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Drone technology is one of the best inventions of our time. It has not only changed the way we do business but it has also created an enabling environment to ensure that time and resources are saved in the daily business engagements. But how easy is it to make a drone? The average drone is made up of several parts. Below is a list of the components that make up a drone and what they do.
1. Standard Propellers
The propellers are usually located at the front of the drone/quadcopter. There are very many variations in terms of size and material used in the manufacture of propellers. Most of them are made of plastic especially for the smaller drones but the more expensive ones are made of carbon fiber. Propellers are still being developed and technological research is still ongoing to create more efficient propellers for both small and big drones. Propellers are responsible for the direction and motion of the drone. It is therefore important to ensure that each of the propellers is in good condition before taking your drone out for flight. A faulty propeller means impaired flight for the drone and hence an accident. You can also carry an extra set of propellers just in case you notice some damage that was not there before.
2. Pusher Propellers
Pusher propellers are the ones responsible for the forward and backward thrust of the drone during flight. As the name suggest, the pusher propellers will determine the direction the drone takes either forward or backward. They are normally located at the back of the drone. They work by cancelling out the motor torques of the drone during stationary flight leading to forward or backward thrust. Just like the standard propellers, the pusher propellers can also be made of plastic or carbon fiber depending on the quality. The more expensive ones are usually made of carbon fiber. There are different sizes depending on the size of the drone. Some drones provide for pusher prop guards that will help protect your propellers in the event of an unplanned crash. Always ensure you inspect your pusher propellers before flight as this will determine the efficiency pf the flight.
3. Brushless Motors
All drones being manufactured lately use the brushless motors that are considered to be more efficient in terms of performance and operation as opposed to the brushed motors. The design of the motor is as important as the drone itself. This is because an efficient motor means you will be able to save on costs of purchase and maintenance costs. In addition to that, you will also save on battery life which contributes to longer flight time when flying your drone. Currently, the drone motor design market is pretty exciting as companies try to outdo each other in coming up with the most efficient and best developed motors. The latest in the market is the DJI Inspire 1 which was launched recently. This offers more efficient performance and saves on battery life. It is also relatively quiet and does not produce a lot of unnecessary noises.
4. Landing Gear
Some drones come with helicopter-style landing gears that help in landing the drone. Drones which require high ground clearance during landing will require a modified landing gear to allow it to land safely on the ground. In addition to that, delivery drones that carry parcels or items may need to have a spacious landing gear due to the space required to hold the items as it touches the ground. However, not all drones require a landing gear. Some smaller drones will work perfectly fine without a landing gear and will land safely on their bellies once they touch the ground. Most drones that fly longer and cover longer distances have fixed landing gears. In some cases, the landing gear may turn out to be an impediment to the 360 degrees view of the environment especially for a camera drone. Landing gears also increase the safety of the drone.
5. Electronic Speed Controllers
An electronic sped controller (ESC) is an electric circuit whose main responsibility is to monitor and vary the speed of the drone during flight. It is also responsible for the direction of flight and variations in brakes of the drone. The ESC is also responsible for the conversion of DC battery power to AC power to propel the brushless motors. Modern drones depend entirely on the ESC for all their flight needs and for performance. More and more companies are coming up with better performing ESC that reduce power needs and increase performance, the latest one being the DJI Inspire 1 ESC. The ESC is mainly located inside the mainframe of the drone. It is unlikely that you will need to do anything or make any change on the ESC but in case you need to make any changes, you can locate it inside the mainframe of the drone.
6. Flight Controller
The flight controller is basically the motherboard of the drone. It is responsible for all the commands that are issued to the drone by the pilot. It interprets input from the receiver, the GPS Module, the battery monitor and the onboard sensors. The flight controller is also responsible for the regulation of the motor speeds through the ESC and for the steering of the drone. Any commands such as triggering of the camera, controlling the autopilot mode and other autonomous functions are controlled by the flight controller. Users will most likely not be required to make any alterations to the flight controller as this may often affect the performance of the drone.
7. The Receiver
The receiver is the unit responsible for the reception of the radio signals sent to the drone through the controller. The minimum number of channels that are needed to control a drone are usually 4. However, it is recommended that a provision of 5 channels be made available. There are very many different types of receivers in the market and all of them can be used when making a drone.
8. The Transmitter
The transmitter is the unit responsible for the transmission of the radio signals from the controller to the drone to issue commands of flight and directions. Just like the receiver, the transmitter needs to have 4 channels for a drone but 5 is usually recommended. Different types of receivers are available in the market for drone manufacturers to choose from. The receiver and the transmitter must use a single radio signal in order to communicate to the drone during flight. Each radio signal has a standard code that helps in differentiating the signal from other radio signals in the air.
9. GPS Module
The GPS module is responsible for the provision of the drone longitude, latitude and elevation points. It is a very important component of the drone. Without the GPS module, drones would not be as important as they are today. The modules helps drone navigate longer distances and capture details of specific locations on land. The GPS module also help in returning the drone safely “home” even without navigation using the FPV. In most modern drones, the GPS module helps in returning the drone safe to the controller in case it loses connection to the controller. This helps in keeping the drone safe.
The battery is the part of the drone that makes all actions and reactions possible. Without the battery, the drone would have no power and would therefore not be able to fly. Different drones have different battery requirements. Smaller drones may need smaller batteries due to the limited power needs. Bigger drones, on the other hand, may require a bigger battery with a larger capacity to allow it to power all the functions of the drone. There is a battery monitor on the drone that helps in providing battery information to the pilot to monitor the performance of the battery.
Some drones come with an inbuilt camera while others have a detachable camera. The camera helps in taking photos and images from above which forms an important use of drones. There are different camera types and qualities in the market and a variety to choose from.
These are basically the main component of a drone. If you ever need to make a drone, you will need to have all of these in order to have a working drone.
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