Tools & Supplies
Almost every part of building a quad requires soldering. Having a good soldering station will drastically improve your build quality as well as your sanity. From our personal experience as well as talking to many builders in the community, we recommend the Hakko FX888D Digital Soldering Station as our top pick:
At under $100, this is a great station that will last you many years. Hakko is a reputable brand that has superb build quality and ease of use.
You can purchase solder at most hardware and electronic part stores like Lowe's and Radio Shack. Any brand will get you by in a pinch but some brands stand out for having a better than average quality of solder. We use and recommend the Kester 60/40 solder. It comes in large rolls for $20 and smaller tubes for $10. In our experience Kester solder has been easier to use than other generic brands you will find at a local store. One large roll will last you a very long time.
Helping hands are not a required tool to get started soldering but they do come in handy. It's function is exactly what the name implies, an extra set of hands to hold wires or components in place while you solder them. We recommend the QuadHands brand helping hand and the four arm model specifically.
Having a few pairs of different shaped tweezers around really comes in handy when you need to hold wires or a component in a certain spot while soldering. You don't want to get your fingers close to the 800 degree tip and liquid metal so using tweezers is a no brainer. Any decent set will do although we recommend stainless steel that are ESD safe. We've been using the Mudder 6-Piece set that come with a handy carrying case and really like them.
We recommend having wire of different sizes on hand when building and repairing. It's useful whether you need to extend motor wires when using 4in1 ESC's or when wiring power to your flight controller. Not any wire will do however. Stranded silicon wire is by far the best choice for our quadcopters.
Battery leads are typically 12-16 gauge with an XT-60 soldered directly on. We use the BNTechGo brand on Amazon. We recommend the BNTechGo 14 gauge temperature resistant wire.
If you purchase ESC's without wire you will need 2 signal wires and 2 power wires. For the power wires we recommend using 16-18 gauge silicon wire like the BNTechGo 18 gauge that we use.
For the signal wire we use and recommend the 30 gauge variant shown below.
You will inevitably need to mount a receiver, VTX, or other component to your frame and double sided foam tape is your friend. We and many others use 3M Extreme Mounting Tape.
When double sided tape isn't an option, the next best thing is zip ties. Small 4-6 inch zip ties are great for securing components like a VTX antenna, receiver wires, ESC's, and power leads. You can get zip ties at any hardware store but you won't find a better deal than this 1,000 pack for $10.
To secure larger components like a GoPro, you'll need thicker heavy duty zip ties. We recommend these 10" heavy duty 50 pound tensile strength zip ties.