Build Your Own Mini-Drone

Have you ever wanted to build and fly you own mini-drone? STMicroelectronics has recently made available its STEVAL-DRONE01 mini-drone kit.

The STEVAL-DRONE01 mini-drone kit. (Image source: STMicroelectronics)

This kit contains everything you need (with the exception of the tools) to build a fully operational mini-drone. The complete kit contents are listed below:

  • Plastic mounting frame (including propeller guards)
  • STEVAL-FCU001V1 flight control unit
  • Four 85 mm x 20 mm, 3.7 V motors
    • Two counter-clockwise rotating
    • Two clockwise rotating
  • Six 65 mm propellers
    • Three for counter-clockwise rotation (one is a spare)
    • Three for clockwise rotation (one is a spare)
  • A LiPo 3.7 V, 600 mAh battery
  • Plastic structural spacers
  • Cable ties to secure components on the frame

To help to get things started, STMicroelectronics has put together an informative slideshow and video detailing the basics of the mini-drone and how to construct it.

During operation, the flight control unit controls the speed of the motors through firmware to keep the mini-drone stable. This is done by the flight control unit’s microcontroller which uses the data from an accelerometer and a gyroscope to provide stability and control.

The flight control unit includes a Bluetooth module so that you can control the mini-drone with your android phone or tablet via an app that can be downloaded from STMicroelectronics. The settings in the app can be modified for personal preferences. Also, the android app code is open source and is available on github.

Note that before you can actually start flying the mini-drone after construction is complete, you must calibrate the sensors and arm the flight control unit. To calibrate the sensors, place the mini-drone on a flat surface, press the reset button on the flight control unit, and place the “levers” on your control app to the positions shown below:

Control app “lever” position to calibrate sensors. (Image source: STMicroelectronics)

The mini-drone fight control unit is initially disarmed for safety purposes. To arm your flight control unit, you must place the “levers” on your control app to the positions shown below for at least two seconds:

Control app “lever” position to arm the flight control unit. (Image source: STMicroelectronics)

When the unit is armed, the red LED will stop blinking and remain energized.

You are now ready for your first test flight. However, be careful to make sure the test fight area is clear of obstacles and people to avoid unintentional damage or injury to onlookers if things should go awry.

For more information or to ask questions, you can always go to STMicroelectronics’ drone-zone community page. Have fun and happy flying!

About this author

Image of Rich Miron, Digi-Key Electronics

Rich Miron, Sr. Technical Content Developer at Digi-Key Electronics, has been in the Technical Content group since 2007 with primary responsibility for writing and editing articles, blogs and Product Training Modules. Prior to Digi-Key, he tested and qualified instrumentation and control systems for nuclear submarines. Rich holds a degree in electrical and electronics engineering from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.

More posts by Rich Miron