Being a drone and photography hobbyist is great, carrying the gear, not so much. This was the issue I was having when I had to drag my heavy, obtrusive, styrofoam drone carrying case and separate camera bag for my DSLR. There had to be a better way, so I looked where the solution to all answers lay, on "instructables", but there was no answer , so I made one. Sure there were drone backpacks to buy online, but most resembled the carrying case with shoulder straps, and looked bland and boring. I wanted something fun, something that reflected the technology inside. I wanted something with style and had the protection warranted by expensive equipment. The following is my solution. This is the first version of my drone/photography backpack, which is completely modifiable to adapt to whatever shoot, or adventure lies ahead. it is fully customizable. The goal of the bag, is to be able to safely and securely store all gear. The breakthrough came when I found the proper base for the bag.....it was a BASEBALL bag...( pun intended ) .
DISCLAIMER: This is my first instructable, so I apologize if its not up to par, I will improve.
Step 1: Step 1: the Base
Finding the right bag to start things off was key and tougher then I anticipated. In order to securely accommodate equipment like a drone, and access it quickly, an easy open posterior surface was ideal (oppose to a zipper along the top, or drawstring). A baseball bag, had the right amount of compartments in order to make all these things work. It also has loops along the side to store things like a tripod, a side compartment to store things like a laptop (which I incorporated additional padding for) , and quick access front and superior compartments to store things like memory cards and the propeller blades. The thought was to customize this bag to provide the stability and security of the case which comes standard with a drone (see bulky gray box) , and add modifiable compartments to allow flexibility for any type of adventure your on. I started with the Easton Bat bag.
Step 2: Step 2: the Materials
Easton Baseball Backpack
Foam Sheets (white, black, neon green/orange) colors dot matter because they will be covered by.....
Floral Foam bricks
Hot glue gun
Manilla Folder (to be used for templating, you can also use regular paper)
X-acto Knife and Blade (#11)
**A needle and STRONG thread...I personally don't have a sewing machine which would work great. For this bag I used a strong suture material and a needle driver (old surgical materials I had from my training) .
Step 3: Step 3: Make the Remote Control Block
This will be the main block responsible for holding the drone remote control. These concepts can be used to custom fit any such controller. Start out with a floral foam brick, lay a piece of saran wrap atop it, (this will prevent small shavings from getting on your electronic controller) then trace the outline of the controller.
Next use an X-acto blade or other knife and begin to carve out the outline of the device. This will be similar to creating mountainous landscapes if you have ever done any model railroad mountain scenes. You will be creating the negative space here for the remote control to fit.
You can check the fit , which you want to be tight and secure, during the process, but again I advise placing a sheet of saran wrap over the foam (again to prevent shredded pieces of foam from sticking to controller). Adjust accordingly. Leave cut outs where appropriate for your type of controller.
Once fit is appropriate, You will begin to add foam walls to the side of the block. You can use rubber cement for this or any other type of adhesive. Measure out appropriate panels and adhere to the foam block.
Next you will be tracing out pieces of felt to cover the foam blocks. These can be adhered using hot glue, or your choice of adherent.
Finally to the base of the controller block, fix a large piece of velcro, the adjacent piece of velcro will be securely fastened and sewn to the backpack itself to hold it in position, when the bag goes upright.
Step 4: Step 4: Making Additional Peripheral Compartments (3 of Them)
These compartments will be your storage spaces within the bag and also hold the drone in its position within the bag...securely. They are easier to make then the previous remote block, so take solace in that.
To start fully open up the bag and place an open manilla envelope (or blank paper) on the base of the bag. Place the drone or whatever your trying to secure , upside down in the bag, in this case propellers down. Then trace out 3 compartments along the drone which will be curvilinear in shape , as this is the negative space within the bag. The flat area of the compartment will go against the bag, the curvilinear aspect will be against the drone, holding it securely in position within the middle of the bag. Remove the drone and you will be left with a footprint for each compartment.
You will now cut out pieces of foam, based on the template. First cut out the base piece of the compartment which will be identical to your template tracing. Next using the curved edge of this base, cut another piece of felt which is as along as the curvilinear side and as tall as your drone. This will be the outer weall of the compartment and the piece of the compartment that is up against the drone, holding it in place. These pieces will be hot glued together and use duct tape to secure the seams. Next attach a piece of felt to act as the lid. This was glued into place. A second piece of velcro will be sewn adjacent to this piece to the bag itself and will secure the lid to the bag achieving a "closed compartment". As each of these compartments are removable, I coded each compartments velcro strip and its adjoining strip secured to the bag itself for quick alignment and orientation (using dots, dashes and x's). Finally, attach 2 velcro strips in any orientation to the base of the compartment you just made. We will be securing this in place shortly.
Repeat this process for each compartment (3 in total) .
Now turn your attention to the bag itself as we will match the velcro pieces we placed on the underside of the compartments to its adjacent piece which will be living on the bag itself. Put these in place and then remove the compartment only leaving behind the velcro pieces to be sewn to the bag...(see pic above). Without the compartment attached you will just have the normal bag with many velcro strips attached. These need to be or sewed into place, as adjusting the compartment orientation during use may pull the velcro off.
Next I added 4 green foam pads, which were adhered using hot glue to the bag itself. These area are where the rotary blades of the drone go, and simply act as extra padding (can never have too much padding).
Step 5: Step 5: Inferior Compartment Padding, Rear and Forward Padding
To the bottom pocket of the bag, typically where cleats or a glove is stored, I added additional padding (fro my camera bag) to all faces of the compartment using velcro and sewing in place. This serves as my carrying case for a DSLR, or any other piece of equipment that you want to be well protected , padded, and separate from the main compartment.
Next I made an additional padded structure for the unpadded portion of the bag, the part NOT against your back, (as by not doing this, the back of the bag is vulnerable). To do this I attached 2 sheets worth of foam (black) and duck taped the edges together. I then covered this with felt on the front facing portion using rubber cement, to match the aesthetics of the rest of the bag, and attached velcro to the back portion. Velcro was then sewn to the back flap (main opening of the backpack).
The laptop case was then fit into the side padding and also attached via velcro to the interior of the bag to limit shifting, but still allow you to remove the case in the event you want to take the laptop case elsewhere without the bag.
This piece of padding , along with all other padding described in this section are ALL removable and adjustable depending on your needs.
Step 6: Step 6: the Finished Modifiable Drone/Photographer Backpack
While it took longer then expected to build, the end product is pretty good looking , definitely unique and extremely practical. There is certainly a craftsman feel to it, but that gives it character. It is certainly more convenient than lugging around the big gray box, which shouts drone, and attracts crowds. It allows me to easily and safely transport my equipment to remote locations and focus on my hobbies.
Good luck and always remember to fly safe!