What You Need to Build a MultiCopter

This article provides an overview of the main components you will need when building a Copter-based multicopter.

Multicopter frame including motors, ESCs and propellers

There are numerous frames, ESCs and motors available. Some components you might consider are discussed in Choosing a Multicopter Frame and the Detailed Vehicle Builds.

Many other designs and configurations including Traditional Helicopters are also supported.

6+ channel RC transmitter and receiver

You’ll need a radio control transmitter to manually control your Copter and to activate its flight modes. You can use any RC transmitter/receiver system with at least six channels. Some of the options are discussed in the topic Compatible RC Transmitter and Receiver Systems (Pixhawk/PX4).

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Flight Controller board (Autopilot hardware)

Copter’s autopilot board determines its capabilities for autonomous flight. At time of writing (December 2015) Pixhawk is highly recommended for general use.

Developers creating UAV vision applications should consider using a separate Companion Computer, or a Linux based autopilot board (e.g. NAVIO+ or Erle-Brain) which is capable of running both Copter and the image processing code.

For more options, see the topic Choosing a Flight Controller.

GPS module

Your Copter will require a GPS module. The recommended module is 3DR UBlox GPS + Compass Module which also includes an a compass. You can check out other GPS solutions here.

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LiPo batteries and charger

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Copter requires a rechargeable lithium polymer (LiPo) battery. A good rule of thumb is to use 1,000 mAH (milliamp hours) per motor. For a Quad copter, a 4,000 mAH LiPo like this one [http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__9185__Turnigy_4000mAh_3S_20C_Lipo_Pack.html] would work well. While your copter can use only one battery at a time, we recommend having at least two batteries in stock; more batteries means more flight time. You’ll also need a charging station for your batteries such as this one [http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__24289__Turnigy_2S_3S_Balance_Charger_Direct_110_240v_Input_USA_Warehouse_.html].

Ground Control Station

The (free and open source) Mission Planner [http://ardupilot.org/planner/index.html#home] is required if you’re going to be loading new versions of Copter onto the flight controller, and for first-flight tuning and calibration. It runs on a PC and can also be used for planning missions.

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Once your Copter is configured, you may find it more convenient to choose a different ground station - running on the tablet, phone or computer of your choice. The main options are discussed in the topic Choosing a Ground Station.

Telemetry Radio

A telemetry radio allows your Copter to communicate with your ground station from the air using the MAVLink protocol. This allows you to interact with your missions in real time and receive streaming data from your copter’s cameras and other components. This adds considerable convenience to your missions!

We recommend the telemetry radio solutions linked from the Telemetry Landing Page. Remember that if using the SIK Radio you will need the version at the permitted frequency for your country - 915 MHz (Americas) and 433 MHz (Europe).

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