So you’re interested in building a drone? That’s great! However, be forewarned that building a drone is not a walk in the park. It takes diligence, practice and focus for beginners to master the art of building drones. The building process may drag on for days – much to the frustration of many aspiring drone builders. Unless you have enough time to spare for this project, it’s best to purchase a ready-to-fly (RTF) unit.
On one hand, if you are up for the challenge, here are some important pieces of information you must first be acquainted with before building the drone of your dreams:
1. Memorize terms and parts
If you want to learn how to build a drone, you must first know the key terminologies and the parts that constitute a drone’s anatomy. Write them down when necessary or buy a drone guide. Knowing terms and the pieces that make up a drone will help you decide on the model you want to build.
2. Carefully select a frame setup
When you studied the structure of a drone, you were exposed to basic frame setups and the various materials used to construct these frames. Decide on a frame type before proceeding with the building process.
Here are the four common frame types:
- Tricopter – The frame setup for this drone is less common. Still, it makes for an interesting start-up frame for budding DIY drone builders. This remote-piloted drone has three blade rotors connected to one motor. Since it is not evenly shaped, you may deal with setbacks when you add the rear motor.
- Quadcopter – This is the most basic of all frame setups. The quadcopter has an x or + configuration and four arms attached to only one motor. Beginners should start with quadcopter frames because they are simple, easy to build and adaptable.
- Hexacopter – This aerial drone has six rotor blades, all connected to a single motor. The frame setup of a hexacopter can be built based on two layouts – two motors or a single one. Not everyone uses a six-rotor drone, however. If you are serious about aerial photography, then this drone is for you.
- Octocopter – This eight-armed drone, like the three others cited above, has a single motor linked to each copter blade. This setup specializes in large thrusts and is therefore difficult to pilot remotely. Expect the controls to be just as complicated. Maneuvering this drone is not ideal for beginners.
3. Decide on a material for your frame setup
Depending on your budget, you can choose different types of material for your drone’s frame. Commonly used materials include wood, plastic, aluminum, G10 (a fiberglass variant), carbon fiber and printed circuit board (PCB). If you want a durable, inexpensive and easily accessible material, then choose aluminum as material for your frame.
4. Build your drone using the right motor, propeller and battery
Even if you are a newbie drone builder, that does not mean you cannot send your drone up in the air. The trick is knowing the advantages and disadvantages of different types of motor. From there, you can identify which type is compatible with what frame setup. Adopt the same mindset when choosing your propeller and your battery. Do your research and compare specifications before assembling your drone.