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Picture of Cheap, Sturdy, 1-Hour Quadcopter
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Here's a quadcopter build that we did in under an hour to win a bet.  We've got some experience building and took some shortcuts (such as using a flight controller from another unit, saving us the time of having to configure it), but I think it's reasonable to say that most makers could build this frame and get everything installed in a day, and still have some time left over to start flying it.

The frame is made from wood... 3/4" x 3/4" fir for the arms, and 1/4" plywood for the body.  It's cheap and sturdy... It will take some pretty serious abuse, and if you break it it's easy to repair.  The power system (motors, motor controllers, battery) is pretty standard, and uses easily obtainable parts.  The flight controller board is an Ardupilot Mega.

About us:  We're Mark Harrison and Andreas Oesterer.  We've been flying planes, multicopters, and assorted drones for a couple of years.  If you like this instructable, come visit us and see what else we're up to!



(photo note)
Almost all the images here have interesting and laboriously typed  "image notes" -- mousing over them gives details about what is being shown.  The default view of little pictures don't show the image notes, but you can see them if you embiggen them by clicking on the first image of each set.
tl;dr: click on the first image of each set to see photo commentary.)
(end photo note)

Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts
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You've got some flexibility in ordering parts.  You can pay more or less for things like the radio and flight controller.  There's a lot of flexibility in these specs, so if you can get some motors, etc, in the same ball park they will probably work well for you.


arms: 3/4" x 3/4" fir stick (approx 5 ft)
center plates: 1/4'' or 5mm Plywood (approx 6"x18”)
Machine screws & bolts, and washers 
landing gear: 4 wiffle balls
zip ties
battery mount: 3/8" x 3/8" stick (approx 1 ft)
Bamboo Skewers
Piece of soft foam about 1/2'' thick, slightly bigger than your flight control board
velcro, double-sided(approx 8'')
velcro, single-sided, sticky, soft side (approx 6'')

Power System

battery: LiPo 3S 3000-4000mAh (we like this one: 3S 3000 mAh 25-50C)
4 x 40A Turnigy Plush ESC (motor controller)
4 x NTM 35 1100 KV motors
10"x3.8"  APC SF Props
2 10"x3.8" APC SFP (counter clockwise) props (buy some extras of each prop for when you crash)
power distribution board, presoldered or homemade power distributor

Radio System (remote controller)

This is what we use regularly.  Our preference is for FrSky gear.  We have found it to be highest quality, and quite reasonably priced.

HobbyKing 9xr
FrSky module and receiver


TFrSky Taranis

Here's a cheaper entry-level system.

Flight Control Board

There are quite a few options available.  Here are two options that I've used and can vouch for:

3D Robotics Ardupilot Mega  ($234).  full featured autopilot, full autonomous operation, ground control capabilities.

HobbyKing KK2 ($30). basic quadcopter flight, acrobatic and stabilized modes.


saw, drill, hot glue gun

JamesH4584 days ago
I would like to make drone with raspberry pi what model of pi is best
zero w and raspi 1gb raspi 3 raspi 4 l have a few. Best place for parts ?
Tech Jeff4 days ago
Just saw this…

I am a Maker, a designer and a people person. I work with MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) and
other UFO investigators to bring technically advanced gear to people who are
not skilled in its direct use. (I do the
same thing professionally as a Systems Administrator.)

I have been looking for quite sometime for a “disposable”
drone, (or as close as possible) for quite some time. The use of such a drone is twofold.

First, to make an aerial review of an event while taking pictures
and videos. Second, and perhaps more
importantly, to drop remote sensor packages in places where we anticipate
return activity. This might be atop a building
or a barn or in a difficult to access hillside etc.

The remote sensors record all sorts of settings like
barometric pressure, gravity, magnetic fields, even potentially radiation and
time distortions- solid, irrefutable, hard evidence that something real happen
and was not imagined, “swamp gas” or mass hysteria. Later, the sensors are recovered, if
possible, with the drone acting as a recovery drone. (The sensor data can be recovered wirelessly
too, if they must be sacrificed.)

Obviously, an expensive drone is no good here.

We need something as low cost and as rugged as possible,
that won’t be too difficult to fly. And
if it is lost on the side of a hill or smacked into a weathervane, well not too
much lost.

I can’t tell you how an inexpensive rugged drone like this
might change research on this phenomenon.
Part of recovering evidence in knowing where it lies- and aerial review
is a great way to pick up missed details.

My hope is that I can find Makers that will help me design
and build these drones. I would of
course pay for the materials and your time.
But a rugged, inexpensive and flyable by non-RC enthusiast drone would
be our design parameters. (Even if we
just started with a drone capable of video and pics.)

I would very much like to speak with the author of this Instructable! Your drone design is amazing, strong and
inexpensive. The wood parts can be built
quickly in a mass-produced fashion. The
RC parts used seem common enough and I suspect they are even cheaper now. (This build is five years old?)

While I am tempted to build these myself and give them to researchers,
it is obvious YOU are already expert in their manufacture. I understand you may not want to build these
for researchers, but if you would be willing to send me your plans, schematics,
parts list, etc, I can work with other Makers that are willing to build these. And if I could use you as a source of advice
and guidance, it won’t take much of your time.
And you would be helping to solve a great mystery.

My real ability is in uniting people and ideas from
disparate backgrounds to do amazing things.
Your design could help solve the UFO mystery and prove what at least
some of these events are. We need your
help, so I hope to hear back from you!

If anyone else has something to offer, is willing to discuss
designs or willing to the prebuilds or actual builds, please don’t hesitate to
contact me!

Thanks again for your attention and well done!!!!

Tech Jeff

devsarwall6 days ago
Babapoker6 days ago
Hi thanks for ur blog, its great please visit back my site at
Econium1236 days ago
Your infromation is very useful to me .keep it up
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famfilho7 days ago
Great project My dear!!! Congratulations!!
Very easy, functional and extremely cheap!

Surely this will be my next DIY, thank you very much!!!
Quick tip: Get the motors spinning in the correct direction BEFORE the props go on. The propellers come in Clock-wise and Counter-Clock-wise. Match the blade to the motor. If it is pushing air up, flip the blade upside down. (Most blades have a small arrow that shows what direction airflow will be when it rotates the correct direction)
tushar222278 months ago
KillerD22 years ago

it took almost 2 days nt 1 hour.......

will u please help me in selecting components?

paladin662 years ago

can Someone help to connect
Saitek Joystick X56 + Scherrer Tx700 Pro + Rx700 LR +PSU
in order to fly a quadcopter ?

And if it is impossible
How to connect the TX700 Pro and the Quanum V52 Ground Control System, please?

holtt2 years ago

I can't be the only person who saw the search result with "1 hour" in it, and thought that was battery life...

jigish2 years ago

what is the approximetly cost to make it?

KillerD2 jigish2 years ago

almost rs.6000 in india..

MiKaroki2 years ago

Great instructable . Check this out.

usamayou3 years ago
nice one. thanks for the details
jigish usamayou2 years ago

Have you made it?

What is the total Cost to makee this quadcopter?

Peter_T_R made it!3 years ago

Thank you for this great project! I enjoyed it a lot, and I managed to get my first Quadcopter flying without any big issues! Awesome!

Here is a little video I made today, inclusing specs:

Cheers, PeterTR

VasilisT4 years ago

Hi i build one very easy. Follow me or contact me if you need any help :) I LOVE this project and i ll eb glad to help you out :)

Hello Vasilis! Did you make the RC on your own or bought one?

thanks bro

here is when it flies...

Sam Vivian4 years ago

where did you get the 1/2" soft foam?

marhar (author)  Sam Vivian4 years ago
It's some scrap packing foam, I pulled it out of a recycle bin. I think often PCs and other electronics equipment is shipped using that kind of foam in the box.

ok thankyou

vinay07454 years ago

can i make quadcopter with wired......but how can i move forward or backwards

how this think will be cheap

trivedidron4 years ago

Can I have the circuit diagram please...??

smart jjai4 years ago

what thinks do i need to make this one

sdas524 years ago
sir is your copter unstable at home at low height mine is unstable...or plzz guide me
it was cool

how can i get a perfect video of yours?

n8schwemmer4 years ago
I ordered the parts you put in the link but the motor shafts are reversed. Any help on how to solve this problem??
hobbywow4 years ago

It look like our product:FLYPRO X400-See more at :,do you think so?

blenderking4 years ago

Help! When I arm my kk2.1.5 nothing happens when I move the throttle! I've done a receiver test, a factory reset, and same thing. When I go onto the main screen it tells me that my battery is at -1.9V, related issue? Help please! I've also made sure the motors and ESCs work by plugging them straight into the receiver and they work just fine.

JesseE14 years ago

Awesome !

PavloV14 years ago

What if my ESC don't connect to the motors? I have four ESCs and none of their respective three wires have connectors to the brushless motors... Any ideas? Was it a manufacturing error or something?

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