Picture of DIY (Drone It Yourself) Kit v1.0
Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 15.46.13 .png
The DIY (Drone It Yourself) v1.0 kit offers you the opportunity to turn any object into a drone (or technically, an UAV). The kit consists of multiple parts that are easy to assemble and can be attached to a wide range of different objects.

For more advanced uses, you can take the original designs and alter the kit by making your own custom clamps or add-ons as needed.

The plastic parts have been 3D printed in ABS. The control unit contains a receiver, four ESCs, a bluetooth module and an Flight Controller. I've provided a list of the hardware and electronic parts I've been using, but feel free to try your own combination.

Watch a video of the kit in action below or continue to the next step.

Step 1: The 3D Parts

Lets start with an overview of all the 3D printed parts.
I recommend printing them in ABS or something similarly strong and durable. I printed them in ABS with a fill of around 50% and a rectangular mesh, but I think printing them with slightly more fill might be better. It will not increase the weight that much (all the printed parts are pretty light) and might increase the strength quite a bit.

Inside the DIY_files.zip file you will find:
* The orignal SolidWorks files
* STL files that are ready to be printed
* Renders of all the 3D files to get an idea of what they look like – please note they are all rendered at different scales.

For the basic kit, you will need the following parts:

4 x motor_mount – the part that holds the motor
4 x clamp.stl – the main body of the clamp
4 x clamp_bar.stl – the small block that forms the other end of the clamp
4 x bolt_handle.stl – a
1 x box_top.stl
1 x box_bottom.stl

Optionally you can also print the extender.stl file 4 times. This extender can be used to create a bit of extra space between to propellors to prevent them from hitting each other. I have used these in the kit you see in the photos as well.

Continue to the next step for the nuts, bolts and washers needed.

Step 2: Screws / Nuts / Bolts

Picture of Screws / Nuts / Bolts
To put everything together, you will need some nuts, bolts and washers. They are all standard parts so you shouldn't have too much problem finding them, but I've provided the item numbers for rs-online.com for your convenience.

You will need:
16 x Plain washer, M3 (4 for each motor) – 189-620
16 x Hex socket cap screw, M3x20mm (4 for each motor) – 293-325
4 or 8 x Wing nut, M4 (1 for each clamp, or 2 if you use the extenders) – 521-850
8 / 16 x Plain washer, M4 (2 for each clamp, or 4 if you use the extenders) – 189-636
4 / 8 x Hex socket cap screw, M4x30mm (1 for each clamp, or 2 if you use the extenders) – 290-118
4 x Hex bolt, M4x60mm (1 for each clamp) – 279-571
4 x Mex nut, M6 (1 for each clamp) – 189-591

Step 3: Assembling the Clamps

Picture of Assembling the Clamps
After removing any excess material left over from printing, assemble the clamp by putting the M6 nut in the hole at the bottom and glue it in place. Next, slide the bolt_handle over the M6 bolt and glue it in place as well. When the glue has dried you can screw the bolt in, and put the clamp_bar on top of the bolt.
Don't worry if the clamp_bar can rotate: this will actually make it easier for you to attach the clamp to an object.

Next step: connecting the motors to the motor mounts.

Step 4: Attaching the motors to the motor mounts

Picture of Attaching the motors to the motor mounts
Use the M3 bolts and washers to connect the motors to the motor_mount. Pay attention to the position of the holes: at first glance all the holes seem to be spaced out evenly, but actually the distance between the holes differs.

The motor mount has a small indentation next to the motor which you can use for an 8mm spiritlevel (check ebay). I left them out in the end, because I found out the orientation of the motors isn't that important as long as they are somewhat pointing upward.

Next step: the electronics.

Step 5: The Electronics

Picture of The Electronics
All of the electronics (apart from the motors of course) go inside the box.

You will need the following components:

4 x Motor
1 x Propeller kit (2 times left and 2 times right rotating)
1 x Propeller accessory pack
4 x ESC (electronic speed controller)
1 x Radio receiver (with a minimum of four channels)
1 x Flight Controller
See the lest step of this instructable for the components I used.

Basically the circuit is something like this (see the image for a visual overview):

The battery plug connects to all of the ESCs. Each ESC is connected to a motor by its three thick wires. It's thin wires (power, ground and signal) go to the output pins on the flight controller. This provides the flight controller with power, and the ESC with a signal from the controller. Plug the ESC into the controller starting with the one connected to the left front motor, then the right front, right back and ending with the left back.

Depending on the actual hardware, it might be best to not have four power wires going to your flight controller (one from each ESC). It's better to be safe than sorry, so CUT ALL BUT ONE of the thin power wires from the ESCs (again, please see the image).

The radio receiver is connected to the input of the flightcontroller, which also provides the receiver with power. The way you have to plug it in might be different from controller to controller, so check your manual.

If your flight controller supports it, you can plug in an optional bluetooth module to connect to the controller without a cable. I would really advise getting a flight controller that supports this, because it lets you change the settings of the controller without having to open the box every time.

When you are done, put everything inside the box. Put the M3 nuts in the holes at the bottom of the box and put in the screws from the top. Be sure to check the front of the flight controller is pointing towards the direction you want to fly in, and when you close the lid, check if the arrow on top is also pointing in this direction.

At this point, you should be able to let your motors spin (make sure you don't attach any propellers!) to see if they are rotating in the right direction. The front left and back right motors have to move clockwise, the other two anti-clockwise (this is also indicated on the lid of the box). If a motor doesn't spin the right way, just switch any two of its three cables.

When I was done, I used some white wire wrap to keep the cables together.

Step 6: Connecting the Motors to the Clamps

Picture of Connecting the Motors to the Clamps
The easiest way to do this next step, is to first connect the clamps to your object, than connect the motor mounts to the clamps, and lastly fix the box in place with some tie wraps.

The motor mount objects are designed in such a way that you can use them in different orientations, simply by rotating the mount. Do keep in mind the propellers always have to face upward.

If the propellers are too close to each other (for instance when you want to fly a small object) you can use the extender to create some more space to prevent the propellers from hitting each other.

After sliding the motor_mount into the clamp, you can fix it with a M4 bolt and wing nut. Don't forget to use a washer on each side, and don't tighten the wing nut too much: you just want to prevent the motor_mount from sliding out.

Tip: if the motor_mount is too loose (depending on your printer some parts might not be printed perfectly for instance), you can slide a piece of folded paper in between the motor mount and the clamp to make it fit snuggly.

Next step: Go!

Step 7: Go!

Picture of Go!
Now that everything is in place, use some tie wraps to fix the box and do the same with the battery!

Depending on the flight controller you might have to adjust some settings or level the controller. This is where the bluetooth module comes in handy. You can also limit the object you're flying to things that are flat, so the box is already level.

So now that you are all done: go outside and fly! Or go to the next step to make a case for your kit.

Step 8: The Case

Picture of The Case
I used a simpel aluminium and wooden case to store the kit. First I took out the thin rubber that was already inside and then took all of the needed measurements. I stacked multiple layers of thick foam - which I cut to size with a lasercutter - to be able to fill the whole case.
The top two layers (both of 20 milimeters thick) had some extra shapes cut out that let me put in all of the 3D printed objects.

In this case all of the holes are about 1 millimeter smaller than the actual printed parts, this ensures they won't fall out. You might want to change this offset depending on the foam / laser you might be using.

Step 9: List of Electronics

Apart from the parts below you will need a flight controller. I've been using the opensource OpenPilot CC3D. More info on the OpenPilot project can be found on openpilot.org - especially in the forums. At this moment OpenPilot doesn't sell the CC3D themselves anymore, but there are some 3rd party companies that sell clones - with permission. Some of the options are discussed in this thread: http://forums.openpilot.org/topic/30603-cc3d-availability/

For the rest of the kit, I've tried to keep costs down and used parts that are easy to order online, but I shouldn't be any problem to use some other types.

NTM Prop Drive Series 28-26A 1200kv / 250w

10x4.5 SF Props 2pc Standard Rotation/2 pc RH Rotation (Black)

Prop accessory pack:
NTM Prop Drive 28 Series Accessory Pack

TURNIGY Plush 30amp Speed Controller

Turnigy 9X 9Ch Transmitter w/ Module & 8ch Receiver (Mode 2) (v2 Firmware)

Turnigy nano-tech 3000mah 3S 25~50C Lipo Pack

Turnigy Accucel-8 150W 7A Balancer/Charger
1-40 of 79Next »
T0BY18 days ago
Elegantly done!

I have a 3d printer and would like to build my own drone. Anyone have suggestions for a good website where I can buy all the electronics needed? I will print all my drone body parts.

RoganF1 month ago

Hello Javi, thanks for the interesting project. I am building one. One note about your hardware list - you need m6 bolts to go with the m6 nuts on the clamps (not m4, as listed) and 60mm is NOT long enough to close the clamp as shown in your images... maybe 75mm? So far so good. I changed the print orientation of the clamps to improve their overall strength. The small Z-axis cross-sections looked like they might be too weak in the original model orientation. The changed direction also uses a lot less support.

bertwert1 month ago

What was the cost of the following please?

4 x Motor

1 x Propeller kit (2 times left and 2 times right rotating)

1 x Propeller accessory pack

4 x ESC (electronic speed controller)

1 x Radio receiver (with a minimum of four channels)

1 x Flight Controller

Okay, after some link clicking and googling - a bit under $300 (Including battery & charger)?

Would it be possible to build a similar thing for under $100 (without 3D printed parts)?

I would need?

4 Motors

2 Left propellers

2 Right propellers

4 ESCs

1 Radio Receiver

1 Radio Transmitter

1 Flight Controller

1 Battery

1 Charger

Am I missing anything?

Can you suggest cheaper items to make this total under $100?


kivster1 year ago
I don't have a 3d printer so can somebody recommend one that is not super expensive
Also check out 3D printing hubs around you, in St. Louis (where I am) there's plenty of them. Many college students will list themselves as a a "hub" and although they're really just some guy with a printer trying to pay off student loans, they're usually good to work with and give you a good price. And finally the best option besides buying your own printer is to find your local hackerspace, check Meetup.com and search your area for one, they usually have a 3D printer and they might even let you use it for free! Hope that helps!

braytonlarson I'm right across the river(Granite City,IL).Do you have anyone in particular you can personally recommend?Thank You!

Arch Reactor is a great hackerspace. They have a laser cutter, 3D printer, and a small CNC. They're great people who always are happy to help out and there are usually people there every tuesday and sunday afternoon. I'd reccomend going to one of their Laser Nights, held monthly, where you can meet some people and learn how to use the laser cutter. There's more information on their website ( http://archreactor.org/ ) and their schedule for main meetings is on meetup ( http://www.meetup.com/Arch-Reactor-Hackerspace/ )

Also building one isn't to bad of an idea. There plenty of instructables on it and with a little bit (actually more like a ton) of work you can make a decent entry level printer for cheap.

The cube http://cubify.com starts at around $1,000. It's a good choice for beginners due to its ease of use and intuitive design program.

If you consider yourself more technologically advanced, dx.com has some 'make your own' kits to look into. http://dx.com/p/heacent-3dp02-3d-printer-assembly-kit-238922#.UtbUC_RDuSo

jacpac52 months ago

First of all, great project and i cant wait to do it myself. And secondly, what bluetooth module did you use?

anfre632 months ago


studleylee2 months ago

Very cool and all in one place article Thanks!!!

falconsamad2 months ago

Simple and awesome idea

nail.salafy7 months ago
Jasper van Loenen hello! You can help get your set of drone?
willyw29 months ago

This DIY Drone kit look pretty cool. Me myself i wish i could get one but i do not own a 3D printer and i cannon get the parts that are used in this. I wish i could get them but in your early'er reply's to comments that say you do not sell them is quite disappointing! I have been trying to learn how to build one out of house hold items but i cannot find a motor that is small enough and light weight enough , cheap enough to work for my own needs. If you can send me a link to a webpage that sells small, cheap motors i would really appreciate it! (also i checked out your website and clicked the link to the website that sells the motors i couldn't find the price)

great design, how long can it fly for?

despistado1 year ago

Excellent work!! whats max altitude? and the weight can handle?

jwatkins131 year ago

This looks tailormade for a summer camp project!

Marker10241 year ago
excellent I will be printing this soon, thanks for sharing
wiredzax1 year ago
IT really is a cordless phone.
Halphinian1 year ago
this is awesome!
krukieh2 years ago
how much the total cost of each drone (motors, battery..etc?
what kind of 3d printer do you recommend?
can you buy the clamps from hardware store?
I like the idea of attaching it to any object.
was the drone able to fly missions autonomously since you are using autopilot
javl (author)  krukieh2 years ago
But my parts were printed on an Up! printer in ABS. Someone else printed them for me, as I do not own my own printer. I would recommend ABS over PLA because it has better UV and temperature resistance. Might not be needed, but for something thats going to fly around its better to be safe than sorry.

The clamps can't be bough from a hardware store, as they are my design and you need to print them yourself ;)

I'm not using an autopilot but OpenPilot, which is an opensource project. At this point I can't use GPS and such, but I guess you can use a different controller that can.
Hello sir,
Is there any way you can make a video showing us how you assembled the entire drone (I mean connecting the parts and putting them all together). I will be using this for my project. in college.
meoutside1 year ago

Very cool, nice work!

Is there anything you would change about the design?
Do you like the sizing on the motors, propellers and speed control?

lukeD1 year ago
how much are the total costs of this project?
ThePuzzler1 year ago
How much did all the parts cost together? This would be an awesome gift for my friend.
electrolics2 years ago
what is the longest flight time you get with this setup?
scci2 years ago
How long does it fly for?
scci2 years ago
Make a youtube channel and attach these to more things please... I want to see the silver case fly
krukieh2 years ago
how about the servos (motors), did you 3d print these from scratch? I did not see a printing file for it. or you bought them from Hobbyking?
marhar2 years ago
Great design and brilliant execution... Congratulations!!
oesti2 years ago
Congrats on winning the grand prize!

How about using your kit to turn the 3DR quad into a done? ;)
Very nice. You going to sell the kits? :-)
javl (author)  RobertNelson722 years ago
No, sorry.
I'd like to purchase one of these kits. How do i do so?
javl (author)  designbymobius2 years ago
Sorry, I do not sell them. Feel free to download the files and make your own though!
And voted 4 you!
1-40 of 79Next »