Introduction: LEGO Drone With GoPro Camera

Picture of LEGO Drone With GoPro Camera

The drone we are going to have you build won't just be another brainless quadcopter. This one will be capable of fully autonomous return to home, autonomous landing, GPS assisted flight, fly at incredible heights, fast speeds, strong enough to cary a GoPro with ease, but most amazing of all easy enough that a 10 year old can fly it and help build. An amazing feat for LEGO bricks. At Brickdrones.com we create professional flying drones from LEGO bricks for learning, education and fun. We even have kits that include what you need to get started making your own Drone from LEGO Bricks.

First lets tell you about how this all began.

This story began in 2012

This is when the world's first flyable and fully autonomous quadcopter frame made completely from LEGO® bricks was created by Software Developer and Designer, Ed Scott. Along with his kids, Ed's design took it's flight in December of 2012. The frame was made entirely from LEGO® bricks and glue, nothing more, to make it fly the electronics were off the shelf hobby components. In 2013 Ed made it a fully autonomous robot using the 3DR APM flight controller, Ed was the first to make a truly autonomous quadcopter made from LEGO® bricks. The project was not only beyond fun, it was extremely educational for the kids and the entire family. So now we want everyone to have the opportunity to build their own drone with LEGO® bricks. Uploaded to YouTube Next Ed uploaded it to YouTube where it was watched over 83,000 times


We want to give everyone the chance to create drones from LEGO bricks with help and offer packages you will need with clear instructions to build.

1. Make it easy to fly, easy as possible to build and simple to maintain.

2. Lightweight using the mostly bricks for construction with the exception of electronics, hardware and motor mounts for safety.

3. Get started fast with everything you need to complete the frame. All you will have to do is assemble the bricks and add the electronics.

4. Advanced yet easy to use flight controller for stable flights.

5. High quality materials and components and genuine LEGO® bricks, we like drones but we hate clones, clones are bad, we never clone a brick!

6. Designed with multiple safety features like return to land option can be added, softest props possible but still lift a larger load like a GoPro.

Step 1: Tools and Materials Required

Picture of Tools and Materials Required

GLUE

We recommend using Goop E6000 Jewelry and Bead Adhesive as that's what we found works best. GOOP needs 72 hrs to fully dry giving you a chance to move bricks around if you made a mistake. You can use CA glue but it turns white and ugly if your not careful and dries so fast its very hard to use. You can get GOOP from Amazon or most local craft stores like Michaels.
http://www.amazon.com/E6000-Jewelry-Bead-Adhesive-...


TAPE

This is used to hold on power board http://www.amazon.com/3M-4941-Double-Sided-Acryli...


ELECTRONIC SOLDERING IRON

Most any will do but here is one http://www.amazon.com/Elenco-Electronics-St-12-Sol...


VELCRO

This will be used to hold on battery http://www.amazon.com/VELCRO-Brand-Industrial-Str...

Step 2: Electronics Selection

Picture of Electronics Selection

ELECTRONICS NEEDED TO MAKE YOUR FRAME FLY. BELOW ARE THE ONES WE USED. YOU CAN SEARCH THE WEB AND LOOK FOR BETTER PRICING.

DJI NAZA M LITE FLIGHT CONTROLLER WITH GPS/COMPASS Flight Controller, this is what keeps the drone stable.

DJI E300 TUNED PROPULSION SYSTEM (SET OF 4) Propulsion system, this includes your props, motors and ESCs(speed controllers for the motors)

RC CONTROLLER You will need a way to control it, so you need to get a controller. There are tons of controllers, but we recommend at least a 6 channel.

LUMENIER 3300MAH 4S 35C LIPO BATTERY

BATTERY CABLE CHARGER

Step 3: Cost Estimate of Electronics

Picture of Cost Estimate of Electronics

An exact price depends on the parts you select, adding a GoPro etc.

But for the most part for the motors and esc, you can get that at hobbyking or amazon, just stay about the same motor size voltage and amps. You can get motors as low 14.95 each. But we recommend the DJI ones we listed as they very reliable and easy to use, pre-calibrated etc.

We recommend a 6 channel Spectrum listed in the instructable, it is expensive but if budget is an issue there is an alternative one we also listed for $57. There are other things like battery, charger etc but that all depends on size etc so cost varies, but you can start with a smaller 2200mha battery for less than $30 and a charger about the same price. Best bet is to just build the frame first, once you have the frame made, you can decide what you want to spend to put inside as this is your DIY project and spend based on your budget, then upgrade later.

Choose based on your budget

  1. Flight Controller (pick one)
    • Flight Controller without GPS - $69
    • Flight Controller with GPS - $169
  2. RC Transmitter and Receiver on Amazon (Pick one)
    • FlySky Controller - $57
    • Spectrum - $200
  3. Motors & ESC (pick one)
    • DJI Motors & ESC all in one - $159, highly recommended
    • You can also just search for motors on Amazon or other sites, $14.95 x4, ESC $18 x4 - more experienced may use this option but may be harder to work with.
  4. 4S LIPO BATTERY - $40
  5. BATTERY CHARGER - $40

GoPro - Optional - price depends on model

Step 4: Building the LEGO Frame

Picture of Building the LEGO Frame

First we need to build the frame for your drone from LEGO bricks.

There are two ways to get the bricks



1. Recommended way is to get presorted bricks from brickdrones.com, we have already counted and bagged all the bricks you need and includes 4 3D Printed motor mounts and a 3D printed GoPro mount
http://www.brickdrones.com/order/digital-sky-lego


2. Or the manual way, you can look thru your LEGO collection to find the bricks yourself. We have done all the work for you and made you a part list in the attached DigitalSkyPartsList.xls spreadsheet. With this method you will still need the motor mounts because the motors will not mount directly to LEGO bricks. You can get mounts here for your GoPro and your motors.

http://www.brickdrones.com/order/

Step 5: Build the Drone Frame Now

Picture of Build the Drone Frame Now

This can be done by any member of the household

Assemble the bricks, but DO NOT GLUE at this time, take a look at the legs, measure them, they should be 6 inches in length as shown in image. Make sure you have built your frame correctly.

This part needs to be done by an adult or with adult supervision.

Once they are all put together you will need to glue the bricks, why don't you glue the first time? We find it better to glue after you know how it goes together. Remember the top 12x12 plate is not glued, see image, this is how you get your electronics inside. You can use CA glue but really we find it is not the best, the problem with CA glue is it dries almost immediately so you can't rearrange bricks in case you made a mistake, another problem with CA glue is that it turns white.Goop works the best, is flexible but takes 73 hours to fully cure. We use GOOP E6000 on all our frames.

GOOP E6000 on Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/E-6000-237032-E6000%C2%AE-Cr...

There are some images in this step of assembly, all 30 steps are in the PDF attached to this step, be SURE to download it.

Step 6: Motor & Gopro Mounts

Picture of Motor & Gopro Mounts

Motor Mounts

Brickdrones.com has designed a drone that standard quadcopter motors can mount to and attaches to bricks snuggly. This is a design that has been tested with hours of successful flight time with no failures.

Gopro Mount

Brickdrones.com has also designed a brick to stick your Gopro on and attaches to existing bricks. This is a design that has been tested with hours of successful flight time with no failures.

You can order your own set of motor mounts and GoPro mounts here
http://www.brickdrones.com/order/

It is extremely important when you glue the motor mounts on that they are flush. See images in this step for motor mount placement.

The images in this step show the correct way and incorrect way, the mounts must correctly sit flush on your frame and must be glued just like the frame. Failure to set the mounts flush and glue will result in the craft not flying correctly.

Step 7: Completed Frame

Picture of Completed Frame

Your frame should look pretty much like this one, depending on the colors you selected.

Once the frame is done you need to wait 72 hours for the Goop glue to dry and then you can add the electronics.

Step 8: Adding the Electronics

Picture of Adding the Electronics

Get some Lift

Now that you have your frame assembled and dried you can now put on the electronics.

You can use any motor/esc/flight controller you like.


Here are two complete kits that includes everything you need from wiring to screws.
Flight Controller http://www.amazon.com/Dji-Naza-M-Lite-Gps-Combo/dp...
Motors/ESC's http://www.amazon.com/E310-Motor-props-Accessories...


Get some power

Battery cable and charger, if you already have a 3 or 4S battery you can use that in most cases, if you have no idea what a 3 or 4S Lipo battery is, just get these :-)


LUMENIER 3300MAH 4S 35C LIPO BATTERY
http://www.getfpv.com/batteries/flight-packs/lumen...

BATTERY CABLE http://www.getfpv.com/xt60-lipo-pigtail-12awg-5pc...

CHARGER http://www.getfpv.com/b6ac-80w-dual-power-battery...


Once again we have made it simple in this instructable by adding a detailed PDF that includes all the steps to assemble your electronics and will make your LEGO frame fly fast, far and at extremely hight altitudes. Your drone will be capable of fully autonomous return to home, autonomous landing and GPS assisted flying.

Step 9: Completing Your Electronics

Picture of Completing Your Electronics

All the electronics can be added inside the small space of the LEGO brick drone. There is a hole in the back of the 12x12 LEGO plate that fits perfect for your GPS. Make sure your motors are moving the correct direction.

Your Motor/Flight controller will have detailed information in their manuals on how to reverse motors. You can also refer to our more detailed pdf in the previous step.

There is a strip of velcro added to the top of the 12x12 plate, that is where your battery will go, add the other side of the velcro to the battery.

Finally you need to add some way to control it. There are many many different controllers you can use from $70 to hundreds of dollars. To keep things simple, below are a couple we recommend. It's easy to use, very reliable and you can use it for not only this drone project but many many others. The money you invest in your controller can last you years of fun in other instructable projects.

This one is on the expensive side but is sure to last you many many years
http://www.spektrumrc.com/Products/Default.aspx?Pr...

If that was too expensive for you there is a cheaper one with good reviews

http://www.amazon.com/Flysky-Helicopter-Transmitte...

Remember these controllers can run many of your diy drone projects so do not skimp, either will work.

Step 10: (Optional) Add Your GoPro

Picture of (Optional) Add Your GoPro

Now that you have a great flying LEGO drone lets share some wonderful videos with friends and family.

Look at the 4 images in this step and see how to attach your GoPro or other action camera.
Then upload your videos to youtube and be sure to let us know and we will add it to our site.


Shown in this step is a little video I made flying a BrickDrones.com drone with a GoPro attached.

Step 11: Get Brickdroning! Involve Your Community, Customize, Be Safe, and Have Fun!!

Picture of Get Brickdroning! Involve Your Community, Customize, Be Safe, and Have Fun!!

From the maker community to local schools we want everyone to be able to learn how to make their own drone and fly with us. Brickdrones.com is all about the enjoyment of building your own unique flying machine. It can be educational for students to learn about robotics and new technology while having fun. Also a great activity that both adults and kids can enjoy together. We would love to see everyone's creation so please share and will post yours on our website blog.
http://www.brickdrones.com/new-blog/


"Never underestimate the power of the LEGO brick, they are not just toys, they are ideas." - Brickdrone.com


Support

Any question or concerns that might come up during your build please feel free to contact the Brickdrones.com team at support@brickdrones.com


Safety

We list on our site the AMA basic safety rules, please visit and read over safety rules. Safety and inspection of your craft is your responsibility, at minimum do not fly around or over people, near airports or over 400 feet, most important of all use common sense.


Disclaimer: This is a custom creation that is built with LEGO® bricks, not a reproduction of any LEGO® creation. We do not reproduce any LEGO® bricks, all are official LEGO® brand. We purchase, whenever possible, directly from LEGO®. Sometimes a 3D part is needed like for Motor mounts that will be able to be glued firmly to the bricks. We want to give everyone a chance to learn about robotics flight, programming and much more.
LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO® Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site.

Comments

gravityisweak (author)2015-05-21

This looks really fun. I think using legos would reduce the barrier of entry for something like this for a lot of people. What's the estimated cost for something like this with everything you'd need to be up and flying? Thanks for sharing this.

This is a fantastic question. But really it all depends on the electronics you buy and how much “stuff” you put inside.

We recommended some parts based on making a pretty high end LEGO drone without compromise. That being said this LEGO project is no toy, it’s a real GPS guided and self-landing drone that can fly extremely high and fast as you can see from the videos. But there are cheaper places to get motors/escs like at hobbyking.

If you wanted you can simply get a NAZA Lite without GPS for $69 and it will fly fantastic, but you won’t have autonomous features like auto land or GPS assisted flying, don’t worry though because you can buy and add a GPS later when you have a little more money, its totally upgradeable.

Here is a link to the NAZA only
http://www.helipal.com/dji-naza-m-lite-multirotor-...

For the motors and esc, you can get that at hobbyking or amazon, just stay about the same motor size voltage and amps. You can get motors as low 14.95 each. But we recommend the DJI ones we listed as they very reliable and easy to use, pre-calibrated etc.

We recommend a 6 channel Spectrum listed in the instructable, it is expensive but if budget is an issue there is an alternative one we also listed for $57.

There are other things like battery, charger etc but that all depends on size etc so cost varies, but you can start with a smaller 2200mha battery for less than $30 and a charger about the same price.

Best bet is to just build the frame first, once you have the frame made, you can decide what you want to spend to put inside as this is your DIY project and spend based on your budget, then upgrade later.

You can even switch the flight controller later like we did to other manufactures for flipping and other features once you have a frame.

Hope that helps relieve the pocketbook and will get you flying soon. It’s a lot of fun.

drone it73 (author)Brickdrones2017-03-13

thankyou

FPSXGames (author)2015-06-11

Dude this is awesome

Brickdrones (author)FPSXGames2015-06-11

Thanks you!

DebdutBiswas (author)2015-06-07

Just Awesome...

Brickdrones (author)DebdutBiswas2015-06-07

Thank you!

seamster (author)2015-05-21

This is a pretty slick looking drone design. Thanks for sharing these instructions!

Brickdrones (author)seamster2015-05-21

Thank you, it is made with all overlapping bricks to give a pretty high strength even in hard landings.

drone it73 (author)2017-03-08

how much would it cost?

DennisK20 (author)2016-10-31

These motor mounts, Can they be downloaded somewhere to 3D print myself ?

mronikoyi (author)2016-01-13

Looks cool!!
Would you have any advice for someone who want's to have the "Follow Me" function on their drone ?
Is there a particular type of GPS module that could make it work?

Brickdrones (author)mronikoyi2016-01-20

Yes, we did one using the APM Mini. It can fit inside the frame. a regular APM would need to be mounted on top. I would use the APM mini.

mronikoyi (author)Brickdrones2016-03-02

Cool!!
I'll try that then.

Another question, do you think that a 149g gimball would be too heavy to add to this instead of the GoPro Wedge?

I was thinking of adding something to stabilize videos and give it that slow mo' feel.

jlandreth1 (author)2015-11-29

This is so cool!!! I've been looking at getting a drone kit lately as I love filming and also love flight (I want to be a pilot). This way of building appeals to me more than getting a frame etc because I love Lego! If I were to do this I would prefer to design and build my own frame out of maybe more technic pieces as it would be lighter, nicer looking and it means more customisation possibilities. Would this idea work or would you recommend doing it with bricks?

AzamA4 (author)2015-09-18

T0BY (author)2015-08-07

This is truly amazing, well done!

marilandita (author)2015-06-11

Props for posting construction pictures of the LEGOs working their pieces, +1!

Great post.

Mysterious_Gal (author)2015-05-21

Awesome first instructable :)

Thank you, please vote for us in the "Things That fly contest" :-D
https://www.instructables.com/contest/fly/

Us? I did vote.

Thank you so much....Us meaning Ed(me) and Nick, aka brickdrones..the guys that made up the instructable. Once again thanks, hope we win.

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Bio: I am a flying robot made from LEGO, I live at brickdrones.com. I like people and robots.
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