Xaircraft X4 Drone

This is my build log for the Xaircraft X4 drone. The accompanying bill of materials can be found here. This build is intended to be priced somewhere between the budget multicopter and a professional aerial photography platform. Some of the components used for this build rival those of professional aerial photography platforms, however, it has not been designed to lift incredible amounts of weight with the assistance of an expensive professional autopilot system. That being said, this project is for hobby grade purposes although it is a quite capable aerial photography platform. The flight controller used for this build runs using open source software and has been designed to incorporate autopilot navigation functions and telemetry. At a premium price, the avroto motors are very nice and run extremely smooth with little resonance and no vibrations. Additionally, the customer service of Monto RC was outstanding and I would highly recommend purchasing the motors with them.


I received my frame, power distribution board and wireless modules from GoodLuckBuy.

The frame was very easy to assemble and included all of the necessary hardware. Being that this frame can also be used for an X8 configuration, it included 4 additional motor mounts as well as the accompanying hardware. I can say that the carbon fiber is a very nice finish and it adds a noticeably increased amount of rigidity to the frame without the sacrifice of added weight.

I began the wiring by soldering male JST connectors to each LED strip and female connector directly to the power distribution board.

More information on how I flashed the speed controllers and wired the motors can be found here. After flashing the speed controllers I braided and soldered the motor wires to the ESCs and then pulled each of the ESC wires through the top plate of the frame and soldered them directly to the power distribution board. I also added the XT60 battery connector and two 12v auxiliary power outputs for the flight controller and fpv gear.

Testing the power distribution, everything seems to work. I zip-tied the LED strips to the bottom of each arm and used a larger zip tie to fasten the speed controllers and motor wires to the top of the arms.

I would say that the blue hobbyking LEDs are the brightest I have seen yet. They are extremely visible at night and surprisingly visible during the day, even against a blue sky.

Finally, I wired all of the radio gear and the flight controller to the accessory mounting plate.

Mounting of the MaxSonar LV EZ4 and 108dB Piezo Siren.

The flying weight of the aircraft with a GoPro and FPV gear mounted and a 3300mAh 3S LiPo is approximately 1.5kg, therefore, I added some 11×4.7″ props to improve the lift.


Power Distribution Board:

  • [+] <====== Speed Controller + [x4]
  • [-] ======> Speed Controller – [x4]
  • [+] <====== LED  Anode [x4]
  • [-] ======> LED Cathode – [x4]
  • [+] <====== 5.8GHz Transmitter VCC
  • [-] ======> 5.8GHz Transmitter GND
  • [+] <====== Auxiliary Power
  • [-] ======> Auxiliary Power
  • [+] <====== LiPo Battery +
  • [-] ======> LiPo Battery –

30A BlueSeries Speed Controllers and Avroto Motors:

  • M 1 & 3 A <======> A                                            [+] <====== Power Distribution Board +
  • M 1 & 3 B <======> B        Speed Controller
  • M 1 & 3 C <======> C                                            [-] ======> Power Distribution Board –
  • M 2 & 4 A <======> C                                            [+] <====== Power Distribution Board +
  • M 2 & 4 B <======> B        Speed Controller
  • M 2 & 4 C <======> A                                            [-] ======> Power Distribution Board –

APC220 Wireless Module:

  • SET                       No Connection
  • AUX                       No Connection
  • TX  ======> Black Vortex RX
  • RX <====== Black Vortex TX
  • EN                       No Connection
  • VCC <====== Black Vortex +5v
  • GND ======> Black Vortex GND

Black Vortex Flight Controller:

  • B[+] <====== 9CH RX +5v
  • B[-] ======> 9CH RX GND
  • RX <====== APC220 TX
  • TX ======> APC220 RX
  • +5v ======>APC220 VCC
  • GND <====== APC220 GND
  • Trigger ======>MaxSonar RX
  • Echo <====== MaxSonar PW
  • +5v ======>MaxSonar VCC
  • GND <====== MaxSonar GND
  • Relay IN ======> Buzzer V+
  • Relay OUT <====== Buzzer GND
  • R1 <====== 8CH RX CH3* (Throttle) Signal Only
  • R2 <====== 8CH RX CH1* (Aileron) Signal, +5v, GND
  • R3 <====== 8CH RX CH2* (Elevator) Signal Only
  • R4 <====== 8CH RX CH4* (Rudder) Signal Only
  • R5 <====== 8CH RX CH6* (Mode) Signal Only
  • R7 <====== 8CH RX CH7* (Aux) Signal Only
  • M1 ======>Front Left ESC
  • M2 ======> Back Right ESC
  • M3 ======> Front Right ESC
  • M4 ======> Back Left ESC
5.8GHz Video Transmitter:
  • V[+] <====== Power Distribution Board +
  • V[-] ======> Power Distribution Board –
  • Audio In <====== GoPro Composite Audio Out
  • Video In <====== GoPro Composite Video Out
  • GND <====== GoPro GND

GoPro HD Hero 2:

  • Audio Out  ======> Video TX Audio In
  • Video Out  ======> Video TX Video In
  • GND  ======> Video TX GND

8CH 2.4GHz RX:

  • CH1* ======> Black Vortex R2
  • CH2* ======> Black Vortex R3
  • CH3* ======> Black Vortex R1
  • CH4* ======> Black Vortex R4
  • CH6* ======> Black Vortex R5
  • CH7* ======> Black Vortex R7
  • BAT [+] ======> Black Vortex B[+]
  • BAT [-] <====== Black Vortex B[-]
108dB Piezo Buzzer:
  • V[+] ======> Black Vortex Relay IN (12v)
  • GND <====== Black Vortex Relay OUT (Switched Ground)
MaxSonar Module:
  • GND ======> Black Vortex GND
  • +5 <====== Black Vortex +5v
  • TX                       No Connection
  • RX <====== Black Vortex Trigger
  • AN                       No Connection
  • PW ======> Black Vortex Echo
  • BW                       No Connection
*Channels may differ depending on your radio programming and setup.

To setup the flight controller I would suggest following this guide.

Originally, I found that Megapirates 2.0.49 and Mission Planner v1.1.37 work best with the Black Vortex, however, I recently updated to Megapirates 2.5.1 R2 and Mission Planner v1.1.54, you can find the guide here.

The guide and files for setup of the APC220 Module can be downloaded here.

A guide to PID tuning can be found here.

A list of PID settings and model specifications can be viewed here.

MultiWii 2.0 for the Black Vortex