Quadcopter components22 April 2016
1. Battery for drone
Depending on elementary composition there are three types of batteries for quadcopters: lithium-ion, lithium iron phosphate (LFP or Li-Fe) and li-polymer.
Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries were among the first to appear on the market. At the time they were light enough and had great capacity, which, however, decreased quickly with time.
Li-polymer batteries (Li-Po) that came later are more advanced. Their energy density is twice higher compared to lithium ion batteries. Li-Po batteries can be very small (starting from 1 mm in thickness) and formable. Another their advantage is the absence of memory effect.
Lithium iron phosphate (Li-Fe) batteries can operate in a wide range of temperatures, making them suitable to be used almost under any conditions. They have high current output and low level of self-discharge. Their main disadvantage is weight. It is the heaviest type of rechargeable batteries and not widely used one. As of correlation between capacity and weight the best option is li-polymer battery. It is the most popular and widely used type as well.
Such batteries are unstable while working at sub-zero temperatures, but this problem can be easily solved if placing them in quadcopter just before using; for the rest of time they are to be kept in warm environment, for example in your pocket. Another problem is more serious: they tend to explode when overheated or overcharged.
In order to prevent Li-Po batteries from breaking down before the due time, they are to be kept properly. Do not store fully charged battery, because its electrochemical capacity decreases. There are special devices for Li-Po batteries storing, which maintain optimal voltage – 3.85V (they can charge or discharge battery to the optimal level). It is better to store Li-Po batteries in refrigerator or at room temperature, but the second option is less preferred because the battery loses its useful properties faster. Nevertheless, sooner or later, its capacity will decrease: about 2-4% per year if stored properly and up to 20% if conditions are improper.
You will find the widest range of batteries for all models of quadcopters at Drone Expo Show, which will take place in Moscow this July.
2. Motor for drone
Almost all drones are equipped with electric motors: one for each propeller. The number of motors with right-hand rotation must be the same as the number of those with left-hand rotation.
Small models of quadcopters are usually equipped with rotational motors, because they are light and affordable. For larger drones this is not an option because of low power and inability to develop proper thrust. Moreover, this type of motors break down faster while long-term use leads to overheating.
Rotational motors with reduction gear are more powerful and used for larger vehicles. Their price is relatively low and thrust force is higher. But their degree of efficiency is still low and overheating problem is not solved. Brushless motors are more expensive and powerful and have much higher efficiency - up to 92%.
High level of propeller synchronization is possible due to governor components. As the result, vehicle’s flight is smooth and perfectly manageable. Disadvantages of such motors are high price and large size. Brushless motors are to be used for large drones only.
Some drone enthusiasts equip their quadcopters with gasoline motors. But such solution is not very popular. If to talk about upcoming trends, solar batteries are to be mentioned first of all. Thin Space is already developing such solutions for large vehicles with 50 m wingspan. If successful, the UAV will be able to fly at an altitude of 15-20 km for months.
You can choose best motors for your quadcopter and enjoy a spectacular drone show within Drone Expo Show. The first event of such a scale will take place in Russia this summer.
3. Propellers for quadcopter
Propeller is the most vulnerable component of quadcopter. It may be broken after bumping into tree crown or while landing. That is why additional pair of propellers wouldn't go amiss.
Similar to motors, drones need the same number of propellers with left-hand and right-hand rotation.
What should be taken into account when buying propellers?
1. Diameter of propellers. Their size depends on the motor capacity. The larger diameter (and hence weight) is, the less maneuverable the vehicle is; however lifting capacity of the drone will increase with the increase of propeller diameter.
In order not to mistake while choosing propellers for the drone, read manual for motor, where allowable size of propeller is specified.
2. Propeller pitch. It is the displacement a propeller makes in a complete spin of 360°.
The bigger the pitch is – the higher lifting capacity is. Diameter and pitch are measured in inches and are usually indicated by the «x» sign: for example, 17x5.8.
3. The number of blades. The basic version has two blades. Propellers with three blades are usually used for heavy drones, as they have greater lifting force.
In order to avoid vibrations of quadcopter during the flight, propellers are to be balanced with the help of special devices that can be bought or DIY. If you prefer the second option, you should visit Drone Expo Show which will take place in Moscow on July 30-31, 2016. Presented within the event are various models of propellers and devices for balancing.
4. Frame for quadcopter
Frame for quadcopter performs load bearing function and distributes load. It may be bought or DIY (a wide range of frames will be presented within Drone Expo Show in Moscow this summer).
In the basic version, frame is made as aluminum tubes crossing with textolite crosspiece in the middle. Instead of aluminum one can also use more expensive carbon tubes. Main advantage of carbon option is that such tubes are more rigid and ensure more stable flight. Such frames are usually used for large UAVs.
Frames may be either symmetrical or not symmetrical, with shifted crosspiece. The latter option is good for drones equipped with camera. When shifted crosspiece is used, propellers are not focused by the camera. One more option is to use folding frame. It is easy to carry and sustainable while bumping into objects. By changing the configuration you can avoid serious damage.
5. Flight controller for drone
Even experienced drone pilots are not able to stabilize the flight of the vehicle manually taking into account gusts of wind and heterogeneity of air masses. For flight stabilization quadcopter is to be equipped with flight controller. Variation in their prices is wide. There are open source projects as well, which are adapted to the Arduino circuit board.
Stabilization may be achieved by the use of 3-axis or 6-axis gyro system. In the first case just to buy a gyroscope for quadcopter is enough. It will balance left/right, forward/backward shift as well as rotation around the vertical axis. When gyro is used, quadcopter is able to take off and to freeze in the air almost motionless. 6-axis system requires accelerometer as well. It detects acceleration in three dimensions (for example strong gusts of wind) and neutralizes it.
In order all sensitive sensors work properly, flight controller must be vibration-isolated. In some (expensive) models vibration isolation is already provided. Some controllers allow you to control your drone with smartphone or tablet. You can buy all necessary components for quadcopters and enjoy spectacular show within Drone Expo Show in Moscow on July 30-31, 2016.
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