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Alhambra student builds his own drone

Charles Santay, a sophomore at Alhambra High School, began studying programming in the fall in his computer science class.  After he learned of the Media Center's 3D printer and its possibilities in creating 3D printed models, he began to explore the idea of building a fully functional 3D-printed quadcopter.   Santay began studying, researching, testing, and building in November.  After months of work, Santay achieved first flight on the Grand Canyon University campus.

Along the way, Santay taught himself a variety of skills to bring his idea to life: CAD design, 3D printing, electronics, power supply mechanics, guidance systems, R.F. communications, control software, and a host of other skills.

"I have gone through a lot of crashes and a lot of parts, but Mr. Brink (Alhambra's Librarian and overseer of AHS's Media Center) has helped with replacement print parts to me keep going, I have a whole box of damaged propellers...I've crashed a lot." 

At Alhambra's annual Science Fair / Sustainability Expo March 23, Santay amazed his classmates by demonstrating his ability to achieve flight as well as answer a variety of questions on the building process and very technical aspects of his project.

“After hearing him talk at length of his learning, it is apparent Charles has learned a great deal on many topics over the course of the quadcopter's development. Charles plans on continuing his learning,” social studies teacher Clayton Jones said.  

 "My next project is going to be a much smaller and faster design for racing, I am working on ideas for a first-person, real time, camera feed as part of the guidance system," Santay said.