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Electricity Storage and Usage in a DIY Project

11/22/2015 10:53 PM

Hello, just registered - I hope I'll have an informative stay here.

I'm currently undertaking a DIY project of building a specific type of new drone.

Let's say it's a square that will eventually fly and navigate on it's own.

It will contain various things inside (sensors, boards, procesor, memory, etc)

Obviously I need to power it, so my question is:

What solutions would you recommend me, in terms of batteries I can add inside the drone that would store that power so it can use it while conducting it's operations?

Obviously it would require frequent charging, I get that - but what would you recommend I use for storage of that power, that would meet the following needs:

Batteries/storage mechanism should be smaller than the drone (let's say the size of a smartphone battery would be max)

Should be light, small weight (below 100 grams let's say)

Would successfully power the drone for a minimum of 1hr, obviously this is related to the consumers I got hogging the power from it, I haven't worked out the specific consumption yet but let's say, for a rough idea it wouldn't consume more than a modern smartphone does (which at full utilization, net included, lasts several hrs)

Would really much appreciate the answers, I'm not native English so excuse me if I haven't phrased the question well and it's ambiguous or confusing, please ask if you need me to elaborate or anything like that, thanks!

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#1

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/22/2015 11:10 PM
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#5
In reply to #1

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 1:56 AM

Hello, thanks for replying and especially the links - gonna do some research in regard to those products.

Probably should've mentioned:

The drone itself will NOT use a propeller for propulsion - so no blades hogging power.

Drone will be small in size (let's say a big orange, or the size of the power supply box in a PC)

Wind will not be a problem, so no additional consumption because of it.

Will operate mostly inside a structure (so no sun - solar out of the question)

It will mainly power a processor, the board, sensors, lasers, a radio/wi-fi antena and somewhat the propulsion itself.

Weight won't be a problem (maybe under 350g total weight)

Again, thanks for the reply, if you have any more suggestion, please, feel free to post! Have a nice day!

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#8
In reply to #5

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 1:00 PM

The drone itself will NOT use a propeller for propulsion - so no blades hogging power.

So what WILL be used for propulsion that does NOT require power????

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 2:53 PM

Hello, thank you for the reply.

I probably phrased that wrong, I didn't say it wouldn't use power, merely it won't be a system that uses so much power, like the blade system (which consumes a lot, especially under different atmospheric conditions)

Keep in mind, speed is not a necessity for me, I'm perfectly fine if it works with 5mph or something.

As for propulsion I have several options, magnets, compressed air, haven't decided yet.

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#27
In reply to #9

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/30/2015 8:35 AM

I am intrigued...do you mean the vehicle will follow a fixed path of flight ?

There is old technology for that type of delivery, used in banks (for cash) and hospitals (for scripts, meds and x-ray plates etc..) which are powered by air turbines drawing a vacuum on the delivery system. It's even addressable by the user!

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#28
In reply to #27

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/30/2015 9:32 AM

In some cases yes it will, can you provide some links / point me in the right direction for the tech you mentioned? I'd appreciate it. thanks!

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/30/2015 4:27 PM

I doubt that this will suit your needs:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pneumatic_tube

Unfortunately you're trying to defeat gravity while levitating your autonomous delivery system, and unless you have some "secret sauce" for doing so, you're going to be stuck with some form of moving airfoil to accomplish your goal.

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#12
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Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 3:49 PM

Maybe I don't understand what you are doing. If its flying, the motors are sucking juice, blowing air downward to generate lift.

http://heighttech.com/en/drone-science/

Interestingly enough, if you are flying forward versus hovering, you get more lift for the amount of power consumed. It's called translational lift. A hovering vehicle starts a downdraft which it has to fight against. If it is moving horizontally into clean undisturbed air, it doesn't have to work so hard to stay up.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translational_lift

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 4:05 PM

Hello.

Very helpful links, diving in them right now.

The drone will be small (fist / 2 fists dimensions) it will hover very little, only a few seconds out of it's 1hr flight, for example. Maybe a total minute.

It will mostly go up, down, left, right - but out of these moving forward is what it will do the most during it's whole flight time.

Atmospheric conditions are ideal, no wind (as in, not outside - think of it as flying in a room of the house), stable temperature, no water, no collision possibility.

Blades are not an option, at least not exterior ones as I'm using the exterior of the drone for a different functionality and shouldn't be obstructed in anyway.

Thus I'm left with some sort of air propulsion system and/or magnets. Been researching in that direction.

I'm sure if I provide more details it would help you understand better, I just can't yet, so I do appreciate the effort and the reply's on your part :)

Once I got a full working concept drawn out I'll probably come back and post it and we can take from there, if you're interested to have a nice read with your coffee in the morning, haha ^_^ ..

Anyway, thank you for the links, they help a lot. If anything pops into mind, please feel free to post, I'll digest any sort of information you will suggest, so it won't be a waste.

Have a nice day!

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 7:04 PM

Thus I'm left with some sort of air propulsion system and/or magnets. Been researching in that direction.

Repulsion? Magnets won't let you get far off the ground AND you would need magnets on the ground for the magnet on the flyer to act against. This would limit mobility a lot.

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#18
In reply to #15

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 11:56 PM

Hello, thanks for the reply.

Yes, initially was looking at repulsion, I didn't say it would work or anything just that I'm researching in that area to see how it goes.

I've found so far some interesting concepts on a type of CO2 motor.

Still, I need to do a lot more research before I decide if I can use it (and If it exists, obviously) or if I'll have to resort to blades.

As far as the magnets go, you make a good point, however there is a working concept that repulsion force (once it's in the air) would generate a sort of momentum / 'propulsion' - just need to read about it more to see if it's actually applicable (and not require truck loads of magnets, lol)

thanks for your thoughts, they're helpful.

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#23
In reply to #13

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/24/2015 9:31 AM

Suggest you take a look at the recent research breakthrough on using sound to levitate objects.

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#25
In reply to #23

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/24/2015 2:37 PM

Can you provide a starting point in terms of links to articles or some more info I can find? :)

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/25/2015 2:14 PM

Try this:

www.google.com

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#2

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/22/2015 11:40 PM

Go solar cell

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/22/2015 11:57 PM

... and add a battery!

If his consumption is more than for a mobile phone put a bigger one in, that has the necessary power.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 12:00 AM

May be decayed nuclear material would do the battery

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#6

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 4:05 AM

On that specification, a mobile telephone battery would do the job. However, it needs to be sized, or rather multiplied, to provide the energy storage needed. As there is no indication of <...let's say...> the power consumption, the flying time, the take-off weight and the leading dimensions not to be exceeded, a solo pursuit is the only way forward from here. How about some practical experimentation? Good luck.

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#10
In reply to #6

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 2:58 PM

Hello, thanks for the reply.

Yes, you are correct that the needed battery / storage type would change when I work out the exact dimensions, weight, take-off, power consumption and so forth.

I'm currently at the drawing board but it does look very promising, just wanted to pick you guys's brain about the would be possibilities as ''power - storage - utilization" came up as the next thing to tackle.

The answers are very informative and I appreciate these kind of reply's, so again, thank you!

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#7

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 6:02 AM

Most drones, I believe, use Li Po batteries (lithium polymer) for the best energy to weight ratio. Look at the specs for the drones that are available commercially and it will give you an idea of what is possible. I think 1 hour flying time is going to be difficult.

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#11
In reply to #7

Re: Electricity storage and usage in a DIY project

11/23/2015 3:02 PM

Hello, thanks for the reply.

I've started to do that, yes, thanks for the suggestion.

Why would you say it would be difficult?

I have nowhere near the consumers on a commercial drone.

No camera, low weight / size, no propeller, not flying outdoors (no wind problems)

Could you elaborate? I appreciate it, thanks!

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#14

Re: Electricity Storage and Usage in a DIY Project

11/23/2015 5:30 PM

I'm intrigued by your lack of a spinning blade(s) for propulsion. Unless this is going to "walk" across steelwork, the science of levitation hasn't progressed far enough to use low power magnets to counteract gravity. As far as using a compressed gas, you'll need a really robust and large container to carry any appreciable amount of "fuel" to burn/discharge for flight, not to mention the electromagnetic control valves to control the flow/power output. None of this will be particularly "stealthy".

I can assume that your sensors include a camera, microphone array, IR laser ranging, GPS, wifi, etc., plus a microprocessor and memory; it's going to take some significant battery to power that for an hour, especially as it can potentially travel 5 miles from the ground station, or is it intended to be released and travel on a pre-programmed route and just stream data back.

Then there's the materials of construction; some superlight metal alloy with a plastiquec skin? And how do you plan on recharging it in-flight (unless it's a single use device)??

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#19
In reply to #14

Re: Electricity Storage and Usage in a DIY Project

11/24/2015 12:13 AM

@RAMConsult

Still researching levitation / magnet concepts to see if they are applicable to what I need. Keep in mind the drone will be tiny, very light weight, no fancy flying, wouldn't require flying at high altitude, normal atmospheric conditions, short flight. So I'm betting on the fact that maybe it would work under these conditions, I can see how it would be hard to get the necessary thrust / momentum to fly the drone over a city, but in my case, as I don't need this, maybe it would work. Still researching so can't comment further since I don't know for sure yet.

My biggest bet so far was exactly a compressed gas, specifically air. Short compressed air bursts through specific nozzles and so forth would give some momentum / navigation and so on. Just thinking if it would generate enough of a flight / smooth flight for what I need and of course been thinking about the compressed air part, obviously being a very small drone I wouldn't have place to fit in big canisters of the stuff so here is the part I'm gonna pick your brain about:

Can you think of a concept / mechanism that would 'suck' the air out of the, well, air - deliver it through another mechanism in the drone that would evacuate it out through nozzles, but compressed ? Biggest issue I'm having thinking about this is that the small size would make it impossible (limited by the small drone size) and for the concept to work I would need to increase the drone/air mechanism size. Any thoughts? I noticed you mentioned stealthy, that isn't an issue, it can make as much noise as it wants.

As for the sensors part, it would include a wi-fi antena so I can receive data the drone is picking up (telemetry, no audio/video) IR or non IR lasers (a lot of them) these will be the work horses as they are going to measure a lot of things in the room, probably GPS and MAYBE some bio sensors like thermal for example. A microprocessor (or rather, maybe a raspberry pi).

As for the 5 miles part I want to say sorry, I've been focused on reply'ing fast and just used estimates. Also I'm not native English so I'm still fuzzy on the miles vs km/h part (in terms of calculating it in my head) and velocity and so forth. The drone will fly in a building for example, all it needs to do is navigate it (go through partitions, floors etc) and record some data, so it won't have to be that fast but of course it shouldn't take a whole day to do that, maybe you understand better now at what sorts of speeds I'm referring/thinking to/of. It wouldn't even need to travel back to starting point, once it's done it can land and wait for me to pick it up.

As for materials, for the prototype I'm going to 3D print it - and will probably make the final model out of carbon fiber. I'll charge it before I launch it, once the battery is over I'll just retrieve it and charge it again. Or I can make it a single use devices, it wouldn't really matter, this aspect, all I need is for it to navigate successfully the structure I'm putting it in and record the data I need - the data can be sent to me or I can retrieve and download it - works either way but I would prefer for it to be sent rather than retrieve and download - if this won't affect the consumption / functionality much.

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#16

Re: Electricity Storage and Usage in a DIY Project

11/23/2015 10:50 PM

Man oh man do you need an education!

ANY drone you fly is a flying battery. You must start with the battery, frame, motors, radios and controller and work your way to something that flies, and for an hour of flight you need to have the amps/hr that will first keep your drone aloft and second also provide the power to your controller and radios, and other equipment.

Most batteries will fly a drone for about 20min max. If you want an hour, then you have to figure in your flight time and amps to supply the motors at hover, at least, and then scale up the batteries from there. Also, you need MORE than just the time OUT to a desitnation, you also need to factor in the return trip! Lots of youtube video of drones going out two miles only to crash in the ocean because they were out of juice.

You have to consider your frame, weight, battery weight, controller and radio weight, and the thrust of your motors, and then the current your batteries can deliver per ounce of weight. And then double it so you can fly home and land.

My suggestion is to just build one and fly it first. F the DIY design it from scratch it'll work crap.

This kind of project requires time, effort and experience to overcome. Nobody here is going to be able to give you any kind of magic formula for success.

Good luck buddy.

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: Electricity Storage and Usage in a DIY Project

11/23/2015 11:52 PM

@Deefburger

Hello, thanks for the reply.

I didn't say I don't need to learn a lot of this stuff, I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here so no need to be edgy.

Let's break things down:

Frame - done.

Motors - done'ish - need to decide on a concept.

Radios - I assume you mean the feed that's gonna allow me to control it, thus that receiver? No need, it's gonna be autonomous, navigation won't be made by me, it will navigate on it's own. The only part that would fit into ''Radios'' would be a sort of Wi-Fi antena so it could send back to a receiver (which I'll have on me) some data that it picks up.

Controller - explained above, no need.

1hr battery issue you mentioned - The 1hr thingy was from the top of my head only to speed up a reply here, for examples sake, I'm not sure if I'll really need 1hr yet.

I don't care about the return trip, I can program it to end operations and land once it's nearing a certain battery threshold (just so it won't crash miserably) then I can retrieve it personally. Like I said (if you would have bothered to read the topic reply's) I'm not interested in flying it outdoors, only specific closed spaces with normal atmospheric conditions. No extra wind, no extra heat/cold, no unexpected conditions, no collisions, It wouldn't even fly that far (half a km maybe? even less) or that high for that matter (max 10 meters above the ground), weight will be no more than 350g (this is still a concept, weight could go up but at this time I doubt it).

I already saw a working, flying model of what I want to do, it just has different functionality, it's made for outdoors, it's bigger than I need/want and it uses blades - but it does work and is exactly 350g in weight, works like a charm.

Thrust to motors - I haven't worked that out since as I've said, I'm still deciding what motor concept I'm going to use, so don't know yet how much power that will consume, every other thing (like weight, flight, etc) I got it down.

Time - I got it.

Effort - not a problem.

Experience - relative? Everyone learns constantly, I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel and I certainly have a lot more to learn (I do have a partner who will fill in some of the gaps) so that shouldn't be a problem either.

Now that I've replyed to what you pointed out I'd like to take the opportunity to thank you for your post. It's informative, I've saved it and will be reviewing it as I go along because you brought up some relevant points to watch out for and take in to consideration, besides the fact that I've done it already or not - they still are good to keep and recheck, so thank you.

I do suggest further that next time you read the whole topic before replying as some of your points are irrelevant (youtube example, falling in to ocean, weight - i've already stated the weight and so forth, etc) ..

So basically I've only opened this question here to find out anything I can about batteries and how to store and use electricity to power things up in a drone, as I'm not THAT proficient in the field - but I do learn rather quickly.

So I'm not looking for a magic solutions, nor do I need one, just the info regarding the battery part, any type of info related to this is appreciated :)

Hope you don't take this the wrong way or anything, thanks!

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#20
In reply to #17

Re: Electricity Storage and Usage in a DIY Project

11/24/2015 12:16 AM

Well, I'm glad to see you have all your ducks in a row. Very good. Now we have a number for discussion of your question about power and storage.

You say you have a 350g craft. Good. If it is holding itself up with props, maximum load on a battery, then it is a lightweight machine similar to a 250 class quad-copter. A 2200ma/hr battery that can discharge 20c (20 x 2200ma) can hold a 350g craft up on hover only for about 30min.

Mine, which is 500g 250 class machine can hover for about 20min and race for about 10 on a 3s (11.4v) 2200 20c battery. It takes about an hour to slow charge this battery, and about 30min to quick charge it.

If your craft has wings, then the equation changes. 350g can be held aloft by wing lift and so the battery can last longer. If your craft has a balloon for buoyancy, then the equation changes again, and the 350g craft can be held aloft with NO battery. How long it will fly depends now on only the current draw of the controller and radios, and what power will be used for maneuvering.

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#21
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Re: Electricity Storage and Usage in a DIY Project

11/24/2015 12:46 AM

Informative reply, thank you.

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#22

Re: Electricity Storage and Usage in a DIY Project

11/24/2015 5:28 AM

Sounds like a mini zeppelin is what you need.

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#24
In reply to #22

Re: Electricity Storage and Usage in a DIY Project

11/24/2015 1:26 PM

That was my impression, too, that he is talking about a balloon like drone. I recall that the contests for airplane models (those made out of balsa), were kept in old salt mines, where there was no air disturbance.

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