What is a Power Distribution Board?

What is a Power Distribution Board?

Power Distribution Boards are often an overlooked component of multirotor drone building, mainly because they are considered fairly simple but in spite of this they are a prominent component of a drone and if an individual is not able to  choose the right one he/she could end up messing with their drone.

As it is quite evident from the name, FPV Drone Power Distribution Board (PDB) is a printed circuit board that is used to distribute the power from flight battery to all different components of a multirotor. Initially PDB’s were very simple and were just a thick copper PCB with an input and multiple outputs.

As the demand for more regulated voltage supply for numerous components has become more common, manufacturers have begun including voltage regulators on the PDB so that voltage sensitive components can be supplied with stable, reliable, and clean power. This is mostly important when one is dealing with video components that are often very sensitive to electrical noise that is generated by the motors and ESC’s during flight.

image credits : Dronenodes

PDB’s are one of the least complex components on a Multirotor and hence are one of the easiest to choose. There are 3 main points that should be in mind while choosing a Power Distribution Boards for any multirotor: Size, dimensions and it’s layout, Voltages and Current Capability and a few supplementary  features that it provides.

With such a huge variety of PDB that are available in all sizes and shapes, one must choose wisely from the variants at their disposal to narrow down to the one that serves their purpose. Some are customized specifically for specific frames while the largest section of the consumers make use of a 30×30 standardized mounting.

image credits : Dronenodes

Depending on the frame one has selected, there may be a customized PDB within their reach which may easily substitute a Carbon component in the frame and greatly simplify the whole wiring situation and make the final configuration much neater. If your frame does not have any dedicated PDB available, you need to select the one that will easily compliment your intended build. This is the point where we would like to re-emphasize on the importance of knowing your drone components because eventually it is the little things that bring about massive changes.

Layout of your PDB plays a pivotal role as it’s often the foundation that determine the final product. A PDB with a poor layout will just complex out the whole wiring procedure, there will be a number of wires entangled creating a mess and overshadowing the benefits of a PDB. One of the most salient features of the layout to contemplate is where the ESC wires will eventually connect, after the main battery wires, these are often the heaviest  and thickest wires of the lot on the multirotor and they greatly contribute to the overall weight and hence keeping them short is considered to be a wise decision.

image credits : Dronenodes

Pro tip: Look for PDBs that have the ESC wire pads somewhere near the corners so that your final build is as simple and clean as possible.

We have mentioned the importance of voltage regulators on the PDB, previously. Let’s state it again, because that important it is from the point of view of an electrically and aesthetically neat build. Typical components that can require very particular voltages are the FPV Camera, Video Transmitter, Receiver and optional extras like LED’s. Just make sure that you check whether the flight controller that you have chosen offers a regulator for the receiver or not. If it does, there isn’t a requirement to have two in your final multirotor build because this isn’t a case that complies with the more the merrier notion.

The amount of power that a voltage regulator on a PDB can provide is often constrained by the dimensions of the components used and it is very crucial not to surpass the maximum rated current otherwise the voltage regulator can overheat and might get damaged eventually. This is very risky as such an event can  happen while flying the drone and will lead to a complete loss of video and eventually a loss of control.

With evolving drone technology, many additional features are recently being added to the already existing PDB to enhance its functionality. Some of these include built in LED lighting or buzzers, mounted microphones for capturing the audio from the multirotor so that it can be conveyed back to the goggles along with the video signals. Sometimes choosing a PDB with any of these inbuilt features can eventually lessen the overall complexity of a multirotor by a huge margin thereby making it easier to configure/integrate and have minimum potential failure points.

PDB with Vtx

image credits : Dronenodes

PDB with FC

image credits : Dronenodes

That covers it all. Hopefully our attempt to simplify Power Distribution Boards must have turned out to be a success. Do checkout rest of our blogs to quench your thirst for knowledge in the domain of FPV drone technology.


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