Quadcopters are gaining massive traction among users with every passing day. This is because of the seduction they cause to a diverse range of hobbyists as well as professionals such as cinematographers, photographers and nature lovers. As a drone enthusiast, it is handy to have fundamental knowledge of different components of a quadcopter since it can be instrumental in helping you repair and maintain your quadcopter as and when required.
A quadcopter seems to be a complicated device fitted with loads of electronic and mechanical components. So, a mere prospect of having to repair or fix certain damaged or malfunctioning parts can be a daunting proposition. To be honest, if you are familiar with the basic construction and working of the quadcopter parts, you will be able to resolve any issues that may arise. Quadcopter parts are designed to come together easily so if you follow the procedures properly, you will be able to build your own quadcopter with seamless comfort. Let’s get going then!
Frame or chassis is the skeleton of a quadcopter. There are a few motors and propellers that are connected to it. Quadcopter chassis come in a variety of sizes and weights. Most of the frames have the similar X shape. If you intend to augment additional components such as a camera to the frame, you will be required to get your hands on a chassis with higher weight ratings. However, if the frame consists of a rugged material, it will itself add more weight to the quadcopter; thereby requiring you to opt for longer propellers and heavier motors to provide the necessary thrust needed to lift the quadcopter from the ground. Quadcopter engineers endeavor to keep a balance among flight speed, handling and flight duration by using appropriate quadcopter parts.
Motors are the most important quadcopter parts without any doubt. Motors are rated in Kilo Volts (kV) which is equivalent to the number of rotations per minute that can be attained by a motor when a potential difference of 1 Volt is applied across its ends without any obstacle. The higher the kV value, the faster a motor can rotate and fast is not always great. If a motor is to rotate at a faster rate, more power is required from the battery which in turn will decrease your flight duration. Moreover, if the rotation per minute is higher, it will also reduce the overall lifetime of the motor which is generally known as burn out.
Regarded as one of the most important quadcopter parts, propellers influence the speed at which a quadcopter can fly, the payload it can carry and the speed at which it can be handled. So, by varying the length and pitch or a propeller, you can toy with the above mentioned variables. The pitch is essentially the shape and slant of a propeller.
The longer the propeller, the more lift it will be able to create at lower RPMs in contrast to a shorter propeller. However, a longer propeller takes longer amount of time to attain requisite speed and also to slow down. If you increase their length beyond a specific size, they become impossible to fly. If a drone is supposed to carry more payload, manufacturers tend to add more arms to the chassis and hence we get hexacopters and octocopters.
Shorter propellers allow the quadcopter to shift speeds swiftly and provide enhanced maneuvering characteristics. Having said that, more energy is required to rotate them which in turn tends to put more pressure on the motors and hence may result in them burning out. A good quality quadcopter has an appropriately sized, low RPM motors with large propellers.
To attain higher speed in the air, you need to have more bellicose pitch. So, a higher pitch is needed for fast speeds and since the quadcopters are more often than not, hovering in the air, so you need to get the minimum pitch possible. Most of the quadcopter propellers come with pitches of the same size.
Electronic Speed Controller (ESC)
Each of the four motors of the quadcopter has an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) that is responsible for providing the appropriate modulated current to the motors, which produce the desired rates of rotation for both lift and handling. Since the ESCs tend to be conventional quadcopter parts, so there are limited number of aspects that you need to consider. But there are two primary ones: Most of the ESCs come equipped with the SimonK firmware that ensure precision timing of multiple rotors that are used by a quadcopter. This tends to be a typical feature of most of the modern day ESCs. ESCs are also loaded with a Battery Eliminator Circuit (BAC) that allows the flight control and transceiver components to connect to the ESC rather than directly to the battery itself.
Flight controller is the basic brain behind the quadcopter. It is a small sized computer that controls the aircraft and translates the signals received from the transceiver to guide the device. If you like to build your own quadcopter, choosing a flight controller boils down to your personal choice. There are number of flight controllers out there with different features and customization options. You can scour the internet to get to know the various top quality and affordable flight controllers that are available on the market.
Have you ever wondered how the flight controller receives signals from the transmitter or the radio controller? This is accomplished by the radio receiver. The radio receiver consists of a part that connects to the flight controller, to receive signals and a controller to transmit them. There are numerous good quality receivers out there but you should get your hands on one that supports at least four channels if not eight.
A channel is basically a control input. In the absence of a channel, the quadcopter would simply hover. Four channels are required to get the quadcopter moving around and two of them are dedicated to each of the two sticks of the radio controller. Additional channels allow a user to add controls for various accessories such as gimbal control. If you are interested in flying a quadcopter, you should buy a good quality one that has 8 to 9 channels support.
Battery and Battery Charger
Here is another important one of the quadcopter parts. A LiPo (Lithium Polymer) battery typically acts as a power source for the quadcopter. LiPo batteries use a C rating that is actually the capacity of a battery to get discharged. Generally, you will come across LiPo batteries with 20C rating. So, if you come across a 25C 4000mAh LiPo battery, it means that you get a maximum of 25 x 4 = 100 Amps. The power of a battery is typically rated by the energy draw required of an ESC. For instance, if your motor draws a maximum energy of 19A, you will need an ESC with at least 30A. Multiplying this by the number of propellers and you get the maximum current drawn from your quadcopter which is 76A.
A lot of battery types can be fully discharged but LiPos come with minimum voltage requirements that can cause damage to the battery in case of violation. Generally, it is 3.0 volts but may vary from one battery to another. This is equivalent to 80 to 85% usage of your battery. Once this threshold is crossed, battery starts getting discharged at a high rate.
Most of the quadcopters come with an especially designed battery charger. It is important that you use the one that has been shipped to you in the original packaging since it controls the amount of current transmitted to the battery. If you charge a LiPo battery beyond 100%, it could start a fire. Make sure that you get your batteries charged in a safe area and give time to the battery to cool down before you charge it again.
Now, you are familiar with all the basic quadcopter parts. Now, it is time you start toying with your older quadcopter. It is always nice to have basic knowledge about quadcopter parts. Finally, you will be able to build your own quadcopters from DIY quadcopter kits and might even start designing your own.