If you are looking to build your drone, then this article will outline the DIY drone parts you will need.
There are few activities that can beat the exhilarating feeling and experience that come with flying a drone. Taking selfies or zooming in and out various places creates views and memories that are hard to forget.
Drones have been around for several decades, but they have become popular in recent years because of the First Person View(FPV) technology, for instance, the GPS system opened a whole new world for outdoor enthusiasts. Building a drone from scratch may feel intimidating and many people fear even discussing the topic. The best part is that it’s not as hard as it sounds.
If you wish to learn how to build your first flying drone, you are in the right place. Make sure to stick around as we explore all the DIY drone parts needed to build your own drone hence end up with a thrilling project!
For an ordinary drone, you will need four motors but if you wish to create an octocopter, you will need 8 of them. When buying these motors, it’s highly advisable you pick brushless one because they are light and don’t consume a lot of power. However, if you have knowledge concerning motors and their general effect on electricity consumption, you are good to go with your choice.
Point. Motors which are light both in weight and on the battery reduces the time needed for recharge and increases the range of the drone because it’s light. Motors provide the power neeed to fly your drone, so it is one of the most critical DIY drone parts.
Once you have determined the number of motors you want your drone to have, then it becomes pretty simple to choose the frame or the shell of your drone. Here you have two alternatives, you can buy it from the store or decide to make one at home. You will need engineering knowledge if you decide to build the frame at home. You can opt for light metal, plastic or even wood. Make sure the structure is robust and won’t disintegrate in the midair. For wood frames, pick wood-boards of about 2.5 cm thick.
When buying props, make sure the ones you pick match your drone’s frame. Ensure the material used is strong enough to lift your drone. You won’t find wooden ones but it’s important you pick the best available. Propellers are always labeled with a 4 digit number for example 7534,9876 or 5435. The first two numbers indicate the diameter of the propeller in inches, so a 7524 prop will be 7.5 inches (19.05 cm) in diameter.
The last two indicates the pitch so the 7524 props will have a 2.4 inch (6.1 cm) pitch. Basically, the pitch dictates how powerful the props will be. A higher pitched propeller will move much air downwards. They spin slowly compared to low-pitched props and are used in low KV motors. Lower pitched motors spin faster because they have to cover up for the small amount of air they push down to facilitate lift up.
Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs)
These are a must have units as they are the ones which deliver and control the amount of power delivered to the motors. However, if you are using brushed motors, you will not need ESCs because they just need a simple DC power input.
Brushless motors will need an input of 3 out of phase volts. This sounds scary but once you connect the ESC it will automatically generate the 3 out of phase voltage resulting in a spin. The range of input voltage is important, be sure to check that with the manufacturer or the store dealer. Essentially, an ESC has three outputs which you will solder them to the female bullet connectors on the motor.
Power Distributor Board
This is basically where all your main electrical components will be connected. The main components that you will solder here are the ESCs and battery terminal links. Once you attach the batteries on the power distributor board, it will provide power to everything attached to it and this where your motors will draw power via the ESCs.
Drone batteries are basically Lithium Polymer or commonly known as Li-Po batteries. Prior to any purchase, consider the capacity of the battery as you don’t want to be buying a pair every now and then. The batteries provide the power to fly, and makes up one of the more important DIY drone parts.
Li-Po Cell Count
As you probably know, a battery is a connection of many small cells or individual batteries. A Li-Po cell has a maximum voltage of 4.2V and measures 3.7V when depleted. Placing the Li-Po batteries in series will give you the maximum voltage because the volts will add up. The full charge supplied for a 4S part Li-Po cell will be 4×4.2=16.8V.
Since your Li-Po batteries are rechargeable, you will need a certified charger. The charging process needs to be done in a controlled manner as doing otherwise risks the explosion of the batteries. There are many intelligent Li-Po changers to choose from which help you shoulder the hard work as they are able to balance the charge on their own.
When constructing your drone, you will need 4.5 mm connectors for the PDB(power distributor board) and 3.5 mm to weld the ESCs and the motors.
This is the brain of your unmanned aircraft that’s why you have to get it right. It is a hardware hub where all other components will be attached, for instance, the GPS system, ESCs RC inputs among others. A good flight controller should be equipped with an accelerometer and a gyroscope which work together to help balance your drone automatically without any manual assistance.
Flight controllers are controlled by a filmware. Depending on the one you choose, you may be able to make a few modifications. There are basically two types of filmware, closed source(invisible to the public) and the open source(you can see the codes and make a few changes suitable to you). If you would like your drone to have open source filmware like the PX4 and ArduPilot, ensure the board you’re purchasing is supported.
When choosing the Flight Controller, make sure you go for one with the highest processor possible. Choosing one with an F3 or F4 chip is recommendable. The F7 is still in development and is not widely used yet. The veteran F1 chips are outdated and will not be able to support future software so avoid them at all cost.
This gadget acts as the medium between the user and the drone. It consists of a receiver and a transmitter. The receiver is plugged into the flight controller for the feedback signal. There are a variety of controllers but cheap ones have limited channels. For a drone, the minimum number of channels should be 5 or 6.
Every drone automatically picks four channels, that is, throttle control, yaw, roll and pitch. The other extra channels are meant for more unique and easier navigation such as changing flight mode of your multi-rotors. The controller is one of the more important DIY drone parts.
It is not a must have but it is good if you have one. It is quite useful as it will warn you when the batteries are running out. This way, you won’t risk having your drone run out of power in midair, worse still over a pond!
They are essential as the help damp vibrations making the flight stable. This feature is important as it helps you take clear pictures and videos.
This is typically the eye(s) of your drone. What it will see, you will be able to see too. When purchasing the cameras, ensure they can see in all light conditions and have no lagging as this can result in a crash. Most cameras have mounts that are easily fitted on any frame. Pick a camera with either the CCD or CMOS. The difference is, CMOS are lighter and cheaper but react slowly when light conditions change. CCDs are the opposite. A quick camera reaction is important because drone flights often face darker grounds followed by the bright sun. Any delay or lack of visibility could end up as a crash.
The best way to increase the range of your drone and still capture HD videos is by equipping it with video antennas and not necessarily the VTX(Video Transmitters). Any drone requires two antennas, one to send out and the other to receive the video. There are few factors to consider such as the antenna type and brand, connector type, polarization and robustness. Check with the manufacturer to see which antennas and connection options suit your drone perfectly.
Here you can make personalized option but you definitely want to get HD video and quality pictures —right? The only downside that comes with cameras is the additional weight, which increases the chances of a crash and worse still, the drone getting lost. When buying the footage camera, consider the following: weight, mounting options, video quality, robustness to avoid damage in case of a crash and field of view.
USB And A Micro SD Ports
It is important to save videos and photos. Be sure to have either the USB or the micro SD card ports where you will be saving your days pictures and videos automatically.
DIY Drone Parts Conclusions
Choosing the right DIY drone parts is a mixture of both science and art. However, the key thing that should come before the two is functionality and the ability of the drone to fly without risking a crash. Assembling the components need patience and utmost patience.
Apart from the mentioned parts, you will need thread locking compounds, AWG silicone wires, zip ties, servo lead cables and 3M command strips. You have the freedom to add other additional features to make your drone look aesthetically appealing and more advanced!