Introduction: 3D Printed 250 Racing Quadcopter
Runner Up in the
Make It Fly Contest 2016
This is my first instructable and it's on how to assemble the Hovership MHQ2 3D Printed Quadcopter
Warning: Serious fun will be had once this project is complete
OK, before we get into the build, your going to need a few things. Don't be scared by the list. as long as you take your time and stay organised all will go well.
For the frame of the quadcopter you are going to need the following: -
- Access to a 3D pinter (or know someone who has one)
- The 3D files for the frame (Found here)
- A roll (or 2) of ABS plastic. ABS is a better choice than PLA as it is more forgiving in the event of a crash (trust me if you're not crashing, you're not having fun)
Additionally you will need some reccomended hardware: -
- 12 x M3x5mm screws
- 6 x Vibration Dampeners
- 16 x M3 Locknuts
- 4 x M3x5mm Nylon Screws
- 4 x M3x12mm Screws
- 4 x M3x20mm Screws
- 6 x 35mm Spacers
- 8 x M3 Metal Washers
- 8 x M3 Nylon Washers
- 8 x M3x18mm Screws
- 4 x 6mm Stand-off Spacers
For the electronics you will need: -
- 4 Motors
- 4 Speed Controllers (ESCs)
- A Power distribution board
- A Battery lead
- 4 Propellers (2 CW & 2 CCW, spares recommended)
- Battery(s) I have a minimum of 3 per quadcopter
- Charger (well how else are you going to get them electrons in there?)
- Flight Controller
- Radio transmitter and receiver
- Miscialinous parts such as Straps, Zip Ties, Battery Alarm
Tools you will need: -
- Hex Keys (Various Sizes)
- Wire Cutters/Strippers
- Blue Lock-tight (Do not use the red or you will never be able to undo the screws later)
- Screwdrivers (Various Sizes)
- Soldering Iron (and solder)
Once you have printed out you frame in the material and colour of your choice, clear an area you are going to use as your workspace. I only had a black counter-top so I used a white towel so I would not lose any small black screws.
OK, I know this is not the most ideal item, but it's all I had (don't judge me!). Make sure you have permission of the towel owner as I will not be held responsible for any injures sustained as a result of the towel owner finding out you used it! (You have been warned)
Lay out your parts in a logical order that suits you. This allows you to see all of your parts and gives a sense of order before the storm (this is known as "knolling", Google it, you know you want to)
Also line up your tools so you know where they are, when you are finished with them, put them back there. If you don't the pesky tool gremlin will get them and hide them from you. You know the ones, they take them away and hide them for a while before placing them back in front of you in plane sight, making you feel like you are going mad.
All done? Then let's get to it!!
Start by taking your 4 arms for your quadcopter and the 4 motors.
Place a motor on the arm and locate the holes that line up. Remember to make sure the wires are placed so they run down the arm, otherwise things will look a bit odd! Don't worry if only 2 of the holes line up as long are they are on the diagonals. This was the case for me. Motors are made like this with 2 holes that are at different distances from the center hub than the other 2. This is so the motor is compatible with lots of different frames.
Use a bit of Lock-tight on the thread of the supplied screw and mount the motor loosely to the arm. Repeat this process for the second screw and center the motor in the hole of the arm. Once you have the motor centered, tighten the screws, but be careful not to over tighten and damage the threads. If the other 2 holes line up on your arm, repeat for the remaining screws.
Finally run the cables down the arm, and secure with a zip tie. Using a pair of wire cutters, snip off the excess so it looks nice an neat.
Step 4: Lower Assembly
Next we need to get an idea of where we are going to place our ESCs (the controller for the motors), and how long we want the wires.
Your motors may have bullet connectors which allow you to snap the ESC and motor together. In my case, neither the motors or ESCs have bullet connectors, so I will be soldering them together.
Place 2 M3 screws through the arm and the lower base plate. this is just for position so don't put a nut on it. Repeat this for all of the arms. Place the ESCs so that the black wires are facing in the rough direction of the motors and the red, black and signal wires are pointing into the center of the quadcopter. Mark the cables where you intend to cut them, but don't cut them yet. Remove the arms and zip-tie all 4 ESCs to the base plate.
Next install the power distribution board (PDB) in the center of the base plate with 4 M3 screws and nuts and cut the red and black power wires so they reach the pads marked "+" (Red) and "-" (Black).
Using the wire cutters/strippers, remove a small amount of the insulation of the freshly cut wires and tin the ends with solder, before moving on and tinning all of the pads on the PDB.
Step 5: Power Connection
Now you are ready to connect the XT60 battery connector.
In my case I used a custom base plate upper that had an XT60 holder built in. This helps to train the wires so they don't get caught in the props, which would be a bad thing! The only thing is that this makes things a little bit more tricky to put together once soldered, so make a choice if you want to do the same.
I placed the XT60 into the socket and marked the cable with a sharpie where I wanted to cut the wire to length. After cutting, I tinned the wire with solder, but be careful. this wire is alot thicker and needs more heat/time to allow the solder to flow.
Tin the battery pads on the PDB and make sure the wires will fit without touching together. If they don't, trim the tinned end with wire cutters and finally solder the wires to the pads (Remeber "+" red and "-" black)
Finally connect any 5v or 12v connections for flight controller power or FPV equipment
Step 6: Motor Wiring
Next we need to tackle the motor wiring. We need the motors to turn in a specific direction so that the attached propellers generate lift and not suction. You will need to check the manual for your flight controller. I opted for the Naze32 rev5 (See image for motor direction) which was flashed with the latest version of cleanflight firmware.
On all quadcopters there will be 2 motors turning clockwise (CW) and 2 motors turning counter clockwise (CCW), but not all controllers have them in the same orientation.
This is my sequence for getting the wiring right
(!!! WARNING !!! Ensure you do not have the props on. Serious injury can occur to hands if struck by fast moving props!!! You really have been warned)
I soldered the 3 wires of one of the motors to the ESCs and insulated them with heatshrink. Then I connected ESC signal wire the the corresponding motor output on the Naze32. After connecting the Naze32 to the USB port of my computer and connected to cleanflight. Plug in the battery to the XT60 connector. Now enable the motor control option in the motors tab of cleanflight and use the motor slider to activate the motor, checking the direction of rotation. If the motor is rotating in the correct direction, take a note of the wire orientation. If the motor is running in revers, disconnect the USB and power, carefully cut and strip the heatshrink of 2 of the wires and swap them around replacing the heat shrink. With this oriantation map complete the wiring for the remaining motors, checking rotation after each one is complete.
(!!! WARNING !!! Ensure you do not have the props on. I really mean it, you could get hurt!!)
Step 7: Lower Frame Assembly
Now we have the lower electronics buttoned up, we can now move onto the assembly of the main frame.
This starts with the installation of the dampening balls. This needs to be done now as this will be very difficult to do this later. These are installed by pressing the lip on one end into the whole, and puling through until it seats. Alternatively you could use some fine cord wrapped around the lip and thread through the whole pulling the damper into place .
Once all of the dampers have been installed, it's time thread the signal leads and any power leads through the power management holes, taking care you can identify which signal wire is for which motor and which power wire is carrying what voltage (you really son't want to plug in 12v into a 5v device unless you want to see the magic smoke)
Next put the arms in place and thread the M3 screws and fasten with a lock-nut. I used some thread lock as i didn't have lock-nuts, but the idea is to have something in place so that these do not get shaken loose.
You should now have a completed lower assembly.
Step 8: Upper Frame Assembly
To start the upper assembly install the flight controller on the clean lower plate. To do this install the posts onto your flight controller and line up the posts with the holes in the center of the plate. Once installed, remove the flight controller leaving the posts behind.
Now it's time to install your stand-offs in the clean lower plate. This needs to be done now as you will not have access to do this later! Offer up the plate to the lower assembly and thread the signal wires and power cables through the cable management holes, again making sure you can identify the motors and what voltage the power wires are carrying.
Next, repeat the method you used to install the rubber dampers in the lower frame, to install them in the upper frame, taking care not to pull them out. I must admit at this point I did have to resort to using a pair of pliers to tease them into place.
Next thread a zip-tie through the corner dampers from the clean lower all the way through. Zip the tie loosely. It is intended to keep both halves connected in the even to a crash, it's not intended to keep the tight together. Once this is done re-fit the flight controller and connect the signal wires.
Now we are ready to connect the receiver as per the instructions for your receiver. (Not going to go into too much detail here as each manufacturer has their own way of connecting e.g. PWM, SBus, CPPM etc)
Before you cap off the with the upper plate by attaching to the stand offs with the appropriate hardware, install any extras such as FPV transmitters and cameras and make the final connections.
Step 9: Programming the Flight Controller and Maiden Flight
Now we are almost ready to put the props on.
Connect your flight controller to your computer via the USB cable and load up your configuration application. In my case I'm using CleanFlight.
These are the steps I used to program my controller: -
- Configure a serial port to allow me to use CPPM
- Configure CPPM in the configuration tab
- Calibrate the ESCs in the motor tab
- Calibrate gyros and compass in the setup tab
- Configure transmitter switches in modes tab
Now it's time to charge the batteries, and take it for it's maiden flight.
Remember, take it easy you may have to tune your quadcoper to get it flying just so.
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