As an enthusiast of UAV technology, you’ve probably sweated over getting the best performance out of your UAV, perhaps building your own drones in pursuit of longer flight times. The best way of doing this is by getting a motor with an ideal size and complementary speed rating. Locating the sweet spot between both is
As an enthusiast of UAV technology, you’ve probably sweated over getting the best performance out of your UAV, perhaps building your own drones in pursuit of longer flight times. The best way of doing this is by getting a motor with an ideal size and complementary speed rating. Locating the sweet spot between both is a tricky problem many people have faced, but if you follow the tips here, you shouldn’t have any difficulties. In order to locate the sweet spot, we must first understand some basics about the motors.
- What Should I Know About Motor Sizes? The brushless motors used in today’s multicopters have a size that is measured by their diameter and height. Both of these quantities are usually stated in the product’s name. For example, in the case of the MultiStar Elite 2204, the first two digits (22) correspond to the diameter of the motor in millimeters (mm), and the next two digits (04) correspond to the height of the motor. But why are these important? This is because your motor’s size dictates which multirotor they can be used with. A small motor (1804/1806) is usually suited to smaller drones (<300mm) while larger ones (2212/2214) are suitable for medium sized drones (350-500mm). So, if you are looking to change the motor of a 450mm-sized drone such as the AEE AP10, you should look at 2214 or similar motors instead of something like a 2204 motor.
- Why Is Motor Speed Really Important? The speed of a motor is defined by its KV rating – the higher the rating, the faster the motor will spin. This is important because the size of the propellers that can be used depends on the speed of the motor. If you are looking to build a mini quadcopter, you already know that you would be using a prop size of 5-6 inches. For such a size, a high speed motor (>2000KV) is required as a slow motor will not be able to provide enough lift. However, for a large professional drone such as a DJI S1000, a slower 400 KV motor will be used as its props are large, 15-inch units.
- Are Larger Motors Always Better? As motor size increases, the speed rating usually decreases in order to accommodate larger props. Hence, moving to larger motors may be beneficial if the current motor is overheating or offering limited flight times on the largest possible propellers. However, moving to larger motors may be a disadvantage if the motor is already using the maximum prop size. To provide a frame of reference, a 2206 motor is the limit for 6-inch props. Moving to a larger 2208 motor on the same props will actually decrease performance remarkably.
Maximizing Performance Using the Latest UAV Technology
In addition to choosing the optimal motors when building drones yourself, you can also do a few DIY motor tricks such as increasing speed or motor size to get the best performance out of your drone:
- Upgrading The Stock Motors: A DJI Phantom 1, which uses 2212 motors, can be installed with larger 2214 motors for increased performance if the prop size is also increased from 8” to 9”. This adds up to 3 additional minutes of flight time and increases the performance noticeably. The same trick can be applied to other drones such as the Quanum Nova.
- Boosting Speed through More Cells: If you want to keep the same motors on your UAV while increasing performance, it is possible to do so by increasing the cell count of your Li-Po battery. The most common upgrade that people do is to start off with 3S, 11.1v batteries and move to 4S, 14.8v batteries later on for extra punch. However, you must make sure that the older ESCs can handle the extra power before giving it a go.
UAV technology, especially in relation to motors, has moved ahead substantially in the past few years. This has provided drone builders with the opportunity to choose flexible motor options that provide the best overall performance for their particular drone.
Do you have any other tips or tricks about using existing UAV technology to increase the performance of a drone? Be sure to leave a comment below!
Image via: Peter Pearson