Best Drone DIY Kits of 2017

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Paper plane

There may come a time where you will not be satisfied with pre-built drones anymore. Many of us start with some cheap drones, and then move on to more complex models. If you’re reading this, you most likely yearn for customizability over pre-installed specifications. Your thirst for curiosity gives you the push to construct a drone for yourself. It goes on to say that building your very first one won’t be easy. That gizmo may even have a poorer performance as compared to its RTF counterparts. In addition, DIY drones will look something out of a Terminator movie in your first try. Nonetheless, the fastest drones are also the DIY ones. So it is only a matter of time until you’ll get the taste of this and start creating your ideal model.

The process normally consists of four broad parts. First, you need to assemble the quadcopter frame which includes getting the gist on how your drone will look. The next ones involve attaching and wiring the electronics. You will have to get the right parts to assemble your plane. Lastly, you will have to program the flight controller/radio transmitter to control the drone at your whim. Are you a bit afraid you might mess up? The internet provides detailed tutorials on how to assemble a drone.

The next question is what drone kits will you have to buy to build a passable drone. We, at the Gizmo Snack, will provide advice on the best ones, for both beginners and intermediate users. Note that most drones in the list only have the basic parts. You will have to buy the other parts from a third party for your drone to work.

1. DJI Flame Wheel F450 ARF Kit

Perhaps we should start with one of the most prominent drone manufacturers in this field. DJI Innovations Flame Wheel F450 is an almost-ready to Fly Quadcopter Kit that includes motors, ESCs and propellers. You can do amateur aerial photography, first person view applications and general flying entertainment since this drone kit includes a multi-rotor flying platform.

The DJI Flame Wheel F450 ARF Kit has a frame weight of 282 grams. It can carry a maximum weight of 1,600 grams for takeoff. The drone has a diagonal wheelbase of 450mm and its recommended propeller size is 10 x 4″ or 8 x 4.5″. Of course, you will have to buy an auto-pilot system for effortless hovering and cruising.

Nonetheless, this drone kit was designed to perform rolling and other advanced maneuvers with ease. The frame is easy to build, and the material used in the frame arms is durable because these are made from PA66+30GF. This enables the drone to withstand bad crashes in cases of strong winds. Meanwhile, its wings are colored red and white for a more colorful flying. Its frame design provides sufficient space for instillation of an autopilot system, and wiring the ESC’s and batteries safe and becomes easy thanks to the high strength of PCB frame board. Yet, you will not feel this drone is too big since its design is compact enough to accommodate the necessary parts it needs to fly.

This drone kit is also ergonomic in terms of placing wires. You won’t have to worry about messy wiring. The unit has a center plate that doubles as a power distribution board which organizes wiring stuff. However, you might have to take extra care when you land this drone, because its legs are a bit too short, which can induce a small turbulence.

Ultimately, the pros out-weight the minor cons so it justifies its entry here. DJI Flame Wheel F450’s frame is also the most affordable in the list, at $32. You don’t want the other parts? Simply buy the outstanding frame and buy the others by yourself.

2. iFlight ZMR180 Racing DIY Quadcopter Kit Combo Set

If you have some knowledge of soldering and general electronics, then this combo set from iFlight is for you. This DIY racing quadcopter kit is designed with the idea to be compatible with all kinds of motors. Moreover, it is made from full carbon fiber material, so it’s surprisingly lightweight. Nonetheless its carbon fiber build is a guarantee that you will not have to worry about multiple crashes.

The ZMR180 is the latest drone from the famous ZRM family. This caters those who are more fond of flying small quadcopters since it’s also their smallest one. After all, its length does not even reach 4 inches. As for other components, it comes with a high-quality 2300KV 2204 motor and Ipeaka BLHeli 15A firmware ESC. This combination supports one-shot flight and is compatible with battery having lipo 2-4s. It also comes with with an iFlight super violent bullnose propeller and a six-gram RV5 6DOF flight controller. Unlike our first entry, this comes in a more “un-assembled” condition, so you might need assistance when you build this one. Nonetheless, this drone kit comes with pretty much everything you need if you want a working unit. You save time from searching for things in a hardware store.

As stated earlier, this is a very light drone with its frame weighting only 72 grams. This means you have more leeway for heavier items or you can choose to equip it superficially, for more agility. However, some users are not happy about its distribution board specifically with the small camera place. The frame itself can be a bit too stiff for some. Yet, these are minor flaws if you consider its other strengths.

3. LHI Emax Drone Kit

This drone kit offers another good value for money at below $120. It comes with a frame made from carbon fiber, an aluminum alloy spacer and the bare essentials to assemble a drone. Due to the light nature of its material, the kit has a maximum thrust weight of 440 grams. Rubber stamps are also added to reduce vibration during flight. Thanks to this combination, the assembled unit is guaranteed to be shock resistant. Its spindle and bearing are made in Japan to ensure low noise and heat during flight and longer life of the assembled drone. Other parts that come with this kit are the following: a CC3D Flight Controller, four MT2204 2300KV Multicopter Motors, four Simonk 12A ESC and four carbon propellers.

Users are particularly satisfied with its lightweight, size and durability. They are also happy the drone is able to withstand several bad crashes. Added bonus is the responsive customer support team which promptly replies with inquiries and returns. However, you will likely buy assembly tools and other parts to make it work. For example, the drone kit does not come with a battery so you better have allowances if you plan to use this one. Some components may have subpar quality since the company cut some specs to arrive at a more affordable price. There are also some complaints that the motor holes are a tad too small. While it is not a drone kit for beginners, intermediate users who are short on the money will find satisfaction with this one.

4. Hobbypower F450 ATF DIY Quadcopter Electronics Kit

This entry is made from fiber glass, a far more durable material than carbon fibers. Its other attributes: a strong rack and beautiful appearance makes this drone kit insanely popular. It comes unassembled, similar with other drone kits in the list.

The package includes a X525 V3 folding frame, Mini KK2.15 Flight Controller and four XXD 2212 KV1000 brushless motors with propeller adapters. Moreover, other necessary parts you can find in this kit are four 1045/1045R propellers, four brushless 30A ESC and one ESC Connect Board. Luckily, you can find most of what you need since it also has a protection cover and 24 pieces of 3.5mm gold bullet plugs. The drone kit package is heavier than most in this list at 2.1 pounds. It is pretty much understandable since it includes most parts for a drone to work. Nonetheless, the package does not include batteries, remote control nor the flight controller. You may buy them separately from Hobbypower’s online store or from Amazon.

User reception is positive, noting the excellent performance of brushless motors for its balance that produces almost zero vibrations. Therefore, you can expect a stable flight and landing from this kit. However, one user noted he got one bad ESC that does not work at all. Rest assured that its customer service is also responsive especially with defective units.

Hobbypower F450 ATF DIY Quadcopter Electronics Kit is a welcome change in your drone experience. Are you critical of the bad ESCs? Maybe you can have its frame and buy the other parts from a third party.

5. BW DIY F450 4-Axis RC QuadCopter MultiCopter Frame Airframe Kit

Designed for all pilots, this is a multi-rotor quadcopter that’s aimed to deliver fun. Beginners would also love to assemble a gizmo from this drone kit. Its F450 frame has a net weight of 282 grams and has a wheelbase of 17.7 inches. This also includes four RC Quadcopters, the frame kit, four ESCs and four A2212 1000KV Brushless Motors. Other necessary parts include a heat shrink tube, a velco strap and a hex wrench. The whole package weighs about 2.1 pounds. Similar with other entries in this article, you will have to buy separate batteries. It’s suggested that 2,200 mAh ones utilizes its performance the most.

BW DIY F450 4-Axis RC QuadCopter looks like a DJI Phantom drone when assembled. Users are happy with the company keeping its promises real when they received the actual product. They note its durability and its ease of use once assembled. However, it also shares the same issues with bad the ESCs. Some noted that it may be programmed with another firmware so operating it can be difficult. There are very few instances that its ESCs do not work at all.

If you are feeling icky about this, remember that it costs way below $100 so there might be some compromises.

6. Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon Quadcopter Kit

How about closing this article with a high-end drone that costs much less than its peers? Probably you haven’t heard about Yuneec but it’s also one of the best right now in the market. One good thing with high-end drones is they always look great, even in case of DIY ones. Yuneec steps even further by flashing a professional look, once you are done assembling this. It does not even look like a toy but a miniature spy weapon out of a sci-fi movie.

The kit comes with two batteries, two sets of propellers, a Jestik Microfiber cloth for cleaning and an Aluminum case for carrying. Added bonuses are a 64GB Micro SD card, the ST10+ Ground Station, and a handheld CGO Steady Grip. Its built-in camera is also said as one of the best, recording 4K videos, so you get a great deal if you can’t shell more cash. Since we’re talking about high-end drones here, it is about 25 pounds heavy so expect discomfort when you’ll carry it around.

Users are extremely satisfied about its stable flight, beautiful photos and great battery life. They are also happy with its low noise emission. It is one of the quietest drones out there. Customer service is also great. However, this quadcopter looks like a cheat since you won’t use soldering tools when setting it up. After all, you won’t want to throw $1,000 just because you had messy wirings. You may do some modifications like buying a controller and battery from a third party to enhance your experience though.

Final Words

Every manufacturer will naturally claim that their product is the best. They know their business after all. Yet, you should be discerning when selecting a drone kit and gathering its parts. These are not cheap, as you may end up spending few hundred dollars to build a functioning one. Always read user reviews and try to get a better grip on what you’re buying. Your hard earned money will be good as gone if you buy a low-performing drone kit.

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