Introduction: S530 Hexacopter --The 3D-Printed Frame
This is the Instructable for the fully 3D-printable hexacopter I designed and have named the S530. I named it that because the DJI S900 and S1000 fold downwards as well, and because the diameter from the center of one motor to the opposite is approximately 530mm. I really enjoyed creating, designing, and building this project because it expanded my knowledge a lot and gave me the opportunity to test out many new concepts. I hope it does the same for you! I used a Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer, and a Epson Legend 36EXT industrial laser cutter to do this project, however all parts are 3D-printable and will be uploaded in that format.
My goal for this project: To create a working hexacopter that fit 9.4 inch propellors and weighed around 2.4kg at takeoff, and to make this hexacopter frame entirely 3D-printable.
The parameters that are required for this project are:
Maximum 9.4 Inch Propellors
5x8in Build Plate
The Specs for my setup was:
Weight at takeoff with one battery, and GoPro+Gimbal was ~2.5Kg
9.4x5.0 inch propellors
Flight time: ~9-10 minutes
Step 1: What Was Used
Here I will list everything I used for this project, however many of the parts can be swapped out with your own preferences or requirements, as long as they fit the parameters.
(1) DJI Naza Lite - $169.99 (http://www.gothelirc.com/shopexd.asp?id=1804)
(1) DJI E310 Hexacopter Set -$229.99 (http://store.dji.com/product/e310-6)
(2) Turnigy Nanotech 4S 25C-50C 4000mAh batteries -$74 (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__20518__...
(1) Afro PDB -$4.50 (http://rotorgeeks.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=34_47&product_id=78)
(1) 1ft of Red 12 Awg High Load Bearing Wire -$1.70 (http://rotorgeeks.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=34_48&product_id=106)
(1) 1ft of Black 12 Awg High Load Bearing Wire -$1.70 (http://rotorgeeks.com/index.php?route=product/prod...
(1) XT60 Male Connector -$3.49 (http://rotorgeeks.com/index.php?route=product/prod...
(1) Battery Charger (Your choice. I like the Turnigy Reaktor and a lipoconnectionsolutions powersupply)
(1) Radia Tx and Rx for control (Your choice. I use Turnigy iA6 or iA10, but Spektrum and FrSky have the most popular models)
(66) M3 Locknuts -$<20 (Ace Hardware)
(36) M3 20mm Screws -$<12 (Ace Hardware)
(12) M3 25mm Screws -$<5 (Ace Hardware)
(12) M3 30mm Screws -$<5 (Ace Hardware)
(6) M3 35mm Screws -$<3 (Ace Hardware)
(36) M3 Washers -$<8 (Ace Hardware)
(12) M5 Fine Threaded Nuts (Must be Fine Threaded) -$<10 (Ace Hardware)
(Lots) Of Extras of Above -$<10 (Ace Hardware)
(6) M5 thumbscrews With Fine Threading (I used the shorter GoPro thumbscrews, they are perfect)
(1) 1m of Red LED Strips -$2.95 (http://www.gothelirc.com/shopexd.asp?id=1578)
(1) 1m of White LED Strips -$2.95 (http://www.gothelirc.com/shopexd.asp?id=1577)
(1) 1m of Green LED Strips -$2.95 (http://www.gothelirc.com/shopexd.asp?id=1579)
(1) GPS Folding Mount -$11.95 (http://www.gothelirc.com/shopexd.asp?id=2178)
(1) 40cm Green/Black Wire Mesh Sleeving -$1.25 (http://shop.hovership.com/wire-mesh-sleeving-6mm/)
(2) 40cm Red/Black Wire Mesh Sleeving -$2.50 (http://shop.hovership.com/wire-mesh-sleeving-6mm/)
(6) 2ft 18 Awg Red Wire -$6 (Ace Hardware)
(6) 2ft 18 Awg Black Wire -$6 (Ace Hardware)
(1) Voltage Stepdown (to 12V for LEDs) -$13 (http://www.gothelirc.com/shopexd.asp?id=1898)
(1) Nylon Standoffs -$7.80 (http://www.banggood.com/180pcs-M3-Nylon-Black-M-F-...
(2) 7mm Vibration Dampeners -$16 (http://shop.hovership.com/vibration-dampeners/?page_context=category&faceted_search=0)
(6) Silver Short Aluminum Standoffs -$7.50 (http://www.thrust-uav.com/store/p119/HyperLite_275_Silver_Raw_Short_LoPro_Billet_Aluminum_Standoffs.html)
(12) M3 6mm Screws For Standoffs -$2.33 (http://www.thrust-uav.com/store/p124/M3x.5x6mm_%2850ps._Bag%29.html)
(2) Black PLA/ABS 1Kg Roll -$XX (your filament of choice)
(1) Black Acrylic Sheet .118in(3mm) x 12in x 24in (Not necessary, I used this rather than printing some of the flat parts.) (Amazon)
(1) White Acrylic Sheet .118in(3mm) x 12in x 24in (Not necessary, I used this rather than printing some of the flat parts.) (Amazon)
Makerbot Replicator 2
Epilog Legend 36EXT 75W Laser Cutter
Hot Glue Gun
Step 2: Printing
You need a 5 inch x 8 inch print bed at the minimum to print out the parts for this project. An 8 inch x 8 inch is optimal, but I split the largest parts in half so you can print them in two and friction weld (with a Dremel and PLA) or solder (with a soldering iron and PLA) the pieces back together. If you do that, I recommend doing so after you have screwed them into their places so you make sure they line up properly once bonded. Print at whatever speed suits your machine best to provide consistent accuracy and good layer adhesion.
File Name Info
The file names are made specifically for what you need based on your printer size. Complete refers to a full piece, half refers to a piece that is cut in half (symmetrically, so you just reprint it a second time). Captive means the M5 nuts are inside the print which means you must set your print job to pause at the number of mm in () next to captive in the title. NoCaptive means the holes are open and you just drop the nuts in place after printing, and then secure them with hot glue or a soldering iron and PLA (once you have screwed them in, so they line up properly). Do not use the captive method if your printer has any sort of layer adhesion issues. It will creating a weak spot that will split open if the layers are not bonded properly.
You will need to print:
(6) E310-MotorStandoffs at 30% infil.
(6) E310-WireStandoffs at 40%+ infil.
(6) E310-ESCCover at 60% infil.
(6) E310-LEDStandoffs at 70% infil.
(6) ____-Arm at 85% infil. (Choose which version you are going to use) (Captive vs NoCaptive)
(1-2) ____-LowerBottomLayer at 75% infil. (1 if you print whole, 2 if you print in halves) (Captive vs NoCaptive)
(1-2) ____-UpperBottomLayer at 65% infil. (1 if you print whole, 2 if you print in halves)v
(1-2) ____-LowerTopLayer at 65% infil. (1 if you print whole, 2 if you print in halves)
(1-2) ____-UpperTopLayer at 65% infil. (1 if you print whole, 2 if you print in halves)
Step 3: Print Files
Here is a link to my Tinkercad account, where you should be able to access and copy the models online. https://www.tinkercad.com/users/4Ypu6spCHkk-ljohns...
Here are the files:
Step 4: Assembly and Wiring
The 20mm screws connect the bottom layers of the center of the frame. Two of the 25mm screws go through the Arm, MotorStandoff, and ESCCover, into the 19mm mounting holes of the motors. Use two of the smallest screws from the box that comes with the E310 kit and mount through the ESCCover to the 16mm mounting holes of the motor. This way the motor is secured to the ESCCover, and then secured to the front of the arm as well. The 30mm screws go through the two holes in the arms, and then go through the E310-WireStandoff or the E310-LEDStandoff. Be sure the standoffs are flush with the arm and there is no gap between them after screwing the 30mm screws in. I held the standoffs down with 15lb clamps while I screwed them in. (Note: In mine, the standoffs have a 3D-printed part and a laser cut part. This is because I originally made the design too short and it was faster to cut flat parts of the bottom of standoffs than to reprint 18 pieces. The designs have been fixed to provide that height with the standoffs without any lasercut parts.) The 35mm screws make the hinges between the arms and the center of the body. The thumbscrews go through the lower part of the body and through the arm when it is unfolded for flight. If you need to visualize where everything goes in this there is a model of the whole thing assembled on my Tinkercad profile. Just note that it is made up of 100k+ geometric shapes grouped together and reformed and meshed over and over again to it will take a little white to load properly.
The wiring for this is tight. Very tight. I used two PDBs in between the upper and lower bottom layers. The main one connected the ESCs, and FC to the battery, and there is a 12V voltage stepdown to the second one, which powers any gimbal connections etc, and the lights on each arm. In the last picture you can see how I wired everything. I had one JST between the two PDBs acting as a switch, another JST plug on the main PDB to power the FC, and a third on the secondary PDB for any gimbal connection. For the wires into the arms, you have to thread the wire sleeving through the part named WireSleeving and then through the hole in the E310-WireStandoff, and then work the wires through it. You have 2 LED power wires going into the arm, and two larger ESC power wires and the ESC signal wire going into the center of the frame. Take your time on this part, it's tough. I found the best way was to put the sleeving through the part named WireSleeving and then put the wires though the hole in the E310-WireStandoff then through the sleeve and through the part named WireSleeving. Then work the all pieces into their correct spots. You'll need to remove the servo leads from the servo plug, as it will not fit through the holes. Do this by lifting the small flap of plastic that is keeping the metal end from sliding out. Do that to all three, and then tape the three metal end together to make them one small piece that is easy to guide through the two holes and the wire sleeves. Secure both ends with hotglue, there will be around 1.5cm of wire between the ESC and the hole in the E310-WireStandoff. Route the LED wires and the cable for the E310 LED under the ESC in the small canal on the arm made for it. I superglued them into that canal as low as possible, and then put 2mm doublesided foam on top of that to secure the ESCs to. The ESC LED cable goes through one of the 3mm holes, and is shown in the image above. To fit it through, you have to put the LED on the bottom (shown in picture, I secured it with the 2mm foam tape as well,) and then remove the metal ends from the plugs temporarily like was done with the servo wires. Feed it through the hole and them put the plug back on (check to make sure you got the wired order correct.) Then route it through the canal, glue it into place, then stick the ESC on, and plug it in. Getting everything into the right spots for all of these wire schemes is tricky, and will take a decent amount of time, so expect to spend a few hours on it and try not to get too frustrated!
I did not put any holes in the top plate other than those for the standoffs because everyone's setups will be different. The layer is only 2mm thick, so just mark off wear you need holes or slits for screws or battery straps with a marker and then use the Dremel to carve them out. You could also edit the .stl file in Tinkercad.
Step 5: Time to Fly!
Here's a video of my maiden flight. The wires are all sticking up weird because I only had some low quality stuff lying around at the time and it didn't bend well.
Once you have built it, you're ready to fly! Make sure you have the ESC->Motor plugs in the right order to make the propellor spin the correct direction. When you are taking off your first time, go slowly. Ease up the throttle very slowly, and stop if it starts tipping any significant amount. A very small amount of tipping is normal for the setup when its gains are unadjusted. But anything more than 5 or 10 degrees that looks like it will tip over before leaving the ground means a propellor is probably spinning in the wrong direction. Start with the defaul gains suggested in the E310 kit for the Naza Lite or M V2, or whatever is suggested for the gear you are using. Tune them via remote until the hexacopter is stable, very locked in (with strong GPS signal as well), and isn't sinking or rising when you move forwards, backwards, left, right, or turn. The mounting holes on the bottom are up to 45mm in spacing, so I used that to mount the gimbal and the gimbal board. With a gimbal on and landing gear you should be able to get atleast 10-15min flight times with a 4S 4000mAh.
Step 6: Attributions and Thanks
A few small portions of my designs are based off of a couple of other people's designs. The structure for support on the arms is remixed from the arms in this design (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:234867). Small things such as the 16x19mm and the 45mmx45mm mounting holes were taken from other designs such as (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:511668) just to save time. Both of those designs were licensed under Creative Commons licenses and gave me full rights to use and reproduce them. As I only used some of the files from those designs as base points for certain pieces I modified each individual file to an extent that they are no longer considered the original files and are now my work. (Due to the CC license and the extend to which I edited the very few designs I incorporated for ideas and time saving I shouldn't need permission from the previous file owners to publish this Instructable. Just wanted to address that.)
A big thank you to David at Rotorgeeks, the folks at ThatDroneShow, William Vergonot, and everyone in the multirotor community who answered my questions, donated batteries, follow me on instagram (mqcflight), voted for me (you!) etc!
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Please be positive and constructive.