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Build your own quadcopter frame

I've always wanted to build my own quadcopter having previously built a number of remote control airplanes, either from plans or kits.

It is a great feeling to build it from start to finish. In this tutorial we'll show you how you can build a frame for the quadcopter without a kit and some basic materials.

Building your first quadcopter frame

See the finished product below. While not as beautiful as a custom-moulded high end drone kit, there is a certain level of satisfaction from creating your own drone out of simple parts.

The full list of materials you'll need for the diy quadcopter frame are listed below. They comprise of relatively simple items as this is a straightforward design.

Quadcopter frame materials

  • 140mm x 280mm x 4mm wooden board using for example laminated birchwood
  • 4 pieces of 250mm x 10mm x 10mm aluminium square tubing with 1mm thickness
  • 8x  25mm M3 screws
  • 8x 3mm nuts
  • 16x 3mm washers
  • Measurements for the holes of the quadcopter controller board
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Drill bits and countersink
  • Clamps
  • Other general tools such as a square, spanners, workbench, hammer and punch

Step 1 - mark wooden board to house electronics

quadcopter frame wooden board

Wooden board is at least 280mm by 140mm in size. Mark out two 140mm square pieces for cutting on saw.

Step 2 - cut wooden board for two quadcopter casings

quadcopter wooden board cut into housing

Cut wooden board vertically to create two halves of size 140mm by 140mm

Step 3 - sanding

sand and smooth quadcopter frame

Sand the edges of your wooden boards until there are no splinters and is nice and smooth.

Step 4 - check boards are same size

mark quadcopter wooden frame

Place the wooden boards side by side to check for straightness and size.

Mark each board as to front and back.

Step 5 - mark holes for aluminium arms

Mark holes for drilling

Draw diagonal lines from corner to corner which is where the arms will sit eventually.

Mark a distance of 28mm and 70mm from the centre for drilling the holes for the aluminium arms to be attached.

Step 6 - clamp the two boards for drilling

clamp and drill holes

Using your clamps as in the image above, securely align the two boards and drill the holes as marked in the step above.

Step 7 - drill holes for aluminium arms

drill holes

Drill the 8 holes with a 3.5mm - 4mm drill bit at the points marked on the diagonals from the earlier step. This will allow the 3mm screws to fit more easily.

Step 8 - mark halfway mark of bottom edge 

step 9 mark side

Mark the mid-points on the side edge. This will be used so you know how to align your two boards.

Step 9 - mark sides for controller 

drill holes

Draw another line just below the 28mm hole to use for marking where the controller will sit.

Step 10 - mark the lines on the front and holes

drill holes

Mark the holes for the controller board as per the image above on the front board.

Step 11 - check alignment of controller board to holes

drill holes

Check that the proposed holes will align with the controller board.

Step 12 - drill holes for controller board on front wooden panel

drill holes for quadcopter pc board

Drill the four holes on the front panel to allow you to mount the controller board once construction is complete.

Step 13 - check holes and clean

quadcopter holes for pc board

Ensure your twelve holes all line up and are clean. Get rid of any excess wood with sandpaper.

Step 14 - measure and cut the aluminium arms

saw aluminium square tubes

Measure out 250mm on each aluminium square tubing, clamp the tube and cut to required length. You need four arms for your quadcopter obviously.

Step 15 - measure distance to drill holes in quadcopter arms

measurements for aluminium arms

Each arm will have four holes, two on each side. These holes will be 15mm from an edge a second hole 42mm from the first hole. The diagram above illustrates the measurements.

Step 16 - mark aluminium arms

mark holes for aluminium arms

Using a hammer and metal punch gently mark the aluminium arms at the required distances for the holes. This will assist you to drill the required holes.

Step 17 - drill holes in aluminium arms

Drill holes

Using the vice to clamp the aluminium arms, drill four small 3mm holes in each arm, two per side.

Step 18 - countersink four holes on each arm to deburr

drill holes

Using a countersink bit on your drill deburr the holes you have drilled.

Step 19 - repeat for all four arms

four holes drilled

All four aluminium arms should now have four holes each.

Step 20 - 8 screws required for arm assembly

screws

You'll need 8 3M screws in order to connect the arms and boards together.

Step 21 - 8 nuts for holding the screws in place

nuts

Count out 8 screws and 16 washers to be used for the frame assembly.

Step 21 - connect arms to bottom board

mount aluminium arms on quadcopter frame

Push through 8 screws with a washer on the outside through the bottom board. Connect each arm to two of the screws as per the image.

Step 22 - connect top frame

mount cover

Place the second square board on top of the arms lining up all the screws.

Step 23 - place washers and nuts on all the screws

attach nuts

Place your 8 washers on the outside board as per the image.

Place a nut on each screw above the washer.

Tighten all 8 nut and screw sets slightly till the assembly is held together.

Step 24 - check the arms are square

check arms for squareness

Using your square tool check that all the arms are at 90 degrees to one another. This is important to have any sort of stability in your quadcopter.

If anything is not square, correct and remeasure.

Fully tighten screws once square

Step 25 - check tightness and strength of frame

completed quadcopter frame and arms

The frame is now complete, check that all the screws are nice and tight and that your quadcopter is suitably strong by placing pressure on the frame.

Your quadcopter frame will weigh more than a moulded plastic frame, but is very robust. This deisgn is around 240 grams. It could be made lighter by using 2.5mm to 3mm wood instead.

The aluminium tubing, being hollow, also provides great tensile strength due to being square without adding a lot of weight.​


Thanks to Experimentaltechnik for the great tutorial, you can see their complete video below and also more videos to make your own quadcopter from scratch.

Further cool projects are on his youtube channel here

Do you like our introduction to building a simple DIY quadcopter frame? Leave us some comments below and any tips or suggestions.

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