Building A Drone
Good drones don’t come cheap, so some pilots are willing to take on the challenge of building their own. They can buy their parts and assemble them into a fully-functional unmanned aerial vehicle. Standard camera drones can be made with all new parts at home for around $300. Some parts can be purchased used for additional savings.
Before beginning research, before a single item is bought, the builder needs to consider function. What type of drone does he want to build? Will it be for capturing pictures and videos? Is the builder just looking for something fun to fly that is a step up from the typical remote controlled airplane? After the decision has been made it’s time to start planning.
Initial Planning: Motors And Rotors
Keep in mind brushless motors are two times more efficient than brushed on ones. The more motors the drone has, the faster it will be.
Some of the most famous homes built camera drones are tri copters, quadcopters, hex copters, and octocopters. The general rule in the development of a drone says that lesser number of rotors mean less investment in construction costs and time. The UAVs with the most rotors come with a significant advantage; they can support heavier cargo.
The most basic and most commonly built at home drone is the quadcopter. When constructing a quad copter, one of the first things to examine is the weight of the frame.
Often modifications can be made to make the frame more lightweight. The type of materials used to construct the frame must be strong enough not to tear apart when the motors are on, but light enough to make lift off feasible.
Core Materials And Propellers
To go lightweight, the builder may want to do a box design. Instead of just using a flat piece of material, he can use round pipes to build the arm. Electrical wires can be enclosed in the piping to prevent unwanted exposure.
The next step is deciding on which kind of propeller system to use. The builder won’t want his UAV propellers to be so large that they create strong wind currents that interfere with each other.
Bigger props also take more energy to run. If the propellers are too small, the drone won’t have much lift. The builder may have to do a little experimenting to get this part exactly to his liking.
Adjusting The Speed
Finding the right electronic speed controls comes next. The electronic speed controls are responsible for regulating the motors and is connected from the battery to the motor. The UAV pilot will be able to control the ESC from their remote control.
Batteries And PDB
Most amateur pilots are going to want LiPo batteries to power their motors. These kinds of batteries are available in different sizes and strengths. The typical battery life of these types of batteries is ten and thirty minutes; a 5000mAH 11.1 volt three cell battery is one of the larger ones and can give its user a thirty minute average flight time.
Operators of camera drones usually want the longest battery life possible. When making a quadcopter, a power distribution board is a necessity. The PDB will allow the battery to power the four motors at the same time.
Communication: Transmitters And Receivers
Then it’s time to choose a transmitter and receiver. The builder will need to make sure his craft is equipped with at least four channels. These four channels are necessary for the pitch, yaw, throttle, and roll. Some builders may want even more channels for advances like controlled LED lights and autonomous functionality.
Adjusting The Microprocessing Board
The last thing to pick out is the micro processing board. A Microprocessor is the main part as it control and manages how the UAV flies, hovers, and turns like a brain controls the whole body.
The 3DRobotics Arduino is a micro processing board that can be tweaked to its designer’s exact specifications.
Keep these things in mind while building a drone:
When building the frame, the fist thing the builder will need to do is determine how much space he will need for the center since a lot of the UAV components will be housed there. The remote control receiver, ESC, control panel, and battery will all likely be placed in the middle. The builder can cut his materials from a laser cutter or standard power tools.
Using Caution Is key
Velcro can be used to keep the battery attached to the bottom of the tower. Next, the autopilot and PDB can be added with the RC receiver placed on top. Velcro does wear out over time, so the builder should consider replacing it every few months or earlier depending on how often it is used.
If the electronics are not already soldered with the banana plugs, then that should be the builder’s next step. Once that is secured, the PDB can be installed. There should be one plug for the battery and 4 for each ESC.
Double Check Throughout The Process
Before moving forward, the constructor will want to check his measurements and make sure everything fits according to his calculations. He should place everything in the center and make sure it all goes in securely. First, he should add the electronic components, then the motors.
The engines will need to be connected to the ESC and then it can be added too. Lastly, the builder should try adding the propellers. If everything fits well he can move on to the next step; if not he needs to make adjustments.
Finishing Up The Project
The very last step is customization. This perhaps the most fun step for the builder because now he can attach whatever he wants to the drone. Photographers can attach a camera of their choice. For a savvy touch, some at home drone builders may want to install LED lights and speakers.
Adding these little touches to camera drones can also make them safer. People and animals around the UAV can see and hear the drone coming. It can even help the pilot track their drone better and get it to the ground safely in the event of sudden rain or fog.
This is where planning ahead becomes very important. The UAV can have so many attachments that it will be difficult to fly if the owner didn’t buy the right equipment to support the additional weight.