50 things quad pilots learn the hard way

This is a list of things quad pilots learn the hard way, or “What not to do when building a drone”! If you’re an experienced quad builder and pilot some of these may seem obvious, but when first starting out there are so many easy mistakes to make, things that leave you thinking “What was I doing!?” When it comes to learning, there’s no better way than by making mistakes and finding out the hard way. Whether they result in puffs of magic smoke from fried components, broken frames or personal injuries, this list covers a lot of the lessons we all learnt the hard way.

Are there any we’ve missed? Let us know by leaving a comment or sending us a message.


  1. Check polarities. Then check them again.
  2. Always take the props off when plugging in a new quad.
  3. When shortening battery leads, cut one wire at a time.
  4. Not properly setting your fail safes in auto level mode is a good way to lose your quad.
  5. Over propping burns motors and/or escs.
  6. Motor screw length matters! Trying to soft mount motors with screws that are too long for a compressible material results in short circuits in the motor windings.
  7. Buy cheap, buy twice.
  8. Flux is your friend.
  9. Check for solder splatter before plugging in.
  10. Never arm a quad when holding it.

  11. When changing a broken prop make sure you put it on the right way before arming it.
  12. Make sure ALL wires can’t be struck by props.
  13. Don’t arm with the sticks.
  14. There aren’t enough hours in the day, but…
  15. Don’t rush a build – it will fail!
  16. Props off while bench testing.
  17. Put the VTX antenna on before powering up.
  18. Get a smoke stopper for new builds.
  19. Disconnect the battery from the charge lead BEFORE taking the banana plugs out of the charger.
  20. Don’t wear a metal ring around a live deans connector.
  21. Function over form. Build your quads so that you can work on them and access things without having to take them all apart. A little extra wire here and there goes a long way.
  22. FPV is expensive.

  23. Props hurt.
  24. Stick with what works.
  25. Know the difference between SMA vs RPSMA
  26. Just when you think you got it…something goes totally wrong.
  27. Don’t plug in if anyone else is already in the air.
  28. The white line on the cap is NEGATIVE.
  29. Caps explode if you connect to wrong polarity…
  30. Solder blobs are evil.
  31. Trees have ways to get your quad if you fly anywhere near them…
  32. ALWAYS install a buzzer! Quads are hard to find in trees, bushes and even reasonably short grass.
  33. Don’t fly in antenna dead zone… there is a chance the quad will crash into you…
  34. LiPos are fire hazards.
  35. Set fail safe at zero throttle.
  36. Actually set your fail safe.
  37. No matter how far you walk from the other pilots at a field, someone will always power up in between you and your quad.
  38. Always preflight check your quad BEFORE leaving the house.
  39. Never rush the first flight of the day or first flight at a new spot.

  40. Always do a pre-flight check. Make sure nothing is broken or loose, antennas are connected and secured in proper orientation, VTX channel is correct, VTX and TX output power are correct, DVR is recording, etc. Being too excited to fly and forgetting that you had your VTX set to 10mw for bench testing is a good way to ruin a set of underwear when that fail safe catches you off-guard
  41. 2 stage arming!
  42. Never plug in with your radio hanging on your lanyard.
  43. Don’t turn the radio off before unplugging the battery on the quad.
  44. A multi meter is awesome.
  45. Don’t run 6s on a 5s esc
  46. Bring your radio with you when retrieving a quad, even at race. Even if you think you know where you crashed.
  47. Blowing up ESCs will become a speciality.
  48. RTF (ready to fly) quads make holes in ceilings when you test them without removing props.
  49. Before concocting a master plan for retrieval, try flying out of the tree
  50. Sometimes you can do everything right and something will fail, make sure you have spares.

One Comment

  1. Hey!
    Love the photos:)
    I read your 50 learned mistakes and I feel a bit better that some I have managed to avoid…but only some😄

    Thanks for the content!

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