A Drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). They are an awesome piece of technology, and are becoming more popular now than ever. Drones have practical uses that range from photography, exploration, military, delivery, recreation and much more. Here is your chance to join in on the action. We want to help you build your own Quadcopter Drone (Hopefully you will eventually be able to mount a laser on your drone, but we won't be able to help you with that. Face it, a laser on a drone would be cool).
Step 1: Step 1: Download APM Mission Planner
APM Mission Planner will help you with every step in this process. The Mission Planner will be there from the beginning to the end. The program will help you with calibrating the radio, accelerometers, GPS, and everything in between. The link for the download is below:
Step 2: Step 2: Design/Print/Cut/Buy a Body
A big part of any drone is the body type. For our drone, we went with a "plus style" but there are many others out there. The plus style we used was printed using a maker gear m2 3d printer. We considered cutting a body out of acrylic using a CNC laser cutter. This part all depends on what you want to do with your drone. www.thingiverse.com has plenty of 3d printable things to look through if you have access to a printer. Also consider how you want to make the legs for your drone. We made 8 individual legs for our drone. There are 2 legs for each arm. We used zip ties to secure the legs around the arms of the drone.
Step 3: Step 3: Wire Your Ardupilot and Electronics
Before mounting everything to your body, you should wire your ardupilot, radio, and gps/compass. You should then calibrate all of these things using the setup/configuration pull down in your apm planner. The planner will walk you through the calibrations.
Step 4: Step 4: Get It All Mounted Up
Next you'll want to mount everything on your drone. To mount the ardupilot, we 3d printed what looks like a small table and screwed the ardupilot right into it. We attached the table to the body of the drone by fusing them together with a bit of acetone. We then printed another table for the radio receiver. We placed this second table on top of the first, again, fusing the plastic with acetone. We mounted the radio receiver on top of that table with a bit of velcro. We printed a much taller table for the gps/compass. When you mount your gps it needs to be considerably higher than the rest of your electronics. The wires from your electronics are current carrying and will produce magnetic fields that will interfere with your gps/compass if they are not separated. We mounted the compass unit to this table by drilling holes in the table and fastening with zip ties.
Step 5: Step 5: Wire Your Power Distribution Board and Power Supply
The best directions we can offer here are to visit the website of the maker of your power distribution board. We used a 3DR board, and it seems to have worked well. You'll then have to wire the ESCs (Electronic Speed Control) systems to the board and connect your engines to those as well.
Step 6: Step 6: Calibrate Your ESC
After you have everything mounted and wired you'll want to calibrate your ESCs. Before you do this, make sure your USB is unplugged from your drone and computer and you do not have any props on your engines. The link below has fantastic directions for esc calibration.
Step 7: Step 7: Arm Your Drone
In your APM planner, make sure you have everything calibrated and working. Then, you can try and arm your drone. The planner will do a number of safety checks before allowing you to arm, resolve any issues if necessary. After your drone is armed, unplug it and head outside!
Step 8: Step 8: Arm the Engines and Fly!
Instructions on arming the engines can be found here:
Good luck! And enjoy your flight!