In other words, there are many, many ways to build a drone, and depending how much of it you truly want to make DIY, these steps will vary and the necessary components will change. The guide below will provide you with insight into the DIY process for a quadcopter.
Here is a basic list of the components you’ll need in order to build yourself a drone:
Frame: there are two possibilities when it comes to a frame for your drone. You can make it yourself or buy it in an online store, and for a wide choice of high-quality frames, we suggest checking out our article about best drone frames. If you decide to build it yourself, the project is not that difficult, but you’ll need some engineering knowledge and knowledge of the materials you are going to use. For instance, you can use metal (something light), plastic, or even wood slats. If you opt for a wooden frame, you’ll need a wood board which is about 2.5 cm thick.
Motors: For an ordinary quad, you will need 4 motors in total, but an octocopter requires eight motors to fly. The recommendation is to use brushless motors – they are lighter on the battery and, unless you are an engineer who completely understands how a motor works, these pieces should be bought from a store. You can also get more familiar with them by reading our article about drone motors.
ESCs or electronic speed control: these are also essential pieces of your drone as they are in charge of delivering power to the motors. Again, their number depends on the number of arms your drone is going to have.
Propellers: When looking for the propellers, you must find the ones that match the frame of your drone. Pay attention to materials – you won’t find wooden propellers, but you must make sure the ones you choose are a good fit.
Connectors:You will need 3.5 mm connectors to weld the motors and ESCs, as well as 4.5 mm connectors for the power distribution board.
The power distribution board – this board connects the electronic speed controls to the battery.
Batteries:When purchasing the batteries for your drone, you need to consider the capacity of a battery and its type. The most used batteries for this purpose are Li-Po batteries and their power differs. To have a much better insight on this topic, we strongly suggest checking out our article about drone batteries.
Battery monitor:This is not an elementary item, but the monitor is quite useful in warning you when the batteries are close to finishing. This way you don’t risk having the drone remain out of juice in the air, over a pond. A battery monitor ensures that your aerial vehicle won’t die in the most inopportune place.
Mounting pad:It reduces the vibrations, and thus improves the flight. This one is very useful especially if you are trying to take pictures or videos with your DIY drone.
Controller: This device shares the power and commands the motors at the same time.
RC receiver:Of course, if you have a transmitter (which is usually with you), you’ll also have a receiver mounted on the drone.
Camera:If you want to take aerial photos and record the surroundings while flying your drone, you will need a camera. The best cameras are those that can take the quality 4K videos, but everyone will find one according to their needs. For high-quality aerial photography and video-graphy, you might also need a gimbals for the camera.
USB key:This is necessary to save the photos and videos.
Aside from the above-mentioned parts, you will also need AWG silicone wires, a battery charger, Servo lead wire cables, zip ties, 3M command strips, thread locking compounds, etc. In addition to these components, you can also embed other accessories to your drone and make it more advanced.
There are different types of drones, but people find quadcopters to be more efficient, as they are easy to fly.
So for this step-by-step guide, we have focused on showing you how to build a quadcopter with pieces that you can buy separately:
Making the Frame
No matter what your drone is going to be, it must have a frame. So, the first task is to make a frame. For this purpose, you can use different materials, such as metal, plastic, or wood. These materials will differ based on how sturdy you intend the drone to be.
If you select wood for the frame, find a wood board that is longer than 60 cm and about 25-30 mm thick. Cut up this board in such a way to get two laths which are 60cm long and 30mm wide. These two lengths are required to make the structure of your future quad. best premade frames.
LHI 220-RX FPV Quadcopter Frame (Carbon Fiber) Readytosky FPV Drone Frame (Carbon Fiber)iFlight XL5 V3 240mm FPV Frame Carbon Fiber
Propellers, Electronic Speed Controllers, and Motors
The ESCs (Electronic Speed Controllers), the motors, and the propellers are among the most important elements of a functional drone. So, you should get these components from an authorized store to ensure quality and reliability. They must be in accordance with the size of your drone, so bare this in mind when buying them. Do not be afraid to ask for assistance from someone at the store.When looking for the motors (or rotors),
Emax RS2205 2600KV Brushless Motors Readytosky GT2205 2205 2300KV Brushless Motor
Assemble the Motors
The next thing you need to do is drill the holes in the frame for the motors, according to the distance between the screws holes on the motors. It would be good to make another hole that will allow the clip and shaft of the motor to move freely.
Mount the Electronic Speed Controllers
After mounting the motors, you also have to mount the speed controllers. How will you do this? It is recommended to connect the speed controllers on the bottom side of the frame due to several reasons which involve the functionality of the drone. These reasons, among others, include that it will “unload” the upper side of the drone where other components should be added.
Add the landing gear
This gear is an important part when landing your UAV because it significantly reduces the shock when the drone lands on a solid ground. It can be made in different ways, but you should be creative and make it in your own, unique way.
Every flying drone must have a control system. This electronic system allows a drone to be stable in the air while flying and processes all the shifts and changes in direction and the wind.
There are two options when it comes to this step:
First, and the easier option, is to buy a ready-to-use controller. With the second option being that you make it yourself.
Choosing a Right RC Tx-Rx (Wireless Remote Control System)
This is the remote control system that is needed to control a drone.
Mount the Flight Controller
Once you choose the particular flight controller that is best for your needs, you need to mount it. There are several ways to mount it. For instance, you can place it on the top of the frame in a certain direction, but you need to make sure that all the components are fixed well before calibrating your drone. For this purpose, you can also use the zip ties which were mentioned above.
Connect the Open Pilot to Your Drone
The next thing you have to do is to configure and connect the flight controller to the electronic speed controllers.
Also, you have to connect it to the remote control. In order to see how to do this step, you will need to find an appropriate tutorial video on the web for the particular flight controller you have previously mounted.
I wrote an ultimate guide on how to build a quadcopter with the Arduino Uno Controller. There is lots of info on assembling, wiring everything together, and the programming science involved.
Check Out and Test Your Drone
Before you finally use your drone, you must be sure that everything works well. Therefore, you have to check out all the functions before the first flight. You can test the sensors as well as other components of your drone using the special OpenPilot GCS.
To make sure that everything works well, you need to take off the props and make a small experiment with the remote control. This ensures that you can test the drone without risking the potential of breaking it.
For this test, you should find a suitable place and try to move your drone within its control distance. Pay attention to the zip ties and cables to make sure that they are connected well. When everything is okay, your drone is ready to fly!
This is the last (and dare I say, most important) step. Before taking off, the battery must be well connected and all the components must be fixed in place. For the test flight, you need to choose a location carefully, since this aircraft can cause serious damages and can be damaged as well. It is best to choose an open, flat area, so that you do not run the risk of damaging 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 ground, put it into operation, take the flight controller, and get started with your first flight. It’s recommended that you slowly throttle up your drone, and fly it at low altitude for the very first time. Thus, if it starts coming down out of control, the damage won’t be that significant.
If the drone starts drifting in one direction, you have to use the trims in order to make the necessary flight correction. Also, you should try out different PID values to see how your drone works in various inputs until you get exactly what you want.