Let's start by asking a bunch of questions:
- What type should I build?
- A bit of research seems to hint that a quadcopter is probably the easiest to build as aerodynamics doesn't seem to be as important. And clearly the part I'm most worried about here is the design and production of the frame.
- How can the frame be produced? Can it be 3D printed? Seems the easiest
- How can the propellers/rotors be attached to the frame? Glue? Some sort of locking mechanism?
- How can you calculate the lift from the propellers/rotors?
- Based on this I should be able to calculate how much frame, electronics, propellers, motors and payload are allowed to weigh.
- How can one control the direction of the quadcopter? I guess it must be by tilting the propellers. But how exactly does that work?
- Which electronics platform to use? I guess and Arduino seems like the obvious choice. I also saw somebody using a smartphone, but that would require me to write an app and I don't really want that. A Raspberry Pi could also be considered...
- What sensors do I need?
- Gyroscope: To figure out which way it is pointing
- Ultra-sound range sensor: For obstacle avoidance
- What about control interface?
In the spirit of internet of things I would really like to make it controllable by the internet, but probably version 1.0 should just be regularly RF-controlled.
- What about payload? I have some ideas, but for the first version I'm probably just going to go with a camera-
With at least some of the most important questions covered I can now divide the project into phases.
- Understand principles and math behind flying
- Specification: Components, weight, frame, motor-type and number of, propellers-type and number of, sensors and control-interface.
- Milestone #1: Get something to fly with no control - just straight up
- Add control by RF
- Milestone #2: Add payload 1.0 (Just camera for now)
- Milestone #3: Add control by internet.
- Design payload 2.0
- Milestone #4: Attach payload 2.0
Let's get to work.