When people see me building my quadcopter, the most common question they generally ask me is how much did it cost?
And if you are wanting to adopt flying drones as your hobby, then the cost matters a lot. You will be needing lots of stuff including the transmitter, quadcopter, batteries, FPV gear and tools. So, let’s have a look at all the financial aspects in detail.
However read the following post on building a quadcopter for less than $100 will help you out a lot. You will still be needing other things but the quadcopter itself will be low cost.
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Decent transmitter and receiver are the first things you will be needing regarding building a quadcopter.
The turnigy 9X is a good device and is low cost as well. If we including shipping charges, you should get it for about $80. The Taranis and Spektrum models are slightly more expensive and will cost you around $250 including shipping charges. Personally, I would want to get my hands on a good quality transmitter right from the beginning since it is a one-time investment. But let’s assume you purchased the low cost one so the total cost so far is $80.
Building a Quadcopter frame and components
Next, you will also be needing a quadcopter itself for building a quadcopter. You cannot afford to purchase a low cost device here since quality matters in this case a lot. But you should not spend an arm and a leg. ZMR250 is a pretty decent mini quadcopter at the outset.
If you are interested in purchasing kits from the local stores in the US, then stores such as MultiRotorMania offer 250-sized quadcopters for around $200. These kits, however, do not include a flight controller that costs around $30 or FPV gear that costs around $60 for the transmitter and the camera. The benefit of buying from the local store is that you will get decent quality customer service which you are not going to get most probably if you order from overseas. But it all boils down to your individual choice.
Let’s keep it in the medium range and set the cost of our quadcopter to $250.
So, far we have spent $330 and we have got a transmitter, a receiver and a complete quadcopter kit.
You can also choose to purchase all components separately. But they would also cost the same. If you purchase branded motors or high cost flight controllers or ESCs, the overall cost will surely rise. But for novices, our estimates are good enough.
Batteries and Charger
Well, there is no using flying without batteries and batteries won’t work without a charger. For info regarding building a quadcopter that we discussed above, they would just do fine. These are recommended by Stu from UAVFutures.
These batteries cost around $20 per battery and you will be needing at least four batteries for an average flight duration. So including shipping charges, the cost would be around $100.
A good quality charger such as the can be bought for about $50.
So, in total we are looking at $150. And the overall total is now $480.
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The goggles are quite low cost and can be bought for $70 including shipping charges. They also boast a decent display screen. You will still need a battery for them that will cost around $20 and an antenna at $50. So, the total cost would be $150.
However, rather than going for the bulky Quanum DIY, I would recommend you to go for the FatShark goggles such as the . The Attitudes come with integrated receivers. So you will just require a battery and an antenna and you will be fine for building a quadcopter.
Purchasing good quality goggles is same as getting a good transmitter since it is a onetime investment only. Generally, good quality goggles cost about $300.
So, the grand total so far is $780.
Your propellers are surely going to get damaged while you attempt to carry out some scintillating aerial maneuvers and stunts. You get additional propellers in the ARF kits discussed above but they are never going to be enough.
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So, now the grand total is $800.
Building a Quadcopter tool
Now, we have everything rather than tools.
Here are some of the tools that you will be needing:
- A good soldering iron
- Solder wire
- Hex keys
- Heat shrink
- Various nuts and bolts
- A hobby knife or box cutter
- A torque wrench
- Silicon wire
- Wire connectors
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All this stuff costs around $100 for building a quadcopter.
So, on the whole the grand total now becomes $900. That is a bit expensive but keep in mind that $400 out of those $900 are a onetime investment in the form of radio transmitter, FPV goggles and some tools.