Drones have become so popular that lately it seems everyone has one. Why wouldn’t they? Today’s models are practically flying on their own, creating breathtaking images and videos, and offering a fun way to get away from your daily tasks and problems.
However, since you are reading this, I guess you are not here to talk about the ready-to-fly (RTF) drones, right? You are more of a DIY kind of a person who would rather spend your hard earned free time messing with the parts and tools, and customizing your bird to be a unique reflection of your personality.
This hobby, as you probably already know, tends to go hard on your budget, and demands a certain level of understanding of the subject. This is exactly why I decided to help out and talk about the affordable quadcopter kits that will not make you rob a bank in order to afford them.
Before I get to the actual kits, you need to know how to find the one most suitable for your needs.
Things to Consider Before Choosing a Quadcopter Kit
Just like with every other purchase decision, you need to know that you are making the right one. In this case, you first need to decide what you want to use your drone for. There are two main options, aerial photography or freestyle flying (racing).
This is the most popular reason people get into this hobby. As we already mentioned, drones can deliver amazing aerial photos and footage. Aerial photography drones do not require you to be a pro pilot, as they are usually easy to control and stabilize. They also come with plenty of flight assist features that allow you to be focused more on filming than piloting. However, if you do need some pointers on how to safely keep your drone in the air and be able to position it for a perfect shot, I suggest reading this How to Fly a Drone article for tips and explanations.
Freestyle Flying or Racing
This is a totally different category of drones and it includes models that are much lighter and faster than the ones for aerial photography. The frames are smaller in size, and their motors spin at much higher rates. These drones are meant for achieving unbelievable speeds and perform much more aggressive stunts. They are not quite as adept at lifting heavy objects as their bigger cousins. If you decide to go down this path, you really need to be a good pilot — do not expect that you will have flight assisting features like auto-leveling and altitude hold.
Top 5 Affordable DIY Quadcopter Kits
BW® DIY F450 4-Axis RC QuadCopter MultiCopter Frame Airframe Kit
If you choose this kit, you can expect the following parts in the package:
- F450 basic frame kit + 4Pcs motors + 4Pcs 30A ESC + 2Pairs props
- PCB board for standard 50mm flight controller like MK, KK, FF, MWC
- 4 x Brushless Motors A2212/13 1000KV
- 4 x 30A ESC – Continuous 30A, Burst 40A up to 10 Secs
As you can see, this is a 450mm size frame, which means this model will be suitable for aerial photography. The 1000KV motors are not very fast, but this is a good thing if you are planning on adding a camera and a gimbal to your drone. You will need motors that spin slower and offer plenty of pull. The ESCs are powerful enough to withstand the power that these motors pull even at full throttle.
This kit does not include the flight controller, and if you want the best stability we would suggest going with the DJI Naze M Lite + GPS module. You will also need a transmitter and a battery. We suggest 3S LiPo. 3000mAh or higher will get you some 20 minutes of flight time.
LHI QAV 250mm Quadcopter Race Copter Frame Kit
This kit comes with the following parts:
- 1 x 250 mm V2 carbon frame kit
- 4 x MT2204 2300KV Brushless motor
- 4 x simonk 12A ESC
- 8 x 5030(CW+CCW) 2-blade Propeller
- 1 x CC3D Flight Controller amp&protect case
- 1 x Power board
This kit is pretty much the full package for building a racing drone. You will only need to buy a transmitter and a battery, and for this type of a quad, we suggest going for the 4S LiPo for that extra torque. Thankfully, the frame is made of carbon. This gives the drone some much needed extra durability. You will definitely crash your bird many times, and you do not want it to break the first time it goes down. You also get motors that spin fast and two sets of 5030 props, ideal for speed. The CC3D is the most popular FC among drone racing hobbyists, and is the right one to get you started. However, as you become better, you might want to go for a more advanced one.
LHI Emax for 250mm
This racing kit includes the following:
- 1 x 280mm Carbon Fiber 4 Axis Mini Quadcopter
- 4 x MT2204 2300KV Multicopter Motor
- 4 x Simonk 12A ESC
- 4 x 6*3 6030 Carbon Fiber Propeller(2pcs CW + 2 PCS CCW)
This kit is pretty much the same combination as the previous one, but it does not include the flight controller and comes with slightly bigger props. This means that it will be capable of taking on more weight, like a FPV transmitter, more powerful battery, or radio transmitter.
Hobbypower X525 Quadcopter Glass Friber Folding Kit
This kit includes the following parts:
- X525 V3 folding frame x1
- Mini KK2.15 Flight Controller x1
- 4x XXD 2212 KV1000 brushless motor with 4x propeller adapter
- 4x 1045/1045R Propeller
- 4x Brushless 30A ESC x4
- ESC Connect Board x1
- Reinforced Protection cover x1
- 3.5mm gold bullet plug x12 (12 x pcs male + 12 x female)
- Heat shrink tube x2 (50cm red + 50cm black)
This is one big quadcopter that, judging by the people who assembled it, offers a very stable flight ideal for aerial photography. With these motors and propellers, the quad will have enough power to lift plenty of extra equipment like a GoPro with a gimbal, an FPV camera and transmitter, and a heavier battery with plenty of mAh to keep it flying for some half an hour.
This kit also comes with gold bullet connectors that make soldering and connecting your motors with ESCs easy, and you also get heat shrink tubes to isolate them. Again, you will need to buy the radio controller and the battery separately.
One more thing, the option of folding your frame makes it really useful for safely transporting your quad to where ever you want.
Hobbypower X525 V3 Quadcopter Foldable Kit
This kit includes:
- X525 V3 glass fiber foldable frame
- Mini KK2.15 flight controller
- 4 x XXD 2212 KV1000 brushless motor
- 4 x 1045 Propeller
- 4 x Brushless Simonk 30A ESC
- Accessories pack
This is pretty much the same kit as the previous one, but offers plenty of additional accessories, like extra heat shrink tubes and bullet connectors, and servo cables, cable ties, and double side stickers for holding your flight controller safely in place.
There you have it, the most budget friendly quadcopter kits on the market. As I have already said, definitely figure out what you want to use your drone for before making your selection. You cannot go wrong with any of the discussed kits on this list, as they are pretty straightforward when it comes to assembling and getting it up in the air, but you obviously want the kit that best suits your needs.