.  I am working on some wiring digrams and other media and it will be more extensive then what I did here. My Quadcopter Site  Im using a Flyduino and Multiwii for now I may move into APM for it in the future but my goal was to keep is as cheap as I can.

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