Make an Open Source Drone
What you'll learn
- Understand the different types of multi-rotor drones.
- Understand flight terminology.
- Understand the principles of drone flight.
- Understand the roles of propellers, motors, flight controller, ESC in drone flight.
- Understand the use of LiPo batteries and their use.
- Understand the use of GPS in drone flight.
- Understand how to bind a radio receiver and transmitter.
- Understand the necessary drone pre-flight checks.
- Understand the basic safety and legal requirements involved in recreational drone flight.
- Assemble a quadcopter from parts available in the market.
- Upload the MultiPirateNG firmware to the Crius V2 flight controller.
- Use the open source Mission Planner software to configure a drone.
- Practice flying their quadcopter and fun while becoming better pilots!
- Learn how to use the Pixhawk flight controller.
- Windows computer
- Basic electronics tools (please see free list of tools in section 1)
- Be comfortable working with electronic components
- Willingness to persevere despite set-downs (like broken propellers resulting from a drone rough landing)
PLEASE READ: In August 2023, I have updated the course with new lectures and a new flight controller. In the new lecture I show you how to upgrade your drone to use the popular MATEK F405TE flight controller. I have also added lectures about batteries and drone classifications.
The MATEKSYS F405-TE is a perfect fit for our learning objectives. It's a minimalist yet powerful flight controller, making it an excellent device to explore.
Also, by transitioning to the MATEKSYS F405-TE, I can lower the overall cost of our drone without compromising its performance or capabilities. This will make our quadcopter design more accessible to hobbyists on a budget, which aligns with my mission to make drone technology more attainable and exciting for everyone.
Welcome to "Make an Open Source Drone", a course that will teach you how to build a quadcopter from scratch!
Playing with drones, and especially quadcopters, is fast becoming a very popular hobby. As a hobby, it combines state of the art open technology with large open spaces. It even gives me a great excuse to get out of my lab and get some sun!
While you can just go to a shop and purchase a drone that is ready to fly, by doing so you miss out on all the fun and knowledge that comes with building your own flying machine. I admit I have done that myself. Getting my ready-to-fly drone out of its box and flying it was fun, but only for a short period.
Soon after the first excitement settled, I realised that I didn't know much more than before I opened the box. I was also unable to do anything more than what the drone was programmed to do, to begin with.
That is why making your own open source drone is such a great way to have fun while learning.
in this course, my co-instructor Aristofanis and I will help you understand drones and how to build them. You will learn about their mechanical and electronic components and how they interact. You will learn about the software that provides semi-autonomous flight capabilities to drones.
Motors, flight controllers, Electronic Speed Controllers, batteries and chargers, receivers and transmitters, and so much more, will all make sense as you progress through this course and go through the process of assembling your drone.
By the end of the course, apart from being able to assemble your drone, you will have the confidence to perform repairs and to extend its capabilities.
Along the way, you will learn about the principles of drones and many design and performance details for each of the components and software. With this knowledge, you will be able to go on and construct your own drones, configure and program them, all while having a great time doing so.
The course starts by explaining the basic principles of drones.
You will learn about the types of multi-rotor drones, flight terminology, principles of drone flight, and we will introduce the basic drone components like propellers, motors, the flight controller and more.
Then, you will get into the actual construction of the drone. You will solder the Electronic Speed Controllers to the motors and assemble the drone arms.
You will then solder the ESCs and battery to the power distribution board, and start the assembly of the drone frame.
After that is the radio control subsystem. You will learn about the different types of signalling, connect the radio receiver to the flight controller, and connect the GPS module.
Next, you will learn about LiPo batteries and battery chargers, safety and maintenance.
With a fully charged battery, you will continue with the firmware and software. You will learn about the MegaPirateNG firmware and how to upload it to your drone.
You will learn how to bind your radio transmitter and receiver, and then how to calibrate your new quadcopter using the open source Mission Planner software.
As always, we save the best for last! At the end of the course, you will learn how to calibrate the Electronic Speed Controllers and attach the propellers.
And in the end, you will be able to take your drone to a field and launch it, starting to build-up your pilot skills!
As with all Tech Explorations courses, we are here to help you in this exciting learning journey. As a student of this course, you will have access to the Questions and Answers board and interact with the instructors. You can ask questions, and make comments or suggestions.
Please continue by having a look at the list of parts that you will need in this course. You can find it as a document download in the next lecture
Who this course is for:
- Intermediate-level maker looking for a fun outdoors activity
- Anyone interested in drones for recreational use
Peter Dalmaris is an educator, electrical engineer, electronics hobbyist, and Maker. Creator of online video courses on DIY electronics and author of three technical books, and has recently released his book Maker Education Revolution.
As a Chief Tech Explorer since 2013 at Tech Explorations, the company he founded in Sydney, Australia, Peter’s mission is to explore technology and help educate the world.
Tech Explorations offers educational courses and Bootcamps for electronics hobbyists, STEM students and STEM teachers.
A life-long learner, Peter’s core skill is in explaining difficult concepts through video and text. With over 15 years of tertiary teaching experience, Peter has developed a simple yet comprehensive style in teaching that students from all around the world appreciate.
His passion for technology and in particular for the world of DIY open source hardware has been a dominant driver that has guided his personal development and his work through Tech Explorations.
Peter’s current online courses have helped over 60,000 people from around the world to be better Makers.
For more information on Peter's work, please go to his web site, techexplorations dot com.