The Web is filled with DIY Drones tutorials. After much exertion, this is the only thing that I can state with a considerable degree of confidence. They are as diverse as they come and require amateurs to master terminology, discern the many aspects of a DIY drone kit, learn new skills or recover old skills from the periphery of memory.
I have inspected five different DIY drones tutorials, aimed at different segments of the public, from technical, financial and detail levels points of view. My take is that even greenhorns in the field of mechanics may succeed in building the simplest of drones, yet most tutorials address those who have a modicum of experience when it comes to assembling a wide range of components into a functional contraption.
1. DIY Drones for Beginners
I enjoyed this tutorial because it starts by stressing the many obstacles one might encounter in the DIY drones odyssey anyone must experience from theory to practice.
It does a great job in stating and explaining the many terms a layman needs to know just in order to check out the many kits available, technological components and tools required to complete the drone building process.
Naturally, your first drone should be as simple as possible. That equates to a wooden frame quadcopter. The quadcopter is really just a four-arm device, powered by four electrical motors, each connected to a single arm. As the first of many caveats, it should be emphasized that a tricopter (three motors for three segments) is the cheapest option at your disposal, yet it’s a more difficult balancing out of the output power.
From these highly detailed preliminary discussions, the would-be teacher tries to limit the presentation of the many different options, so as not to confuse the neophyte. Installing and securing the Li-Po battery and arranging the quartet of brushless DC electric motors (a.k.a ECMs- standing for electronically commutated motors) sounds like a simple job.
The critical part of building a DIY drone seems to be the balancing of the power output and the harmonization of the different little electronic terrors: the flight controller unit with the ESC (electronic speed controller) and the video equipment. After the attachment of propellers and their prop guards, coupled with a minor-major revision of the whole mechanical monster, you should be able to begin the test flight. As a final comment, the first flight is almost always a failure, so do not get discouraged.
The tutorial also comes in the form of a downloadable guide, however, the 1 hour+ video at the end of the textual presentation is a whole lot more informative and useful.
2. A Six-Part Guide to Building Your First Drone
This guide is a bit on the succinct side compared to the first one, but on the plus side, it has relevant pictures of the steps, detailed and frequent for the essential first three that account for the infrastructure of your soon-to-be UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).
Another positive difference from the first one is the proper addressing of the parts, with brand names, which makes the Internet search for the appropriate parts easier. For steps 4 to 6, videos are brought into the mix, which I personally find very helpful as I do not believe that language is powerful enough to properly explain mechanics.
3. The 1-Hour Quadcopter
The one hour quadcopter is actually unachievable for most mortals. The authors acknowledge their experience right from the beginning and reveal that it would take at least a day for those with a bit of already acquired know-how.
Nevertheless, it is still a valuable addition to the list due to the highly-detailed sketches accompanying every minor action undertaken, pertinent images, and an eye for cost-cutting procedures. The frequent warning sign posted when discussing potentially dangerous actions is also something for which a look at this tutorial is recommended for the drone-building newbie.
4. Seven Lessons in UAV (and) Mechanics
A touch on the scholarly side, this seven-lesson guide is riddled with information that sometimes goes beyond the scope of the guide, delving into general aspects of physics. Therefore, in addition to a comprehensive and meticulously-crafted set of instructions, you may even improve your general knowledge.
The lessons feature materials and parts of a superior quality than in those aforementioned, departing from the primitive DIY drone kits, in the attempt to build something to be proud of. Personally, while it is an informative read, to actually translate it into a real, flying thing is a matter which I should like to explore in my condition as a retiree.
5. The $3500 Experiment
This one is rather more for your reading pleasure. At airspacemag.com, a former war reporter tries his hand at building military drones while forgetting to reveal his sources of finance.
By far the most sophisticated account I have encountered, it uses components of the highest quality all across the board: carbon fiber frame, Y6 configuration, complicated wiring systems, and the minuscule control module.
By no means a one-man project, it is more of an exercise in story-telling than a proper guide. The acknowledgment of the complete failure of the test flight, however, has warmed my heart.