Introduction: The Ghetto Drone

Have you ever wanted to fly a small drone but don't have enough money to afford a real one? Do you just want a thing that flies and can even take terrible footage without spending large amounts of money? Then this is the solution for you.

Our Ghetto Drone can be made with only a single cheap motor. The rest of the components are cheap as well.

The reason this drone is so cheap is that it isn't actually wireless. It requires a wire to be attached to it, along with a rope, so that you can make it fly. It also has no movement controls other than "On" or "Off".

For these reasons, this drone isn't well suited for races or professional film-making, but it can however be used with a go-pro and do some crude filming for recreational purposes or if you want to observe an area from above. It can also be used for recreation.

The Ghetto Drone uses a system of gears above the motor in order to have two pairs of blades going in opposite directions. This makes the drone stable without the use of any complex electronics or anything more than a single motor. It also allows the drone to be very small and lightweight.

Warning: I would not suggest doing this, because no prototype has been tested yet.

The video is showing off the power of the motor we have with 4 batteries

Step 1: Tools, Materials and Files

You'll need three kinds of things. Store-bought components, 3D-printed components, and tools.


A small electric motor that you would find in a toy helicopter.

A long metal tube that fits on your motor. It can be any width as long as it can be firmly connected to the motor.

two plastic gears of about 30mm of diameter. We used gears that had 60 pins. It is optimal if those fit around your main shaft (the metal tube)

Two smaller gears that are also longer. We used four because we couldn't find long gears that fit.

a metal rod that fits inside of the small gears. You will only need about 50mm of length.

Two pairs of drone rotor blades that are reverse to each other.

4 to 6 AA batteries

A bunch of wire. Red and black is optimal so it's clearer. The amount of wire you use will decide the length of your rope, and thus maximum height in flight.

A roll of duct tape or electrical tape

A wooden chopstick from your local Chinese place


A sanding tool to trim plastic

A tool to cut metal. It can be any tool that is able to cut metal.


Measuring tape or a ruler

3D printing:

If you don't have a 3D printer, you can look up online if there's places in your area where you can use a 3D printer. This might shoot up the price of the project a bit.

16x Straight Rod

8x Angled Rod

6x Square Pin

2x Large Square

1x Small Square

2x Pin Holder Square

1x Inner cylinder

1x Outer cylinder

Step 2: Print

The first thing you should do is get all of your 3D printed components ready.

Make sure they make sense and seem to fit. The cylinders should be able to fit into each other and spin independently without much friction.

Step 3: Construct the Frame

Now, construct the frame of the drone by using hot glue or crazy glue.

The motor should be held in place by the plastic rods on the Large Square.

The small gears should be placed on 40mm sections of the metal rod, and secured in between the two pin squares, both in opposite directions so that they touch each other but only one of each touches the upper or lower part of the area between the squares.

Step 4: Wire the Motor

Now, use two long wires to hook up the motor. The red wire should be connected to the red one, and the black one to the black one.

Now, you need to make a pack of batteries. The way to make a proper setup is to have each battery in a line, so that each one's positive output connects to the other one's negative input. In our model, we will be placing them next to each other, in opposite directions, and connecting them with loose wire that will be taped on.

Afterwards, Place a chopstick above the battery setup, so that it lies just above the last battery's positive output. Place the naked wire around the chopstick just above it, so that it touches the battery when you push on it.

Then, simply connect the black wire to the negative input of the battery setup.

Step 5: Set Up the Counter Rotation

Now, place the inner cylinder (The one with an edge on the bottom) in the middle, with the bottom edge slightly below the upper pin square. Make sure it's solid.

Then, hollow out one of your large gears and affix it to the bottom of the outer cylinder before lodging it upon the inner one. The pins should extend to touch the upper small gear.

Then, cut off the blades that are set up counter to your motor rotation, and affix then to the outer cylinder, above the upper pin square.

Step 6: Finish the Drone

The last part is to place the main tube down the middle of the drone, while threading through the second large gear. Affix the tube to the motor and affix the gear at the same level as the tower small gear.

Then, affix the rotor to the top of the tube.

The drone should be complete!

Step 7: Afterword

This project was sadly never completed for a few reasons. The reason we weren't able to finish the drone itself is because the 3D printing components were very hard to make. Every time we tried to use the machine, there were a lot of problems that we had to deal with, and sometimes it just didn't work.

We ended up not having enough components at the end, despite frequent visits to the lab.

If I were to do this project again, I would make a completely different model. The gear system is cool, but realistically almost impossible to make properly. Such small gears would need industrial precision in order to work properly, which is why I believe that even if we finished the project it would not fly.

I have thought about a different design of drone that would take the same amount of money but actually be doable. It would use two inverted motors that are directly connected to the blades without the need for any gears or anything. It would probably be pretty good and cheap, and I'm sad that I didn't think about it sooner.