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Picture of Flying Lego Quadcopter

I love LEGO.

I love flying machines

LEGO + making it actually fly? Everything is awesome, two of my favourite hobbies combined :)

My first instructable will take the Lego 60193 Arctic Air Transport Helicopter (quadcopter!) and add the necessary electronics to make it fly for real as a Radio Controlled model. The target audience for this instructable is someone that may already have some RC flying experience, but if you don't I'll give pointers to where you can find out more information and with some practice on a smaller/cheaper toy quadcopter first you could certainly build up to this!

The challenging part with this build is keeping as much of the original LEGO model look as possible, while squeezing in all the electronics. To make fly of course we need to add motors, propellors, electronic speed controllers (ESC) and an electronic flight controller to manage the stability of the model and convert the commands from the RC transmitter into appropriate propeller speeds to control the model.

The electronics have been chosen to fit within the available space, and the LEGO modifications have been kept to a minimum to attach the motors.

Let's get going!

[I've been inspired by others that have done something like this before, but all the written instructions, photos and video are 100% my own work]

Step 1: Build the Lego Kit & Plan the Electronics

Picture of Build the Lego Kit & Plan the Electronics

Building the LEGO kit is the first and quickest part of this build! I built the full model first, along with the ice block for the saber tooth tiger and the little quad bike that comes with it. Just follow the LEGO instructions (in case you're interested, they're available online: )

After letting my kids play with the LEGO model a while I took some of it apart to see how the electronics would fit and also the arrangement of the props and motors.

With the winch gear and other unnecessary blocks removed from inside it's relatively open inside which is great for placing the battery (0.95Ah 3 cell LiP), and the 20x20mm stack with flight controller and 4-in-1 electronic speed controller.

With any flying model it's important to get the center of gravity right to make flying and trimming the model easier. For a quadcopter this means the main weight of the aircraft should ideally be centered between the props. With the battery sitting just behind the pilot and flight controller at the back this is pretty much perfectly balanced already.

IgorF27 days ago
Great! I hope the LEGO pieces don't fall apart during the flight. :D
bmohnsen8 days ago
Which lego parts from the set did you not use? Did you have to add any lego parts?
NeilP43 (author)  bmohnsen8 days ago
Hi - I removed the winch from the inside to make space for the battery, and I added some flat plates to the central frame to make it a little stronger. See the photos in step 6 for details.
this is FANTASTIC. it was seriously my big dream when i was a small child. thanks for realising it. Good luck in the contest, a jugde ;)
NeilP43 (author)  matti04_electronics9 days ago
Thanks Matti! I know I used to build lego helicopters as a kid with all the lego technic gears to make the tail rotor and main rotor turn. Of course I motorised it but it didn't fly. It's amazing how the multi-rotor technology has reduced in size and price over the years to make projects like this possible!
CraftAndu11 days ago
Well done! I can't believe this is your first 'ible! Kudos!
NeilP43 (author)  CraftAndu10 days ago
Thanks for the kind words! I've been a long time reader of instructables and I knew what kind of detail I'd like to see if I were reading these instructions!
I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of others that have had a go at building one.
donfrench18 days ago
I hope you didn't try flying it in Yosemite as your photo suggests. As of May 2, 2014, the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (or drones) is prohibited within park boundaries according to regulations stated in the Code of Federal Regulations.
I highly doubt this is heavy enough to be classified as an unmanned aircraft. Where I live in Canada we have some of the strictest drone rules in the world (basically requires you to pass an aviation theory exam before you can fly...) yet drone 250 gr or lower are not classified as unmanned aircrafts. I doubt this to be above 250 gr in weight, but I may be wrong and I don’t know the American regulations. Would be a real shame not to see more drone shots of Yosemite or Yellow stone parks :(
I am sure that the weight is immaterial to the park service. They do not want drones of any kind flying around buzzing climbers hanging on by their fingernails
NeilP43 (author)  donfrench18 days ago
Don’t worry, the Yosemite picture is my wallpaper in the dining room :)
Take a look at the video and you can see where I'm flying is a long way from Yosemite, and later in the video you'll see my wallpaper in the background while I talk about the build.
Good! We wouldn't want to have to bail you out of jail! :-)
Hi there,
great project. Have you weighed in this drone? I am interested to build it to fly in Canada. It would need to be 250 grams or lighter in weight. I think it’s made out of lego since you can’t repair such small drones after crash usually. Do you think this would work?
NeilP43 (author)  JasbatDrummer17 days ago
Hi JasbatDrummer - I just weighted it and it came in at 314 grams without a battery. It may be possible to make it lighter by removing a few pieces of the lego. I added quite a few pieces to the central frame for strength instead of using glue. By glueing instead you could save some weight. The motors & props are relatively heavy compared to the smaller sub 250 gram quadcopters.
You could of course fly it indoors though!
In terms of repairs, I've not crashed it yet but I'd expect that mostly the lego would come apart and could be put back together again. Worst case, a bad crash might pull apart the soldered connections.
10436BB18 days ago
Will the Jumper T8SG Lite Multi Proticol 12ch S-FHSS Deviation Tx compact full range WORK?? Thank you!
NeilP43 (author)  10436BB18 days ago
It certainly should! Almost any TX / RX combination can work if you have at least 8 channels, and the receiver has a serial output like SBUS to feed into the flight controller. If you're on a budget you could also look at second hand FrSky taranis transmitters, they're very popular in the FPV (first person view) flying community and there's lots of how-to videos on the web.

I don't own a Jumper but I've read good reviews, they're supposed to be good value for money. The T8SG lite looks like it only has 2 switches however. You could use one to Arm/disarm, and the other for flight modes (horizon vs angle). I'd recommend going for the next model up, the Jumper T12, as it's not that much more expensive but does give you more control switches which is more future proof if you fly more complex models in the future.

Just make sure you have a receiver that's compatible with the transmitter. Given that the Jumper is multi-protocol you could use a FrSky receiver. I used a FrSky XSR as they are small enough to fit in the rear of this lego quad. There are even smaller, shorter range, FrSky D8 compatible receivers out there, like this:

Good luck with your build!

nqtronix18 days ago
This is insane! Years ago I was quite obsessed with Lego, especially the technic variety, and I've wished to make things fly more than once. And you just casually did it :D

Great first instructable and good luck in the contest :)
NeilP43 (author)  nqtronix18 days ago
Thank you for the kind words! It surprised me how long it took to pull this all together but the result is awesome.
thndrus119 days ago
Saw this done on Flitetest's YouTube channel. Thanks for breaking it down for those of us!
NeilP43 (author)  thndrus118 days ago
Yes, definitely an inspiration for me, those guys have lots of crazy creations! I think I've improved on their build with less glue ;)
seamster21 days ago
This just makes me happy. Love it!! :D
NeilP43 (author)  seamster20 days ago
Me too! As shown by the smile on my face when it flew perfectly first time! Thanks for your comment ;)