If you have ever wondered what you need to get started in the RC hobby of multirotors, this is the place for you. In this article I am going to outline all the basic components that are necessary to get started building your own quadcopter.
First, you are going to need a transmitter. The transmitter is the radio control that you use to communicate with your unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). There are various types of transmitter that are categorized by brand, frequency, and number of channels. For a quadcopter you need at least a 4 channel transmitter, but I would suggest getting a 6 channel transmitter that works on the 2.4GHz frequency.
Second, you will need a flight control board. This is the brains of the quadcopter. It controls how the motors work. When choosing your flight control board, it is important to remember that not all flight control boards are created equal. Some are extremely sophisticated and capable of numerous functions such as GPS mission planning, return to home, and loiter modes. Choose your flight control board based only on what you really need, when you are just getting started you will not need all the bells and whistles.
Third, you will need the motors and electronics speed controllers (ESC). The ESCs interface with the flight control board, which receives commands from the receiver. The flight control board calculates what the motors need to do to make the quadcopter do what the user is telling it to do, then tells the ESCs which in turn tell motors how to spin.
Fourth, you will need a battery to power all the electronics. Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries are the most popular batteries for the RC hobby. LiPo batteries are characterized by their number of cells (voltage) and capacity (mAh). Each LiPo cell has 3.7V, so a 1S (1 cell) battery will be 3.7V, a 2S battery will be 7.4V, 3S 11.1 V and so forth. Capacity is rated in milliamp hours (mAh). The higher the number of mAh, the longer the battery can power the quadcopter.
Lastly you will need a frame to put all this onto. There are many commercially available quadcopter frames. Some are in the + configuration, which means one of the arms acts as the “forward” orientation. Some are in the X configuration, which means that “forward” is between two of the arms. There is also the H frame where forward is on the flat side of the H. H frame is great for FPV and aerial photography since the rotors are out of the way.
The frame is the most easily customizable part of the quadcopter however, and if you like you can build your own frame and really give your quadcopter a personal touch.