Build or buy?


I got all the parts to build a 450 frame for under 300 dollars at aliexpress and there all parts that would normally cost double from other websites


This question has probably been asked in the past but I could not find anything recent. Let's assume we all know the pluses and minuses of time and effort, repairs, and self satisfaction of a build and the instant gratification of RTF units.
My question centers around the real costs of a build vs a store bought quad assuming (true in my case) that you have absolutely nothing but a bench when you start.
I want a quad with the capabilities of the Phantom 2+. I don't think I will end up going into the RC hobby culture full force, but others I'm sure thought the same when they started. The DJI 450 ARF seems like a reasonable platform using the NAZA v2 flight controller. From there I have no idea what other components are needed so the build would be similar to the Phantom 2+. For this reason I can't add up the costs of a build to compare it to the retail cost of the Phantom. David

At this point I have read only 3 or 4 replies -and has opinions vary - I may as well chime in now!

On 8th August 2015 - after pouring over YouTube and lurking around a few forums - ordered a Syma X8W from ( can I name names??) a online China based store offering among everything including the kitchen sink - is 6 colours - and since then it seems I have been for Everbuying quad related items. The Syma was junk - to a newbie. As I battled with it and spent hours online scouring for Syma info.
I learned how to reset the gyros, balance props, all to now avail. It would do nothing the sticks were supposed to be telling it to do.
The display said Mode 2 - so I sat it down, armed it and started trying the seemed to be a mixture of modes 1&2.
I then switched it to mode 1 - according to the display - perfect Mode 2! By this time I was fed up with it and having learned even more on forums...decided to sell it and buy parts for a 450 DJI copy setup.
This becomes a sage that not yet over. Grieving over lost cash in buying and selling the Syma + us$60 of props and batteries (us$181.00 - about au$250-ish) I started buying - mostly from eBay.
The 450 is a finished item - at least its built.

450 cheapo ebay frame
4x Mars 2123 - 920kv motors
DJI cc/ccw props
4x ZTW Spider 30A OPTO small ESCs with
1 HobbyKing uBeck
2200 and 4000 3s Turnigy batteries
Radio is a Devo 10 ( from the same store as the Syma - long story)

That sounds OK and costs up reasonably well..... until I add in
soldering kit, solder, heat shrink tube, electric ties, prop balance, ( the posh one for DJI props)
neck strap for radio, lipo Battery chargers - 2 Imax B3 genuine and one fake - both are OK.( Imax B6 en-route from Melboourne)
screw drivers and Hex keys ( Allen Keys in UK) and at least a dozen other bits and pieces.

In the mean time, due to lost items, refunds for defective stuff and the need to get things faster costing $$$in DHL deliveries, I also acquired
enough bits to create

550 Alien Frame
4 x 2212 980 DJI motors
DJI Props
4x Emax Simon Series 30a ESC
4500 Flouron 30c 3s lipo ( replacement for a DOA from ebay seller)
Turnigy 5ch radio and rx $32 shipping $20!
KK2.1.5 FC
At the last count I was upwards of au$900 spending and seemingly the bulk of that is items other than the actual flying bits.

I would like to conclude with an happy ending and a vid of my fleet in action.... but so far 10 feet high after an erratic take off and eventual nose dive is the best I can offer.
Back to reading manuals and watching youTube for divine intervention... unless you are near the Central Coast NSW and want some free beer..

Sorry, omitted to mention that all this came about because I purchased a Phantom 3 pro and wanted to learn more and how to fly manually!

I build my racers, but I buy my AP machines. This may seem strange, but it works for me. With the racers, I enjoy tweaking, tuning, changing parts and experimenting, but when I take a AP machine out I just want it to work. I have built AP machines, but I never had as good an experience as I did with the ones that I bought complete. My advice, built a racer, buy your flying camera.


When I got into this hobby almost a year ago, I wanted to learn how to fly a multicopter as well as build my own. I felt that the state of the art was about the same as personal computers was back in the '90s. So I read the book "Build Your Own Quadcopter", which had a wealth of information but pushed building the Elev-8 quad from Parallax.

I bought a little Hubsan X4 to learn how to fly, and then took the plunge and bought an Elev-8 (V2) kit from Parallax. The cost was $500, but it came with everything you needed except the radio. It was an easy build, though I did have to learn how to solder... It flew well, but it had a basic flight controller. I did crash it a few times - easy to get beyond your modest flying skills and if you lose orientation you can get into trouble! Fortunately, it is easy to repair. But I was soon dissatisfied - I wanted more advance flight features - Alt. Hold. Return To Launch, etc. Also, I wanted a ship that could fly autonomously.

So I bought a second Elev-8 kit, sans the flight controller, and decided to use an APM alfight controller/autopilot. This worked great, after overcoming the learning curve. I learned a lot. but I had many flight modes - Loiter, Alt Hold, RTL, Circle, Stabilize, Acro, Simple Mode, as well as Auto - autonomous flight. After awhile, I flew this one exclusively and my other Elev-8 sat in the closet. So, I decided to reaplace its Hoverfly Open flight controller with an APM as well.

Since then I have also built a Tarot FY680 Pro hexcopter with a Tarot 2 axis gimbal/GoPro Hero4 camera and video transmitter. I have similarly modified one of my Elev-8's to carry the same gimbal/camera as well as it's own video transmitter; I also replaced it's KA1050 motors with Tarot 4006 620KV motors and is powered with a 4s 6000 mAh 30C lipo pack.

Here is a video I recently shot from my Tarot hexcopter:

Here is a video I shot using my Elev-8 - this shows my use of Misssion Planner:


New Member
I feel like for your situation, buy. 100%.

If you're not looking to get into the hobby, you'll end up spending tons of time and money learning and buying accessories just to build your quad. Not to mention if you crash or need to repair (happens very regularly with DIY projects) it just becomes more expensive. Go buy a phantom!


You have a very interesting hobby! If itis more convenient for you to build it, it is interesting for you, then you should definitely build it. As forme, it is much mor easier to buy Phantom 2 or 3. You know what you pay for. I bought my Phantom 3 several monthis ago from and I really like flying this drone. It captures amazing video. Of course, it is not so goo as P4 is, but it really worth its money. Nevertheless, it is really cool that there are people who like the process of building such techniques.

C. Pruitt

New Member


I am fairly new to flying a multi rotor drone. I also have a bit of a heads up on electronics and radio signal propagation as a licensed HAM.

You asked "Build or Buy" and fairly new to drones.

There are some things not mentioned about building a Phantom 2 and some key parts you are going to need for a camera drone. In the build you will desperately need a GPS module and a Barometer module for Altitude hold. Without these parts included you will have a tough time flying level or holding a postion in the wind while panning the gimbal. Going with a Acro or Angle Flight controller, you will be all over the place and not have a stable platform as a camera drone.

Also another thing to consider is the learning curve of a working build with correct motors, ESC's and programing with Beta Flight. Also binding the quad and Hall sensors.

That is a lot to take in without loosing interest in the build.

I know better as a beginner drone pilot and not take on more than I can handle. I fly RTF for now until I work my way up.


New Member
I'm training on drone simulator and now I learn how to fly. Now I want to buy or build a racing drone but I don't know what drone a should buy or build.
I'll be happy if someone can help me.:)



New Member
I will choose to build one, because I will learn a lot during the construction process, and I can know more deep with my drone , and I know what parts will be better, such as how to match the ESC, motor, lipo battery and so on. In addition, because drones are often repaired, you can better repair them with a certain understanding of yourself