Lately, I just could not find motivation to work on my side-project, hence I spent my time procrastinating on a well known video sharing social website. Purely for motivation purposes that is. Yeah. That is it. Purely for motivation purposes.

During my procrastination… ummm… motivation period, I have encountered a vlog of a guy doing model rockets with active navigation system. You might have heard of his company. It is called BPS space.

Watching his videos made me think back of the days, when soldering and electronic circuits design was something I did regularly. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that an electronic project was something I needed to get my juices flowing again. Model rocketry is out of the question for many reasons, but I thought of another project that might be interesting. Building my own drone.

But why would I want to build my own drone? Well, one, it looks like a fun project and two, I always wanted one. Sure, I could buy one, but where is the fun in that? Plus, kids have grown to a point, where such a project might interest them as well.

I am starting small. I want first incarnation (conveniently named Lev One) of my drone (a quad-copter) to levitate in a closed space (like, you know, a room) at relative altitude of 1 meter. In the future, I will add other things, like ability to maneuver it manually, a camera and of course a “follow me” feature. But for now, getting it off the ground straight to a height of 1 meter sounds plenty. Better yet. It sounds like a manageable step. On paper.

To get a drone to levitate at 1 meter height, the drone needs to understand how high it is and what is its position in 3D space. It needs to have the ability to maintain it’s position even though a closed space likely has little if any wind effect. It also needs to have a powerful battery to drive it’s four engines and run a controller for navigation.

In order to achieve this milestone I will need:

  1. a controller to handle navigation
  2. some sort of barometer that will help determine altitude
  3. a gyroscope to determine pitch, roll, yaw and acceleration of a drone
  4. four brush-less motors to run propellers
  5. four ESC controllers to control speed of motor
  6. a voltage divider to deliver expected voltage and current to all hardware
  7. a battery to power it all
  8. some sort of housing and
  9. a lot of luck and patience.

I have already decided on a controller, which, as one might have assumed from the title, will be a Raspberry Pi. More accurately a Raspberry Pi Zero 2W I had lying about for some time now, gathering dust. I have a vague idea about the feature set it will need to sport. Details will be covered in one of future articles.

These articles will be published sporadically and will cover topics as I progress on my path to my milestone – Lev One and onwards. Part 1 will cover my overview of the project and will describe all components used in this project as well as decisions behind choosing these components.