Frame: 450mm RipaFire
This frame is used throughout the book.
All components will attach to the frame. Since frames need to be strong enough to withstand the stresses of flying while carrying payloads, they are usually made of either fiberglass-infused glass or carbon fiber. Some people have made drones out of traditional construction material like aluminum, and others have made drones out of slightly less traditional materials such as taxidermy cats. Really, anything works as long as the frame is strong enough to support the other five key components. Let your imagination go wild!
Powertrain: Brushless Motors & Propellers (4 included)
Combo pack! A 4 pack of Brushless Motors and Propellers.
The powertrain is responsible for getting a drone off the ground. The powertrain itself consists of three critical components: propeller, brushless motor, and electronic speed controller. For power, every propeller requires a motor, which requires an electronic speed controller to set its speed. If you have four arms, you have four propellers, and you need four brushless motors and four electronic speed controllers.
Propellers generate lift. Propellers are connected directly to the brushless motor shafts, spinning them at very high rates of speed to lift the multirotor into the air.
Powertrain: Extra Propellers
An ample supply of propellers.
It's always smart to have extra propellers in hand. When your drone crashes (unfortunately, all drones will eventually crash...), the propellers will bear the biggest force of the impact. Having extras on hand will keep you flying even when mistakes happen.
Powertrain: Electronic Speed Controllers
A 4 pack of ESCs.
Electronic speed controllers (ESCs) tell each individual brushless motor how fast to spin. ESCs have two inputs and one output. They take in power directly from the battery (usually 12 volts). They also take in a pulse width modulation channel, which is the way the flight computer communicates with the ESC and tells the ESC how fast to spin the brushless motor. And you guessed it—the only output of an ESC is the connection to the brushless motor. And as you know, the brushless motor is connected to the propeller.
Power: LiPo Battery
A perfect battery for this sized drone.
With top-of-the-line lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries, the drones can stay airborne for 10 to 30 minutes at a time. Since flight time is relatively short compared to other types of aircraft, operators tend to be very mindful of the weight the craft is carrying. The more weight, the more energy required to lift the aircraft and the less time the battery will last.
LiPo batteries typically power drones. These are extremely high-performance batteries that can deliver massive amounts of amperage very quickly. In basic terms, that means these batteries are able to quickly spin up the brushless motors to get your drone airborne! These are the same types of batteries used in electric cars like the Tesla Model S, X, and Three.
Radio Transmitter & Receiver
A perfect intro set.
The transmitter is the remote control you’ve probably seen before. It has two joysticks and a series of buttons. Transmitters have a different number of channels. Each channel represents one control input. Most drones require at least four inputs, but each additional input gives your drone more capabilities such as changing the flying mode, deploying landing gear, turning on lights, etc. We recommend a controller with six inputs or more.
The receiver is a small device that will be attached to your drone’s frame. It connects directly to and is powered by the flight computer. The receiver will come preprogrammed and already synced to your transmitter. It will relay the inputs on the transmitter to the flight computer.
The CC3D is the top-of-the-line flight computer.
The flight computer is arguably the most important component of the drone. Think of it as the multirotor’s brain. It controls everything—from turning lights on and off to balancing the drone.
Flight computers have several inputs and outputs. On the input side, there are radio receiver inputs and sensor inputs.
Radio receiver inputs relay, in real time, the current action being taken on the radio controller by the drone pilot. Flight computers come equipped with a variety of sensors—usually an accelerometer and gyroscope. Accelerometers measure force movement in all directions. Gyroscopes measure and maintain rotational motion.
Assorted Parts: Battery Connector
This cable lets you plug into your LiPo Battery.
All of the above components are great, but they need a way of connecting to once another. Most LiPo batteries use a specific type of connector. Find the connector best suited for your battery and we advise having extras-- just in case you mess up soldering!
Assorted Parts: Computer Power Supply
It's important to use a safe and reputable charger.
Some ESC's provide power (5V) that you can use on the Flight Computer. However, just in case your ESC does not, we recommend having a power supply cable. This type of cable connects in between your battery and power distribution (frame), allowing you to power your flight computer.
Assorted Parts: Battery Charger
It's important to use a safe and reputable charger.
Remember, LiPo batteries back a significant amount of energy. It's important to buy a proper charger so the battery does not fatigue. Having a reliable charger will let you continue to operate your drone for hundreds of flights.
Keep in mind, if your drone crashes, the LiPo may become unstable. A reliable charger will want you if the drone's battery needs to be replaced.
Assorted Parts: Battery Charger Cables
This cable lets you connect the battery to the charger.
Depending on the charger and LiPo battery you purchase, it may or may not come with a charging cable. This cable connects the Balance Charger to the battery. Again, make sure you get a cable that uses the same battery connector as your LiPo battery.
Tools Shopping List - Sections 3-5
These are all the tools you will need while building your drone. This list also includes parts for the flashlight project.