How to Build a Drone

How to Build a Drone

A medium-sized drone is ideal for self-assembly. At the request of the owner, the device can be modified, a photo or video camera can be added to it, but the general scheme for assembling a quadrocopter with your own hands is as follows. Here you will get a full idea about how to build a drone.

The first step is to determine the size and configuration of the frame. You can buy a ready-made one or make it yourself. The advantage of the latter option is the ability to repair the frame yourself in the event of a breakdown, without waiting until the spare arrives. The material can be plastic wire pipes or square aluminium tubes. The basic shape is a square with intersecting rays in the middle.

How to Build a Drone

Read this article carefully and get complete idea about how to build a drone. Engines are installed on the beams of the frame. The optimal models will be Turnigy Aerodrive SK3 2822-1275, NTM Prop Drive Series 28-30S, Turnigy Multistar 2216-800Kv. The first one is suitable for 20 A regulators (for a quadrocopter of 45-50 cm), the other two – for 30 A regulators (for a 50-60 cm quadcopter).

Looking for a reason to play with the constructor again? Here’s a good reason. Such a drone is cheap and does not require special tools, such as in this manual (I recommend taking a look at it for comparison, too). I used the Lego Technician set because it has holes in the “bricks” of the constructor. I took the motor and flight controller from the popular Hubsan X4 drone (no need to buy the entire drone, only spare parts).

Propellers are mounted on top of the engines – two with right and left rotation. Their maximum allowable size will be indicated in the engine manual.

A Li-Po battery and a control board are attached to the core – either the simplest HobbyKing KK (equipped with only three gyroscopes), or MultiWii Lite V1.0 with 6-axis alignment, or MultiWii 328P (with 6-axis alignment, barometer and compass; the most optimal in terms of price/quality ratio). In order for the flight to remain stable, the controller must be vibration-insulated – a vibration-insulating sponge is suitable for this.

Of course, you cannot recognize all the intricacies of the assembly from the articles. But you can do it under the guidance of experienced pilots at the Drone Expo Show. At the masterclasses, you will be taught how to assemble a quadrocopter and fly it, as well as answer all your questions about assembly theory.

For the project you will need:
  1. An Android-based smartphone
  2. Controllers from Multiwii or Arduino
  3. DSM2 controller
  4. Four motors

Step 1: materials

Materials can be bought wherever convenient for you, but just in case I will give links to Hobbyking.

  1. Battery HK 3S 1500 mAh
  2. MicroWii controller
  3. Four-speed controllers
  4. A pair of black propellers
  5. A pair of orange propellers
  6. Anti-vibration sponge

7 . Anti-vibration adhesive

8. connector XT60 PM Male

  1. the M3 screws (you can buy in your local store)
  2. Flexible tape (available at your local store)

Step 2: Cut out the body

Laser cutters can sing ballads, press a button, and the desired shape is ready. Of course, no one keeps such at home, but if you ask friends, then most likely your friend’s son-in-law has access to such a device. To speed up your search, try asking around local lovers of radio clubs and stores. Well, if you suddenly happen to live in the city of Tomsk, then here is a direct link to the Fab map of laboratories, as you can see, there is one in your city!

UPDATE: Now, there is in Moscow!

Well, if a laser cutter is not at all an option for you, then you can simply print the diagram on an A3 sheet and use it to cut the necessary shapes out of plywood. The DXF files themselves are located here.

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Step 3: what and where to attach

A sketch of what and where is attached to the body.

How to Build a Drone: Step 4

We glue the leg amplifiers to the legs themselves. We glue the legs. Once the glue has dried, attach the motors.

Step 5: attach the flight controller.

It doesn’t matter which flight controller you buy. They are all mounted in one place – in the centre of the bracket. What’s really important is the anti-vibration sponge, which should be attached between the panel and the controller to dampen panel vibrations.

Step 6: soldering the power distributor

A power distributor can be made from any copper plate by punching holes in it and manually soldering the wires. Weld the connector for the battery and speed controller cables.

How to Build a Drone: Step 7

The DSM2 module is a radio receiver. In the photo, there is a black block at the bottom left. This is the main communication channel of the drone with signals from the external, terrestrial world. At this point, you will need a 2.4 GHz radio with four channels to control the drone. In the future, a smartphone will be used for this. That is, the drone, inside which there will be a smartphone, will be controlled by another smartphone.

How to Build a Drone: Step 8

MultiWii / Arduino flight controllers are configured via a USB cable connected to a PC ( MultiWii configuration software ). First, make sure there is a signal between the PC and the controller. You will need to configure a magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscopes.

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How to Build a Drone: Step 9

We connect each motor to its speed controller, however, before everything is completely soldered, you need to decide which wire of the controller to which motor wire to connect so that the motor rotates in the direction we need. To do this, connect three motor cables to the speed controller in random order, then the speed controller to the flight controller through the 3-pin connector, connect the battery to the flight controller. Turn on the radio, start the motor and check if it turns in the correct direction. Repeat this with the remaining three motors, and when the test is over, the cables can be soldered.

Step 10: Anti-vibration protection

We glue the sponge and rubber pads that will protect the smartphone from vibration. The jaws are attached to the mainframe, as shown in the photo. Then rubber pads are wrapped over the sponges and glue them to the frame from the back.

How to Build a Drone: Step 11

Well, the drone is almost ready to fly! We fasten the electronic board (the one on which the flight controller is located) to the mainframe using screws.

Step 12: attach the propellers.

Yes, where are we without propellers, without them we won’t take off!

Step 13: take off!

Well, if you have reached this step, then you will be able to take off. Good luck and flying weather! 🙂

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5 inexpensive camera drones

Strong winds, cold and high humidity are not suitable for launching most quadrocopters, but this is not a reason to refuse to fly in the cold season. There are many compact drones that can be launched indoors: right in your apartment or office. As a rule, they have small screws, no fancy sensors and short battery life, but otherwise, these “kids” are not inferior to large models.

Many mini quadrocopters are compatible with Android and iOS, support work with VR-glasses, can shoot videos in HD quality and perform somersaults in flight. But the most important thing is that they are conveniently launched indoors without fear of damaging furniture or household members.

Ryze Tech Tello

  • Dimensions: 98×92.5×41 mm
  • Flight time: 13 minutes
  • Camera: built-in, 5 MP

Small but smart: Despite its modest dimensions, the Ryze Tech Tello is equipped with a relatively powerful 1100 mAh battery that allows you to fly for 13 minutes. Yes, it’s not as much as the larger models, but more than enough for a mini quadcopter weighing only 80g. The kit comes with propeller guards so you won’t damage your home interior while flying. So, on the street, the copter survives with difficulty and flies confidently only in calm weather.

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The drone can be controlled via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi directly from your smartphone, flight range (100 m) is enough even for a spacious room. So, the device is packed with useful functions, just like big models: it can automatically take off and land, fly along a programmed route and even work with VR devices. The Ryze Tech Tello camera is built into the body, the resolution is 5 MP, but this will be enough to capture the surprised face of a cat at home or a colleague in the office.

CX HOBBY CX-23

  • Dimensions: 245x245x90 mm
  • Flying time: 14 minutes
  • Camera: built-in, 2 MP

Unlike the previous model, the CXHOBBY CX-23 is controlled by radio from a special remote control that comes with the copter. The camera resolution here is also small (2 MP). But onboard there are many useful sensors installed: an accelerator meter, altitude sensor, magnetometer and even GPS. However, the quadcopter will definitely not get lost in your apartment or in the country – thanks to the navigation sensor. It can return to the starting point. GPS is useful in the open air. In addition, a weight of 230 g will allow the drone to stay in flight even with a light wind.

The CXHOBBY package is gorgeous: in addition to spare propellers, the pilot will receive an FPV monitor, a memory card for photos and landing gear. Unfortunately, there are no protective covers here, but the small dimensions of the model make it easy to run indoors.

JMX X700C

  • Dimensions: 153x153x35 mm
  • Flying time: 6 minutes
  • Camera: built into the body, 0.3 MP

The JMX quadrocopter is perfect for home launch – a miniature model with protected propellers. So, the quality of the shooting is frighteningly poor, and the camera resolution is only 0.3 MP, like in old push-button phones. But the drone weighs only 38 g, so the very presence of a camera in this “baby” is already a big plus. And 0.3 MP is quite enough for broadcasting what is happening in the next room.

The propellers of the quadcopter are protected by the frame, and the risk of losing the blade in a fall is minimal. So, it’s not even scary to give such a toy to a child: if it crashes into a wall or closet, it’s sure that it won’t break anything. And the JMX X700C has an LED backlight, so it can be run in the dark and scare pets (or people).

WL Toys V222

  • Dimensions: 305x305x80 mm
  • Flying time: 10min
  • Camera: there is a mount for an external mini-camera

Okay, enough boring drones with bad cameras. Here is the WL Toys V222 – at first glance, an unremarkable mini-model with which you can attach a small lens. But it’s much more interesting to connect a block for launching water, soap bubbles or even rockets to the drone. So, just imagine how great it is to run through office corridors and shoot colleagues! We think they will be happy – be sure to try it.

In nature, this kind of entertainment is also great, but 10 minutes of flight is still not enough for open-air launch. So we advise you to look at this model precisely as a “home” indoor drone. So, if you want to connect a camera to the WL Toys V222.  You can use the card reader and microSD, which are included.

WL Toys V686K

  • Dimensions: 305x305x80 mm
  • Flying time: 10min
  • Camera: external included, 2 MP

Another WL Toys copter is the compact V686K. The drone is equipped with removable covers for protecting screws. An external camera with a resolution of 2 MP. You can control the flight with the remote control, it is especially convenient that the copter can return to the pilot at the touch of a button. And in the dark, the drone will not be lost, because it has LED backlighting. So, due to its long signal range (100 m), the drone is suitable for shooting outdoors such as a concert or sports halls. Video from the camera can be streamed to a smartphone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

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