His story, in his words….
As an aspiring engineer, I thought it would be interesting to build my own filming drone as a challenge for the Mark Evison Foundation.
Designing the drone took a few months, as I had to ensure the parts would be compatible with each other and I had to do a lot of research to find the perfect motors that would produce the most thrust while using the least amount of battery power in order to maximise flight time. As well as this, I had to take careful consideration of the weight of the parts, while ensuring I keep within the budget of my project.
When my parts arrived, I hastily got to work, starting with soldering the main components together, including the motors, ESCs (speed controllers) and battery plug. I then assembled the drone frame, and added the radio receiver and flight controller. At this point I ran into a problem powering up the flight controller and radio receiver from the ESCs as I had intended, so I had to power them differently. The only solution was to buy an additional power distribution board with a 5 volt output. After the new part arrived I was able to power up all of the different parts of the drone, so I could start programming it. After some trouble-shooting, getting my computer to recognise the drone’s flight controller, I was able to download all of the settings and configurations onto the flight controller on the drone.
Then the time finally arrived; to power up the motors and test my drone for the first time. It worked perfectly.
I had flown a tiny store-bought quad-copter beforehand, but I was still very apprehensive about flying my drone for the first time (after all I was going from a 45mm drone to a 45cm drone). Fortunately, it handled very nicely in the back garden.
The next stage was to add the gimbal (keeps the camera stable while the drone is moving) and camera. When the gimbal arrived I had to solder it to the battery power supply and then I had to program it which also took a long time due to connectivity issues, but eventually I got it working very smoothly. All I had to do now was strap on the camera and go flying.
I did a lot of practicing in the park before I actually tried to film so that I would have better control over the drone. It was definitely worth it because one afternoon just after I took off one of the propellers completely came off the drone and it fell out of the sky. I ended up having to replace the flight controller and one of the arms of the drone. I also learned my lesson and used Loctite (special glue) to ensure the propellers don’t unscrew themselves and fly off again.
I went to a local park to shoot the clips I needed for the video, edited all of them together and added some (royalty free) music, and my video was ready.
In the future when I have more time I would like to learn to use Adobe Lightworks in the hope that I will be able to render the video in better quality, as for this video I was using an older program I was more familiar with.
Throughout completing this challenge I learned a lot about electronics, problem solving, and gained a lot of practical skills including soldering, programming, flying drones, and keeping to a budget. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Mark Evison Foundation for this incredible opportunity.