DIY drone: Lesson 1. Terminology..



We bring to your attention a series of tutorials designed to help a novice enthusiast understand the developing unmanned vehicle direction and guide it in the process of creating your own UAV using finished parts. The terminology and definitions used are intended to give the reader an understanding of each term, not its dictionary definition. While many words can have multiple meanings, the definition of each is used in the context of UAV / Drones.



RTF (Ready to Fly) - a drone that reaches the user fully assembled with all the necessary details. Just charge your battery and fly!

BNF (Bind and Fly) - The drone is shipped fully assembled and includes a receiver. The user only needs to select a compatible transmitter and “bind” it to the receiver.

ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) is a drone that comes disassembled with almost all parts necessary for flight. Components such as remote control and receiver may be missing.

DIY (Do It Yourself) - nowadays this assembly is called "custom". Typically involves using parts from different suppliers and creating or modifying parts.

UAV (UAV) / UAV - Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (any).

Drone is a synonym for UAV. The term "drone" is most applicable for the military sphere, while "UAV" is for a hobby.

Multirotor - UAV with several motors.

Tricopter - UAV, which has three motors / propellers and usually three reference beams.

Quadrocopter - UAV, which has four motors / propellers and four reference beams. Typically this configuration is "" (where, the front of the drone is facing one of the beams) or "X" (where, the front of the drone is facing between the two reference beams).


Hexacopter - UAV, the power plant of which has six motors / propellers.

Octocopter - UAV, the power plant of which has eight motors / propellers.

Spyder - UAV of the "Spyder" type (usually a quadrocopter or hexacopter) in which the reference beams are not symmetrically located relative to each other when viewed from above.

V-Tail - UAV, which has four beams, of which two rear are located at an angle forming a "V".

Size - “Size” is usually given in millimeters (eg 450mm) and represents the longest distance between two motors on an unmanned aerial vehicle. The size can also determine the "class" of the UAV (micro, mini, etc.).

X4 / X8 - UAV configurations with four reference beams; Configurations “X4” have one motor at the end of each beam, while “X8” have two motors on one beam (where one is pointing up and the other is down).

Y3 / Y6 - UAV configurations with three reference beams; Configurations “Y3” have one motor at the end of each beam, while “Y6” have two motors on one beam (where one is directed upwards, the other is directed downward).


CG (Center of Gravity) is the point on the aircraft, where the weight is distributed equally on all sides.

Frame - the frame is a kind of "skeleton" of the aircraft on which all the parts are attached. Simple frames have motors connected to aluminum or other lightweight profiles ("beams"), which are then connected to the center frame.

Shell is an aesthetic / functional coating used to improve element resistance and sometimes to improve aerodynamics. Some mass-produced UAVs have only a plastic shell, which also acts as a "frame".

Landing gear - as a rule, a multi-engine drone, unlike an aircraft, does not have wheels, their role is played by landing gears. The supports prevent movement on the ground and reduce overall weight.

Retract / Retractable - usually refers to a chassis that has two positions: one for landing and takeoff, and one that takes up less space or improves visibility during flight.

G10 - This material is usually used instead of carbon fiber for the UAV frame, since it is not only very stiff and light, but significantly cheap.

Propeller guards / Prop Guards are the material that surrounds the propeller to prevent the rotor from contacting other objects. Protection is implemented as a means of ensuring safety and a way to minimize damage to the drone.

Connectors - use connectors

Clamp - A "Tube clamp" is a device commonly used on a round pipe to connect it to another device (eg a motor mount) or UAV body).

Dampeners are molded rubber parts used to minimize vibration transmitted through the drone.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) are used to indicate UAVs in flight, especially at night or in low light conditions.


Thrust is the force that a particular motor and propeller can provide (at a certain voltage). Usually measured in kilograms (kg / kg) or pounds (Pounds / Pounds / Lbs).

BEC - (Battery Eliminator Circuit) is built into the ESC (Voltage Regulator), which can provide an adjustable 5V DC voltage to any electronics that needs it.

ESC (Electronic Speed ​​Controller) is a device that connects to the battery, motor and flight controller and controls the speed of the motor.

Motor / Motor - what is used to rotate the propellers; small drones most often use a brushed motor, while larger drones use a brushless motor.

Blades (propeller blades) - aerodynamic surface that creates lift. As a rule, the propeller has from two to four blades, which can be either fixed or folding.

Propeller - Propellers provide thrust and are more similar to those used in aircraft.

Prop Adapter is a device used to mate the propeller to the motor.

Prop Saver is a type of hub that mounts on top of the motor being used and replaces the Prop Adapter. In the event of an accident, part of the propsaver is consumed in order to preserve the integrity of the propeller.

The PCB (Printed Circuit Board) is a fiberglass plate on which many components are soldered. Many electronic products have a printed circuit board.

LiPo (Lithium Polymer) - This is the most common battery used in drones and unmanned aerial vehicles due to its low weight (relative to storage capacity), as well as high current discharge rate. Besides LiPo, there are other types of lithium batteries available on the market (LiFe, LiMn, LiOn, etc.).

Power Distribution - To power the diverse array of devices used in a UAV, battery resources must be allocated, and this is where power distribution comes into play (board or cable). Uses one positive and negative battery terminals and provides many different terminals / connection points from which other devices (operating at the same voltage) can draw power.

Servo / Servo is a type of actuator that, with a correct signal, can move to a certain angular position.


Base / Ground / Control Station - instead of (or in addition to) the manual control equipment (transmitter), a station (usually in a housing or on a tripod) is used to place / integrate the necessary components used to control the UAV. May include transmitter, antenna (s), video receiver, monitor, battery, computer and other devices.

Binding - The term “binding” refers to setting up a portable transmitter so that it can bind to a receiver; if the transmitter is fitted with a receiver, this setting must be done at the factory.

Channel - The number of channels in a transmitter refers to the number of individual signals that it can transmit.

The Flight Controller is what is considered the "brain" of the unmanned aerial vehicle, which processes all incoming data, calculations and signals. The core of a flight controller is often a programmable "microcontroller". The flight controller can have several sensors on board, including an accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, compass, GPS, etc. If the flight controller has the ability to control the aircraft independently (for example, to fly according to specified GPS coordinates), it can be considered an “autopilot”.

Harness / Harness - This generally refers to a “harness” that contains wires connecting the receiver to the flight controller (and sometimes other devices).

HF / VHF / UHF (HF / VHF / UHF) - name of frequencies, where HF - high (High Frequency); VHF - very high (Very High Frequency) and UHF (UHF) - ultra high (Ultra High Frequency). Measured in hertz (Hz / Hz).

Receiver is what is involved in the processing of remotely received information.

Sketch / Code is a program that is loaded onto the drone's flight controller (similar to the thought process).

The Transmitter / Radio is what generates the control signal (s) and transmits it remotely to the receiver.

Sensors / Orientation

Compass / Compass ​​- the magnetic compass can provide navigation to the cardinal points (north / south / east / west).

Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) - combines two sensors, an accelerometer and a gyroscope.

Accelerometer - measures linear acceleration in 1-3 axes. Usually measured in "g / same". The accelerometer can provide the orientation of your drone relative to the ground.

Gyroscope / Gyroscope - the gyroscope measures angular acceleration in 1-3 axes. The units are usually in degrees per second squared.

Magnetometer / Magenetometer - Sometimes used in inexpensive robotics to determine the direction of a compass.

Barometer / Altimeter / Pressure - used to provide feedback on the UAV's occupied altitude. It measures the pressure, and since the pressure changes with altitude, the drone can "know / determine" the altitude it occupies.

Pitot Tube is a device that measures the speed of air.

Flight Recorder - records the values ​​of the UAV sensors. This feature can sometimes be integrated into the flight controller.

GPS / Global Positioning System - satellites, rotating around the planet, send signals that are received by the GPS antenna and sent for processing by the GPS receiver from the purpose of providing geographic coordinates.

Antenna is what actually receives or sends a signal to and from the UAV (the signal itself is generated by the transmitter unit). They come in different types, and are also divided into directional (strong in one direction) and omnidirectional.

Roll / Roll - rotation of the aircraft around its longitudinal axis.

Pitch - the angular movement of the UAV relative to the horizontal plane, or in other words, the rotation of the aircraft about the axis from wing to wing.

Yaw - the angular movement of the aircraft relative to the vertical axis.


FPV (First Person View) - the term applies to flight from the first person, when the drone is equipped with an FPV camera, and the user using the FPV monitor / FPV goggles receives video from this camera in real time.

VR (Virtual Reality) glasses / Glasses / Goggles - provide the user with a more "immersive" experience.

Gimbal / Gimbal - devices that are connected to the camera and are usually driven by a servo motor or brushless DC motor. The gimbal is what can stabilize the camera in flight.

GoPro - a series of GoPro action cameras widely used for shooting and / or transmitting video.

LCD / LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is a type of display / monitor used to display the image captured by the video receiver.

OSD (On Screen Display) - displays flight data on the display / monitor that are sent from the UAV (for example: altitude, satellite position coordinates, etc. etc.).

Are you sure you want to build a UAV from scratch?

What kind of drone should be (assembled / or custom) depends on how much you want to know about the area. Building a drone from scratch can be quite challenging and even dangerous. If you prefer to simply and without hassle "get up in the air", in order of increasing difficulty, the following is recommended:


  • Multi-rotor toys are becoming more and more popular. Most of them are small and can fit in the palm of your hand, but there are also large ones, such as A. R. Drone Parrot. Toy multi-engine drones are not always easy to drive, but they are more resistant to crashes / crashes. Toys are usually smaller in size, with an aesthetic shell serving as a frame.


  • The Ready To Fly kit contains all the parts required for a complete UAV. This includes the UAV itself (most often pre-assembled and ready for use), control equipment, battery and charger. The aircraft is calibrated and should fly with relative ease. However, they have a limited tensile strength, and another accident could damage the system so much that it would be better, just buy a new drone and not try to repair it. (in some cases it may be necessary to assemble several parts / parts, mainly to facilitate delivery). Usually, ARF equipment requires retrofitting with a transmitter / receiver, less often, a battery and a charger. Some ARF kits do not include the flight controller itself. The user may need to perform some calibration due to the need for retrofitting with additional parts. The BNF kit is not offered as not all transmitters and receivers are compatible with each other.


  • The kit usually includes most of the important parts needed to build a UAV, but may be missing a flight controller, transmitter / receiver, battery and charger. Different kits have different contents, so it is important to know exactly what is included in the kit and what additional components / parts will be needed. The contents of the kit must be compatible with each other.

Build from scratch / Custom

  • Custom build is where the user combines different products from different manufacturers and makes them work together. This approach requires an understanding of what components will be needed to build an unmanned aerial vehicle, and will be the focus of this series of articles.

Have you noticed missing terms that would be helpful? Feel free to add them in the comments below.