Drones are an absolute science spectacle. Might sound childlike, but they still make quite a sci-fi moment for me. I cannot help but drool over this flying machine, and I know, there would be many out there, seeking a personal encounter with it. More specifically, the photographers who are always in the hunt for insanely gorgeous panoramic shots.
Today, I’m going to tell you how to make a camera drone at home from the scratch. This end-to-end guide will mind your every move while answering all doubts and mitigating all hassles you might face in the process.
Let’s dive in!
Section 1: Deciding the Frame of Your Camera Drone
It’s the frame of a drone that defines its performance in the air. Choosing a frame means choosing how versatile and stable a drone can fly with a certain weight on its back. Since you don’t want your drone to wobble and fall off badly, it’s always important to choose a frame that holds your camera right at the gimbal and brings a consistency during flying.
You should know that building a drone’s frame is not a walkover. If you are already well-versed in the engineering concepts, it would take you less time than a beginner, who will be required to wrap his head around the basics and complexities first and then take up the challenge.
Choose one of the frames below as per the work you’re planning to eke out of your machine.
1. Quadcopter: A UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) with four motors and the most obvious choice for a DIY camera drone. However, the downside of flying a quadcopter is that your machine can easily tip over and nosedive if any of the four motors fails to function. Reason? Due to the mismatched body weight ratio.
2. Hexacopter: A UAV with six motors and a safe option for industry professionals who can’t risk failure. A hexacopter will continue hovering in the sky and land safely even if a motor stops working. This is because the remaining motors will continue sharing the load and determine the right body weight ratio in the air.
3. Octacopter: A UAV with eight motors and an ideal choice to capture high quality videos with unmatchable stability. If a motor fails, you are unlikely to see major performance lags, as there will be seven to maintain the body weight right and make you glide you through the task.
The build of your aircraft largely depends on the type of camera you’re planning to use – a simple, lightweight or a pro-style.
Section 2: Types of Materials To Be Used
The type of material is a crucial defining factor in ensuring that how much your drone weighs and how seamless would it fly when taken to the air. Since you’re piecing your drone at home, you need materials which are readily available and budget-friendly. You can choose any of the materials below to get started with your customized drone.
Plastic: Bendability is the greatest advantage with plastic, which means, you can easily mould and employ it intelligently for your personalized drone. 3D printed plastic is the choicest material to create a DIY drone among drone freaks, but turns out, it works only for small drones, as plastic is lighter in weight and fails when it comes to ferry a high-end camera.
Wood: Probably the most cost-effective of all. And, certainly makes a strong case for the cheapest drone material available. A factor that makes wood an appreciable choice is how you can quickly fix and replace it if your drone crashes. While choosing logs of wood to build your drone, check that no areas are warped or twisted, as such defects can impact the movement of your drone in the air.
Carbon Fiber: Since drone needs to be lighter to reach a certain tropo level and stronger to combat the tough air conditions, carbon fiber is a viable choice. It is one material that’s hard-wearing and lightweight at the same time. This results in better speed leverage in the air. However, pay attention to an important detail about carbon fiber that it blocks RF signals, which is a major drawback when connectivity is anything to go by.
Aluminium: Aluminium is an ideal choice of material for drones for its lightweight characteristics. This makes it easy for your drone to easily pick up the required momentum in the air. Another reason of choosing Aluminium is its reasonability. It is inexpensive and easily available for use.
Now that you’re well-aware of the materials you can use, we move a step further to tell you about the parts you must have on-board to build your drone. So, keep scrolling!
Section 3: Choosing the Important Parts For Camera Drone
Drones are gravity defying. That itself conveys how important it is to select the right materials. This section puts a full-beam focus on the number, types and quality of the materials you should have to build a well-working drone. We have tried our best to explain all the important details in a summarized way, so that it takes less on your end to mug up the information.
There are three important parts of a drone – Motors, Propellers and Battery. Let’s know them better below.
We really don’t need to explain this. Motors are the movers to your drone. They provide the necessary thrust to your drone’s flight and its mid-air hovers. Know that every motor should generate the equal amount of force to keep the levels right and reach a stability.
How motors work? When windings (coils) come in sync with the magnetic field, current is produced, which further helps motors spin and initiate momentum. Well, that’s the only physics you need to know to differentiate between the types of motors you’ll learn ahead.
>> Brushed Motors: In these motors, the magnets remain static while the coils spin to build momentum. To speak in general, brushed motors are popular picks when it comes to making of a drone.
>> Brushless Motors: Brushless motors are an exact reversal of brushed motors. In these types of motors, the coils remain static and the magnets work to set the drone in motion. They are further categorized into Inrunners (magnets spin inside) and Outrunners (magnets spin outside).
>> Advantage of Brushless Motors over Brushed Motors
Since brushed motors are about coils that spin, the attached brushes show signs of wear quickly as compared to brushless motors. That being so, brushed motors don’t stay longer and fail to generate enough power after a certain point of time. On the contrary, brushless motors comes with longevity of working and provides good power to keep your drone in right motion.
You see wing-like structures above a drone? Those are propellers and made up of a shaft with two or more blades, which rotate and lift a drone to the air. Propellers are attached with motors, which give them the necessary force to aid the flight of a drone.
The common case with most of the propellers used in drones is that they’re either two or three-bladed. The size also matters, as the smaller ones speed up and slow down quickly while the larger ones take time to reach a speed and decelerate back. So if you need a stable flight, propellers with larger wings are recommended since they will not jerk off suddenly.
Propellers can rotate both ways – Clockwise and Counterclockwise. And, usually come made with Plastic, Carbon Fiber and Wood.
>> Plastic propellers are the clear favorites for a reason that they can be easily replaced and are inexpensive. Drones often crash and breaking of the propellers means losing a critical assistance to your flight.
>> Carbon Fiber Propellers are superior in quality and durability. They just don’t break so easily and are designed complement your drone for a longer period. Off course, you need to cough up a good money to have them.
>> Wood Propellers are not so common, but have certain properties that make them an ideal choice. They are robust and a crash will not do as much of harm as you expect with plastic propellers. However, they’re an expensive proposition. So, look for your pockets before you opt to buy them.
To protect propellers against damage, you can consider buying propeller guards. But keep a note of the following facts:
Since propellers are guards get heavy as compared to only propellers, the overall pace and time of your flight might decrease.
Guards protect propellers only from minor crashes. Your propellers, even with the guards on, will fail to cope with a crash or a collision of a bigger proportion.
If you’re a novice trying at a drone, we’ll recommend you to choose plastic propellers, as they are cheap and dispensable.
Battery is what keeps your drone in supply of power. The most commonly used are Lithium Polymer batteries, which are lightweight and wonderfully equipped to produce a lot of power. There is a rule of thumb for buying a battery – the battery’s voltage should always complement with the motors you’ve chosen. Cost of Li-Po batteries could be a concern for many, as they’re a bit expensive.
Other key requirements are a battery monitor (to track the levels of battery), a mounting pad (to control vibration and bring stability), RC receiver (to intercept the radio signals), a microSD card and off course, a camera.
Since you’re building a camera drone, you need not have an elaborate arrangement to control your flight. Accelerometer, Gryoscope and Compass will be enough.
To know the step-by-process of assembling your air machine, check the link below: