How to Build an FPV Drone

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Updated June 27, 2022

If you’re shopping for the best drone for racing, you may consider learning how to build an FPV drone instead. As racing drones skyrocket in price, building your own drone may seem like the cheaper option than buying one outright. While that isn’t necessarily true, having a finished drone that you made yourself is a rewarding feeling. If you want to learn how to build an FPV drone, we’ll help you take it to the sky.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • An FPV drone delivers a video signal to the pilot, giving them a first-person view while flying the drone.
  • Experts recommend using a decent action camera to offer high-definition video, even during fast motion.
  • Many users choose carbon fiber for a light and durable frame.

While our guide on what an FPV drone is will provide much more detail, we can go over the basics.

How to Build Your Own FPV Drone

An FPV or First Person View drone uses a camera and video transmitter to live stream a first-person video feed to the drone’s pilot. When designing a drone, you’d need to consider the added weight from the camera and possible storage, like an SD card spot. In addition, you could build your drone with a raspberry pi board if you want the flight controller to have some backup.

Insider Tip

Ensure that you can connect the battery charger to your DIY drone without undoing the battery strap.

Consider reading our Walkera Rodeo 110 review for a budget option compared to an entirely custom racing drone.

STEP 1 Build the Frame

  1. Some people choose to cut their frame from a carbon sheet, but there’s no shame in using a pre-cut frame for your drone.

STEP 2 Install the Power Distribution Board (PDB)

  1. The PDB connects to every part of your drone, so consider where the battery connector and USB cable will connect to the unit. Use rubber or nylon standoffs to complete the mounting process

STEP 3 Mount the Motors

  1. Ensure that the motor direction is correct before installing the motor screws.

STEP 4 Install the Electronic Speed Controller (ESC)

  1. If you have a 4-in-1 ESC, this process is simple. Mount them on the frame with double-sided tape, and then wrap them with electrical tape.

STEP 5 Connect the ESC to the Motor

  1. There should be three motor wires to connect to each ESC. Ensure you cut them to the correct length to eliminate any wire strands, and use good wire maintenance to ensure you’re connecting to the correct motor.

STEP 6 Connect the ESC to the PDB

  1. This will provide power to the motors and speed controller.

STEP 7 Test the Battery

  1. Run a continuity check on your LiPo battery. If you see no continuity, you can plug in the flight battery.

STEP 8 Mount the FPV Camera and Video Transmission System

  1. Place your camera in its place and ensure it has a 15-degree angle.
  2. Place the video transmission system at the bottom of the plate with two-sided foam tape to mitigate the shock of crashes and regular flight.

STEP 9 Connect the FPV System to the PDB

  1. Connect the video system to the PDB and ensure the antenna wire is free from interference so you have a clean video signal to record your flights.

STEP 10 Install the Flight Controller

  1. The flight controller acts as the drone’s brain, so ensure that the flight controller orientation is stable and unobstructed after you tape down any signal wire.

STEP 11 Finish the Build

  1. Put the finishing touches on your build, and fix any loose wires or parts to the drone’s frame.

STEP 12 Install the Flight Controller Software

  1. Use a USB cable and install the flight configuration software on the drone.

STEP 13 Test the Finished Drone

  1. Test your drone, and ensure that it is air-ready.

Warning

Always wear a mask while cutting your frame from the carbon sheet. Carbon dust can cause health issues if you breathe it in.

F.A.Q.S

Is it cheaper to build a drone or buy one?

The answer to this question can change due to the type of drone you want to build or buy. We advise making a complete list of tools and parts you need for a DIY build and comparing it to the price of a pre-built drone with the specs and features you want.


Which material is best to build a drone from?

Most experts advise building your drone from carbon fiber or lightweight metal. Keep in mind that your drone needs to be light enough to lift into the air but sturdy sufficient to take a fall without breaking.


What is the most stable shape of a drone frame?

Thanks to its stability and mobility, the quadcopter design is the gold standard. That said, the hexacopter shape is the most stable configuration, but it comes with the added cost of extra motors and additional weight.


STAT: According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, about one-in-ten Americans would be angry or scared if they saw a drone flying near their home. (source)

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