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Multirotor Top Tips


terrorizing squirrels
Multirotor Top Tips

Learning to fly a multirotor can be a fun experience if done correctly but can be rather frustrating if done the hard way. These Top Tips have been compiled from the lessons learned by others so you won’t have to learn the hard way. Following these tips does not guarantee a smooth progression just as not following them does not guarantee a disastrous experience but rather the odds are in your favour if you don’t try to re-learn others' mistakes.

1: Expect a steep learning curve.
If you have no previous RC experience expect a steeper learning curve. This is not to say you will fail, but rather expect things to progress slower. Multirotors can be harder to fly than RC planes due to their inherent instability and having no previous RC knowledge can make things harder. There is also a big difference between the "building" and "flying" learning curves, and doing both at the same time can make things even harder.

2: Consider a micro quad for practice
There are many fantastic micro quads that run on a 1S or 2S battery which are cheap, easy to fly and much more crash resistant than a larger multirotor. Learning on these will help you progress quicker and require much less fixing to get there.

3: Expect to crash
This is a given. You WILL crash. You WILL break things. How much it costs to fix and how often is up to the multirotor you buy and the decisions you make as you learn. Factor in the cost and availability of spare parts.

4: Study study study
There is HEAPS of info on the internet and in forums like here at FliteTest so spend you’re time wisely while deciding what to buy and soak up what info you can while you wait for your parts to arrive. Any problems you can’t answer can be answered on here. That what we’re here for.

5: Select a proven design and motor setup
Although scratch building can be rewarding, there are so many variables that go into a multirotor that for your first one it is best to go with a proven design. This also goes for the motor/prop choice. Getting the wrong setup can be frustrating and expensive. Choose either a setup recommended by the kit manufacturer or go with a setup many others have proven to be a good choice for your multirotor.

6: Select the correct ESC (speed controller) that will work with a multirotor
Multirotors require a certain type of ESC (Electronic Speed Controller). Some work well and some require fiddling. Some need to have new firmware flashed onto them for them to work at their best. Some will never work well. Find out what is best for you before you commit to buy.

7: Ensure Your FC (Flight Controller) firmware is up to date
Some FC’s are sent with old firmware and in some cases this can make the multicopter harder to fly. Check with experienced pilots whether you need to update your firmware.

8: Leave the GoPro and FPV gear on the work bench for now.
Yes! I’m talking to you...
I know you’ve seen all those amazing video’s posted on YouTube but forget about that for now. LOS (line of sight) flying and FPV are not the same thing. Wait till you have basic skills before strapping on that camera and attempting FPV. Just because you're good at one, doesn't make you good at the other. Learn to fly first, then strap on the camera. Learn to crawl before you walk. Doing so will probably save you from breaking your FPV gear and GoPro before you get to really use it.

9: 4S (and up) battery powered multirotors are for the experts.
3S battery setups are for everyone else. Start out on a basic system and move to high power setup once you are a competent pilot. You can still do most things on a 3 cell battery setup. The electrical system and setup in a multirotor has a bigger effect on the performace than a fixed wing aircraft. Pick out a battery that suits your learning needs in power (Volts), capacity (mah) and discharge rating (C rating). Failure to do so and you will end with a battery that is either too powerful for you, too heavy to learn on or will "puff" and fail on you after only a couple of flights.

10: Keep it simple, keep it light
The more simple and light it is, the less likely you will crash it and the more likely it will come out unscathed when you do. Following the above tips will help ensure this. Right now you do not not need the complication of GPS and Return To Land functions etc.

11: Balance your props and motors
Vibration is the enemy of a multirotor. It adversely effects the flight controllers ability to fly and can cause general badness on a multirotor. You need to balance both your prop/prop hub and your motor. Doing so will greatly improve the flight performance of your multirotor.

12: Start with plastic propellers
Leave the carbon fiber propellers for later. Although the carbon props do give better performance, the plastic props hold up much better in a crash and are very cheap to replace. Carbon Fiber props are also a category above nylon/poly-plastic props in terms of danger. A nylon prop will hurt you but a Carbon Fiber prop will injure you. You will break many props trying to learn. Remember to replace your chipped propellers! You may be able to get a few more flights with them but it won't be worth watching your multirotor crash when they fail.

13: Resist the urge to unnecessarily fiddle with your flight settings
If you are lucky and have setup everything correctly, the multirotor will hopefully be flying pretty well. If so, then resist the urge to fiddlle with your settings too early. Adjusting the settings incorrectly can make the flight characteristics far worse. If something is not right with the settings then don’t be shy asking the forum for advice. A movie posted on YouTube can sometimes make thing easier for us to diagnose the problem.

13: Time to hover so take things slowly
Find a nice grassy and open area to start with little to no wind preferred. Your concrete driveway is NOT a suitable place to learn to fly a multirotor. The hard driveway, the garage door, your boundary fence or neighbor's roof will confirm this.

Think about how much space you will need to fly your multirotor and double it . . . Then double it again. Rotorcraft really need area when you make mistakes. In fixed wing they talk about the number of mistakes high (how many sequential mistakes can you make from an altitude before it will crash). In multirotors, usually you will run out of lateral distance before you can't recover it.

Stay close. Don't try to fly too high or get too far while you're learning. Distance is the enemy of orientation, height will need to more broken bits and you need to learn that quickly.

Start by hovering into wind with the multirotor’s tail facing you. It may sound boring but keep doing this until you get confident at it. Maybe try going forward and back or maybe in a little wind but keep the tail facing you and don’t go too high. Once you’ve mastered that then try a hover with the multirotor sideways to you. This may not seem like much but you need to learn to hover at different angles before you can fly circuits. Once again try forwards and backwards and maybe side to side but not too high. Holding the hover in some wind will confirm your getting good at it. Now your ready for some gentle circuits. Try to do figure eight patterns so all your turns are away from you.

Lastly you need to master the nose in hover. With the multirotors nose facing you, your controls are backwards and things get confusing very easily. Practice practice practice and some patience will get you where you want to be.
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terrorizing squirrels
Basic Multirotor Handy Links​

How to flash a KK2/KK2.1 with new Firmware

How to balance a Propeller

How to balance a motor with an Iphone App

How to balance a motor with a laser pointer and mirror

Adjusting P and I gains on a KK2/KK2.1 FC

Adjusting KK2/KK2.1 auto level gains

Explaining Expo and Dual Rates (Skip forward to the 11minute mark)

Explaining Stick Scaling

Comparing ESC’s with and without SimonK Firmware

Flashing a 20A ESC with SimonK Firmware

How to setup a KK2 FC

RC Basics: Brushless electric motors

RC Basics: What is motor KV?

RC Basics: ESC’s

RC Basics: Lipo Batteries
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Senior Member
Looks good to me too, would be interesting to put together a "Most como and basic multirotor build" both tri and quad since those are the most used platforms, listing parts and links :) need a hand on that?


Senior Member
I'll start off by saying this is awesome and should be a stickey... now here's my grammatical nut and some what opinionated side speaking....

#4, "hear" should be "here".
That what we’re here for.
#7, Add in another sentence like, "Add a little protection to your flight board - maybe some foam or a tupperware container. Even if it doesn't look cool, it can save you from having to replace it when (not "if") you crash."

Yes! I’m talking to you...
I know you’ve seen all those amazing video’s posted on YouTube but forget about that for now. LOS (line of sight) flying and FPV are not the same thing. Wait till you have basic skills before strapping on that camera and attempting FPV. Just because you're good at one, doesn't make you good at the other. Learn to crawl before you walk. Doing so will probably save you from breaking your FPV gear and GoPro before you get to really use it.
#8.5, I'd suggest one more point, maybe between 8 & 9 since that is where you bring up batteries but it is getting kind of specific. The reason I think it is important is because I see people (including myself) unknowingly buying under powered batteries to save money. I've already ruined 3 in less than 6 months because I bought cheap ones that were under powered. I wish I had known this when I started.
Move this...
One other thing to consider. 4S battery powered multirotors are for the experts. 3S battery setups are for everyone else.
... to its own new point ...
8.5. Power your multirotor correctly
Start with a 3S battery. It should easily power your multirotor. Once you think you are an expert, then try a 4S battery. Also, make sure your battery has enough output power for your multirotor. This equation shows the maximum amps your multirotor should require:
voltage of your ESC x number of your ESCs
A safe maximum amp output of your battery can found with this equation:
"C" rating * mAh / 1000
Make sure your battery's amp output is enough. This is not for estimating your flight duration, but rather that you won't be over working your battery.
#10, Add in, "Start with plastic propellers. Leave the carbon fiber propellers for later. Also, PLEASE replace your chipped propellers! You may be able to get a few more flights with them but it won't be worth watching your multirotor crash when they fail."

#12, "neighbors roof" should be "neighbor's roof"
I'd suggest just after "Try to do figure eight patterns so all your turns are away from you." add in "Remember, auto-level is your friend."

Even if you don't change any of these, I still think this should be a stickey.


terrorizing squirrels
Awesome, thanks for that KahOOna. The Grammatical stuff was what I was looking for also as you guys are the only people proof reading for me. I'll have have another read of your suggestions and adjust accordingly. I did originally have the battery as a separate section but compiled it from a suggestion but am thinking I like it better separate now :)

There is another Sticky coming by Balu which is more in depth and I'll put the battery info in there. We were just discussing this via PM last night :)
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terrorizing squirrels
CrLock, I'm trying to keep things as "generic as possible" and basic so things don't get outdated easily although if you want to write something up I'll have look and see how it can be incorporated.


Senior Member
I like the updates. You should remove "One other thing to consider." from the end of number 8 because I think that was your transition to talking about batteries earlier.


Faster than a speeding faceplant!
I think "re-learn others mistakes." should be re-learn others' mistakes.

I also think we should mention (without detail) that FPV may have legal requirements so check local laws before you transmit high power FPV video.

Lastly I think we should have a link to the AMA's best practices page.

Great thread FGA.


Misfit Multirotor Monkey
Looks concise and to the point FGA.

A short line of verbiage I would stress in #12 is how CF props are a category above nylon/poly-plastic props in terms of danger.
Any advice on maidening a multi? In the FT crew's beginner series videos, they cover maidening a fixed wing, checking stall characteristics etc., but how dyu best maiden a multi? Years ago, the advice I got on maidening a helo roughly equated to 'punch it up to three mistakes high ASAP' and that the noob mistake is to keep it low, where it feels safer. Being about helo's, and from a slightly dubious source, what do you guys suggest?


Hostage Taker of Quads
Staff member

Unlike a heli, you've got a contorlboard working with you -- think of it as an obidient pilot doing most of the hard work to follow your commands . . . but he may not understand you at first. It's best to attack it slowly.

first things first, after you've checked your reciever inputs, made sure all your ESCs are calibrated, and the props and motors are spinning the right way, time to double-check that the pilot understands your commands.

Arm and throttle up slowly until the MR get's light on the skids. Then gently move through the controls -- pitch forward and the rear skids should start to lift, back and the front will lift, left to lift the right, right to lift the left.

*BE PREPARED TO CHOP THE THROTTLE OFF* If you've got something backwards, there's a good chance the MR will flip instantly, as soon as one of the skids leaves the ground. you'll want the motors off in an instant if it starts to do that.

Find a smooth surface and repeat for the yaw.

After all the directions check out and no flipping, it's time to go airborne. I usually throttle up to get it light on the skids, brace myself, and in one fluid motion, punch to 3/4 and back to near 1/2, to try to catch it in a hover. My goal is ~3 ft, but less should still be liveable. If I can, I'll hold it there for 10-30s to see if any wierd vibes or shakes are involved.

** if you're stll learning ** turn on the self level in the maiden hover, but be advised, it can make for poor flight charicteristics until it's tuned, and you have to turn it off to tune it.

Hover for a few moments, then gently bump the controls to see it respond -- if acro is on, you'll need to bump it back to get it back to level. Hovering the first pack with only little touches on the controls isn't a bad idea. Treat it gently for the first few packs, and when you start tuning, tune a pack, fly a pack (to take a break and see if you really need to tune further).
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Hostage Taker of Quads
Staff member

Nice cleanup. Thank's for capturing these.

BTW, in the cleanup, Some boards want the builder to calibrate the ESCs manually, some boards want to calibrate the ESCs themselves . . . you're added step there is good, but not sure how to better put it since the answer isn't quite definitive.

Also, by Brace yourself, I meant "build up your courage", not "prepare for a crash" . . . although the second one might not be bad advise for every takeoff ;)

Again, thank's for keeping up with it :)


Staff member
Updated so it shows that depending on your flight controller ESC calibration will be done automatically or require manual work. Also added "build up your courage" while keeping "prepare for a crash" ;-).
Tricopter final wiring

I'm relatively new here and I have been building my tricopter throughout the winter. I have it ready to go, but I have a couple questions that hopefully someone can answer. Alex (from flite test) sent me the PI settings, so that part is done, and I've downloaded the latest firmware for my kk2 board.
There are so many forums relating to the tricopter setup that its been challenging to find those resource when needed. I have watched David Windestahl's video and he shows and says the nice part about the tricopter is that all props set up going ccw. (which is how mine is set) Other forums say to have one prop set cw. Is there a correct way, or is this optional?
Secondly, I've read on a forum somewhere that with the tricopter, one of the signal wires need to be cut as it is not needed. I do remember reading that the esc running the tail servo IS needed, so, do I cut the signal wire to M1 orM2? Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I haven't connected the battery to the tricopter because I'm waiting on the answer about the signal wire.
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