Drones are all the rage these days, and everyone from hobbyists to aerospace engineers can get their hands on this fun and innovative technology. Whether you want to pilot a mini-quadcopter or you’re interested in something larger and more advanced, the drone market has something for you, but it’s important to understand the parts of a drone before trying to get your hands on one. Below are the basic components that makeup commercially available drones:
Consumer drones are powered by electric motors, and some use custom brushless DC motors or frameless BLDC motors that are available from drone manufacturers and hobby stores. Of course, if you’re looking for aerospace BLDC motors for more advanced applications, you’ll want to contact a brushless DC motor manufacturer by visiting https://www.arcsystemsinc.com.
The reason brushless motors are used in drone technology is that these types of electric motors tend to last longer due to less contact between moving parts. Additionally, a DC brushless motor will usually have a higher torque-to-weight ratio. This latter bit is important for pushing drones at higher speeds while limiting drag due to weight.
The batteries that power consumer drones need to have enough power to achieve and maintain flight without weighing the craft down. This has been a challenge for drone engineers and is part of the reason why consumer drones are not able to stay in the air for hours at a time. Current flight times for consumer drones can be as long as 30 minutes or so on one battery charge, but enterprise drones can put out enough power to stay aloft for around an hour.
When it comes to battery life, the number of features can make a difference. In addition to the actual flight controls of the drone, radio communication, lights and other onboard features all require power. The more features that are in use at any given time, the less flight time the drone can achieve per charge. The upside to this design, however, is that rechargeable lithium-ion batteries can be swapped out easily to get a drone back in the air quickly.
The external components of a drone include things like propellers, landing gear and the body of the drone itself. Additionally, drones often include cages around propellers to offer protection in the event of a crash. Most of these pieces are made from plastic since polymer materials are lightweight and offer enough durability to withstand rough handling.
Video cameras may also be attached to some drones for recording flights. These components interact with the internal electronics to either store video to an onboard SD card or transmit a video feed to a nearby receiver. Currently, drone cameras can achieve 4K fidelity, but many record in 1080p.
The internal components of a drone are the things that control elements like speed and lift. An onboard flight controller board receives a signal from a nearby transmitter that a pilot uses to send commands to the drone. These commands are digitally converted and instructions are sent to the propellers and any other external components used to achieve flight.
Electronic speed controllers and electronic stabilization components may also be built into a drone. These components interface with one another and with the instructions sent by the pilot’s transmitter to determine what adjustments need to be made to propeller speed, direction and angle. Wiring harnesses may be used to quickly connect and disconnect certain components for drone customization, and fasteners are also sometimes included inside consumer drones to allow users to change out pieces like landing gear elements and cameras.