When I embarked upon building my own drone I figured I’d have a lot to learn. I now know more than I did a few weeks ago, and there’s more and more to understand. This week I’ve learnt a tiny bit about quadcopter propellers!
As you know I bought an EMAX kit containing a full set of Motors, ESCs and Propellers for my build and those propellers look fantastic but they’re also not really a beginner friendly propeller.
Material Choices for Quadcopter Propellers?
Carbon Fibre? Nope, not the way to go, they’re light, they’re pretty but also deadly. OK maybe not “deadly” but considering they can shatter after minor impact damage there’s a good chance they’re gonna hurt. So my beautiful EMAX Carbon props will be for shelf display.
Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP)? A lot of people use these, I can’t tell in some cases if they’re really just fibreglass or truely a plastic. The reviews are mixed and at the very least there wasn’t much evidence of these being a risk to life and limb in the event of failure.
Polycarbonate? As a super durable material polycarbonate is probably a perfect choice to make propellers out of. We’re all familiar with its use as a roofing material (at least in Australia) and also for RC car bodies. This stuff is tough!
Plastic! Not really specific and could cover every material listed above. To be honest asides from my hesitance to use Carbon Fibre I suspect it comes down to individual manufacturers. With that in mind I’m going to be happy sticking with “plastic” in all the possible permutations!
Diameter is easy – 6-inch propellers weren’t really the best fit more my ~250mm “Mini Quad” build. They were going to limit the options of how I assembled the decks and possibly limit my ability to mount a camera gimbal.
This meant 5-inch or maybe eve 4-inch propellers were going to be needed. Time to go shopping at HobbyKing.
Like so many other aspects of building “drones” the choice of propeller pitch seems to dissolve into a lot of personal preference and intangible advice surrounding how they “feel”.
In general though most 250mm class Mini-Quads pilots are using “5030” (5-inch diameter, 3-inch pitch) propellers up to “5045” (5-inch diameter, 4.5-inch pitch) depending on their motors. The greater pitch tends to put more load on the motors at any given RPM subsequently causing more current load. With 20A ESCs and the torquey 2204 motors EMAX shipped 6045 propellers so I have no doubt that 5045s will be a good match.
What I bought
I went bargain hunting at Hobbyking and ended up with a few sets of two different types of propeller.
Spending AUD0.31 for a pair of the HobbyKing branded plastic props was a huge investment, I’m not expecting them to last long but they’ll be the first set I fly with!
I also grabbed some Diatone tri-blades for AUD2.10 for a set of 4.
All in all I’ve got 4 complete sets of propellers for under AUD10.00 to start learning with.