There is so much satisfaction in watching a drone that you built from scratch flying up in the sky. Well, building your own drone is that hard after all. In fact, here we give you a basic guide, meant to take you step by step through the process of building your drone…
Before you delve in deep, you must be knowledgeable in all the components you will need in building your drone. A bit of knowledge in electronics will come in very handy. Having your components ready will ease the assembling process. Well, here is a list of the basic equipment you need:
The frame: you can either buy the frame or make it yourself.
Motors:4motors are needed for a quadcopter. Brushless motors are recommended for use.
Electronic speed controls (ESC): these are used to deliver power to the motors.
Propellers: they must be compatible with the frame of the drone.
Connectors: a 3.5 mm connector will be needed to weld the motors and a 4.5 mm for power distribution board.
Power distribution board: connects ESC to battery
Batteries and battery monitor: consider the capacity of the battery. The most commonly used battery is Li-Po. The battery monitor gives a signal when the battery is almost dead.
Mounting pad: this improves flight by reducing vibrations. If you are planning to take pictures and videos with your drone, then this is a must have
Controller: it commands the motors and also shares power
RC Receiver: this works with the transmitter.
MicroSD card: you will definitely need to store your photos and videos
Camera: You will need gimbals for the camera if you want high-quality photos.
USB key: used in transferring photos
The guide below will give you direction on building your first drone.
Making the Frame
There are different types of frame configurations. The quadcopter has four arms which are connected to the motor. Most of the flight controllers use this kind of frame. Moreover, it is the best design for a beginner to use in making a drone. Others include a tricopter, hexacopter, and octocopter.
After choosing the frame setup, you need to decide the type of material you will use for your frame. You can either use wood, carbon fiber, PCB, plastic or aluminum. Using wood is inexpensive, readily available and the best thing about it is that if anything breaks, you can easily replace it.
If you settle for wood, get a plank of wood that is almost 25-30mm thick and longer than 60 cm.cut out two laths of 60 cm long and 30mm wide. Make an X frame by crossing them. Add a rectangular set in the central section of the X frame, of 6x15cm. Use glue and nails to connect them. You can use any other measurements. If you settle for other materials other than wood, the dimensions will be the same, but mode f making will be different.
Propellers and Electronic Speed Controllers
Motors, Propellers and Electronic Speed Controllers play a vital role in making a drone. They can be bought at any certified store but remember to consider the size of your drone as you buy them. It is important to note that motors are the backbone of a drone. They provide stability and make it possible for the frame to be lifted up the ground since each rotor works with the others thrusts points. You can use EMAX 935kv motors or any other in the market.
The next step is to attach propellers to the motors. Propellers come with adapter rings which are used to mount propellers to the drone motors. Note that propellers can also be made from different materials such as wood, plastic, carbon fiber.
ESC provides the flight controller with the capacity to control speed and direction of the drone’s motor.
Mount Motors and the Electronic Speed Controllers.
Drilling the holes in the frame for the motors is the next step. This is determined by the distance between the screw holes in the motors. Make another hole which allows the clip and shaft to move freely. Finally, fix the motor to the frame using screws and screwdriver.
After mounting the motors mount the ESC by connecting the speed controllers on the bottom side of the frame. Use zip ties to fix it well to the frame. By doing this, the ESC will be tied well making it secure during flight.
Attach Landing Gear
The landing gear acts as a shock absorber especially when the drone lands in a solid surface. It can be made in different ways, one way of making it is by using a metal pipe. Take a 6 inch wide in diameter metal pipe and cut out four rings of 1-2 cm thickness. Fix it to the frame using a duct tape. The size must match the size of the drone.
Mount the Flight Controller to the Frame
As the name implies, the flight controller creates stability in the air during flight. It also processes the changes in wind direction. You have an option to buying a ready-to-use controller or you DIY. Good news is, there are flight controller projects that can help you in the process such as DJ Naza M Z2 or DJI Naza Lite but are closed sources, ArduPilot, OpenPilot CC3D and much more.
Keep in mind that it may not be easy to create a flight controller, but with the above projects available on the internet; you can learn more about it.
Mount Flight Controller to the Drone
Before this, you need to choose a flight controller depending on your preference. Mount the flight controller by simply placing it on top of the frame. Ensure that all parts are well fixed before calibrating it.
Get a Suitable Remote Controller
This is essential in controlling your drone. Choose an RC that will complement your drone.
Fix the Open Pilot to Drone
Connect and configure the flight controller to the ESC. You need to connect it also to the remote control. Practical videos are available on the net that shows how the connection is done. Look out for tutorial videos that talk about the light controller you had mounted beforehand.
Testing Drone and Takeoff
This step is crucial since it determines the results of your input. Choose an open space which is not populated. Ensure that the battery is properly connected and all parts in place. Your quad should obviously be on the ground. Then put it into action and with the flight controller, get started on your very first flight.
In conclusion, we have outlined the basic steps of the DIY building of a drone. So, why not try building your own drone now and see how things pan out for you?