What is a drone?

A drone, in a technological context, is an unmanned aircraft. Drones are more formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Essentially, a drone is a flying robot. The aircraft may be remotely controlled or can fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems working in conjunction with GPS.  UAVs have most often been associated with the military but they are also used for search and rescue, surveillance, traffic monitoring, weather monitoring and firefighting, among other things.These are also sometimes referred by their pet names like Quadcoptors (4 motored drone), Hexacoptors (6 motored drone) , Octacoptor (8 motored drone) and so on.

More recently, the unmanned aircraft have come into consideration for a number of commercial applications. In late 2013, Amazon announced a plan to use drones for delivery in the not-too-distant future and now many others deliver a variety of products like pizzas etc using drones.  Personal drones are also becoming increasingly popular, often for drone-based photography and hobby stuff. Other applications include drone surveillance and drone journalism, because the unmanned flying vehicles can often access locations that would be impossible for a human to get to. 

We'll discuss now on how to make a Quadcopter. So for a newbie the first question that comes in mind is What do I need to know?, What do I need to have? and Which multicoptor configuration I need to choose?
Well here is the answer! just stick up to this blog and keep reading till the end. I assure that you'll leave this blog with a SMILE on you face and CONFIDENCE in your mind to be able to built your own first ever DRONE.

What you need to know?


Be responsible with your Quadcopter as 4 spinning props can chop your beautifully manicured fingers to shreds!!!
CrazyRobotics shall not be held responsible for any damage inflicted to yourself and or others including property and equipment etc. Please take precautions to effectively test your equipment and Pre check before each flight. This is your responsibility and safety is your priority. If something seems dodgy it probably isn't worth the risk.

You will have to put the time in finding out good combinations of motor, battery and prop size/pitch etc. This is not unachievable but perhaps to start with may be difficult for some of you newbies. If you are designing your own quad from scratch you should know that it is not quite as simple as buying components and assembling them. Many factors must be considered including motor size and weight as well as battery ratings and mAh's of batteries and more. How much weight do you want to lift if any? Such as cameras and fpv gear etc (payloads). All of these factors must be considered when designing.

Here at CrazyRobotics we have already given a list with sufficient details to get started without any confusion.

So lets focus on a custom setup where you combine a variety of different products from a variety of different manufacturers and get them to work together. This approach requires that you understand which components are needed to make a UAV and will be the focus of this series of article.

The quadcopter dynamics

Quadcopters generally use two pairs of identical fixed pitched propellers; two clockwise (CW) and two counter-clockwise (CCW). These use independent variation of the speed of each rotor to achieve control. By changing the speed of each rotor it is possible to specifically generate a desired total thrust; to locate for the centre of thrust both laterally and longitudinally; and to create a desired total torque, or turning force. Figure shown below is a representation of the same showing bold lines for higher rpm (more thrust), normal ones (normal thrust required to fly) for normal rpm and the thinner lines represent even lesser rmp (least sufficient torque). From this it is evident that we can easily control the rotation and direction of our drone.

(Thanks wikipedia to provide such a simple and cool images)
Schematic of reaction torques on each motor of a quadcopter aircraft, due to spinning rotors. Rotors 1 and 3 spin in one direction, while rotors 2 and 4 spin in the opposite direction, yielding opposing torques for control.

quadcopter adjusts its pitch or roll by applying more thrust to one rotor and less thrust to its diametrically opposite rotor.
quadcopter adjusts its yaw by applying more thrust to rotors rotating in one direction

quadcopter hovers or adjusts its altitude by applying equal thrust to all four rotors.

Now you are familiar with the configuration of a quadcopter and of course quadcopter flight dynamics (Yaw, Pitch and Roll).

What components you need?

You can always buy a pre-assembled drone but when it comes to a custom build option then probably all you need to do is get the following components so that after building it can satisfy you according to your own requirements. (Note: this article covers only building a quadcopter and not any kind of application like video surveillance).

  • Radio Transmitter/ Receiver - used to send and receive signals to your drone

OrangeRx T-SIX 2.4 GHz DSM2 Compatible 6Ch Programmable Transmitter and Receiver
Spectrum DX6i DSMX 6-Channel Transmitter/ Receiver
FRSKY Taranis Plus Transmitter and X8R Receiver Combo 

  • Propellers (x 4 technically, but you'll want more) - used to provide thrust to your drone while rotating

10x4.5 size (in bulk)

  • Battery (x 1 technically, but you'll want more) [Always buy with charger] -  - used to provide energy to your drone ... more mAh rating means more flight time

Turnigy 2200 mAh 3S 25C LiPo Pack

  • Flight Board (x 1) - used as the main controller when set to auto flight and all signal processing stuff is done inside this .... acts as the brain of you drone

KK2 Series
APM 2.6 set
  • ESCs (x 4 or a single 4in1 model)  - used to provide power from battery to the motors according to the control signals given by transmitter or flight board

RC Man Child SimonK 30 Amp ESC
Afro 30 Amp ESC
or just go for 4in1 ESC
  • Motors (x 4)  - used to rotate motors ... acts as the engine of your drone

RC Man Child 2212 1000 KV V2 Motors
SunnySky X2212 980 KV Motors

  • Power Distribution Cables or Board (x 1 of either)  - used to provide power to all the parts of your drone

XT60 ESC Power Breakout Cables
Hobby King Quadcopter Power Distribution Board

OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES YOU MAY ALSO WANT:(Not recommended to buy as of now. Once your quad is successfully having its flight then only think of buying these, but always shortlist them before you build quad if you have this in mind so as to provide additional clamps and hooks for attaching all these accessories easily later.)
  • Camera (x 1)  - used to capture pictures and videos during flight

  • First Person Video (x 1)  - used to view the pictures and videos captures by drone camera

Fatshark Teleporter V2 Video Goggles with Pilot HD V2
  • Landing Gear (x 1) - used to provide proper landing on ground

PhotoShip One Multi-Rotor Landing Gear
DJI FlameWheel F450/F550 Tall/Wide Landing Gear

Where to buy?

You always have an option to do some research online to find various local electronic hobby stuff providers or cheapest online sites like ebay and amazon.

Now you are all set with the basic knowledge required to know about drones and components required. Lets go further and explore the assembly.

How to assemble?

Always its a good approach to make some pencil sketches or to draw a rough sketch of what you are about to build. This gives you an idea on what and how your things are to be arranged. Else if you are an engineering enthusiast then do build a 3D model using softwares like Solid Works or 3D based drawing easily on

For this article we have decided to show you the simple X model of quadcoptor thats built from rectangular aluminium pipes. This required some sort of drawing on a paper first with the real dimensions and later the same were drawn on those pipes ans cut to match all the holes and curves. Where as the center body is built with acrylic sheet at the time of build and a similar approach was followed to cut the curves of the body and drill the holes. This is followed by adjustment of center of gravity (CG) of your drone. The CG adjustment is nothing but simply adjusting the components placed on your drone in such a way that the whole mass is concentrated at the center of the drone assembly. Once this is done now you are just a step away to take your first flight.

The interface and flight board software configuration

The interface is as shown in the block diagram below and the software configuration is flight board specific. We strongly recommend to use NAZA as your flight board to get a hassle free first flight. 
Where as you can build it using Arducopter like flight boards as well. The details of NAZA configuration and interface connections are well defined on the official NAZA site

Interface diagram using NAZA and also by using ARDUCOPTER are shown below.

Interface diagram for Arducopter
Interface diagram for NAZA

That is all you need to do. Now you can test it by taking it to a safe place where there is no risk of any accidents to you as well as to the viewers.

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