How long does the setup and tuning process usually take?

Hi! I have flown some drones before, but I am new to ArduPilot / ArduCopter.
While I am waiting for all the parts to arrive (mainly my Qio-Tek Zealot H743 flight controller), I am planning the next steps on creating my drone, setting it up, … I want / have to get the drone up and running as soon as possible.

Only speaking about the software setup (install Mission Planner, flash ArduCopter, initialize gps, accel, gyro, tune drone, setup receiver, …): What would be your estimate - from your experiences - on how long the setup takes?

From the documentation and videos I get the impression, that the setup (everything but tuning the drone), as well as the tuning should each take about a day. What do you think / What are your experiences?


It will always depends on the level of complexity that your drone has (like additional sensors for instance). For a very basic setup, I would say one entire day of work, specialy considering you are new to this… don’t make it a rush and remember to carefuly read all first flight setup docs before trying a real flight.

It all depends also… tuning is not a very straight-forward process… it can involve some initial debugs and try-and-error procedures (like reducing vibration levels, motors imbalance, compass/motor calibration, notch filter tuning etc). It also depends on what you consider your tuning as really good, there is always margin for improvements, specially if you start to play with new features along your UAV lifecycle.

I hope this can help you!


Yes, that really helps. Thank you very much!

I am trying to prepare everything (hardware & software) and read all the important documentation before my flight controller finally arrives. I don’t want to waste any time and start getting my drone safely in the air as soon as possible.

1 Like

You’re welcome!

Let us know if you face any kind of trouble.

Set it all up and go through all mandatory calibrations, set up voltage and current monitoring, do the Initial Parameters section (do not skip the battery failsafe stuff ! )
Do the MissionPlanner motor test again and again until you are sure the correct motors are spinning the correct direction and in the correct order.

Start you own thread and post the parameter file for us to check, with some description of parts, like ESCs, motors, props, frame size. This can be a significant short cut if we spot something you missed.

When you do fly you want to use Stabilise and AltHold first up.

Depending on

  • familiarity with the setup process and parameters
  • your store of your own default parameters (or what to look for)
  • what you discover in motor tests
  • first flight performance

set up from start to flying properly can be anything from a couple of hours :slight_smile: to a week :frowning:

I know of an entire EDU450 assembled from parts in the field, configured and used for work, when copters had hardware fails and could no longer be used for the job. So it can be done in a very short time when you know what you are doing.


Okay, thank you very much! My flight controller will be delivered in about 2-3 weeks. I am planning to read the entire setup documentation (and other stuff I might need) until then.

I will create a new post here (and link to it in this post), when everything is assembled and set up. Since this is a university project for my bachelor thesis I am already documenting everything I do / will do.

Looking at your fast, long and very helpful replies, I am happy to have chosen ArduPilot with it’s great forum & community!

1 Like