BUYER'S GUIDE

How To Pick The Best Multirotor Frame: An Expert Advice for All Hobbyists

How To Pick The Best Multirotor Frame
Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

Having the best multirotor frame is of paramount importance to ensure that you are building your beloved multicopter on a quality frame that is compatible with all the electronic components needed.

In fact, it is equally important and relative to choosing the best electronic components such as the Electronic Speed Controls (ESCs), propellers, arms, and motors. A wrong choice of any of these may spell a disaster. As experts in drones, we have chosen to help you get familiar with how to pick the best multirotor frame.

But first, we do not intend to give you the best model because, in a true sense, there is no a generic frame considered to be the best among all the frames. We are, however, well-equipped with guidelines on how to find the best one to meet your quest of building your own drone.

Drone Frame

You probably know that there are different types and configurations of multicopter frames. As such, we will expand on such classifications of frames as we endeavor to refine your search. We will also give you recommendations of some frames that could be the best choices for specific frame configurations.

What to look for when buying the best frame?

Firstly, you need to determine your purpose. For instance, have you decided that what are you going to use your drone for? For fun? Racing? Aerial cinematography? For sport? And, how many motors do I need? In reality, there could be a plenty of purposes that you want to use the copter for. You will be lucky to find out that your copter frame is versatile.

Drone Frame

For instance, some can be used for professional aerial cinematography and simultaneously for recreation purposes. The bottom line is that, various multirotor frames have varying purposes of use, and can do well in the predetermined purposes than others. Let’s explore these purposes below.

Purpose of buying the multirotor frame

Aerial cinematography

If you plan to indulge in aerial cinematography, where an excellent high definition camera like the expensive GoPro HERO models is needed to take quality aerial images, you will have to buy stiff but less brittle frames to provide a smooth and stable flight. Such frames should be huge enough and solid, so that they can easily hold the big models of cameras needed for this professional aerial activity.

Aerial Cinematography Drone

Furthermore, the frames should be supportive of tall landing gear needed to secure the camera when the multicopter lands, or should the inevitable crash or emergency landing occur. However, notwithstanding the need for the frame to be stiff, it should be light in weight. You can imagine the added weight of the camera when mounted that what will be the overall weight. That could be inconveniently too much!

Mini Multicopters

The other purpose could be flying the multicopters indoors or outdoors, and you need to get mini multirotor frames. These frames are remarkably the lightest in weight. Quite often, the mini drones do not require much of efforts or many components to get them going. You do not have to mount larger cameras. So, in a nutshell, you need light frames for indoor flying and most of these are quadcopter frames.

Mini Multicopter

Moreover on the mini frames for drones, you can find the frames dedicated for mini FPV drones. These ones can be small too, but, one of the challenging to build. Take into account the mounting of FPV-designated electronics and the FPV camera. That being noted, these FPV mini frames should be spacious enough to accommodate additional components than the regular mini drones.

Sports drones

For sport-dedicated drones, you need light frames as well for high speed. You may choose not to mount the camera on such drones because it might compromise their speed capabilities due to added pounds. But, the drones should be stable enough and responsive to a plethora of acrobatics – thus not to be jeopardized by unstable light frames.

The material of the frame is the determining factor with regard to the stability. As an example, carbon fiber frames have been used frequently for these types of frames.

Racing Drone

But then, as in the option of FPV in mini drones, some sport drones may be compatible with FPV. With this range of FPV copters, take into account the frame’s potential to mount FPV cameras. As a result of this requirement, these frames should be firm enough to hold an additional weight of the camera and other electronic devices. Any frame with a very light weight not capable of holding cameras may struggle to take off.

Now that you know about what kinds of drones needed for various purposes, let’s get into some properties needed such as the stiffness, materials and the arms. Drone frames are predominantly categorized based on materials used in their design, in addition to the shape and the dimensions.

Important properties to look for

Materials

The first thing on your mind should be the materials when picking the best frame. The materials play a significant role in determining the drone’s stability and efficient performance. Note that vibration is increasingly a nuisance in many drones, and if not managed well, it could lead to poor quality aerial images and possible damage to the electronic components.

Carbon Fiber Drone Frame

Most frames are designed with carbon fibers because of its light weight properties. However, the downside of carbon fibers is radio signal interference. It is nonetheless a good material for your frame. To solve this, you must make sure that the radio and the antenna are connected effectively.

The other commonly used materials include the aluminum and fiberglass. Aluminum, on the other hand, it’s a heavier metal to use on the frames, but it needs powerful motors. Although aluminum is more powerful and strong, it has a problem of an inevitable vibration.

Inexpensive Aluminium Drone Frame

That’s why it is not commonly used. Meanwhile the fiberglass provides a great deal of not interfering the radio signals. However, it comes second to carbon fiber in terms of stiffness and rigidity, because it can bend to affect the stability of your drone. It appears that every material has its downsides.

Stiffness of the frame

The frame needs to be stiff. The stiffness enables the frame to be stable and smooth enough without any detrimental bends in the sky. A smooth flight will yield smooth and stable videos and photographs. Moreover, the frame should be brittle, but not too brittle. In fact, too much of something is bad news. If, for example, the drone is too brittle, it might be susceptible to the damage in crashes.

Arms

You need to pay more attention on the arms as well. The material used in the arms should be effective in minimizing vibrations. But, in most cases, you may find the frames that come with the pre-built arms, thus negating the need to match the configurations with the frames when building your drone.

Drone Frame Arms

To safeguard your frame from crashes, the arms should be strong enough because when the drone falls, they are the first to get damaged. They will be saving the drone’s essential electronic components and the frame. A hard plastic or aluminum is often used.

Integration of devices

When making a purchase, just make sure that it is accommodative of essential electronic components to be mounted. For instance, you need to fit the flight controller, motors, ESCs, etc. You might find some frames having holes with guidelines that where to fit certain devices.

Integration of devices

In fact, assembling a drone from the frame is one of the challenging tasks that an amateur hobbyist will find exhausting. There could be some electronic boards that need to be drilled to fit in screws and wires. It all depends on the frame you bought. So, if you are not well-versed in such mechanism of assembling, rather opt for the easiest frame that is half-done.

Multirotor Frame Designs

If you’re an experienced UAV pilot you might probably know the possible configurations. Anyway, it is still worth it to read through to understand further. It is also important to know these configurations when purchasing the frames. It all depends on your preference that how many motors do you intend to use in a frame.

Bi-copter

As the name suggests, it has two motors and two servos and probably the cheapest among all. However, its drawbacks are that, it is unstable in the air.

Bicopter Frame

So you wouldn’t want to pursue professional aerial photographic businesses with this type of a drone.

Tri-copter

This is another model that succeeds bi-copters with the lack of stability. But some can be stable enough with three motors. However, yaw manipulations may be a challenge. Such frames are often T or Y shaped. It is without a doubth that if one motor fails, the whole drone crashes.

Quad-copter

A quadcopter drone is the most common equipment among many hobbyists in the world. It offers great features, convenience and stability compared to the aforementioned frame configurations. In these drones, two propellers turn clockwise, while the remaining two, turn anti-clockwise for stability purposes. If that had not been the case, the quadcopter would have been hard to control.

Quadcopter Frame

A serious business starts with quadcopters. Aerial photography is an absolute cinch with these models. No need for servos in these drones, and they are relatively easy to set up.

Hexacopter

A hexacopter is more stable than the quadcopter with its 6 motors. Half of the motors turn clockwise, and the other half anti-clockwise. This provides more stability. Furthermore, 6 motors enable the drone to land safely should one of the motors fail. It will not land abruptly. Even if it lands in any emergency, the frame will be protected by the strong arms. And with regard to yaw control, it’s easy to control in hexacopters than in quadcopters.

Octo-copter

The higher the number of motors is the more the stability of the drone. The same applies when the motors are turning, whereby the half turns clockwise and the other half turns counter-clockwise. So if you want more stability in your cinematography business, this drone could be your best choice. It provides a great yaw control compared to the hexacopter.

Octocopter Frame

These configurations are the most popular ones on the market. There could be others due to the increasing prevalence and existence of manufacturers. Penta-copters can also be found.

Recommended Multirotor Frames

Let’s recommend to you some of the best frames that we believe can meet your needs based on the frame types or purposes.

FOR AERIAL CINEMATOGRAHY

  • DJI S1000
  • DJI Flame Wheel F550
  • YKS Quadcopter mini C250 frame

FOR MINI FPV

  • Blackout Mini H
  • MXP230 FPV
  • QAV250

FOR MINI DRONES

  • Blackout Mini X

SPORTS

  • Flip Sport
  • DJI F450

SPORTS FPV

  • Flip 360 PV
  • QAV400
  • QAV500
  • TBS Discovery

These are just typical examples of the multirotor frames you can find based on a category of drones. We have taken into account the frame’s capability to support all the electronic components suitable for that specific category. For example, the Sports FPV frame, as already stated, needs to be light but supportive of additional integration of electronic components such as the FPV camera.

Building Your Multirotor Drone

We gave you almost all that you need in order to pick the best multirotor frame on the market, and have also recommended to you some frames per category. Below are the components needed to get started building your multirotor drone.

Propellers

For whichever multirotor frame chosen, note that there are specific propellers to install. Propellers have an influence on the speed of the drone. Logically, smaller propellers are said to be faster than the long propellers. But with regard to efficiency, the longer propellers emerge victorious.

Multirotor Drone Arms

They also enable the drone to withstand additional pounds.

Flight Controllers

No drone is complete without flight controllers. They come integrated in a small circuit board that you should install on your frame. You therefore have to check if your frame is fully supportive of specific flight controllers. With these controllers, you will be able to issue commands of your drone after completion.

Camera

In cases of wanting the aerial cinematography and FPVs frames, you must have a camera to mount on them. The quality and the size of the camera depends on the type of the frame to be mounted on. In aerial cinematography, for example, you may need Gimbal to hold the large cameras such as the GoPro HERO models. In some instances, you may be able to add two cameras on some FPV drones where the other camera is used for recordings.

Arms

Arms are needed to be firm and stable. They should be capable of preventing vibrations to the frame for a safe flight.

Multirotor Drone Propellers

The failure of the arms not preventing vibrations could lead to the damage of inner electronic components due to repeated vibrations. Moreover, the arms should be strong enough to protect the frame when the drone crashes.

Motors

The best motors are needed for the drone to start flying. They are controlled by the ESCs, and they, in turn, responsible for the rotation of propellers, thus enabling the drone to take off.

Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs)

As highlighted above, they are responsible for the functioning of the motors as they are directly connected to the flight controller. There’s no way that your flight can function well without these electronic components.

Electronic Speed Controller

Control system

This includes the receivers and the transmitters. They are also indispensable for your assembling process. You can find them as modular pieces or single unit.

Batteries

Of course you need batteries to power the drone. Some frames come with designated compartments to mount the batteries. You need to take into account the relevant and compatible battery required for the type of the drone you want to assemble.

Drone Batteries

The higher the voltage of the battery is the longer the flight time. But, confirm the specific voltage that needed for a specific drone you intend to assemble.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Multirotor Frames

ADVANTAGES

  • You can customize your drone with any frame you want
  • There is a great range of choices
  • You can purchase replacement parts with ease
  • You develop technical skills of assembling
  • Make any arrangement of the devices
  • You can add any additional component of your preference

DISADVANTAGES

  • Not for amateurs unless they have attention to detail
  • Can be costly compared to buying an RTF drone
  • Can be time consuming
  • Can be exhausting when figuring compatibility of components

With the guidelines that we have equipped you above, we are confident that you are in a better position to pick the frame you deem the best. We still reiterate that, there’s no frame that is deemed the best because hobbyists have different tastes.

It all depends on what you are looking for and what kind of the drone you want to assemble. We have further discussed about the features you need to look for, as well as giving you the recommended frames per category of frames.

About the author
Jack Brown
Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at MyDroneLab.com bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.

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