How to Build Your Own Simple Drone

Do you ever wonder how to build your own drone? Do you ever wonder where drones came from? Do you wonder what exactly a drone can do? Drones can fly under their own control or you can determine their flight paths for them with the use of a handheld remote controller. Drones can be used to take pictures and videos, to help find a missing person, or just to fly it for fun — the possibilities are endless!

The history of the drone is interesting since they were first developed by the United States military and used for target practice. They were also developed and experimented with as helpful tools.

Drones are expensive machines that never fail to fascinate us. They are so versatile, from helping to make movies to delivering Amazon packages right to your doorstep. Although the government has instituted some laws about flying drones for safety reasons, the public can and does use them often. Drones are mostly used in the United States.

So far, the popularity of flying drones has mostly been contained to the United States. With the versatile applications offered by drones, however, we bet it won't be long before the people of other countries will want to know how to build your own drone.

What Is a Drone?

Definition

A drone is defined as an unmanned aircraft. Most are radio controlled by humans via a handheld remote and they are limited in the distance they can go from that controller.

What Is the History behind Drones?

Drones were first used by the U.S. military, mostly for target practice during training exercises. As the technology improved and advanced, the military leaders began putting drones in missiles and using them in other military service functions.

Soon, the far-reaching potential offered by drones had the attention of many others. Big marketing companies like Amazon thought of ways it could take advantage of these highly maneuverable flying machines. Currently, Amazon has developed drones for delivery purposes. In certain larger cities, Amazon's fleet of drones delivers packaged orders to doorsteps through the air rather than with the use of gas-guzzling, pollution-contributing trucks.

Their popularity is as great as their applications are endless. From a construction company using drones as tools to police search parties using them to help find missing people or suspects, drones are appealing to many companies, institutions and individuals. It's no wonder then, that you'd want to know how to build your own drone.

How Do I Control a Drone?

Drones can be flown using a remote if you would like to fly it by yourself. Or, you can enter GPS coordinates into it and it can auto-pilot itself to your targeted destination.

How Does a Drone Fly on Its Own?

As stated above, drones can use GPS coordinates to know where to fly. You just enter in GPS coordinates and the drone will have the information it needs to go there. Drones also have built-in sensors that tell them how high off the ground they are, how close they are to certain objects and how to avoid crashing into anything.

Are There Laws on How to Fly a Drone?

Since drones are technically an aircraft sharing airspace with manned flights, they can pose a few problems. It was thanks to some people misusing them early on that the government was forced to make laws governing the use of drones.

Therefore, if you buy or build your own drone, you must remember that when you fly it, it needs to be within your line of sight. The drone must stay where you can see it at all times with just the naked eye (or with glasses if you have them.) You can fly your drone 30 minutes before sunrise, through the day, and 30 minutes after sunset. A drone in the air at any other time is prohibited. Also (and this is a given), when flying your drone, you must yield to all other air traffic.

Can I Buy Drones from Different Companies?

There are many companies from which you can buy drones, among them:

  • DJI Innovations
  • Yuneec
  • Parrot
  • 3D Robotics
  • Hubsun
  • Syma Toy
  • Autel Robotics
  • Xiro
  • Vantage
  • Horizon Hobby

Are Drones Expensive?

Yes, drones are very expensive! That's exactly why, when you are first starting out, you may want to build your own drone. The price for a good drone ranges from a little over $1,000 to as much as $35,000 and even more expensive than that.

The cost of drones is expensive for the average person. That is why it is such good news for many that you can build your own drone!

Materials Needed to Build Your Own Drone

Materials Needed to Build Your Own Drone

Photo credit by: mydronelab.com

You will need a lot of materials and tools to build your own drone; but, don't worry! The project is not insurmountable. It just takes patience — and lots of it!

Some tools and materials you'll need to build your own drone include the following:

Tools You Will Need:

  • Hot glue gun
  • Wrench
  • Screwdrivers
  • Soldering Equipment

What You Need the Tools For:

The hot glue gun is needed to cover up joints, exposed wires and to help keep the frame and other parts held together. The wrench is needed to tighten screws and the propellers. The screwdrivers are self-explanatory and the soldering equipment is for the drone's electrical connections.

Other Things You Will Need:

  • Tape or zip/cable ties
  • Frame
  • Battery
  • Electrical system
  • Brushless motors
  • Flight controller
  • Propellers
  • A transmitter (TX)
  • A receiver (RX)
  • Ground control software

Why They Are Needed:

The tape or zip ties are used to help keep the frame (and everything else) together. The frame is the body of the drone, so the ties make everything stay in one place until permanently connected.

The battery is used for charging the drone and for keeping it going. The bigger the battery, the longer the drone will stay in flight. The electrical system is for connecting the battery to the motors. The brushless motors essentially get the drone off the ground.

The flight controller commands the drone, telling it what to do almost like a brain. Propellers are needed to push the drone up off of the ground. The transmitter and the receiver are to give the drone instructions and to follow through on those orders. The ground control software is to help plan missions for the drone.

How to Build Your Own Drone

woman using soldering iron

Photo credit by: mydronelab.com

If you have all the tools and supplies you will need, then you can finally start to build your own drone!

Step 1: Build the Frame

You can buy a pre-made frame or you can build your own drone's framework. If you want to build your own, then you'll need two 20 centimeter by 20 centimeter aluminum plates. You also must make braces out of 4 centimeter-high aluminum piping; to make sure the plates aren't touching.

For the arms, you'll need 50 centimeter aluminum pipes. Align them like an X on the plates. Next on the list are the motor mounts. To make these, take 8-centimeter long aluminum square tubing. Fit them over the ends of the arms and poke holes for the screws to attach the motors. (Double-check that the holes match up with the motor.)

Step 2: Putting on the Motors

Screw the motors onto the arms, using the screw holes you previously made. Make sure you fasten the screws tightly because you don't want a motor falling off mid-flight.

Step 3: Electronic Speed Controllers

Use your zip ties to mount these onto the bottom side of the arms. You can use as many ties as necessary, but use at least two on each arm. Be sure to tie them so they stay tight on the drone while it is in flight.

Step 4: Landing Gear (Optional)

Landing gear can be helpful for rough landings, so the drone doesn't fall apart. Landing gear can be made
out of practically anything. Simply use something flexible and strong and that you can attach to the body.

Step 5: Flight Controller

This is one of the most important steps, as the flight controller tells the drone exactly what it's supposed to do. As with the frame, you can buy a controller or you can make it yourself. Honestly, we advise you that the flight controller is difficult to build yourself (but not impossible.) There are kits you can buy to make it yourself, and the cheapest one we found is called the KK2. If you prefer to make your flight controller from scratch, then you will need to make sure you match up your motors correctly.

Step 6: Controller

The controller is something you will have to buy, and many companies sell them. You must make sure it has all the different channels you need, such as, roll, pitch, throttle and yaw.

Step 7: Last Step!

Make sure everything is held together tightly. Zip tie or glue anything that is loose. Then, you're good to fly!

Conclusion

It might be easier to buy an expertly made RC aircraft, but if you build your own drone, then you have succeeded in saving at least some money, and you will have gained quite the sense of accomplishment for your finished, fly-worthy feat.

Drones are complicated to make, but the process can be fun. The parts are easy to come by, and those that aren't may still be purchased.

Drones have come a long way since their time of being used in the United States Military for target practice. Drones can be very fun to use and to watch. It might be a hard project to build your own drone, but in the end, it's completely worth the time and effort!

 

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