Quadcopter Subsystems


There are obviously exceptions to all of the below, but these are primarily aimed at entry-level quads that won’t trash themselves in the first crash. They are resilient enough to get you going. You can spend more or you can spend less, but the estimates given are intended to be a middle ground.

Flight/Power Subsystem ($150-$300)

This is basically everything that makes the quad fly. A large percentage of the higher-end of the price above is listed for batteries. The flight/power system contains the following:

  • Frame
  • Motors
  • Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs)
  • Flight Controller (Software that flies the quad)
  • Power distribution (whether it’s a power distribution board or a power harness)
  • Propellors
  • Batteries
  • Buzzer (this

Radio Subsystem ($100-$300)

This is the system that you use to control the copter. It’s the transmitter (the controller that is in your hand) and the receiver that the controller communicates with that sits on the actual copter. The most recommended is a Taranis¬†and the D4R-II receiver, which will cost ~$220.

  • Transmitter
  • Receiver

FPV Subsystem ($150-$500)

This is the subsystem that allows you to watch video from the perspective of the quad in real time.

  • FPV Board Camera
  • On Screen Display (if you want one)
  • Video Transmitter (vtx)
  • ¬†Antennas (don’t cheap out on these)
  • Video Receiver (vrx)
  • Goggles/Monitor (some way of viewing the screen)
  • Battery for ground station (I just use one of my power system batteries)
  • Power filtering (LC Filter)
  • Voltage Regulator (mostly required for people that fly 4S — if you fly 4S many cameras will not work without a 12v step-down regulator)

Support Subsystem ($100-$500)

The support subsystem is everything on the ground that you will use to keep your quad back up in the air. You’re going to crash and you’re going to break things, so having a good support system is worth it.

  • Soldering Iron (can get expensive — I have a $40 one that’s perfect)
  • Battery Charger (can get expensive — I have a $60 one that’s adequate)
  • Helping Hands
  • Screwdrivers/hex drivers
  • Electrical Tape
  • Various Sizes of Heat Shrink
  • Extra Servo Cables
  • Battery Straps
  • Voltage Checker
  • Lipo Storage Bags
  • Extra Power Connector plugs
  • Nylon Standoff Kit

All put together

All in all, you can expect to spend between $500 and $1600 to get a build. In reality, I personally ended up somewhere in the middle of that, but it can be done for more and it can be done for less. It just depends on how you want to go about it.

The FPV Subsystem is not required when you get going, and many people already familiar and practicing RC will have the support and radio subsystems, so they can just do the flight/power system. I personally skipped the FPV subsystem until I was comfortable flying the quad line of sight, then I bought the FPV stuff and upgraded my quad to fly FPV.

View this post here to see a build put together that breaks down all of these parts into actual items that you can go look at and learn more about.

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