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¶
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.
Autopilot (Autopilot hardware)¶
Copter’s autopilot board determines its capabilities for autonomous flight. See the ArduPilot compatible autopilot page for a list. An autopilot with the following features is recommended:
An SD card for logging, terrain data base, scripting (if desired)
Sufficient outputs for the number of motors and servos to be used
Sufficient number of UARTs for GPS, and telemetry radios, if desired
Vibration isolated IMU(s) is very desirable simplifying mounting considerations.
Be sure the autopilot includes a barometer
I2C for external compass
many autopilots have an internal compass, but in order to avoid motor interference, an external compass is sometimes desirable.
Developers creating UAV vision applications should consider using a separate Companion Computer, or a Linux based autopilot board.
For more options, see the topic Choosing an Autopilot.
LiPo batteries and charger¶
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 4000 mAH LiPo like this one 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.
Ground Control Station¶
The (free and open source) Mission Planner is required if you’re going to be loading new versions of Copter onto the autopilot, and for first-flight tuning and calibration. It runs on a PC and can also be used for planning missions.
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.
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).