Unmanned aerial vehicles started as military drones have been around for decades. Drone technology has evolved over the decades. Since then, drones have been used for commercial purposes and they have grown popular among the public. They are now being used for various purposes such as shipping and delivery, search and rescue, surveillance and law enforcement, etc. A new technology in drones, first-person view (FPV) has given them a unique flying experience.
On the other hand, advancement in GPS systems has enabled drones to travel further distances than before. Also, they have opened a whole new world for enthusiasts. Drones are not the only RC flying devices in the market but their nimble multiple rotors and ability to take amazing photos and recording amazing videos is the best feature of the drones. This is why drones have been higher in demand in the market. But there are ways to create a DIY drone at home.
Consider Building Your Own DIY Drone
There are few components that you will be needing to make a DIY drone at home.
There are high-quality frames available for making a DIY drone but if you know the engineering knowledge or skills, you can make a frame at home. For example, you can use slats made of metal that is light, wood, or even plastic. If you want to make a frame out of wood, a plank of wood about 1 inch thick would be perfect. But if you don’t want the hassle of making your own frame, you can just simply buy a hobby drone. For more info on what specific drone to buy, check out the Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Hobby Drone.
For a regular quadcopter, you will need 4 motors in total. On the other hand, if you are making an octocopter, then 8 motors are required to make it fly. For better flight, you can use brushless motors that are lighter on battery power. You can use them if you know how a motor works. These parts can be purchased from a local store.
Electronic Speed Control
electronic speed control (ESC) is an essential part of the drone. It is because they are responsible for supplying power to the motors. Also, the number of ESCs will depend on the number of arms the drone will be having.
When it comes to propellers, then they should match the frame of the drone. Also, you have to make sure that the material of the propellers matches the material of the frame. For example, you will not find wooden propellers but various options fit well on the frame.
3.5mm connectors for soldering the motors and controllers will be the best option while building your DIY drone. For the power distribution board, you can use 4.5mm connectors. The purpose of the power distribution board in the drone is to connect the electronic speed controls to the battery.
To install batteries in the DIY drone, you have to consider the capacity of a battery and its type. The most used batteries for drones are Li-Po batteries. Also, their power differs from one another. So, make sure that you choose the perfect battery according to your requirements.
It is not one of the basic items while making a DIY drone, but it can be one of the useful items. It alerts you about the battery running out. As a result, you don’t risk the running drone out of juice in the air, over a pond. The battery monitor makes sure that the drone will not die at the most inconvenient location.
The mounting pad is used to reduce the vibration and to improve the flight. It is helpful when you want to take photos or record videos with your DIY drone.
Controller & RC Receiver
The controller is used to share the power and to control the motors of the drone. When you control it from the ground, the drone must be having a receiver. The transmitter in your hand will guide the drone to fly in which direction.
If you want to use a drone for aerial photos and recording video of the surrounding, then you must look for a camera that shoots high-quality videos such as a 4K camera. On the other hand, you will be needing a camera gimbal for stable photos and videos while flying a drone over the places.
Along with the camera, you need a USB Key to save photos and videos. The storage can depend on your usage and requirements.
Step-By-Step DIY Drone
Making The Frame
The first task is to make a frame. You can use different materials such as metal, wood, plastic, etc. These materials define the strength of the drone. For a wood frame, the plank of the wood should be more than 60cm. The thickness should be between 25 and 30mm. For quadcopter, there will be two slats of 60cm in length and 30mm wide.
Cross the two slats to make a frame in an X shape. On the other hand, you need a wood sheet to add a rectangular piece in the center of the frame. Its size should be 6 x 15cm and 2mm thick. To connect the pieces, you can use glue or nails. For other materials, the dimensions will be the same but the connection will be different.
Motors, Propellers, Electronic Speed Controllers
You should not be compromising on the quality of ECS, Motors, and Propellers. Make sure that you buy it from an authentic store. The size of these items should match the size and material of the frame.
While looking for motors or rotors, multi-rotor drones can be helpful because they produce higher speeds and ensure stability. Each rotor works with the thrust points of the other rots.
For propellers, the 9-inch metal propellers would be the best option for your DIY drone. The metal propellers are durable and they don’t bend easily even if the drone hits something during the flight. For better performance, you can opt for carbon propellers.
When it comes to ESC, if you don’t want to use the 4 ESC then you can use 4 in 1 controller. There are a lot of options of ESC that are durable and excellent in stability.
Assemble The Motors
To assemble the motors, drill holes in the frame. The holes you make in the frame will be depending on the distance between the screw holes on the motor. You can make another hole to allow the motor shaft and clip to move freely.
Every drone must be having a control system. The electronic system allows the drone to remain stable in the air. During the flight, it handles all the changes in direction and wind. There are a lot of flight controllers available in the market that you can choose according to your requirements.
Wireless Control System
To control the drone, you need a wireless control system, also known as a remote control. The remote control you will be using for your drone can be a 10-channel, Radio Transmitter, 9-channel, 10-channel 2.4GHz, etc.
Additionally, you need certain channels for roll, acceleration, pitch, yaw, etc. Also, for aerial photography, other channels are required to mount the camera and take photos.
Connect Open Pilot To The Drone
Now you have to connect and configure the flight controller to the speed controllers. Also, you have to connect it to the remote control. Open Pilot is all about assembling, programming, and wiring the drone together.
Test Your Drone
Before using the drone, make sure that all the components are functioning properly. To check the sensors and other components of the drone, you can use special OpenPilot GCS. Also, make sure to test the drone with the remote control to avoid any hazards in the future.
For testing, find a suitable location and try to move the drone to a certain distance. Make sure that the wires and cables are connected properly. Before taking the drone in the sky, test every component on the drone. Slowly throttle up the drone and keep it to a low height. It is because even if a component is not working, the drone might get out of control and fall on the ground but the damage will not be high.
DIY Drone – Build Drone At Home
Drones have been on market for personal and commercial use for a long time. If you are not willing to buy a drone from the market, then you can build your DIY drone at home. For this purpose, you need few components and engineering skills, and knowledge. With motors, propellers, frames, ECS, flight control, etc. you can build a drone for aerial photography. If you want to know more about building drones, you can read our Guide to Building Your Own Drone with a Drone Kit.
After assembling all the components from the DIY Drone Kit, you can take it out for a spin and test the limits. Starting from the low altitude, you can test the limits of the drone to see if there are some problems. At a higher altitude, if the drone goes out of control, then it might fall on the ground causing costly damage. Hence, keep it at a low altitude to test the components.