What's inside of a hand-sized micro drone? Find out in this Teardown Tuesday!

Drones are cheaper and more popular than ever! They are sold everywhere from Walmart to Amazon, ranging from thousands of dollars to as little as $10.

In this Teardown Tuesday, we are going to take a look at a relatively inexpensive micro-sized drone that fits in the palm of your hand.


Image courtesy of Amazon.



Some drones are packed with GPS, cameras, and barometers. The drone in this teardown is a relatively basic one that is primarily designed for indoor use (due to its size). It's a Cheerson CX-10 and it was purchased for around $14 USD.


The Micro drone

The micro drone


To open this drone, four small Phillips head screws needed to be removed. The plastic shell of the drone was also clipped together.


The Screws Holding the Drone Together

The small screws holding the drone together


Circuit Board


The Top of the drone PCB

The top of the electronics


In this drone, the PCB also acts as part of its structure.

The board is two layers with surface mounted components on each. There is blue solder mask on both sides of the PCB and white silkscreen on the bottom of the board. The board is entirely comprised of surface mount components. The wires from the four small DC motors and the single cell lithium battery appear to be hand-soldered.


The Bottom of the drone PCB

The bottom of the electronics




The ARM drone controller

The Cortex-M0 microcontroller


The brain of this drone is an STMicroelectronic STM32F031K4 ARM Cortex-M0-based microcontroller in a 5x5 mm UFQFPN 32-pin package. This microcontroller has a max clock speed of 48Mhz, 32KB of program memory, and supports a variety of communication protocols such as I²C, SPI, and UART.




The drone transceiver 2.4ghz

The 2.4Ghz transceiver


In order to receive data from the handheld radio transmitter, a receiver is used. This is a 2.4GHz transceiver part number XN297. This transceiver communicates to the microcontroller through an SPI bus. The XN297 appears to be a clone of Nordic Semiconductor’s popular nRF24L01 2.4GHz transceiver. On the back side of the PCB, there is a trace antenna.


The trace antenna on the drone

The trace antenna




The sensors on the drone PCB

The gyroscope and accelerometer


To ensure that the drone is stable and easy to fly, an accelerometer and gyroscope are used. This drone uses an Invensense MPU-6052C that contains a 3-axis gyroscope and a 3-axis accelerometer in a single package. This sensor communicates to the ST microcontroller through I2C bus.




A 100mAH drone battery

The li-ion battery


In order to give this drone a few minutes of fight time (around 5 minutes per charge), a small single cell Li-Ion battery is used.

The battery used in this drone has a nominal voltage of 3.7v and a listed capacity of 100mAh, giving it 0.37 W/hr of energy storage. This battery is manufactured by Shida Battery Technology Co., Ltd. and, based on dimensions, appears to be part SDL701717P. This battery measures approximately 17mm x 17mm x 7mm.

Additionally, this battery contains a small protection circuit board to prevent over-discharge. To provide stable voltage to the drone, a low drop voltage regulator is used—part LN1134, manufactured by Shanghai Natlinear Electronics Co. This regulator, in an SOT23-5 package, can provide 300mA at 3.0V.


drone voltage regulator

The 3.0V LDO regulator


Wrapping it up

At around $14, this drone is packed full of a lot of electronics. If similar parts were sourced and assembled domestically (even in quantity), the profit margin on this product would be nonexistent. These drones are most likely made in quantities of 10 or 100 thousand in order to be sold at such a low price.

Only a few years ago, similar small and simple RC helicopters were selling for $35. It will be interesting to see the future of toys as the cost of electronics decreases.

Thanks for taking a look at this Teardown Tuesday! Stop by next week for another teardown!


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  • AEKron 2016-08-15

    My first drone, the DraganFly, had gyros that were $35 each. I was thrilled they were so cheap.

  • John Berry 2016-08-19

    I have this exact drone and it has had a fault from day 1
    As soon as the drone is powered one of the rotors starts to rotate!
    I have taken the cover off but there is nothing to see only pc board
    Any ideas anyone?
    Thanks John… smile

  • 172pilot 2016-08-19

    I bought my first of these for $40 and it’s great…  Now I’ve bought some for as low as $12, and they’re still great..  For $20 or so, you can get one with a decent camera on board, or for $40, one that actually transmits HD video back to your iPhone in flight..  Pretty cool for not much money.  It’s cool to see the covers off - Thankfully I haven’t broken one so I haven’t taken it apart yet.  Seeing what’s inside, I wish someone would reverse engineer the firmware, and release some open source version.  It would be cool to build in an optional stabilization mode or something..
    @John Berry, I can’t speak to yours which came defective, but I haven’t seen this, and would recommend getting another to give it another shot.  The rotors should NEVER rotate, especially before being bound to the transmitter, so if it happens right at powerup, something is definitely wrong, and being so integrated, I doubt it’s fixable.