Did you know that the “number of small hobbyist drones registered in the United States totaled 1.1 million units in 2019.” This stat was published by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on March 10, 2020. Gone are the days when drones were restricted to science experiments and secret military operations. In 2020, even a kid can build his/her drone and fly without needing a license.
The FAA lets you fly the drone without a remote pilot’s license as long you do it for recreational purposes. Not only that, but you also have to follow the guidelines set by the local authorities (and the FAA). Since you have decided to build your own drone, I am assuming you already have decent experience flying an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Usually, newbie drone pilots prefer to buy a starter drone. Learning to fly can take a while, and accidents such as crash or rough landings are quite prevalent. You don’t want to risk damaging an expensive drone. I also want to make it clear that anyone — irrespective of their educational qualifications— can learn how to build a drone. The ready-to-assemble components/parts are available in the market.
Can You Build Your Own Drone?
I understand why so many people wonder if it is really possible to build a drone— all by yourself— at home. A drone may appear like a complex, intricate, and highly technical machinery, but when you have the right tools at your disposal, assembling it is easy as pie. Like any other ready-to-assemble electronics project, constructing a drone is easy and requires minimal effort.
Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy a Drone?
It is always cheaper to buy a ready-to-fly drone than to build one. That being said, you should build a drone only if you wish to learn to fly it. Drone piloting is not a natural skill. Crashing or losing a DIY drone will result in a considerable loss. Trainer drones are available under $100. You can learn without putting too much at risk. To conclude, trainer drones are cheaper than building one with similar features.
What are the Types of Drone I Can Build on My Own?
A quadcopter is the most popular type of drone among drone hobbyists. When building with the right components, it can be powerful and effective enough for both personal and professional use. In this section, I have shared the different types of drones you can make at home. You must pick the components/parts depending on the type you choose.
As I already stated, a quadcopter is one of the most sought-after consumer unmanned aircraft. It is also popularly known as a quad or a quadcopter helicopter. It is lifted and propelled by four rotors.
Two rotors or propeller blades rotate clockwise, and the other two rotate anti-clockwise. The speed of each rotor can be controlled via remote control. The lifting force (known as thrust) and turning force (known as torque) can be varied depending on the requirement.
2. Micro/ Racing Drone
A micro drone is generally a miniaturized quadcopter suitable for racing purposes. It is also known as the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV). A micro drone is less than four inches in length and two-inch in width. Also, it weighs less than a pound. The U.S. Air Force developed these drones. Following is a simulated image of a bumblebee-sized micro drone designed by the U.S. Air Force.
A hexacopter is a multirotor with six rotor arms. Unlike a quadcopter, a hexacopter can lift heavier payloads. Also, the addition of two rotor blades makes this type of drone more stable and reliable.
A likelihood of a drone crash goes up in regions with trees, electric wires, or houses. In such an unfortunate event, you don’t want to lose the entire drone— a hexacopter is perfectly capable of flying even with a damaged rotor.
The octocopter is an unmanned aerial vehicle with a total of eight rotors. These drones are used in applications requiring lifting of heavy recording equipment. Octocopters have eight propeller blades and, as a result, are more stable than quadcopters and hexacopters— particularly when flying at a high altitude.
The presence of eight propellor blades also gives octocopters greater thrust, more maneuverability in mid-air, and a lightning flying speed. Also, the acceleration and deceleration capabilities of an octocopter are unmatchable. Needless to say, building an octocopter at home will need more time, effort, and resources.
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Drone?
Generally speaking, building your own drone at home won’t cost you more than $250. You can also lower the investment to $200 if you are willing to hunt for the budget-priced components (sometime you might have to wait for the discount season).