Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been used for years, but they’ve achieved the most popularity in recent years with small commercial drones. The new FPV (first-person view) technology provided us a different experience of flying, and the progression of GPS systems in drones exposed a whole new world for enthusiastic people ready to start having fun flying drones.
Obviously, drones are not the only RC flying machines on the market, but their active multi-rotors and their ability to capture amazing photos and capture stunning videos during flight made them the most prevalent. That is the reason industrial drones are in high demand nowadays but have you ever thought about how to create and build a DIY drone?
Today, there is a wide variety of drones on the marketplace, and they differ in design, size, and properties. You may want to go to some online shops where the drones are being sold and obtain some ready to use parts to make a model that best suits you, based on cost and its features.
Starting Out With The Basic Parts
Here’s a list of the elements you’ll require to make yourself a DIY drone:
There are two possibilities in regard to a frame for your DIY drone. You can make it on your own or order it from an online store, and for a broad choice of high-quality frames. If you determine to make it yourself, the design is not that tough, but you’ll require some engineering experience and knowledge of the elements you are going to use. For instance, you can use plastic, metal (something light), or even wood slats. If you go for a wooden framework, you will require a wood board that’s about 2.5 cm thick.
For a standard quad, you may need 4 motors in total, but an octocopter needs eight motors to fly. The recommendation is to use brushless motors — they’re lighter on the battery and, unless you are an engineer who thoroughly understands how an engine works, these pieces should be bought from a store.
3. ESCs or digital speed controller
These are also essential parts of your drone as they are responsible for providing power to the motors. Repeatedly, their number depends on the number of arms your DIY drone will have.
If you’re searching for the propellers, you need to find those that match the frame of your DIY drone. Focus on substances — you won’t get wooden propellers, but you must ensure the ones you choose are a good fit.
You may need 3.5 mm connectors to weld the motors and ESCs, as well as 4.5 mm connectors to the power distribution board.
The power supply board — this board connects the digital speed controls into the battery.
When buying the batteries for your drone, then you want to think about the range of a battery and its kind. The most used batteries for this intent are lithium polymer batteries and they have a good power density, they can be made in various shapes and also have good discharge rates.
7. Battery Screen
This isn’t a necessary thing, but the monitor is very helpful in warning you when the batteries are near finishing. This way, you do not risk having the drone stay out of juice over a pond, in the air. A battery monitor ensures your aerial vehicle won’t die in an unfavorable location.
8. Mounting Pad
It lessens the vibrations and therefore improves the flight. This one is beneficial, especially if you’re attempting to shoot videos or pictures with your DIY drone.
This system shares the commands and power of the motors at the same time.
10. RC receiver
Of course, in the event, you have a transmitter (which is usually with you), you will also have a receiver positioned on the drone.
This is optional but if you would like to take aerial pictures and record the environment while flying your drone, then you’ll require a camera. The best cameras are the ones that can make the excellent 4K videos, but everyone will discover one as per their own requirements. For high-quality aerial videography and photography, you may require a gimbal for the camera.
13. USB Key
This is required to save videos and photos.
Apart from these components, you will need a battery charger, 3M command strips, AWG Silicone wires, thread locking compounds, zip ties, Servo lead wire cables, etc. With these tools, you can also install other accessories to your DIY drone and make it more advanced.
Step-By-Step Instructions For DIY Drone
There are various types of drones, but people find quadcopters to be more efficient, as they are easy to fly.
So, with this step-by-step manual, we have focused on revealing how to construct a quadcopter with pieces which you can purchase separately at most online stores:
Step 1: Make the Frame
Your drone must have a frame no matter what kind of drone it is going to be. The first task is to build a frame. For this purpose, you can use unique materials, such as wood, plastic, or metal. These materials will vary based on how sturdy you want the drone to be.
If you choose wood for the frame, get a wood board that is longer than 60 cm and about 25-30 mm thick. Cut up this board in the way to get two laths that are 60cm long and 30mm wide. Both of these lengths are required to build your quad’s structure.
Crossing both of these laths, you will make the X frame. Also, you will require a wooden sheet to create and join a rectangular piece in the middle part of this frame. The size of this piece should be 6×15 cm and approximately 2mm thick.
Obviously, you can use other dimensions if you like, but these will get you a pretty nice quad. To connect these components, you will need glue and nails. In case you choose to go for plastic or metal, the measurements are similar, but how you join the laths will be different.
Step 2: Electronic Speed Controllers, Motors, And Propellers
The motors, the b, and the Propellers are among the most essential elements of a functional drone. You should find these components from an authorized store to guarantee reliability and quality. They must be following the size of your drone, so bear this in mind when buying them. Don’t be afraid to request help from someone at the store.
Step 3: Join the Motors
Now you need to do is to drill the holes in the frame for the motors, according to the distance between the screws on the motors. It would be helpful to create another hole that will let shaft and the clip of the engine to move freely.
But this activity may be skipped if the engines came with mountings. Place the motor in the appropriate place and fix it to the frame using a screwdriver and the screws.
Step 4: Mount The Electronic Speed Controllers
You have to mount the speed controllers after installing the motors controllers. How will you do that? It’s a good idea to connect the speed controllers on the bottom side of the frame due to several reasons which involve the drone’s performance. These reasons, amongst others, include that it will “unload” the upper side of the drone in which other elements should be inserted.
To fix the ESC well to the frame, you need to use zip ties. In this manner, your ESC’s are fastened down and well adjusted while flying.
Step 5: Attach The Landing Gear
The landing gear is an essential part when landing your UAV because it significantly reduces the shock once the drone lands on solid ground. It can be made in many ways, but you need to be creative and make it on your own, unique manner.
Here is one idea: find a metal pipe (approximately 6 inches in diameter) and cut (with the appropriate tools) 4 rings which will be 1-2 cm thick. The size of those rings should comply with the general size of your drone. You can then use duct tape to fix these pieces to the frame.
If you don’t like this metal pipe design, you can also use other materials that are resilient but powerful, such as some new plastics, or anything that will reduce shock.
Step 6: Flight Controller
Every aerial drone needs to have a control system. This electronic system lets a drone to be steady in the air while flying and processes all the changes and shifts in direction and the wind.
Step 7: Picking A Right Rc Tx-Rx
This is a remote control system that is needed to control a drone.
There are various accessible RC management systems nowadays, such as Futaba, Spektrum, Turnigy, FlySky, etc.
Step 8: Place The Flight Controller
After selecting the appropriate flight controller that is best for your requirements, you need to mount it. There are numerous ways to install it. For example, you can on the top of the frame in a specific direction, but you will need to be sure that the elements are fixed before calibrating your drone.
It’s recommended to put a small piece of sponge underside of the flight controller since it reduces and absorbs the vibrations from the motors. Your drone will be more durable while flying, and stability is vital to fly a drone.
Step 9: Attach The Open Pilot To Your Quad
Now you have to configure and attach the flight controller to the electronic speed controllers.
Also, you have to join it to the remote control. To see how to perform this step, you’ll have to find a proper tutorial video on the internet for the appropriate flight controller you have previously mounted.
Step 10: Test Your Drone
Before you definitely use your drone, you must be sure that everything goes well. So, you have to check out all the functions before the first flight. You may test other elements of your drone in addition to the sensors with the OpenPilot GCS.
To make sure that all works well, you need to take off the props and do a minor experiment with the remote control. This confirms that you can test the drone without endangering the potential of breaking it.
With this evaluation, you should find a suitable location and attempt to move your drone inside its control distance. Focus on the zip ties and cables to make sure that they are connected well. When everything is fine, your drone is ready to fly!
Ensure not to cut any corners in this step, it is imperative to test everything in detail before flying the drone. You wouldn’t want your first drone flight to be it’s last after all!
Step 11: Take-off
Before taking off, the battery has to be well connected, and all the components have to be fixed in place. For the test flight, you need to pick a location carefully, because this aircraft can lead to considerable damages and may be damaged as well. It’s better to choose an open, flat area so that you don’t run the risk of anything with your drone, or vice versa. Also, you will ensure that you can see your drone at all times.
Place your quad on the terrain, put it into action, catch the flight controller, and get commenced with your first flight. It’s suggested that you gradually throttle up your drone and fly it at low altitude for the very first time. Thus, if it starts coming out of control, the damage will not be significant.
If the drone starts riding in one direction, you have to use the trims to make the necessary flight correction. Also, you should test different PID values to determine your drone operates in various inputs until you get precisely what you need.