D.I.Y. Drone with LED Lights

By Rubin Lee
Elementary Category (Grades 4-6)
Experiment | Engineering and Computer Science, Physics

This project is for building my own quadcopter with LED lights. I was always fascinated by Drones. I started my question; “What makes a Drone fly?” I tried to look for all the resources related to its physics background, and understand full concepts to draw the blueprint of my Drone.

For my Drone, I researched and prepared all required materials which include brushless motors, electric speed controller (ESC), power distribution board (PDB), flight controller with gyro meter and a magnetometer, 1500mAh 3s lipo battery, five inches propellers, LED lights strip, a transmitter, receiver, a drone frame, and filament for the 3D printer.

To assemble it, I had to solder and wire electric components. The flight control configurator program and the ESC configurator program have been used for configuring and testing the major controllable components such as ESCs and the flight controller. The RX protocol between the radio receiver and the flight controller was tested with a couple of options: PMM and Serial BUS. Through CleanFlight, the LED lights have been programmed to indicate the status of the drone.

There were some challenges. The first issue was that the flight controller was fried, so my drone didn’t talk to the transmitter, which meant it could not fly around and it cannot give the signals to the LED lights either. It took too long to confirm the device was wrong after trying every possible setting. The second one was one ESC did not work and ESCs should be programmed to lower the starting point of the Trotter for preventing the sudden start. Another one was two motors had a different starting point. I solved it by programming ESCs by using the ESC configurator. The next one was all of the four motors are spinning in the same direction. So I went to the ESC configuratorto make the direction for two motors reversed. After that, I found that 3D printed frames were too fragile to sustain with the heavy devices. So, the frames must be replaced with the more durable ones. The last one was that the drone would not fly because it was too heavy. I solved this by buying four new bigger propellers.

I found the Drones are not just toys but tools. It was complicated to build my own drone. Through this project, I have learned

  • The basic knowledge of physics is essential to build a drone
  • Brushless motor is ideal for Drone.
  • How brushless motor and ESC work
  • The flight controller is the brain of the drone.
  • How to solder wires and electronic devices
  • How to add LED to Drones
  • How to use a 3D printer

Most importantly, I learn how to solve problems and how to add more values to my drones. The next step for this project will be adding an Arduino flight Controller, an MP3 player, and a speaker.

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