Introduction: 3D Printed Fixed Wing Drone

This instructable shows how to make a 3D printed drone. It is made of 4 pieces and can be broken down to fit into a backpack. I am going to show how I built mine, and also give some instruction on how to make sure yours will fly if you decide to make any modifications.

Step 1: Picking the Kind of Plane You Want

I picked a plane with a Vtail. There are a massive amount of planes that you can pick from out there. A good place to start is thingiverse for ideas and maybe even a design that has already been made for printing.

Step 2: Making the Parts Ready to Print

I used Fusion 360 and Inventor to make my parts. Depending on how big you are trying to make it, you might want to add lattice to your wing design for stability. I made a demo piece using Fusion 360, Within, and Netfabb. Fusion 360 has this awesome add in where you can choose whatever 4 digit NACA airfoil that you want. Once you choose that, make a hole for a wing spar about 30% of the wing chord back from the leading edge. Once, you have done that, take 1/5 of the chord off of the trailing edge for the ailerons you'll make later. For the ailerons, just round the front edge of what you cut off earlier. The tails are nearly the same process. I used the same size for the control surfaces(rudder, elevator, elevons) on the tail as on the wings. I shelled all of my parts to get 2 layers from the printer I used.

Step 3: Dry Fitting All of the Parts

After a bunch of trial and error and fixing part files for printing, It's time for dry fitting and more fixing of parts.

Step 4: What You Need for the Inards

I'm going to list the parts you need to make a drone like I made. You don't necessarily need all of this though. you can take away the autopilot if you have a traditional elevator and rudder controlled aircraft. Make sure the motor and propeller combination is able to produce about half of the aircraft's weight in thrust which should give some contingency.

Parts:

1. Motor

2. Propellers

3. ESC

4. Battery3mm outer diameter nylon pushrods

5. Autopilot kit

6. Video transmitter ad receiver, I'm going to be switching to a wifi transmitter to cut out the receiver since I am using QGroundControl

7. Servos for ailerons: D05010MG 5.7g / .61kg / .07sec Digital Metal Gear Micro Servo X2

8. Servos for elevons: Turnigy TSS-10HM Digital Micro Servo X2

9. Elevon servo pushrod link: Ball and roller link 4.8x2x18mm (10pcs/set) & Threaded Ends M2xL20mm

10. 3mm outer diameter nylon pushrods

11. 1mm steel wire for elevon and aileron linkages.

12. 8mm and 3mm diamter carbon fiber tube for wing and tail spars

13. 1.5mm diamter carbon fiber rod for control surface hinges

14. R/C receiver and transmitter

15. M3 nylon screws and nuts

Step 5: Placement of Parts

The weight distribution on the aircraft should should be centerline left/right, and quarter chord front/back. If the weight is a little bit front heavy from quarter chord, that is fine. You do not want it to be tail heavy. The battery needs to stay away from the autopilot to keep it from messing with the GPS. I made the camera placement adjustable for some fine tuning if some tolerances didn't end up being quite right.

Step 6: Make the Trays for Everything on the Inside

Once you decide where everything should go, make some trays to make sure that everything stays put.

Step 7: Finally Assembly

Glue it together. I made some files where I used a completely snap fit design. The build volume for the printer I was using would have cut down on the wingspan too much to do it with this particular one.

Step 8: Assemble Everything

All that's is left is putting everything together and making sure it works with the receiver.

I programmed everything with QGroundControl. It gives step by step instructions on how to do everything. It also has a lot of online instructions for special cases or just explanation on the steps in the program.

Step 9: TEST FLY!!

Go have some fun!

Comments

author
gsolarenco1 made it!(author)2017-07-04

Awesome project, man!

I just bought a 3D printer to do something like this.

The props could be printed too?

Waiting anxiously for the files be able to print it too.

:D

author
seamster made it!(author)2017-05-24

This looks good! Are you planning to upload and share the print files? If you felt inclined to include those, that would be really cool.

author
rtmcneal made it!(author)2017-06-01

I do. I'm making some modifications to increase wing area right now. The stall speed makes it difficult to launch. I'll upload them once I test fly it with the new wings.

author
gargle made it!(author)2017-06-01

Hi, do you have STL of this plane ?

Thanks.

author
rtmcneal made it!(author)2017-06-01

I do. I'm making some modifications to increase wing area right now. The stall speed makes it difficult to launch. I'll upload them once I test fly it with the new wings.

author
gm280 made it!(author)2017-05-24

I flew many R/C airplanes in my days, and even taught R/C to many may people over the years. If I ever get back into it, I will go the drone route so I have the ability to hover and get pictures. A drone like yours will have to be moving forward to stay afloat. But they are much fun to fly.

author
Swansong made it!(author)2017-05-23

That looks fun :) Do you have any video of it flying?

author
rtmcneal made it!(author)2017-05-23

Not yet. As soon as I get a good one, I'll post it.

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