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Juan David's Newsletter - June 19, 2022
Hello curious people,
Let’s talk about my flying project. For starters, this was the motivation.
I became interested and thought it may be worthwhile to try. But I’ve never really built anything like that. My previous projects have been entrepreneurship and software.
Hardware? Never. I tried to be in robotics in high school but like most high school clubs, many are doing stuff for the perception, not actually doing stuff.
If you want to do something, it has to come from inside and you can’t be afraid of going alone.
So I want to do this but I know nothing!!! And I’ve never built anything like this. The next thought one must say to oneself, “Who gives a fuck?” It’s true. I’ve never done which is why I want to do it.
My first step is to build a drone from scratch. I went on Reddit and asked “I want to build a drone as cheaply as possible. How?” Many people replied with one popular video of a guy who built a drone for $150.
$150 bucks? Not too bad. I started watching and taking notes.
Once I gathered all the materials, I browsed around and started looking for the cheapest material across different websites. I bought three parts from amazon.com and two parts from banggood.com.
Once everything arrived, I started building. But I have no idea how to build this thing. The video shows how to build the drone but skips the little but huge details like how to build the frame.
I have no clue and I get stuck. I emailed the guy from the video but he never replied. In the meantime, I used a Chrome extension to slow down the video to about 0.07x so I could see how to build the frame. If you’ve never watched a video at that speed, I’d recommend it, it’s an experience.
I still built it wrong but it was only until I got it wrong that I could get it right. That’s the nature of these things. Not being afraid of doing something wrong because if it’s wrong you’ll realize it later down. If that happens, you come back and rebuild with experience.
So yeah, I went back and built the frame correctly and now I needed to figure out the flight controller, which to me is crazy how anyone can buy and use this piece of advanced technology for less $100 bucks.
For anyone who is curious and wants to build cool things, this is one of the most exciting times anyone could be living in right now. Parts are affordable, nearly infinite knowledge on the internet, and strangers from around the world who will help you from YouTube videos to Reddit comments.
So I take this flight controller and put it on top of the frame but it was touching the screws, and well that’s not good because it could affect the chip and affect everything else. So I put tape, washers, and lots of trial of errors and I got to be distant enough so that it doesn’t touch and the little screws still work.
And of course an aesthetic picture
The next step is to solder these motors to the flight controller BUT I don’t have a soldering iron. It’s a Sunday morning and I don’t want to go buy one. I thought, “What if I go with my bike to my neighborhood knocking on doors to see if anyone has one”?
After about an hour and 20 houses, no one had one. Some were even surprised I was asking for such a thing. A few of them were like, “You should just go Menards. They’re like $20.” I had no idea they were that cheap so I ended up going there. I met some cool people though like an electrical engineer who works as a white hat hacker.
I ended up going to Menards but I’m not sure if I’m doing it right so I emailed the YouTuber again but no reply. Then I remembered I know another Venezuelan who is super curious and knows everything about these things from building computers and software to even telescopes. His kid is 5 years old but I thought he was at least 10 due how to intelligent he was.
Anyways, I called him and he was willing to help and take a look over my project. I went over to his house last Friday night and was there until midnight trying to figure out how to solder this thing.
Another issue I had was the motor wires. They are short and not long enough to reach the flight controller so we had to engineer a way to make it using an old copper wire and solder the copper wire and the engine wire around it.
Lights are on and the motors moved.
My friend taught me how to use a multimeter for things like continuity and where the current was going and whether each motor was receiving.
I came back and now I needed to figure out the flight controller software and assemble props.
This was all this Saturday and I was really close to finishing and doing a test flight. I started writing this because I wanted to end with a video of the drone flying and future plans but… that didn’t happen quite yet.
In the meantime, here’s a video of me playing around with the flight controller software.
If you sent me an email last week, please send it through here. I couldn’t open it.
Juan David Campolargo