The Pi Zero Drone Part 1: Introduction

Figure 1: X Frame Quad Copter
Introduction: The multirotor copters or ‘multicopter’ is a highly popular recreational hobby but are also being implemented into professional use in cinematography and even surveying landscapes that may be hard to access by foot. There are many types of multirotor copters that come in various sizes depending on the cargo onboard the copter. For this build a quadcopter with 4 propellers will be the main focus. Now comes the time to pick the style of the frame. Popular quadcopter frames include X and H frame designs. Just as the shape of the letters depicts, the location of the rotors offer minor differences depending on the use of copter. X frame quadcopters are a highly stable platform with endless possibilities for various motors and propellers.

            The frame will be 3D printed using PLA and ABS that will hold the batteries, motors, microcontroller, ESCs (speed controllers), and radio receivers. Using an X-copter Calculator that determine all the right components along with data of battery use, efficiency and motor at full throttle is a great way to start picking parts needed. (The link the online calculator is: )

Figure 2: Raspberry Pi Zero
The goal of this project is to power and control the quad with a Raspberry Pi Zero. The advantages of the Pi Zero is the small, lightweight structure that allows for more operating power than an Arduino microcontroller. There are multiple examples of a Pi Zero controlled quadcopter and these will be used to compare notes and programming to successfully put everything together. (An example of such a quadcopter can be found on the link:

Throughout the build, explanations of the different parts and coding will be uploaded along with video demonstrations. Stay tuned for the design of the frame and introduction to the PXFmini from Erle Robotics. 

Michael Perry 7/12/2016


  1. The one thing that I have learnt about drones is that one’s interest gets more interesting with the design. And the X frame does always impress me; even though, I have worked with a number of H designs. Thanks for the tips. The DJI Phantom 2 Vision has also caught my eye – check it out here: