We bring to your attention a series of tutorials designed to help the aspiring enthusiast understand the developing unmanned direction and guide him in the process of creating his own UAV using ready-made parts. The terminology and definitions used are intended to give the reader an understanding of each term, not a dictionary definition. Although many words can have multiple meanings, the definition of each is used in the context of UAVs/Drones.
RTF (Ready to Fly) – a drone that reaches the user fully assembled with all the necessary details. Just charge the battery and fly!
BNF (Bind and Fly) — the drone is delivered fully assembled and includes a receiver. The user only needs to select a compatible transmitter and “bind” it to the receiver.
ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) – a drone that is delivered disassembled with almost all the parts necessary for flight. Components such as remote control and receiver may be missing.
DIY (Do It Yourself / DIY) – Currently, such an assembly is called “custom”. Typically involves using parts from different vendors and creating or modifying parts.
UAV (UAV)/UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles / Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (any).
Drone – a synonym for UAV (UAV). The term “drone” is most applicable to the military field, while “UAV” is for the hobby.
Multirotor (Multirotor) — UAV with multiple motors.
Tricopter – UAV, which has three motors / propellers and usually three reference beams.
Quadcopter (Quadrocopter) – UAV, which has four motors / propellers and four reference beams. This is usually the configuration “+” (where, the front of the drone is facing one of the beams) or “X” (where, the front of the drone is facing between the two reference beams).
Hexacopter – UAV, the power plant of which has six motors / propellers.
Octocopter (Octocopter) – UAV, the power plant of which has eight motors / propellers.
Spyder – UAVs of the “Spyder (Spider)” type (usually a quadrocopter or hexacopter) in which the reference beams are not symmetrical relative to each other, when viewed from above.
V-Tail – UAV, which has four beams, of which two rear ones are located at an angle forming a “V”.
Size – “Size” is usually given in millimeters (eg 450mm) and represents the largest distance between the two motors on the drone. Size can also determine the “class” of the UAV (micro, mini, etc.).
X4/X8 – UAV configurations with four reference beams; The “X4” configurations have one motor at the end of each beam, while the “X8” configurations have two motors per beam (where one is up and the other is down).
Y3/Y6 – UAV configurations with three reference beams; The “Y3” configurations have one motor at the end of each beam, while the “Y6” configurations have two motors per beam (where one is up and the other is down).
CG (Center of Gravity) is the point on the aircraft where the weight is distributed equally on all sides.
Frame – the frame is a kind of “skeleton” of the aircraft, on which all parts are attached. Simple frames have motors connected to aluminum or other lightweight profiles (“beams”), which are then connected to the central body.
Shell/Case (Shell) Aesthetic/functional coating used to improve elemental resistance and sometimes to improve aerodynamics. Some commercially available UAVs only have a plastic shell that also acts as a “frame”.
Landing gear – as a rule, a multi-engine drone, unlike an airplane, does not have wheels, their role is played by landing legs. Supports prevent movement on the ground and reduce the overall weight.
Retract/Retractable – usually refers to a landing gear that has two positions, one for landing and takeoff, and another that takes up less space or improves visibility during flight.
G10 – This material is usually used instead of carbon fiber for the manufacture of the frame of the UAV, because it is not only very rigid and light, but much cheaper.
Propeller guards/Prop Guards is the material that surrounds the propeller to prevent the main rotor from coming into contact with other objects. Protection is implemented as a safety feature and a way to minimize damage to the drone.
Connectors/Connectors – connectors are used to connect and disconnect wires at their ends. Common battery connectors are “Deans” and “XT60”, while the connectors for the flight controller and sensors are spaced at 0.1 inch (2.5mm) intervals.
Clamp – “Tube clamp” is a device commonly used on a round tube to connect it to another device (such as a motor mount or UAV body).
Dampers – molded rubber parts used to minimize the vibration transmitted by the drone.
LEDs (LED – Light Emitting Diode) – are used to identify UAVs in flight, especially at night or in low light conditions.
Thrust is the force that a particular motor and propeller can provide (at a certain voltage). It is usually measured in kilograms (kg/kg) or pounds (Pounds/Pounds/Lbs).
BEC – (Battery Eliminator Circuit) is built into the ESC (voltage regulator) which can provide a regulated 5V DC voltage to any electronics that needs it.
ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) – a device that connects to the battery, motor and flight controller and controls the speed of rotation of the motor.
Motor/Motor – what is used to rotate the propellers; small drones most often use brushed motors, while larger drones use brushless motors.
Blades / Blades (propeller blades) – an aerodynamic surface that creates lift. As a rule, the propeller has from two to four blades, which can be either fixed or folding.
Propeller / Propeller (main rotor / abbr. Prop) Propellers provide thrust and are more like those used in airplanes.
Prop Adapter/Prop Adapter – a device used to interface the propeller with the motor.
Propsaver/Prop Saver – a type of hub that is mounted on top of the used motor and replaces the propeller adapter / Prop Adapter. In the event of an accident, part of the propsaver is consumed to maintain the integrity of the propeller.
PCB (Printed Circuit Board) – a fiberglass plate on which many components are soldered. Many electronic products have a printed circuit board.
LiPo (Lithium Polymer/Lithium Polymer) – is the most common battery used in drones and unmanned aerial vehicles due to its light weight (relative to storage capacity) as well as its high current discharge rate. In addition to LiPo, other types of lithium batteries are available on the market (LiFe, LiMn, LiOn, etc.).
Power Distribution – In order to power the various set of devices used in UAVs, battery resources must be distributed, and this is where power distribution (board or cable) comes into play. Uses one positive and negative battery terminal and provides many different terminals/connection points from which other devices (operating at the same voltage) can be powered.
Servo/Servo — a type of actuator that, with the right signal, can move to a certain angular position.
Base (Base) / Earth (Ground) / Control Station (Control Station) – instead of (or in addition to) the manual control equipment (transmitter), a station is used (usually in a housing or on a tripod) to accommodate / integrate the necessary components used to control the UAV. May include transmitter, antenna(s), video receiver, monitor, battery, computer and other devices.
Binding — the term “binding” refers to setting up a portable transmitter so that it can communicate with a receiver; if the transmitter is bundled with the receiver, this setting must be made at the factory.
Channel — The number of channels in a transmitter refers to the number of individual signals it can transmit.
Flight Controller – this is what is considered the “brain” of an unmanned aerial vehicle, which processes all incoming data, calculations and signals. The core of a flight controller is often a programmable “microcontroller”. The flight controller can have multiple sensors on board, including an accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, compass, GPS, etc. If the flight controller has the ability to control the aircraft on its own (for example, to fly to given GPS coordinates), it can be considered an “autopilot”.
Connecting Harness/Harness – this usually refers to the “wiring harness” that includes the wires connecting the receiver to the flight controller (and sometimes to other devices).
HF/VHF/UHF (HF/VHF/UHF) – the name of the frequencies, where HF (HF) – high (High Frequency); VHF (VHF) – very high (Very High Frequency) and UHF (UHF) – ultra high (Ultra High Frequency). They are measured in hertz (Hz/Hz).
Receiver – this is what is involved in the process of processing remotely received information.
sketch/code – a program that is loaded onto the drone’s flight controller (similar to a thought process).
Transmitter/Radio (Transmitter/Radio) – this is what generates the control signal (s) and remotely transmits to the receiver.
Compass — magnetic compass can provide navigation to cardinal points (north/south/east/west).
Inertial Measurement Unit/IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) – combines two sensors at once – an accelerometer and a gyroscope.
Accelerometer/Accelerometer – measures linear acceleration along 1-3 axes. Usually measured in “g/s”. The accelerometer can provide the orientation of your drone with respect to the ground.
Gyroscope/Gyroscope – the gyroscope measures the angular acceleration along 1-3 axes. Units of measurement are usually degrees per second squared.
Magnetometer/Magenetometer – sometimes used in low-cost robotics to determine the direction of a compass.
Barometer/Altimeter/Pressure – used to provide feedback regarding the UAV’s occupied height. It measures pressure, and since pressure changes with altitude, the drone can “know/determine” its altitude.
Pitot tube/Pitot Tube A device that measures air speed.
Flight Recorder – records the values of the UAV sensors. This feature can sometimes be integrated into the flight controller.
GPS/Global Positioning System – satellites, revolving around the planet, send signals that are received by the GPS antenna and sent for processing by the GPS receiver in order to provide geographical coordinates.
Antenna – this is what actually receives or sends a signal to and from the UAV (the signal itself is generated by the transmitter unit). They come in different types, and are also divided into directional (strong in one direction) and omnidirectional.
Roll/Roll – rotation of the aircraft around its longitudinal axis.
Pitch/Pitch – the angular movement of the UAV relative to the horizontal plane, or in other words, the rotation of the aircraft about the axis from wing to wing.
Yaw/Yaw — the angular movements of the aircraft about the vertical axis.
FPV (First Person View) – the term is applied to the flight from the first person, when the drone is equipped with an FPV camera, and the user using the FPV monitor / FPV glasses receives video from this camera in real time.
VR (Virtual Reality/Virtual Reality) Glasses/Glasses/Goggles – provide the user with a more “immersive” experience.
Suspension/Gimbal — devices that are interfaced with the camera and are usually driven by a servo motor or brushless DC motor. A gimbal is something that can stabilize the camera in flight.
gopro – a series of GoPro action cameras widely used for shooting and / or transmitting video.
LCD/LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is the type of display/monitor used to display the image received by the video receiver.
OSD (On Screen Display) – displays flight data on the display / monitor that are sent from the UAV (for example: altitude, satellite position coordinates, etc.).
Do you really want to build a UAV from scratch?
How the drone should be (assembled / or custom) depends on how much you want to learn about this area. Building a drone from scratch can be quite a complex and even dangerous process. If you prefer to simply and without problems “take to the air”, in order of increasing difficulty, the following is recommended:
- Multi-rotor toys are becoming more and more popular. Most of them are small and can fit in the palm of your hand, but there are also large ones, such as A.R. Drone Parrot. Toy multi-rotor drones are not always easy to fly, but they are more crash/crash resistant. Toys are usually smaller in size, and the aesthetic shell acts as a frame.
- The Ready To Fly kit includes all the parts needed for a complete UAV. This includes the UAV itself (most often pre-assembled and ready to go), control equipment, battery and charger. The craft is calibrated and should fly with relative ease. However, they have limited tensile strength, and another crash could damage the system enough that it’s best to just buy a new drone rather than try to fix it.
- An “Almost Ready to Fly” kit is a kit that includes the frame, motors, and most of the “major” parts fully assembled (in some cases, it may be necessary to assemble several parts/parts, mainly for the purpose of facilitating shipping). Usually, ARF equipment requires retrofitting with a transmitter / receiver, less often, a battery and a charger. Some ARF kits do not include the flight controller itself. The user may need to perform some calibration due to the need to retrofit with additional parts. The BNF kit is not offered as not all transmitters and receivers are compatible with each other.
UAV Kit/UAV Kit
- The kit usually includes most of the essential parts needed to build a UAV, but may not include the flight controller, transmitter/receiver, battery, and charger. Different kits have different contents, so it is important to know exactly what is included in the kit and what additional components/parts you will need. The contents of the kit must be compatible with each other.
Build from scratch/Custom
- A custom build is where the user combines different products from different manufacturers and makes them work together. This approach requires an understanding of what components will be needed to create an unmanned aerial vehicle, and will be the focus of this series of articles.
Did you notice any missing terms that would be helpful? Feel free to add them in the comments below.