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Types of motors used in drones: What are they specifically?

If you really want to build drones, you’ll need to do a lot of research.

fader drone
Image: KnowTechie

Flying a drone is a fun activity, whether it’s for work or for leisure. And, with more and more people getting intrigued by this new and exciting activity, it has gained a lot of popularity over the years. Drones are also perfect for aerial photography, which is why a lot of photographers are loving them.

However, before buying one, you need to understand how they work and how the different motors for drones can affect their performance. This way, you can make the best decision for yourself.

What Is a Drone?

“Drone” is a general technical term that is used to refer to any unpiloted aircraft. Also called an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), it is basically a flying robot that can function autonomously, using a software-controlled flight plan in its system, GPS, onboard sensors, and servo drives.

Drones are used for a wide range of tasks, ranging from aerial photography to surveillance in military operations.

On the other hand, “quadcopter” is a more specific term that is used to refer to a drone having four rotors.

Drone Assembly

Before you start assembling a drone, you need to understand the different motors for drones and their unique features. You also need to understand that every part is important, with each having a specific role for a safe and smooth flight. Make sure to validate each part against the drone design.

The following are the basic parts that you will need to build a drone:

  • Frame
  • Motors
  • Propellers
  • Connectors
  • Batteries
  • Battery monitor
  • Power distribution board
  • Landing gear
  • Camera
  • USB key
  • Electronic speed control (ESC)

Aside from the components listed above, other things you might need include a battery charger, zip ties, thread locking compounds, servo lead wire cables, and American wire gauge (AWG) silicone wires.

You can also choose to use specific components to make your drone better, like Elmo’s lightweight servo drive. 

There are multiple ways to assemble a drone, but the most basic steps include:

  • Making the frame
  • Assembling the motors for drones
  • Mounting the electronic speed controllers
  • Adding the propellers and the landing gear
  • Building the flight controller (there are also ready-to-use controllers available)
  • Choosing the right wireless remote control system
  • Mounting the flight controller
  • Connecting the open pilot to the drone
  • Testing the drone

Reading a beginner’s guide to drones can help you understand everything you need to know before flying one.

How to Pick the Best Motor for Your Quadcopter?

The first thing you need to consider when looking for a drone motor is that it should have enough power to lift the craft off the ground. So, you need to know the total drone weight, including the frame and the camera.

Here are the drone motor specs that you need to check carefully:

  • Thrust-to-weight ratio
  • Motor efficiency
  • Movement of the motor
  • Pole count
  • Kv value (constant velocity of the motor)

Now, let’s take a look at the technology inside drones, starting with the two types of motors.

Brushed Motors

Brushed motors have a stator that uses the electromagnetic principle to function. These motors are usually mounted without the use of screws because of their stationary shell.

Advantages

  • Efficient
  • Can be made in a small package
  • Affordable
  • Ideal for use in extreme conditions because they make less use of electronics
  • Two-wire control system
  • Replaceable brushes
  • No need for a speed controller

Brushless Motors

Brushless motors, on the other hand, use a permanent magnet. The polarity switching is done electronically instead of using brushes, hence the name ‘brushless’.

These motors are often screwed to the base because of their moving motor bell.

Advantages

  • Longer durability and lower maintenance
  • The absence of brushes produces better torque and speed
  • Better heat dissipation
  • Wider speed range
  • More cost-effective for high power/speed operations

Brushless motors are often used when superior performance is required, like in quadcopters. The two most common quadcopter motors on the market today are the disc type and the barrel type.

Propeller-Motor Combination

Choose a motor, first, then pair it with a propeller that works well with it. This makes a lot of sense because motors are more expensive than propellers.

However, you should also keep in mind that the stator size and Kv value of the motor should match the diameter of the propellers—and vice versa. For example, a 6-inch propeller will need a motor with a 2204 to 2208 stator size and 1960 to 2300 Kv value.

Another thing to consider is the pitch of the propeller. A low-pitch propeller is ideal for smaller motors and if you have to make a lot of directional changes with your drone in a confined space. A high-pitch propeller, on the other hand, is more suitable for larger and more powerful motors and if you want your drone to fly fast in wide-open areas.

In conclusion

There are already many DIY drone kits available online today that you can choose, especially if you hate going through the hassle of finding each part. However, if you want your drone to be customized, you will need to gain more technical knowledge, which won’t happen overnight. If you really want to build drones, you’ll need to do a lot of research. Fortunately, the internet is a treasure trove of information that you can use.

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