Drone technology has developed massively in the past 5 years. Drones are now widely used for photography, filming, racing, surveillance, and even delivery! Tons of different types are available, but recently we have also seen a wave of drones hit the market with an educational element.
Some of the kits listed here focus on building and experimenting with drone designs. Others have more of a focus on programming flight paths, and some do both! We have tried to include a mix of both in our list of the best DIY drone kits in 2021 for kids, teens, and adults. The best pick for most beginners is probably GILOBABY DIY Mini Racing Drone. It’s a great introduction to the exciting world of aeronautical engineering!
Read on for our recommendations for the best drone kits for students of any age!
- Best Build Your Own Drone Kits for Kids
- DIY Drone Kits for Teens & Adults – Reviews
- What to Consider When Buying a Build Your Own Drone Kit for Kids or Adults
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Build Your Own Drone Kits for Kids
The kits below are all fantastic drone building sets for kids to get an introduction to the world of aerodynamics and electronic engineering. With some of the kits, they will even learn coding!
Best Overall – GILOBABY STEM RC Toys DIY Mini Racing Drone
The manufacturer advertises this DIY drone kit as a remote control toy. While that’s a fair assessment, we argue it’s so much more than a toy!
For starters, GILOBABY DIY Mini Racing Drone is a real flying vehicle that comes with all structural components included in the package. There is no hassle of sifting through hundreds of options and figuring out what’s compatible and what isn’t! The package even includes a lithium-polymer or lipo battery.
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a high-quality FPV quadcopter. Big and powerful drones cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. This one is more like a kid friendly introduction to the world of drones. The process of assembling it and learning to fly will teach them tons of useful STEM skills. And then, if it turns out that they like it, you can proceed with more serious investment.
It takes 50 minutes to charge the battery for about 10 minutes of flight. The short flying time is no biggie, though. You can always buy more batteries to ensure more fun in a single run.
The one thing that it doesn’t include is a camera. And that’s absolutely understandable! With this price, it’s a miracle that you can construct a thing that flies.
The only downside is that the motor tends to overheat. So, you might have to take frequent breaks to allow some naptime for this little buzzer.
Best for Serious Drone Pilots – DJI Flame Wheel F550 ARF Kit
The Flame Wheel F550 is a premium DIY drone kit for teens and adults from popular drone makers DJI. The company is certainly more well known for their RTF (ready to fly) drone kits rather than ARF (almost ready to fly). You have most likely heard of the DJI Mavic, but the F550 is still a reliable and durable drone.
Want to see how durable? Check out this hilarious video of a DJI worker trying to destroy the frame of a DJI 450!
The F550 is no less resistant. Its frames are made of a tough PA66+30GF nylon compound. A strong PCB board features an integrated circuit that makes wiring the battery, ESCs, and other accessories easier and tidier. Some soldering skills are still required for assembly.
The build is certainly simpler than some of the options out there, with DJI providing a manual to guide you. It’s a popular kit, so there are also quite a lot of user-generated video tutorials available on YouTube. If you run into any issues, there’s also an active online community! The popularity also means that spare parts are widely available should you need replacements, as well as extra accessories such as FPV cameras.
Overall, this is a high performance drone that should do well in flight, but it is not without its disadvantages. To be flight-ready, you will need to purchase additional equipment, including a battery, radio, receiver, and flight controller. That could be a stretch considering the already hefty price tag.
If you are looking at this kit, you probably already have some experience with DIY drone kits. Hopefully, you will already own some of these components. If not, the extras only add to what is already quite an expensive kit.
To sum it up, we still really like the F550, but would not recommend it for total beginners. It is one of the best build-your-own drone kits for those with some prior experience building drones.
Best Budget Option – Readytosky 250mm FPV Racing Drone Frame Kit
Fans of the DIY approach might be delighted or disappointed with this low-fi looking DIY drone frame. That’s exactly what Readytosky 250mm Drone Kit is – a carbon fiber frame with bottom plates and a top plate. The box also contains many tiny parts, a strap, and propellers—no motor or transmitter. If you’re into aerial photography, you’ll have to buy a camera too.
So how does this thing fly? The answer is, it doesn’t. You will need to buy the other items separately, which is both an advantage and a liability. It’s an advantage for those of you who are not fans of ready-made products that can take to the sky right out of the box. And if you would rather choose a safer path, there is a list of recommended specs for the rest of the configuration.
As to the quality of the frame, it’s lightweight while still being relatively sturdy. You’re going to crash your drone more than once. Everybody does! But this one has pretty good chances to survive almost any challenge a beginner can throw at it. Even if it doesn’t, you can always buy another kit for spare parts. It’s that affordable!
That’s why this little DIY drone is not our budget pick. Because the package only includes the quadcopter frame kit, a lipo strap to fasten the battery, as well as 3-blade propellers. Note, however, that even with the additional purchases you’ll need, it will still turn out to be one of the best FPV quadcopter kits out there.
Another word of caution, though. Your kid will need help while assembling this or any other DIY drone kit. Sure, there’s an instruction manual to handhold the user through the process. Still, seeing things in print doesn’t look or feel the same as holding them in your hands. And it will be a valuable lesson in aviation engineering!
Best Origami Drone – Kitables Paper Frame Drone Quadcopter Kit
Is your kid a fan of origami or even paper airplanes? If yes, this Kitables Paper Frame Drone Quadcopter Kit could be an excellent gift idea! They’ve certainly made dozens of papercrafts. But this papercraft actually flies and does all sorts of fun maneuvers!
You’ll get printed instructions, but you can also find them online. Your kid can do the easier part – cut off the paper along the solid lines, and bend it along the dashed lines. To make things easier, they can also color the parts. That’s your frame!
Now, it’s up to you as a parent to solder the brushless motors to the receiver board. While this likely prohibits the kit from younger users, soldering is a key part of tinkering with electronics. A plus for the company for including this element. A minus, however, for not including a small soldering iron!
Once you secure it all together and wire it up, the flying fun begins! The flight controller has low and high sensitivity modes. For a complete newbie, it’s best to start with low sensitivity.
Tinkering with this set will enact STEM learning indicators such as problem solving skills and curiosity for building. Making a working air vehicle out of paper, motors, propellers, and wires is an excellent hands on lesson in basic engineering!
The only con to this DIY beginner drone kit is the price. Apart from the transmitter, receiver, and motors, there is nothing you wouldn’t be able to get on your own. Still, when you buy it as a set, you’re paying for the privilege of a hassle-free experience.
DIY Drone Kits for Teens & Adults – Reviews
The above kits are great options for novices but may be a little too simple for teens – especially older ones – and adults. So below, we’ll take a look at three great drone building kits for teens and adults that are a little more complex and feature more premium components. So here, things begin to move more into the hobbyist territory!
Best for Hobbyists – YoungRC F450 Drone Frame Kit
The YoungRC F450 Drone Frame Kit differs from the above in that it is marketed as a DIY drone kit for hobbyists, rather than for kids or educational purposes. However, the drone still requires assembly, so it does still serve as a learning tool in this respect and makes a good drone building kit for teens and adults.
Another aspect of hobbyist kits is that they often feature interchangeable parts, meaning that you can quite easily replace faulty parts or upgrade components. This kind of tinkering and experimentation can help to develop skills useful in STEM fields.
Back to our YoungRC! The price isn’t modest without a reason. It’s basically just a frame, and you’ll need to buy everything else: controller, receiver, motors, propellers, and optionally a camera. You’ll need to solder your electronic speed controller (ESC) components, which is another reason why this kit isn’t very good for smaller kids.
The frame is pretty robust and not too lightweight. So, if you are into drone racing, it might be a good idea to skip this one. Apart from the plates, the kit also includes landing skids. Unlike the frame itself, these aren’t very sturdy. If you tend to crash a lot (which you will, as a beginner), they may not last long. Luckily, you can get another frame for spare parts in a cinch.
The Robolink Codrone Pro is a drone with a focus on the coding aspect rather than the building. That said, the quad drone itself comes fully built, although the flight controller needs some putting together. You need to assemble two joysticks, a battery pack, wiring, a Bluetooth module, and the ‘smart inventor board.’ It’s an Arduino compatible circuit board.
Don’t worry, though. Robolink provides substantial online resources to guide you through this process. Choose from their written guide or a YouTube channel. While at it, you will develop some basic understanding of electrical components.
After you finish the flight controller, it’s time to program your drone! No worries if you’ve never done it before. Learning will be a breeze through a combination of online step by step tutorials. It starts with the basics: setting up your software, pairing, and learning simple flight commands.
Once you have this down, you can move to the intermediate lessons, then five exciting missions. Our favorite is the multiplayer battle mission, where you have to upload the code for the game and then engage in a laser tag style battle! Robolink also regularly adds new missions.
The Codrone relies on the Arduino open source ecosystem, which is based on the widely used C/C++ coding languages. So the best part about it is that they are learning valuable skills the whole time!
As the Codrone is all about experimenting, it’s possible there could be a few accidental collisions. However, you can buy replacement parts from the website if anything does get broken.
Another thing we love about Codrone is the community aspect. If you run into problems, there is an active Facebook group where you can look for any answers you couldn’t find on the website.
One of the downsides is the somewhat short flight time, but again you can buy extra batteries and a multi-charger add-on. The other potential downside is that it is super lightweight. In the field, the wind could cause problems, so it is more suitable for indoor flying.
Overall, we really love this DIY drone kit and think it is a fantastic learning tool. But if you want to fly outdoors with a lot of range, perhaps it is not the right choice.
Best for Intermediate Pilots – Readytosky S500 Quadcopter Frame
We’ve already seen a wallet-friendly pick from Readytosky. Now it’s time to meet a bit sturdier and bigger quad frame kit – the S500 Quadcopter Frame. Unlike the previous model, this one has a 500mm wheelbase. So, the S500 is twice as big!
On the whole, the frame is made of carbon fiber. It translates to a great balance between sturdiness and lightweight. The package includes landing gear, which is also carbon fiber. However, the legs are especially exposed and vulnerable to crashes, so you shouldn’t expect miracles!
The great thing is that the motor mounting bases are compatible with almost any motor. Less trouble down the road! Like with some other options above, this drone frame also pulls additional expenses. You’ll need to get motors, battery, ESC, remote controller, propellers, and more. With a DIY approach, you always need to factor in some risk!
The downside is that there is no documentation to assist with the build, which is often the case with hobbyist DIY drones. However, there are lots of build-your-own drone video guides on YouTube that can be used as assistance. Even so, perhaps this kit is more suitable for those with a little prior experience!
What to Consider When Buying a Build Your Own Drone Kit for Kids or Adults
Ease of Assembling
Hobbyist drone kits will usually come in a box full of various components. If you’ve never done it before, you’re in for some serious confusion even as you try to identify all the parts. Then comes the drilling, soldering, screwing, mounting, and connecting.
Like all vehicles, a drone is basically a combination of mechanical and electrical components. As a complete newcomer to the world of drones, you’ll need thorough instructions. The trouble is, they are rarely included in the package. So you’ll need to buckle up for hours of researching the internet! Luckily, there are many in-depth guides and tutorials.
As we begin to move into hobbyist territory, some useful terminology begins to crop up. One of the most common options is a ‘BNF’ (bind and fly) drone set. The abbreviation means that it doesn’t include a remote controller. You may also come across ‘ARF’ drone sets, which stands for ‘almost ready to fly.’ This means there is some assembly required to get to the flight stage.
If you are not a crafty or DIY person, the best drone type for you would be an RTF (ready to fly). It would require no additional accessories. In other words, such a drone can fly as soon as you unbox it!
For kids and teens who have no prior experience with drone building, it’s best to soften the learning curve so as not to put them off. If they are into coding, a programmable drone may be the best option. It doesn’t require much engineering, and it’s a great open-ended learning opportunity.
The next step would be to get a frame kit that they can assemble with your help. You’ll typically need to buy the electronics and wire it up.
If you have some serious engineering experience up your sleeve, you can go wild and try to build everything from scratch. Even the frame itself! However, such an approach is not for the impatient or the faint-hearted. You will need days and weeks of experimenting, trial, and error. A drone enthusiast may even want to build their own remote controller, which requires coding too.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are drone kits and how to choose the right one for you?
Unlike ready-made drones, drone kits are sets of pieces and components that you need to put together. They are a great option because you get to acquire valuable (and transferable!) STEM skills while tinkering with all the mechanics and electronics. You should opt for high-quality drone kits instead of ready-made drones because you can customize them to suit your needs. And save a lot of money in the process!
Are DIY drone kits expensive?
As I said above, one of the foremost reasons why people opt for DIY kits is because they are way less costly than a full-blown drone. If you do your homework diligently, you can end up with a mighty drone without having to pay thousands of dollars.
Of course, the quality materials and components you need, the more you’ll have to pay. But it’s still going to be much cheaper than if you opted for expensive drones that fly right out of the box.
What type of drone should I build?
There are many categories and types of kits. There are even multiple subcategories of mini quads, according to their propeller sizes.
Typically, if you’re into drone racing, a mini quad kit will do the best job. For most beginners, a 5-inch drone will be the most convenient option. It’s small enough to fly indoors. But if you need it outdoors, it’s stable enough even to carry a camera.
However, if you’re a fan of aerial photos or HD video, you’ll need a bigger and much more stable drone. Aim for at least seven inches, preferably more. These drones are more powerful, have a longer range, and smooth flight.
The longer the range, the more options (and battery life) you’ll need to make your life easier. Weather conditions can be rough up there, so you’ll need an aerial vehicle with high wind resistance. The return home mode will help you not lose it. Headless mode will help with directionality, which can be an issue when the drone is high up and far away. Not to mention “smart” features and specs such as obstacle avoidance and various sensors.
- Best Engineering Kits for Adults | Learn Engineering, Robotics & Design - December 11, 2020
- Best DIY Drone Kits for Kids and Adults | Build and Code Drones - December 5, 2020
- 7 Best Educational Toys for 2-Year-Olds | 2021 Guide and Reviews - December 4, 2020
Last update on 2021-01-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API