Drones are an amazing innovation. With (normally) four rotors, the torque and gyroscopic effects of the motors is cancelled out, and if carefully controlled, allows for relatively easy lateral movement. What if you wanted to do the same thing with only a single motor? Things would get much more complicated from a controls standpoint — a challenge that YouTuber “Tesla500” was willing to take on.
As seen in the video below, his craft does indeed fly like a quadcopter, using a single electrical motor to power an EDF, or electric ducted fan. The device is steered using four independent control vanes for thrust vectoring. This works so well that he’s able to land it on a small rubber landing pad — a difficult feat even when using four-motor flying machines.
However, don’t let this apparent ease of operation fool you, there was a lot of work involved to get it to that point. The mechanical design took just a few weeks, but the remainder of its six-month development cycle was spent testing and refining the controls — including building a custom gimbal rig.
If you’d like to attempt to build your own, a bill of materials, CAD models, and custom control firmware can be found here. Or just watch it in action for a bit of vicarious fun!
If this seems slightly familiar, you may recall another EDF “rocket” featured on Hackster. That model gets around some of the control issues by using a trio of motors instead of a single unit, and stands much taller than this stout craft. I predict we’ll start seeing EDFs pop up in the “Hackster-sphere” as they become better known — and perhaps less expensive as well.