Not only is drone technology one of the most exciting innovations to emerge in the last decade, but this has also become increasingly accessible in recent times.
So, while this is a lucrative market that’s projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32% between 2021 and 2026, buying components and building your own drones has never been more affordable.
Whether you’re looking to build a drone to take impressive photos, or you’re hoping to make deliveries to friends and relatives who are living alone, if you have all the right parts, building your own drone is also pretty simple. Here’s how.
What is a drone?
The term “drone” usually refers to any unpiloted aircraft. Sometimes referred to as “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” (UAVs), these crafts can carry out an impressive range of tasks, ranging from military operations to package delivery. Drones can be as large as an aircraft or as small as the palm of your hand.
Originally developed for the military and aerospace industries, drones have found their way into the mainstream because of the enhanced levels of safety and efficiency they bring. A drone’s autonomy level can range from remotely piloted (a human controls its movements) to advanced autonomy, which means that it relies on a system of sensors and LIDAR detectors to calculate its movement.
What type of drone?
You may have found that drones are available in all sorts of shapes and sizes, the easiest way to categorize them is by prop size:
- 2″ class build – Typically very small and suitable for indoor use.
- 3-4″ micro class build – The smallest full size drone that can be flown outdoors.
- 5″ mini class build – The most common type of drone and the most versatile.
- 6″ mini class build – A more long range and efficient option.
- 7+” class build – Ideal for photography / videography.
Choosing the right components
It’s important to choose the right components for your drone size. Each build is going to vary slightly depending on size, but almost all builds will follow the same basic parts.
- Frame – This is the main body of your build where you mount all your parts
- Brushless motors – Motor size is typically noted in a XXYY format with the first two digits referring to the stator diameter in mm and the second two being the height of the magnets. Basically the larger these numbers are, the higher torque the motor is able to produce.
- ESCs – Electronic Speed Controllers are what produces the three phase AC current needed to drive your motors. The flight controller sends a signal to the ESC to let it know how fast it wants it to spin the motor at a given point in time.
- Flight controller – The flight controller is the brain of your drone taking into account the angle of your drone and your control input it calculates how fast the motors should spin and sends the signals to the ESCs.
- Power distribution board (PDB) – Your PDB takes your battery voltage and provides various points for you to connect up all of your other electronics.
- FPV camera – This is the eye of the drone. You’ll also require a video transmitter and antennas.
- Drone propellers – Once you’ve chosen your drone size you’ll know your prop size.
Once you’ve assembled your parts, you can start to try out your drone – but remember that all recreational drones must be registered with the FAA.
Once you’ve completed this process, however, you can legally fly your drone in designated areas and enjoy one of the most thrilling and cutting-edge pastimes around!