How to Make a DIY Arduino Drone That Flies Using Only $20 Worth of Parts

Building your own DIY Arduino drone can be a fun and educational project. With just a few inexpensive parts, you can make a basic quadcopter drone that can fly using Arduino code. Here's a step-by-step guide on how I built an Arduino drone on a budget.

Gathering the Required Components

The main components you'll need are:

So for around $20 total, you can get all the essential parts to build a fully functional Arduino quadcopter!

Assembling the Frame, Motors, and Propellers

The frame holds the motors and electronics in place. It's made of lightweight plastic or carbon fiber arms in an X shape with a center plate.

Mount the 4 motors, one on the end of each arm. Ensure they are facing the correct direction so the props spin inwards.

Screw the propellers onto the motors, tightening them with a wrench. Get 2 clockwise (CW) and 2 counter-clockwise (CCW) propellers.

Check that the motors spin smoothly when turned and make adjustments to prevent friction.

Connecting the Electronic Speed Controllers

Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC) take power from the battery and control the speed of the motors.

Solder ESC wires to the motors according to the motor spin direction. The signal wire goes to the Arduino output pins.

Connect all the ESC ground wires to the same ground pin on the Arduino. The positive leads should go to the battery.

Configuring the NRF24L01 Transceiver Modules

The NRF transceivers allow wireless communication between the Arduino and transmitter.

Connect one module to the receiver inputs on the Arduino using jumper wires. Connect the other module to the transmitter.

They communicate on the same channel using the same address. Configure both modules accordingly in the code.

Interfacing the Arduino with Other Components

The Arduino Uno board should be mounted at the center of the frame.

Connect the ESC signal pins to Arduino output pins 9, 10, 11 and 12. This tells the ESCs what speed to spin the motors at.

Plug in the receiver module and solder the receiver channels to Arduino input pins A0 through A3. This gets user input from the transmitter.

Finally, connect the Li-Po battery to the ESCs to power the drone.

Programming the Arduino

The Arduino code controls all the flight functions. It reads in transmitter values, calculates motor speeds, and more.

I used the Arduino PID and I2Cdev libraries for sensor fusion and flight control algorithms.

The main function reads transmitter values, runs PID calculations, and outputs ESC speeds. It repeats in a control loop.

There are also safety checks, like stopping motors if connection is lost. The code can be customized.

Binding Transmitter and Receiver

The RC transmitter sends signals to the receiver to control the drone.

Turn on the transmitter and receiver in binding mode so they link to each other. Follow manufacturer instructions.

Check channels to verify inputs are going to the correct Arduino pins for roll, pitch, yaw, and throttle.

Final Testing and First Flight

Before flying, do bench tests of all components. Check motors by ramping up speeds.

Calibrate sensors, tune PID gains, and verify stable hovering ability. Make any adjustments.

Find an open area and launch gently. Control trim and orientation. Fly low and slow to start.

Monitor battery voltage and have fun flying your DIY Arduino drone!

So in summary, for around $20 and some DIY effort, you can build a basic quadcopter using Arduino and common drone parts. The process teaches electronics, programming, and flight mechanics. Customize with sensors and autonomous features. Enjoy flying your own Arduino drone creation!