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Drones are small remote-controlled aircraft you can pilot yourself. There are many kinds of drones you can build and operate, but a simple quadcopter is the easiest to build and control for beginners. A simple drone is a great way to get started learning about how they work and practice piloting them before moving up to more expensive and complex platforms.
Part 1: Building the Base of the Drone
- Having a design to follow will help make it easier to decide where best to place each component.
- Once you’ve finished a quadcopter drone, you can try larger designs that incorporate more motors to carry more equipment like cameras.
- Many drone designs are available for free online if you search “DIY drone design.
2. Make a frame for the drone out of metal, plastic, or wood. Begin constructing your frame using the material of your choice. Model plastic, balsa wood, or thin metal (thinner than .25 inches (0.64 cm)) are best. For a simple quadcopter design, lay one 12 in (30 cm) long piece of wood, plastic or light metal across another, so it creates an “X” shape with 90-degree angles. Each extending arm of the drone frame should reach toward what would be the corner of a perfect square you could draw around the frame. Choose a frame material that is at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide to support mounting your engines.
- You can purchase model plastic, thin metal, or balsa wood at most hobby or model stores. You can also find these materials at drone retailers or on websites like Amazon.
- Use glue or duct tape to secure the two pieces of your frame together.
- Don’t move on to the next step until the pieces of the frame are secure and any glue you’ve used has dried.
Photo: wikivisual /Drone base
3. Purchase motors, propellers and other electronics from a drone retailer. There are some components of your drone that can’t be built from scratch, so you’ll need to purchase them. If there is no drone retailer nearby, many hobby stores that carry model rockets and R/C airplanes will carry them.
- You will need to purchase speed controllers, a power distribution board, and a flight controller along with the motors and propellers.
- If you have trouble finding the parts you need, many drone specific online retailers, as well as large retailers like Amazon, carry these parts.
- Drone engines should be rated to produce a total of twice as much thrust as the drone weighs. If your quadcopter will weigh 800 grams (28 oz), each engine should produce 400 grams (14 oz) so the combined total amount of thrust will equal 160,000 grams (5,600 oz).
- You can often buy these components in bundles.
Photo: wikivisuals/ Drone parts
4. Drill holes in the frame to support the motors. Most motors mount using anywhere from 2 to 4 screws. Place one motor at the end of one of the drone’s extended arms and make marks where the holes need to be drilled. Then use those holes…