Maker Pro

Low Cost ESP32 Drone

April 03, 2024 by jobitjoseph1

Easy to build low-cost drones using ESP32. It can be controlled using a smartphone over WiFi. The PCB of the drone also doubles as the frame and we have skipped on the Tx and Rx modules by using the inbuilt Wifi feature on ESP32 chip and smartphone

Drones have evolved from simple toys to versatile tools with countless applications across industries. Whether for aerial photography, agricultural monitoring, or military operations, drones rely on advanced technology for their functionality. In this project, we'll create a DIY Wi-Fi Controlled Drone using accessible components like ESP32 modules, MPU6050 IMU, coreless motors, and plastic propellers. This method enables hobbyists to build their own drones without requiring costly equipment.

This DIY drone is small in size and can be built using easily available components such as ESP32 modules, MPU6050 IMU, coreless motors, and plastic propellers.

Key Features of the DIY Drone

The DIY drone we’re building offers several key features:

  • Smartphone Control: Users can control the drone using their smartphones, leveraging WiFi connectivity for ease of operation.
  • Stability Control: The drone is equipped with an MPU6050 IMU for stability control, ensuring smooth flight performance.
  • All-in-One PCB Design: We’ve designed a compact PCB layout that eliminates the need for additional 3D printed parts, simplifying the assembly process.
  • Upgradability: Additional features such as position or height hold can be integrated using external modules, allowing for future customization.
  • Compact and Lightweight: The drone is designed to be small and lightweight, making it portable and easy to maneuver.
  • Built-in Convenience: Built-in battery charging and a USB interface for programming and debugging add convenience to the user experience.
  • Compatibility: The drone is compatible with both Android and iOS devices, enabling a wide range of users to control it.
  • Open-Source Flexibility: The drone’s open-source architecture allows users to customize and modify it according to their preferences and requirements.

Complete Circuit Diagram

The circuit is built around the ESP32-Wroom module. The ESP32 along with the MPU6050 IMU handles the flight control operation. For charging we have used TP4056 single-cell charger IC, which is cheap and easily sourceable. The programming circuitry is built around the CP2102 USB to UART converter. We have used MOSFET with an external flyback diode for driving the coreless motors. LED indicators are provided for charging, battery status and connection status indications.

PCB for the ESP32 Drone

or this project, we have decided to make a custom PCB. This will ensure that the final product is as compact as possible as well as easy to assemble and use. We have also designed the PCB in a way that the feet for the drone are also included in the PCB and Can be easily broken away from the main PCB. Here are the top and bottom layers of the PCB.

Install A and B propellers according to the figure below. During the power-on self-test, check if the propellers spin properly and are spinning in the correct direction.

Flashing the Firmware

The firmware for the DIY drone is based on the ESP-drone firmware from Espressif and is coded using ESP-IDF version 4.4.5. It controls various aspects of the drone’s operation, including user commands, sensor data processing, and motor control. Detailed instructions are provided for installing and configuring the firmware, allowing users to customize and optimize the drone’s functionality according to their preferences and requirements. You can find the link and step-by-step instructions for the firmware on the DIY Wi-Fi Controlled Drone page.

Once the drone is assembled and programmed, users can connect to its WiFi hotspot using their smartphones and control its movements using the accompanying app. Pre-flight checks are important to ensure that the drone is functioning properly before takeoff.

Supporting Files

All necessary files, including schematics, PCB designs, and firmware, are available for download from the Circuit Digest GitHub repository. These files provide users with the resources they need to build and customize their own DIY drones.

Here is the complete Tutorial —

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