Building your very own fpv drone is not a herculean task; instead it’s a fun activity. With these step-by-step instructions on how to build an fpv drone, you can make your own one and play with it too!
A few fpv beginners choose to buy pre-built drones, but you can’t learn much more from them. Most people can learn how everything fits together by building from scratch so they can fix it when fpv drone go wrong. Building a fpv drone that is wireless is no doubt a little difficult and time-consuming, But it’s worth it. Here, we will be giving you the instructions for building a basic fpv drone.You also can try these out to learn the basics of circuit debugging and soldering techniques of electronic circuits.
Before we get started, make sure you have a basic understanding of The Best 5” FPV Drone Parts List To Build For Beginners.
When building FPV drones or make fpv systems, you will also need to use these accessories and tools.
- Soldering Station(SOLDERING IRON&A blade tip,0.8mm Solder Tin Wire)
- Hexagonal Screwdriver Set
- Mini Phillips Screwdriver
- Multi-Purpose Electrician Scissors
- Motor Grip Plier
- Long Nose Pliers
- 3mm heat shrink for small wires
- 6mm heat shrink tubing for large wires and antennas
- Double-Sided Mounting Tape
- Rubber Electrical Tape
- Digital Multimeter
- Screw & Aluminum Standoff parts
- Dual Temperature Hot Melt Glue Gun
How To Build Your Own FPV Drone
The first thing to do is to assemble your frame, usually the body of the frame you buy is machined & manufactured from carbon fiber sheets, there are frame bodies on the market that also include aluminum parts, tpu 3d printing parts.Before assembling, it’s a good idea to read the frame instructions carefully, sort out where each panel corresponds, and keep in mind where you intend to install your parts and sort out the layout of the cables.
The installation sequence of the frame should be:
Put the bottom plate>Distinguish the position of the camera side plate>Correctly install the 4pcs arms>Install Middle Plate or rear bottom plate>Install the screws and press nuts(Fix arms and rear bottom plate)>Fix the bottom plate with screws from the bottom of the plate>Install the aluminum standoff
We will not install the top plate at this time, it is the final piece of the puzzle for the whole fpv drone build. You need to wait until all the fpv accessories are installed & soldered before installing the top plate.
The second thing to keep in mind is that all the screws should not be tightened too much because once you find out you made a mistake on the installation, you will need to expend the effort again to remove it again. Trust me, I’ve made mistakes here.
Now you can mount 4pcs motors on the arms, if you have clockwise and counterclockwise motors you will need to mount the motors in the correct order of rotation direction. However, with the update of betaflight, you can now not have to adjust the order of the motors because we can change the direction of the motors through the betaflight software (Once it was necessary to access the esc setup software).
The motors must be screwed into place once you have established their numerical sequence. If you have the resources, you may install Thread Locker on the screws to prevent any wobbling caused by vibration from the motors during prolonged fpv flying. The same can be implemented if Thread Locker is not present.
Finally, watch out for very lengthy motor screws that might come in contact with the motor windings.
When installing the motor, make sure the three silicone wires are going with the arm, not around it. To make the frame look better, you can wrap the motor wires with electrical tape or braided sleeving so the wires don’t wiggle when you do the flight.
With the motors installed, the next step is to install the ESCs. If you have four single ESCs, the best way to mount them is on the arm. Your ESCs should not be in touch with your frame. The best way to prevent this is to protect the ESCs with heat shrink tubing. Then wrap the wires of both with electrical tape.
If you choose a 4-in-1 ESC, you don’t have to worry about this, just slide the 4-in-1 ESC into the four long screws.
Pay attention to the direction of the ESC – the power supply solder pads should be towards the back and the motor solder pads towards the top. Check the bottom of the ESC to make sure it is not touching the frame.
Next check how long the motor wire to the ESC to the solder pad should be and cut it to the right length (better to keep some extra length, too long is better than too short).Then strip the tips of the wires (about 2mm) and solder them. (Strip the tips of the wires make sure they are whole, if they are split wires, they can easily cause a short circuit).
Now solder all the pads on the 4-in-1 ESC. Then solder the motor wires to the ESC.
Covering the sections of the board you are not soldering with tape is a smart practice. As long as it won’t burn through melted solder, you can use electrical tape, kapton tape or masking tape. By doing this, you will stop the solder from unintentionally slipping off the soldering iron and landing on the component, which could lead to an electrical short when you insert the battery.
→Here are some tips for soldering
- Make sure the solder joint is glossy and full by applying a lot of solder and flux (solder paste) to large pads. If you can see wire strands, this indicates that you didn’t use enough solder.
- Apply extra flux if the solder “sticks” to the tip when you remove it from the solder junction.
- While using high temperatures to solder such large pads is acceptable, it’s crucial to move quickly and avoid heating the pad for an extended period of time. For my own personal use, I heat signal wires to 330°C-350°C (626°F-662°F), XT60 power cables to 370°C-400°C (840°F), and motor wires to 350°C (662°F).
- The wire is positioned on the welding pad half of the way from the ideal position; if it is too short, the welding won’t be strong enough; if it is too long, short circuits are more likely to develop.
- To improve heat conductivity and increase the surface area of the soldering iron tip while soldering any electronic components, pre-tin the tip.
Connect the ESC’s power pads to the XT60’s power wire using solder. Observe the polarity (positive and negative); you can refer to their directions. Given that the solder on these substantial copper pads requires a great deal of heat to melt, this will likely be the hardest soldering you perform during this construction. Be patient while soldering at a higher temperature. When soldering any electrical components, you can pre-tin the tip of the soldering iron to improve heat conduction and increase the surface area.
The capacitors that came with the stack should now be soldered. The legs should first be bent and trimmed short using pliers before being soldered.
Connect the wire that was previously soldered to the ESC power pad with the capacitor. Keep in mind the polarity; the capacitor’s negative side is the one with the yellow markings.
Why do we need to solder a capacitor to the ESC power supply, you might wonder. Well, it’s to lessen the electrical noise and voltage spikes that the ESC and motor produce. Even if your quad is “very clean,” a bent propeller will cause you to experience increased motor noise. In these cases, a capacitor can be of assistance. To learn why fpv need capacitors, you can read this article.
These same principles above will be used for all soldered connections on your drone.
You can “soft mount” your flight controls during installation by using rubber mounts. This lessens vibrations and enhances the flight control. Check once more to make sure that nothing is contacting the FC or the ESC. Now, utilize the included 8-pin ribbon cable to join the FC to the ESC. Make sure the flight controller’s arrow is pointed forward when you attach it to the top of the 4in1 ESC. (Don’t worry, the vast majority of flight controllers are prominently identified by an arrow.)
5.ESC And Motor Testing
Now that the ESC and motor can be tested, the LiPo battery will be inserted for the first time. To be safe, you should always make sure there are no electrical shorts by checking continuity first. This entails testing the positive and negative terminals of the XT60 with a probe and a multimeter in continuity mode (or directly on the pads).
The multimeter will continuously beep if there is a short circuit. If this happens, you must identify the short’s source and eliminate it. Avoid inserting the battery to avoid damaging your components. Using too much solder on one pad, which may spill over into nearby pads, is a regular problem.
Pro Tip: On occasion, the meter may beep briefly before ceasing to do so. With a capacitor, this is possible. The probe will charge the capacitor when the positive and negative pads are touched, causing a current flow and the meter to read a short circuit. However, the current will stop and the beeping will stop after the capacitor is charged. It’s entirely usual to hear a brief beep for one or two seconds. As long as the meter stops beeping, there shouldn’t be any issues.
The motors should now be tested, but wait to put the propellers on! Connect the USB cable to the flight controller and plug in the batteries before going to the motors tab in the Betaflight configurator and spinning up each motor individually to make sure they are spinning in the right direction.
You should reverse a motor if it is rotating in the wrong direction. You no longer need to do this in BLHeliSuite; instead, perform the resource remapping in the CLI. You can adjust the motor order and direction in the Betaflight Configurator (Motors tab).
If all but one of the motors are spinning, there may be an issue with the ESC, the motor in question, or there may be a communication issue between the ESC and the FC. Try replacing the motor with one from a different quadcopter; this will help rule out the possibility that the motor or ESC is broken.
if both the ESC and the motor are in good operating order. The camera and graphics transmission can then be installed.
6.Analog Camera with VTX
Place the camera between the side panels of the frame while attaching it. Its angle is something else to think about. Basically, when you try to look straight ahead, your drone will fly forward at a faster rate the larger the tilt. I advise beginning the camera at a 10-15° C angle for beginners. After that, trim the camera wire to the desired length. The wire can be twisted to make it tighter. Camera wires should be soldered to the FC. Black to GND, yellow to CAM, red to 5V.
Some frames are designed with a dual-stack structure, meaning that the flight controller and ESC are placed in a separate area, and the VTX has a separate area as well.In situations when there isn’t a good place to mount your VTX(video transmitter), you typically need to use a little more creativity. So, the key factors are your available space and your possessions. To secure it to the top or bottom plate of the frame, I advise using cable ties or double-sided tape. Please keep in mind to cover all of the copper on the bottom of the VTX with double-sided foam tape before installing it to prevent it from touching the frame.
The VTX cable should now be soldered to the FC, making sure it doesn’t hang loose. Likewise, fasten the vtx antenna to the frame.
7.Test The Camera With VTX
Before turning anything on, use a multimeter to ensure that all connections are secure and there are no shorts, just like we did with the ESC and motor. Now that the camera has been tested with the vtx, we can go on.
You should notice some LEDs on the VTX after your batteries are plugged in. Now that both have their own controls, you may use your goggles to tune them both to the same channel. The channel’s identification consists of a letter and a number, such R4. The channel itself is described by the number, while the band you are on is described by the letter. The main concern for now is that your image is transmitted clearly and that our channels coincide.If not, you might want to go back and check your lines.
8.Setting Up The Receiver
Soldering the RX to the FC is the following step. The RX can be mounted to the FC’s front using double-sided foam tape. It can be mounted wherever you see fit. These receivers typically run on 5V. After that, a signal wire will be required to be soldered to the flight controller. You can still solder the flight controller in the appropriate place after consulting the wiring diagram instructions.
Your receiver could have one or two antennas, as you can see. In order to acquire a strong signal and prevent your drone from losing signal and falling out of the sky, the positioning of these antennas is essential. Keep the ends of both antennas as far away from the carbon as you can to prevent them from getting obstructed. The best location for both antennas is in a 90-degree V with one another. The best way to attach both antennas is to secure them with cable ties and then cover them with heat shrink to keep them safe.
Getting the receiver to bind to your radio transmitter is the last step. Although this can be done whenever, some receivers have a specific bind button that might be challenging to use afterwards. Different transmitters have different binding procedures, but most of them are turned on by pressing and holding the button when the transmitter is in binding mode. For more information, refer to the transmitter’s manual.
Tip: Configuring your failsafe is one of the most crucial steps. This can keep the drone from damaging you or other people if it loses connection with the radio transmitter and prevents it from taking off.
We select the Ports tab and turn on “Serial RX” for the UART that is linked to the receiver. Choose “Serial (through UART)” for the receiver mode and “Name of the receiver protocol you have” for the serial receiver provider on the receiver tab.
After completing this, you should check the Receiver tab to make sure the receiver is completely functional. The radio’s bars (channels) should shift when you adjust the bars.
Also, the radio can contain at least two switches: one for arming and one for the buzzer. Additionally, you might want to add a third switch for flight mode (like angle mode). Once more, confirm that it functions under the Receiver tab and that AUX1 and AUX2 should react when the switch is flipped.
9.Check The Cables For The Flight Controls
Make certain that all cables are correctly soldered and that nothing is missing. As far under the board as is practical, there are all essential cables. This avoids the battery ties, which are firmly fastened to the frame, from pulling on the cables.
10.Installing The Battery Straps And Battery Pads
You just need to put the battery straps under and through the top plate and place the rubber battery pads on the top plate. The battery straps will prevent the lipo battery from shaking. Installing the rubber battery pads will prevent the battery from rubbing against the bolts and causing damage to the battery.
11.Installing The Propellers
There is also a difference between clockwise and counterclockwise propellers. So please follow the diagram below to install the propeller to the motor correctly when installing. You can use the M5 locking nut that comes with the motor to secure the propeller firmly to the motor.
12.Installing Gopro Mount (Optional)
If you want higher quality video, it is highly recommended to install gopro on your fpv drone. this requires gopro prints, if the packing list of the rack is not available, you can go to the thingiverse website and download the files and print them yourself.
13.Installing The Top Plate
Seeing this signifies that the build process is 99% complete. You just need to install the top plate, tighten the screws and you’re done.
14.Installing The Battery
When installing the battery, make sure its center of gravity is as close to the center of the drone as possible. If it is not in the center, making the front of the frame heavier, the front motor will have to work harder than the rear motor to stay level, which will affect flight performance.
Refresh your firmware – Just like a computer running Windows, OSX or Linux, flight controllers run different versions of software. When setting up a new flight controller, it is a good idea to update to the latest version of firmware of your choice. This is usually done on the main screen of the configurator.
Setting up your peripherals – When you wire your flight controller, you will probably be connecting things to one of the UART ports, and your receiver will be connected to one of the ports marked SBUS. We need to set up these ports to tell the flight controller what it’s communicating with.
Drone Configuration – We’re going to tell the drone at which angle to mount the flight controller, which receiver we’re using, how to talk to the ESC, and set various limits such as minimum throttle.
Set your flight modes – These modes need to be assigned to switches on your transmitter. For beginners, I recommend setting an arm switch and then a separate switch for auto level and acro modes.
Set your rate – The rate determines the sensitivity of your transmitter stick, for beginners I recommend leaving them at the default and adjusting them as your confidence grows.
- PID and related settings
- Remote rate and expo
Attention! In these tests, we will start starting the motors and all kinds of situations can happen. Please make sure that in any case there are no propellers on your drone!
Test 1 – Orientation of The Flight Controller
We should have set it up before, but we still need to confirm that the software understands where the front of the drone is. A 3D model of the drone should be shown on the configurator, and the model should change as you tilt the drone. Make that the roll, pitch, and yaw are all spinning in the right directions.
Test 2 – Receiver Channel
You must connect in the battery to confirm that our flight controller is correctly communicating with our receiver. Check that your switches follow your desired flying pattern when the drone is powered up so that you can see any stick inputs on the receiver label. Your radio Transmitter’s settings may be to issue if it isn’t working properly.
Test 3 – Motor Rotation
Your drone will start operating at this point. Make sure you’ve taken out all the propellers by clicking a box on the motors tab while the battery is still in. Every motor needs its own slider. You may now use the slider for each motor to control its power.
To make sure that the correct motor is spinning in each channel and that the motors are spinning in the proper direction, you should move them up one at a time. You will need to alter them if they are acting improperly. For the proper order, kindly direct to the motor layout of your program.
Test 4 – Arming
We are going to put the drone’s arming and the remote-controllable motors to the test! Your batteries can be connected. Try flicking the arm switch after connecting your batteries and turning on the transmitter’s power. You may now attempt to move the stick, and hopefully the motor will do so. Verify the functionality of your disarm switch because you could need to utilize it in an emergency.
Test 5 – Failure To Protect
Now, we’ll see if the drone cuts out when its radio signal is lost. If you don’t have it configured properly, you run the danger of taking off or having the drone harm anything if the radio transmitter loses power. Arm the drone and turn up the throttle to test the failsafe. Turn off the radio transmitter while the motor is running to observe what happens; we anticipate that the drone will shut off in a split second.
Test 6 – The Other Stuff
You may now test other components, such as the OSD, buzzer, or telemetry, while the crucial components are operating, to make sure everything is in good repair before your first flight.
Test 7 – Test Hover
You’ve done it if you’ve passed each of these tests. Your first test flight is now ready to go. You’re prepared to do your first hover test! Now that your propeller is loaded, you may test its flight in a wide open area by yourself. You may now attach your propeller at this stage. Note that there are clockwise and counterclockwise propellers.
Propeller Layout Diagram – DRONE
Make careful you attach your propellers properly while mounting them. Make sure to put your propellers on nice and tight.
Start Your First Initial Flight
After configuring our software, we are ready for the final flight test! You’ve spent hours getting ready for this moment and it’s easy to get excited.
Place your drone far away from you, arm it, gently increase the throttle and try to hover a few feet above the ground.
Congratulations, You’ve done everything right!
Congratulations, you’ve finished this thorough how-to-build-a-drone guide if you’ve made it this far! Your first drone is a fantastic achievement. I appreciate your perseverance; you must be excited to have read it all by now. Charge some batteries, then take off! But beware—building and flying drones is an addicting hobby that will have you wanting more. Hope to see you soon.