Student Builds His Own Drone

Stephen Milligan | The Tribune | 0 comments

They’re everywhere now — on the toy aisle, taking flight from backyards, soaring over cities for traffic control and deliveries, even serving in the military.

Just this past year, one of the hottest items under the Christmas tree was a commercial version of a remote-controlled drone, easily assembled out of the box to take flight mere minutes after the wrapping paper was off.

For Justin Hetzler, a senior at Loganville Christian Academy, that would have been taking the easy way out.

Justin, 18, decided to obtain his own drone in a different manner, building one from scratch as part of his senior project at the private religious academy.

At LCA, every student is required to complete a senior project — a self-selected objective or event designed to let the student explore interests or career objectives prior to graduation.

For Justin, that meant looking into working with machines, specifically a drone.

“I wanted to do something that related to being a mechanical engineer,” Justin said. “I decided to build a drone, more specifically a DJI F450 Flame Wheel. I had always wanted to build a drone, but I never had the opportunity to and this senior project provided that opportunity.”

Like most students at LCA, Justin first began looking into his senior project possibilities while still a junior, researching and planning his drone and examining what parts he might need to make the project a reality.

“I read articles, websites, blogs and reviews that gave me the knowledge on what materials I needed to build my drone,” Justin said. “I had been saving money for about a year and started buying the parts for my drone. By Christmas, I had all my parts.”

That, it turned out, was the hard part. Once he had everything in hand, Justin, with help from his science teachers, began assembling the drone with hardly any trouble at all.

“The building of the drone went smoothly and had no problems,” Justin said. “I was flying within four hours.”

With the project completed, Justin’s time with the drone has already proven invaluable for a preview of what he might do one day in the future.

“This entire project taught me many things, such as soldering and working with electronics, but it also showed me a glimpse of what I could be doing in the real world after college,” Justin said.

And just because the project is over doesn’t mean Justin is done tinkering with his drone or flying it for recreation.

“I have been flying almost every day and I have plans to put a gimbal on the drone for my GoPro,” he said.