If you want to hone your robotics skills, you could build your own drone. This project is suitable for enthusiasts who want to learn new skills. Building drones is also a good first step for beginners, as you do not need advanced knowledge to complete this project. Continue reading this guide to learn some important tips on how to build your own drone from scratch.
As you read this article, you’ll discover the materials you’ll need as well as a step-by-step guide to building your own drone. You will also learn about several ways to make money with your new robotics skills.
Why You Should Build Your Own Drone
If you are a hobbyist or an engineering student, you should consider building your own drone following basic steps. Since this project combines hardware and software, it is ideal for practicing programming, basic electronics, analytical, and creative skills. A drone is one of the best engineering project ideas for students and people who enjoy innovation and technology.
There are several types of drones, and you can customize your project to suit your needs. Some photographers use drones to capture the aerial view. Commercial drones can be used in rescue operations to save lives and help law enforcers with surveillance. Drones are expensive, so creating a DIY project can save you a lot of money while improving your tech skills.
How Hard Is It to Build Your Own Drone?
To build your own drone, you need to learn basic electronics such as soldering wires. You must also be able to program firmware. However, all the knowledge and skills required to build a drone are available online. It also requires perseverance, commitment, and passion. You can build your own drone even if you lack advanced tech skills but are eager to learn.
If you are a complete beginner, you can make the project as simple as you want. You could try making a mini drone, or look into some of the various drone kits available online that can provide you with more guidance.
How Long Does It Take to Build a Drone?
It could take a month or longer, depending on some factors. One of them is the availability of parts. If you are a complete beginner, you will also need to spend time studying before building your drone.
You must learn about its mechanical components, electrical system, and other aspects before deciding on your drone design. Thanks to online learning resources such as video tutorials and online communities, it is now easier to learn how to build your own DIY drone.
81% of participants stated they felt more confident about their tech job prospects after attending a bootcamp. Get matched to a bootcamp today.
The average bootcamp grad spent less than six months in career transition, from starting a bootcamp to finding their first job.
How Much Does It Cost to Build Your Own Drone?
DIY drones can cost around $200 to $500. This may differ depending on the components you want to include in your custom drone. The flight controller costs around $70 to $100, and the four brushless motors cost around $30 to $60. A more advanced drone with more complex functions may also be more expensive.
How Much Cheaper Is It to Build Your Own Drone?
Pre-build drones tend to be expensive, though they can range from under $100 to well over $10,000. The amount you will save will depend entirely on what components you want to include in your drone. More battery power, heightened video feed quality, and expensive tools will all increase your overall costs.
What Do You Need to Build Your Own Drone?
The hardware components required to build your own drone are simple and often inexpensive. You can purchase them from several reputable websites on the Internet. Ensure you specify the correct value and quantity of each before purchasing these components.
- Quadcopter Frame. This is the most common type of drone frame. A quadcopter drone is the best option for a low-cost DIY project. Another factor to consider is size. The frame size refers to the diagonal distance between the two motors.
- Motors. There are two main types of motor used in drones: brushed and brushless motors. A brushed motor is typically cheaper, but a brushless motor lasts much longer and is the best choice for a DIY drone. In this project, you need four brushless motors. For an advanced drone, high KV motors are preferred.
- Electronic Speed Controller (ESC). An ESC helps the flight controller in controlling the motor speed. Brushless motors require an ESC that is powered by a DC voltage.
- Propellers. This project uses propellers made from carbon fiber, but you can also use plastic props. These are represented by a four-digit number which indicates the prop size.
- Lipo Battery. The Lithium Polymer battery will be the source of power. You must ensure that the battery capacity matches the voltage requirements of the motor.
- Flight Controller. This serves as the brain of the drone. The firmware controls the flight controller. It uses the data from the sensors to control the movement of the drones and motors.
- Power Distribution Board (PDB). This is used to distribute the power to all the components in the drone. This is where the Lipo batteries and the ESC are attached.
- Radio controller. The RC consists of a transmitter and a receiver. The Transmitter is connected to the flight controller.
- Raspberry Pi Board. This is where the program is written. The program is the set of instructions that tells the drone what and when to perform a specific command. There are tons of raspberry pi projects you can do if you want to enhance your skills even further.
Building Your Drone From Scratch: A Step-by-Step Guide
Building a DIY drone requires meticulous planning and work. You need to know every detail to ensure you do not miss anything. These are the steps you need to finish the entire project and create your own working drone.
Design Your Drone
Construct the quad frame of your drone. Quadcopter drones are shaped like an “X,” with props at the ends of each arm. Select a material capable of supporting the drone structure, such as plastic or metal.
Choose the Best Components
Choosing the best components is one of the most important aspects of building a drone. You should know all the specs of your components, such as the sensor specifications and the battery voltage.
Download the datasheet for each component to learn more about its values and functions. You can buy these hardware parts online from stores like Micro Center and Newegg, or you can also visit the Amazon website.
- Career Karma matches you with top tech bootcamps
- Get exclusive scholarships and prep courses
Build the Program
Once all the hardware components are in place, you can code the program. Even complete beginners can learn how to program the Raspberry Pi. It supports a wide range of programming languages, which are simple to learn and have a wealth of online resources. The program written in this microcomputer will tell the drone to execute a certain command based on inputs.
Assemble and Connect
You need a soldering iron and wires to connect all the hardware parts. Connect the batteries and the ESCs to your PDB. Screw the motors in each arm of your drone. You can fix the RC module using sticky tape. The flight controller and the Raspberry Pi board are placed in the middle of your drone.
Test and Fly
Once everything is fixed, and your drone is ready for flight, you can test it to see if it works. You can test the drone’s movements and ensure that all functions are operational. If you correctly connected all the hardware components and programmed the firmware, the drone should operate smoothly and without error.
How to Monetize Your Drone
There are several ways to earn money from building drones. Once you’ve mastered this project, you’ll be able to use it to provide services or sell your drones. You can use drones to sell compelling images because they are one of the simplest ways to capture an aerial view. You can upload and sell your photos to sites like Shutterstock.
You can also use your drones to provide services such as photography and videography at an event. A drone can be used to promote resorts, hotels, and any other type of business. The aerial view it captures is ideal for shooting advertising videos or taking photos for brochures and magazines.
Do You Need Coding Skills to Create a Drone?
You need coding skills to create a drone. The drone’s speed, motion, and motor control are all programmed using firmware, also known as low-level programming. The most popular IDEs used in programming drones are Arduino and Raspberry Pi. This project uses Raspberry Pi, which supports Python, C, and C++. The Raspberry Pi is a microcomputer that runs the Linux operating system.
Can You Learn to Build a Drone in a Coding Bootcamp?
You can learn to build a drone in a coding bootcamp. Bootcamps teach the programming languages commonly used in making drones, such as Python and C programming. Some bootcamps offer programs for Linux OS as well, which is the environment used in this project. Online courses for Raspberry Pi are also available, which is a great way to build the skills needed in creating a drone.
Gather Feedback, Reflect, and Iterate
Anyone who is passionate about technology and enjoys building things can build a drone. You don’t need to be an expert in programming or electronics. You can build your own drone if you are willing to learn and innovate new things. There are numerous resources available on the Internet to help you learn how to build drones.
You will invest not only your money but also your time. To successfully build your own drone, you must be patient. Since technology is an ever-evolving process, developing your drone does not end there. You can still upgrade and advance your drone to add more efficient functions and cool features.
How to Build Your Own Drone FAQ
Creating your own drone might sound intimidating, but it may be easier than you think with so much information available online. Several tutorials can help you, and many people successfully build their own drones by simply following the instructions. There are also online communities where you can ask questions if you run into problems while building your own drone.
Some of the skills needed for building drones are basic electronic skills, firmware programming skills, mechanical skills, troubleshooting skills, and analytical skills.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
Yes, there are several ways to make money with your drone. Some of these are selling drones, selling pictures, and offering services like videography and marketing.
Yes, engineering students can make a drone for their school projects, such as robotics. It is a good way to practice engineering skills and creativity. DIY drones are ideal for students due to their low cost.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.