Soldering new connectors for the drone

If you're with me so far, in our Snapdragon Flight VR build, you might have noticed that the connectors that come with the motors do not match the connectors that come with the Snapdragon ESC. This means we need to replace the connectors so electrons can flow and power the motors. Remembering that the whole point of this is to get electrons to flow will make the concept easier. Copper is a conductive material, that's what wires are made up of. Solder is a metal material that is highly conductive with a low melting point and solidifies fast. So the idea is we want to use the molten solder to join the wires to the new connector.

I personally favor damaging a cheap motor to damaging an expensive ESC, so I opt for doing the work on the motor connections themselves and highly recommend this path. While the minimum you'll need is 4 connectors, I am really good at making mistakes, so I wound up getting 10. The first step, is to cur the old connector off. Grab a pair of wire cutters and snip the wires as close to the old connector as possible. Now strip the three wires about a 1/4". You'll notice something, the wires are threaded. This is to help the wires get a bendable property; it also makes soldering a little more challenging. You have to think of the electrons that flow through these wires. They can't touch each other; or they'll short, They have to touch the end of the connector or they wont form a connection.

My strategy for what to do is to twist the top of each of the three wires so they're a little more rigid with themselves; and there's no loose strands. Then make a hook with each of the three wires. Once a hook is made, slide a heat shrink tube down the wire for the final clean connection step. Then, loop the wires onto the three prongs of the connectors; and finally apply molten solder to seal the connection permanently. Slide the heat-shrink tubes back over the connection, grab a hair dryer and apply heat necessary to shrink the tubes over the wire making a very professional looking connector.

So that's the process, I'll detail out each of the steps as best I can. Please note, don't feel bad if you make a mistake. You can snip the wire further down and even make new wire by getting some copper wire and creating a connection; a process I'll detail out at the end. Remember, soldering electronics is a skillset that takes time to learn and I'm not the best at. Just remembering a plan for how electrons flow answers a lot of questions when mistakes crop up. Each small mistake can be fixed rather easily.

So let's get started:

The first thing that we need to do is cut the old connectors off. Here's where I did it:

Next, use a Helping hands to hold the wire where you will want to apply the solder against the connector terminals. Be certain to remember to place Heat Shrink Tubing on the wire before you actually join it with solder. I point this out as now is a great time to remember to place the heat shrink tube on the wire while you're positioning everything.

Something to remember and benefit from if you follow the Snapdragon ESC wire back to the ESC, you'll notice that each of the three wires are labeled with ABC.

Match the red wire for each motor to the A wire of each Snapdragon ESC connection. Remember the principal of "measure twice cut once." If you make sure everything is right before you apply the solder, you can cut down on the number of times you'll have to fix things.

Next up, Strip the wires and place them appropriately and finally go ahead and solder them to the new connector:

Now that you have new connectors, simply plug them in with the new ESC and you will have a perfectly workable flying drone. Next we'll work on software, getting it to fly, and maybe adding some new GPS receivers/other functional hardware like gimbal cameras etc. However, for now, this is a great stopping point and starting back on the software.


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