Building a lightweight quadcopter

I have been wanting to get around to this project for a while and I now have the time to do it. But I need some advice on a few topics. I am building an Arduino quadcopter!

  1. Should I go brushless or brushed motors? Since my build is 85% Styrofoam I am not really sure that it matters? I am also looking to be cost effective and I already have a lot of dc motors in my place and motor shields.

  2. If I go brushless are there any shields (esc shields) out their to ease the tediousness of wiring them? And can they also control the direction or will I have to have an extra module?

  3. Will an arduino uno be sufficient? I currently I have a set up with the arduino uno, motorshield, connected to a radio transmitter, and hoping later to implement some motion detection and a very lightweight hack up fpv cam.

Any ideas, comments, suggestions?

Brushless will last much longer, are more efficient, and offer a much wider range of ESC's. Arduino Uno is more than sufficient for basic multicopters. Cannot say about the shields. HobbyKing offers MultiWii controller boards which incorporate Gyro's, magnetometer, Accellerometer, and will support other modules, such as GPS, for about $30 US (but shipping is really costly).

Before you start pulling parts together, consider: Foamie may not take the stress without additional structural support (wood, rigid plastic, or metal). In my limited experience, the lighter the bird, the harder it is to stabilize. design heavy and it will be easier to add things like camera and gimble later.

Also, you might consider starting with a tricopter design first, much, much, easier to tune and balance (IMHO).

Good Luck and enjoy!

Don't start this unless you already know how to fly a quadcopter. You need to have the experience to know if the crash was due to a software error or pilot error.


Then again, you're gonna need a copter to learn how to fly one. Most of them are not really ready to fly right out of the box. But, it would be a fair idea to invest $50 or so in a mini and attempt to learn to fly it.

I have experience flying rc planes, helicopters, quadcopters, and actual aircraft. Just wanted to start building my own. Thanks for the suggestions; I will keep everything in mind during construction.

I would not have thought that shields of any sort were the way to build your own quadcopter. They will be relatively heavy and expensive. I would have thought a better approach would be to use one of the Arduino clones designed for the purpose, which integrates the IMU onto the controller board and uses external high power motor controllers to drive the motors. Brushless motors seem to offer a much better power to weight ratio if you can afford them, in which case you'll need the corresponding controllers.

Unless you particularly want to develop a complex sensor analysis and control algorithm from scratch it would also be sensible to adopt a working autopilot that is compatible with the board you're chosen.