Equipment on a drone and how it works

In this blog, I am going to explain the importance of understanding a drone not just through its physical flight but also the systems and technologies that come with it. This blog will use generic terms to cover all types of drones rather than one specific drone. The main components to any drone are its physical appearance or platform in other words and its flight control systems. Drones are a lot more technologically advanced as then you may think.

Multi-Rotor Configurations

With drones, there are many types of variations of multi-rotors. The most common configurations are quadcopters, Hexacopters and octocopters. Obviously with the increased amount of rotors gives an increased level of safety. Most hexacopters and octocopters can be flown with a missing motor if one were to go missing mid-flight. More amount of motors also results in the mass of the drone increasing resulting in greater stability in flight. This is because of the increased inertia and performance of the drone. Although it may be safer in the air, drones above 7kg impose more flight restrictions due to the laws set by the air navigation order. Having a smaller drone will offer you more flexibility making it better. Also, the larger drones will have added complexity and more complex equipment making them in turn more expensive to buy and maintain.

Flight Control Systems

A drone will use a combination of sensors and electrics in order to help the pilot fly the drone safely. Without the mechanics inside the drone would simply not be able to move. Each flight system will offer something different in order for the drone to fly and make flying easier for the pilot. Accelerometers are used to measure acceleration forces in a certain direction. Alongside accelerometers, Gyroscopes are useful for measuring angular velocity helping it maintain orientation. To measure altitude, the drone uses something called a barometer. This can detect a change pf pressure in the air over a small vertical height. This can help drone pilots keep below the 400ft threshold set by the CAA. GPS and Magnetometers help the aircraft determine where it actually is. When the drone pilot lets go of the controller the GPS will help the drone holds its position due to satellite fixing a position. Magnetometers are used to determine the way the drone is facing. They make use of compass sensors which often need calibrating before every flight.

Control Modes

The specific type of drones you can use different flight modes in order to achieve certain flights. Some flight modes may be more suitable than others to film the footage needed. With the Inspire there are three different control modes including GPS, ATTI and sport mode. As already mentioned GPS allows you to let go of the controller without the drone moving. This is due to the GPS fixing its position on the drone. This tends to be safer when flying and is great when flying in more congested areas. ATTI or attitude mode simply disables GPS mode making it drift in the direction of the wind when the pilot lets go of the controller. ATTI mode tends to be smoother and probably suits more open areas. Sport mode works with GPS however the acceleration and speed increase dramatically which can be great for shoots the require speed such as filming a car.

Vortex Ring Rate

Vortex ring state is a hazard posed to drones when the rotors create their own downwash creating mini turbulence around the propellers. This forces the drone to plummet as it loses control of its lift ability. Conditions that cause vortex ring state including low ford speed or fast descent straight down. This is why you should always descend in a circle until there is no build-up of downwash or turbulence. When in a vortex the best thing to do is not to fight the descent by pressing up but to pitch forward out of the turbulent column. Trying to oppose the descent will only make it worse even though it seems like a natural reaction to do when your drone is plummeting.

Battery System

Typically, the batteries used in modern-day drones are Lithium polymer batteries or in other words LiPo Batteries. They are great for powering unmanned aircraft as they are lightweight, compact and easy to assemble onto a drone. They also carry their disadvantages with being very expensive and hard to maintain with high risks of them bursting into flames when managed incorrectly.

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