How to easily make your own unmanned quadcopter [drone]
Today you often read, and we often write, about various drones developed by military or civilian companies. It is no secret that conflicts around the world in the last few years have shown the effectiveness and usefulness of this equipment. Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles. You can control them and use them to perform various tasks.
This content is prepared by experts in the field. We asked them how to easily make a quadcopter or drone instead of buying from suppliers. Here are the steps and actions you need to follow:
Discover the experience
Don’t forget that we all live in a world where the information we need is easier to find. You don’t need to be an engineer or hire an engineer for such a project. Search the web for a quadcopter design. There are many. Since this will be a new venture for you, look for a quadcopter [drone] with the so-called “X” shape. This shape is easy to make and allows you to mount four rotors – one at each end of the “X” shape. That is why it is also called a quadcopter.
Make the frame of the quadcopter (drone)
Since you are a beginner, we recommend using familiar materials – plastic, light wood, or light metal. You need two identical pieces, each 30 cm long. Place the second piece on top of the first. Remember: the second piece must be at a 90-degree angle to the first. Thus, with two identical pieces at a 90-degree angle, a perfect square is visually formed if you draw a mental line along the edges of the four ends of the two pieces.
We recommend that the width of the material be at least 2.5 cm. You can fasten the two boards in several ways – glue, tape, nails, rivets, or whatever you can think of. But, if you want to make it even easier – just check well-known stores like eBay or Amazon for a ready-made “X” frame.
You won’t be able to do everything
Yes, that’s a fact. As much as you would like to make a purely original quadcopter with your own means, it is almost impossible, if you are not of course a military or civilian drone engineer, aircraft designer, practicing physicist, etc.
You will need to purchase motors, propellers, speed governors, a power distribution board, and a flight controller. One tip: try to find a flight controller complete with the engines and propellers. Look for flight controllers with integrated power distribution boards, which will make things too easy for you.
Where to find these components? Look for them at hobby rocketry or home improvement stores. As a last resort – online stores have everything.
Important: if you are going to make a quadcopter you need to apply some math. A principle in this type of drone building is that your drone’s motors will need to provide twice the thrust of the quadcopter’s weight. For example: if your drone will weigh within 1200g [1.2kg] then each motor will need to produce at least 600g total thrust. Therefore, at the four ends of the “X”-shaped frame, you need to put four such engines, which will produce a thrust equal to 2400 grams.
There is one more important principle that you need to anticipate periodically so that you don’t have problems later. The rated current of the speed controller you will buy must be higher than that of your motor.
Time to install
You have an “X” shaped frame, and you have purchased the necessary electrical components. Next comes the installation. First – drill holes in the four ends of the “X” shaped frame where you will place each of the four motors. Often one or two screws are required to mount a single motor, but this depends on the holes provided by the motor manufacturer.
Follow these steps: at the ends of each arm, mark with a pencil exactly where you will need to drill. The punch point should be at the end of each arm. After marking – start drilling with a tool suitable for drilling holes depending on the material you have chosen. Often this can be a small battery-powered drill.
However, if you have provided self-tapping screws, and they are used for timber, do not forget that the holes for the self-tapping screws are smaller in diameter than the bolts themselves. Thus, when winding them, they will tighten very tightly in the tree, and the motors will remain stable and will not wobble unsteadily during flight.
If the “X” frame is metal – the diameter of the bolts must be equal to the diameter of the drilled holes. Then, when the bolts are screwed in, gaskets and plates are placed on the underside of each arm of the “X” frame.
Make a landing gear
The main body is now ready. Ok, next comes one of the interesting parts – the landing gear. Your quadcopter still needs to sit firmly on the ground, at a certain height, so as not to damage the electronics you have installed.
You need 1.3cm rings, each. This is easy. You take one 10 cm PVC pipe and cut four rings. These rings will form your future wheel system. One ring is mounted on one arm. I.e. in the end you should have four rings mounted on the bottom [the one the drone will land on, the top is the one with the electronics] of the quadcopter.
You can fasten the rings in several ways, but we do not advise you to use bolts, rivets, or screws. It is better to fasten them with thin strips of tape, as a last resort with glue. After you install them, your quadcopter [drone] is already sitting comfortably on your work table. Congratulations, you’ve done part one, part two is to come!
Installation of electronics
Install the motors. You drilled openings for them earlier. Time to put the engines in. The future engine is on one arm of the “X” frame. The propeller motor should be at the top of each arm. The engines should have speed governors. If the motors are on top of the frame, these regulators are nice to have on the bottom of the frame. You can attach the dangling motor cables to the arm with tape or zip ties.
It is important to properly distribute the weight of the drone. To keep it from being too heavy, the motors should be on top of the frame, and the speed controllers on the bottom. That’s how you get balance. Speed governors control the rotational speed of the motors. They ensure that your four motors are spinning at the same speed, which is your goal for your project to be successful.
Now comes the turn of the battery, which you bought together with the other electrical components. Very often the size and shape of the battery should be compatible with your quadcopter. We advise you to choose a flat battery to mount in the center of the “X” shaped frame. Experts recommend that the battery be installed there, and the other components around it or on top of it. Do not glue the battery. You may need to change its location in the future to adjust the weight of the drone, so we advise you to use zip ties.
It’s the switchboard’s turn. Her place is in the center of the drone. If you put the battery there – the distribution weight on it is. Connect the cables from the speed controllers and the battery to the circuit board after you have zip-tied it. The distribution board has a special distribution board – its function is to properly supply power to the motors.
The last thing you need to install is the flight controller. The spring controller must be connected to the distribution board. Any flight controller should have instructions for connecting to such a board. If not, ask the store or online seller before purchasing the controller if they have detailed descriptions of how to connect. The flight controller is reinstalled with zip ties on the circuit board in the center of the drone.
Buy a remote control system
It’s time for the final skirmishes. You’re maybe a few hours away from your drone’s first flight. Buy a remote control system. Do it in a hobby store or online store, but be sure to consult with a sales consultant before making this purchase. Your remote control system must be compatible with a specific flight controller.
To avoid difficulties, we advise you when you buy a flight controller to also buy the remote control system so that they are compatible and you don’t get into difficulties only now, at the end of your project. Often, but check anyway, the remote control system comes with the remote control itself.
Charge the battery
The power pack of your supplied drone battery must be plugged into a wall outlet until the battery is fully charged. In general, one charge takes between three and four hours depending on the power pack.
Connect the flight controller to the remote
Follow the instructions provided with your remote control system to establish a connection between the remote control and the flight controller mounted on the drone.
You can now fly your drone. In addition to turning on the drone, you also need to turn on the remote control system. Usually, such systems have a panel with two joysticks – the left joystick controls the drone’s yaw, left or right, while the right stick controls roll [left to right] and pitch [pointing the “nose” down or up].
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