I'm planning on creating a quadcopter using the raspberry pi, however, Im a bit unsure about how to power motors which require an external battery power source.

I've seen servo and motor boards around, but I'm not sure about how to determine what is suitable?

I'm planning on using this motor:


which requires has the following power requirements; there will be 4 of these motors:

200W @ 12v (3S) / 250W @ 15v (4S)

I'm relatively new to electronics, Im work as a web dev by trade and have build several projects with an arduino powering off the board. I'd appreciate any help or guidance you may bring, thank you!

  • 1
    there are dedicated projects for UAV electronics, Raspberry Pi basically does not fit because of relatively large power consumption, no realtime processes and very limited capabilities to interface to other hardware (besides the TV or USB devices). Please, choose another platform for your project, low-cost video player (that's what RasPi is) is not something you want for your UAV.
    – lenik
    Dec 4, 2013 at 23:45
  • @lenik I respectfully disagree. While it may not be the most optimal choice for UAV, I think it is a viable option for reasons such as being lightweight and inexpensive. Here is an example of a Raspberry Pi UAV project.
    – syb0rg
    Dec 5, 2013 at 1:53
  • @syb0rg the guy in the project you've mentioned needed a linux machine to run aircrack-ng, it has absolutely nothing to do with its flying abilities whatsoever.
    – lenik
    Dec 6, 2013 at 0:00
  • @lenik The Linux machine he was using was the Raspberry Pi, which would normally have been on its own UAV. I believe he was SSH'ing in from another machine though.
    – syb0rg
    Dec 6, 2013 at 2:27

3 Answers 3


The new issue (Dec 2013, #19) of The MagPi talks about building a quadcopter with a Raspberry Pi.

For high-powered motors, especially brushless DC motors that require fast and complicated switching of large currents, you usually use off-the-shelf Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC) to drive the motors. The ones he uses take an analog signal (provided by the Pi's PWM outputs) and drive the motors at a proportional speed.

(This is if your main goal is to make the motors turn so that you can fly the quadcopter. If your main goal is to learn how to drive the motors, then you can design and build an ESC yourself, but it will take a lot of engineering to make something as lightweight and efficient as a commercial unit.)

What does not work, and will damage your Pi, is just plugging the motor wires into the GPIO pins and trying to drive it that way.


There are many remote control quadcopter, drone, etc, projects that use the Arduino family of single board computers.

Here are three links to one that has fairly detailed instructions and parts lists. You should be able to get ideas from this and other projects to help you develop your project.

http://www.diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/arduimu-quadcopter http://www.diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/arduimu-quadcopter-part-ii http://www.diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/arduimu-quadcopter-part-iii

One comment, since you say that your electronics experience is limited you may want to consider following some more simple Arduino or Pi interfacing projects such as interfacing to distance sensors.

Here's a link to some simple interfacing projects from SainSmart that helped me.

One challenge you may have is that the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins are strictly 3.3 v while many of the sensors and relays may not support.

You may also want to consider using a Raspberry Pi and Arduino in combination, with the Arduino handling all of the interfacing and the Pi doing all the CPU intensive work. There is a GertDuino board design by Gert van Loo to be an Arduino board designed specifically to interface with a Raspberry Pi.


A Raspberry Pi based quadcopter is definitely doable. I have documented my own build here : Raspberry Fly.

  • Hi there. It's better to describe the contents of external links within your answer. This means that if the link ever disappears, then this answer will still be helpful.
    – Jivings
    Jul 28, 2014 at 9:17
  • I agree with @Jivings but thank you for the link, the reading is very helpful.
    – kirgy
    Aug 1, 2014 at 14:13

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