Introduction: Super Light Quadcopter

Picture of Super Light Quadcopter

The aim of this project is to maximize the flight time/ battery life of the very famous Hubsan X4 quad-copter. This will show how you build your own for very low cost, simple to build and fun to play with. The 3D print is 100% designed by me for use with spare parts from the Hubsan H107L model. It consists of a chassis that fit a receiver, four 7x20mm motors, four 3mm LED´s and a clip to hold the battery.

The weight of this chassis is only 4.18g plus battery clip 0.49g. The whole quadcopter including chassis, clip, LED's, motors, propellers and receiver is only 21g. Excluding battery, that is 25% lighter than the original H107L model which weight is 27.8g. Even loaded with a 380mAh battery it´s just 3.5g heavier than H107L without its battery.

With battery: 31.35g compared to commercial 38.15g.

Continuous flight time with a 380mAh battery was measured to 11.5 minutes. I don´t have a H107L to compare with but I think it´s maximum 10min. Please let me know it you have one!

The 2 gram circuit board is quite advanced for its small size. It has a built-in radio receiver, 4 Motor + 4 LED drivers (which also signals low battery level), 6-Axis Flight Control with automatic or remote gyro calibration, 4-Way Flip support, and both Beginners & Advance Mode for different range of performance. The radio transmitter can be calibrated as well with adjusted sensitivity, flight control fine tuning and remotely turn off LEDs. Fligh performance can be set during the flight as well as enabling/disabling flip-mode.

Due to its low weight it´s also very quick and reactive. A great fun to play with. It´s robust enough to fly with but don't expect it to take too serious damage. It´s optimized for weight, not robustness. Maybe if you print it with 100% infill and another material it could take more damage.

All 3D printable files are downloaded from my build at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:681232

I include the original Rhino CAD file if anyone wants to modify the construction for improvements. It could easily be converted for the stronger 8mm motors for example. For more details of what parts to buy and how to actually build it, please read further!

Step 1: Materials and Equipment

Picture of Materials and Equipment

Prices can differ but you can find everything needed at Ebay. I will not provide with URLs as they change over time. Look for Hubsan h107c, except for the motors that must be for h107L. If you don´t already have a transmitter it´s probably more cheap to buy a whole quadrocopter with it included and take the parts from that.

Materials

  • 3D printed chassis and battery clip: Files downloaded from http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:681232
  • 1x Radio transmitter: Hubsan H107C-19 4-Channel 2.4GHz [$24]
  • 1x Radio receiver+flight control: Hubsan H107-A34 [$19]
  • 4x Motors: Hubsan 7x20mm (2x CW, 2x CCW) for H107L [$7]
  • 4x LED: Hubsan H107L & H107C LED (2x Red, 2x Blue, 3mm diameter) [$6]
  • 4x Propellers: Hubsan H107-A02-PRO (2x TypeA, 2x TypeB) [$2]
  • 1x Battery: HUBSAN HS-H107-A24 3.7V 380mAh Li-Po Battery [$9]
  • 1x Charger: Hubsan 3.7V Usb Charger [$2]
  • 2x screws: Hubsan Part H107-A07 Screw set [$2]

Total cost (without transmitter): $47

Equipment

  • 3D printer (I used a Wanhao Duplicator 4x, similar to Makerbot)
  • Soldering iron
  • Screwdriver
  • 1mm drill or a sharp tool

Step 2: 3D Printing

Picture of 3D Printing

For the print I used a Wanhao Duplicator 4x printer. It´s similar to makerbot. For filament material i choose PLA because it´s easiest to use for beginners. If you want more rugged construction you better choose a different material. For slicing software I use Simplify3D, very easy to use and creates very good prints. It cost a bit of money but it´s worth it in the end. I manually defined the support structure for example and you find that in the images.

You can find all settings in my images but here is the most important ones for the body:

  • Filament: PLA
  • Nozzle width: 0.4mm
  • Extrusion width: 0.46mm
  • Layer height: 0.1mm
  • Top solid layers: 5
  • Bottom solid layers: 5
  • Shells: 1
  • Infill: 10% with 50% extrusion width @ 75 & -25 degrees
  • Support infill: 30% and offset 0,25mm
  • Temp extruder: 218C
  • Temp bed: 60C

For a more robust body I recommend 100% infill and 2 shells. For the battery clip you can use same settings except extrusion width which I set to 0.42 to get a better fit on the body. For bed adhesion I used regular painters tape.

  • Printing time: 2.5h
  • Material cost: 0.25 dollars

Step 3: Construction and Soldering

Picture of Construction and Soldering

The construction is very basic and I made it plus the soldering in just an hour (including taking photographs). The circuit board has a clever design where it´s almost impossible to connect wrong motor to wrong connections, but please look at my images to make sure you put the motors in correct place! There are two different type of motors and two different type of propellers, clockwise (CW) and counter clockwise (CCW).

Help Table:

  • Propeller A = CW: Red=plus, Blue=minus
  • Propeller B = CCW: White=plus, Black=minus
  • Blue LED = Front: Red=plus, yellow=minus
  • Red LED = Rear: Red=plus, yellow=minus

Construction:

  1. Place the circuit board in the chassis
    1. Make sure the holes in the circuit boards is on top of the two fix
    2. Drill two small 1mm holes in the chassis using the circuit board as reference
    3. Use two small screws to fixate the board
  2. Place the LED´s first in the small holes pointing to the ground (if you want to fly high)
    1. Make sure Blue LED´s are in the front and red led´s in the rear end
    2. The circuit board power cable indicates rear end of quadcopter
    3. Put the LED cables through both slits so it will go beneath the motor
    4. Use a small tool to bend the cable correctly beneath the motor before you place the motors
  3. Place the motors and make sure the cable fits into small slit beneath the motor together with LED cable
  4. You can fix the cable in the long slits under the arms later using a bit of glue

Soldering:

  1. Do NOT cut the cables, they already have correct length
  2. Set soldering iron to 180C (too high temp can damage the circuits)
  3. Use the help table above to get polarization right
    1. All LED and motor connections are closest to the correct LEDs and motors
  4. Heat each connection just a few seconds, if you miss let it cool and try again to avoid damages.
  5. Fixate all cables with small bits of glue

You can now place the battery beneath the chassis using the clip and you are ready for a flight!
Place the quadcopter on flat surface and calibrate the gyro from the controller by holding throttle in it´s lower right position and switching fast right pad left/right/left/right a couple of times until you hear a sound and the LED´s flashes one time.

Step 4: Specs and Results

Picture of Specs and Results

I´m satisfied with the result and it´s really fast and fun to play with. Lighter, faster and longer battery life than original but maybe a little less robust. You may want to fly over grass and not full speed into a stone wall! Thus main reason to build it "because you can" and "3D printing is fun" =)

Weight Stats:

  • Chassis: 4.18g
  • Battery clip: 0.49g
  • LEDs: 0.68g
  • Motors: 13.6g
  • Circuit board: 2.05g
  • Battery: 10.35g
  • Total weight without battery: 21g (25% lighter than original)
  • Total weight with battery: 31.35g (18% lighter than original)
  • Hubsan H107L weight without battery: 27.8g
  • Hubsan H107L weight with battery: 38.15g

Battery Life

Continious flight time measured to 11.5 minutes!

Dimensions:

  • Motors CC: 64mm (1mm smaller than original)
  • Max diagonal outer fan-fan: 145mm
  • Max height: 30mm
  • Body center height: 5.5mm

Other:

  • Remote distance: 100m
  • Motors: 50000 rpm, 7x20mm, 1mm shaft
  • Circuit board: Radio receiver, 4 Motor + 4 LED drivers, 6-Axis Flight Control, 4-Way Flip support and Both Beginners & Advance Mode For Different Range of Performance

Comments

RahulK305 (author)2017-03-07

hey bro..;
i have to lefting 20 kg of weight so which types of moter i have to use.....

styles1 (author)2016-03-10

flight time ?

chrish422 (author)styles12016-05-14

11.5 minutes. It's written in Step 4: Specs and Results.

RobotsMaking (author)2016-04-24

such a nice project! can you maybe add the links of the sites where you bought the materials?

dress_kiran (author)2016-04-07

This one

dress_kiran (author)2016-04-07

I gave ordered this frame what parts do I need for it. Is it compulsory that I need specified brushless or heli motors.

deba168 (author)2015-08-18

Hi

Its really a nice project.I got my Prusa-i3 3D printer and excited to make this.

I order the Receiver board for H107C ( A43) instead of H107L(A34) . Is it work ?

Yes, of course. Don't worry!

JonasR3 (author)2015-09-18

Is there a photo you have showing the dimensions for the frame? My teacher only lets us use SolidWorks if we want to 3D print.

BradBuilds (author)2015-08-07

I love it. I have one question however:

The transmitter model you specified is out of stock from most places. Would my 2.4 Ghz drone transmitter be compatible with the flight controller? It is a DJI controller, set up like the one in this instructable. Please reply.

Thank you.

Joohansson (author)BradBuilds2015-08-07

Thanks. I don't know if they are compatible, sorry.

BradBuilds (author)Joohansson2015-08-07

Thanks for the quick reply.

Is it possible that you could send me the .step file for the quad body? I would like to add some design changes. My email is 3dprintstore5@gmail.com. Thanks.

BradBuilds (author)BradBuilds2015-08-08

You can export one from your CAD software.

ciszo (author)2015-07-19

wow~!! Nnice good job..

Akin Yildiz (author)2015-05-05

we can now also easily attach a keychain spy camera to this frame for video recording. check it out; http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mini-Key-Chain-DV-Spy-Came...

here is a nice hack instructable (arduino not needed for quad attachment); https://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-keychain-c...

this camera is very light and thin. all we need to do is to take out of case and mount it on to the quad, we can even design a new frame where the camera just clips on. so the user can take it off when not needed, for other flying purposes

.

this setup currently is the cheapest/smallest camera drone ever to be built as far as i know :) i can't wait to print this thing, thank you once again.!!

Akin Yildiz (author)Akin Yildiz2015-05-08

found this; http://flitetest.com/articles/diy-micro-5-8ghz-fpv smallest fpv setup, which your frame will definitely carry :)

Joohansson (author)Akin Yildiz2015-05-08

That is awesome! What will that cost? What kind of wearable monitors (goggles) can you use?

Akin Yildiz (author)Joohansson2015-05-08

apparently getting the parts together costs as much as purchasing it, which is $99; http://www.ebay.com/itm/Spektrum-Fat-Shark-Ultra-M... it needs 5.8GHz FPV Headset or Monitor to work..

here is another company, same price; http://www.ebay.com/itm/US-Ship-BOSCAM-FPV-5-0-MP-...

but for the same price again you can actually get a hubsan x4 fpv; http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hubsan-X4-H107D-FPV-Quadco... this way you can strip it down and have extra parts. altough this must be the least quality between them all.
i wouldn't be surprised to see a chinese clone of one of the first 2 cameras mentioned above for half the price.

Joohansson (author)Akin Yildiz2015-05-05

Sounds cool, thanks for the info and good luck!

Akin Yildiz (author)2015-05-03

this is too good.. from your video it also looks crazy responsive. the weight reduction is just amazing. thank you for sharing this.

i am about to order this "clone" of a hubsan x4; http://www.ebay.com/itm/291067112046. i am thinking about getting two of them and strip one down for parts and print your frame and have both to compare side by side.. like you've mentioned it is cheaper to get these kits for parts. the one i suggested is $26 free shipping, controller included. it's all ready to go :)

i hope to comment back here soon with some results. great stuff !!

mhancock9 (author)2015-03-18

What do you use to charge the battery ?

Joohansson (author)mhancock92015-03-18

Sorry, I forgot about the charger. The material page is now updated. You can find that on ebay.

dil2abu (author)2015-03-15

To buy this kit in India contact me guys..

dil2abu (author)2015-03-15

Nice work mate.. I will print this frame fo sure..

Angela_ (author)2015-03-10

how to tune pid?????

Joohansson (author)Angela_2015-03-11

Don´t know, sorry.

MananB (author)2015-03-02

what if I uograde to 3 blade propellers

Joohansson (author)MananB2015-03-02

It should work, don't know if better or worse though.

Techies1400 (author)2015-03-01

With what can I control this quadcopter? (sorry for my bad english)

Joohansson (author)Techies14002015-03-01

I'm not sure about compatibility with other remotes but the original Hubsan 4-channel remote is listed in the instructions. It´s standard radio link, I´m sure a more advanced programmable controller would work as well.

Cheney Cheung (author)2015-02-16

Goog project , but those parts is expensive ,we use NRF24L01,it cost $0.8 in China,and 7x20mm motor X4 cost $1 in China,20C Li-Po Battery cost $2,Stm32F103C8T6 cost $1.5,MPU6050 cost $1.5,PCB cost $5 ,total maybe $15.sorry for my bad english!

SharadD1 (author)Cheney Cheung2015-03-01

I want to buy it. where i can purchase.

chrwei (author)Cheney Cheung2015-02-17

what is the weight comparison?

faizan.faisal.9216 (author)2015-02-18

WHERE CAN I GET THE KIT AND HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?????

There is no kit.........

donald.lv.14 (author)2015-02-25

Awesome!

mni ming yun (author)2015-02-22

Great!

clazman (author)2015-02-17

Very nice start. More weight savings can be made.

Please don't take the following comments negatively. I present them here for your study. Be cautious, the comments may have errors.

For example, the non load carrying, housing around the motors could be eliminated. I presume that the motor mounts are at the prop end of the motor. Any housing beyond that is useless.

The massive gussets at the motor are that excessive. The arms are simply cantilever beams. The maximum bending moment is at the base. At the motor the bending moment goes to zero. The existing arms can handle the motor torque. The motor torque is constant throughout the arms.

Circuit boards, such as this, are fairly substantial, unwanted weight? Why not utilize it as part of the structure?

That would mean bonding it to the frame over its entire perimeter. No, the 4 screws would not suffice. They are what is called "hard points". It is through them that loads are transferred to the circuit board. Bonding the circuit board to the frame would transfer loads to the circuit board, thus allowing the present structure mass to be reduced. I wonder if the board could be incorporated into the printing operation.

Another thought would be to create a circuit using mylar film? Then the frame as you have it, would indeed be a structural component.

The bottom line is that weight must be minimized.

I'm sad that more thought isn't placed on these mentions, but then, there seems to be very few, if any, stress engineers analyzing loadings in these toys, or useful, designs.

I've just got to perform a stress analysis on some of these designs. However, correctly modeling the loadings is critical or the analysis is just an exercise in futility.

Keep up the designs! You have a good start. Just needs some refinements.

Again, please don't take my critiquing negatively. Just food for thought.

Joohansson (author)clazman2015-02-17

Thanks for you comment and consideration. I mostly agree to all your points but some parts of my design is entirely put there due to the rapid prototyping process limitations. I printed without the motor gussets at first but it broke there because the printing was too weak at that point. Same thing with motor mounts, they were much smaller and compact at first but it broke as well and motors was not stable enough. I also had an entirely different design that hold the circuit board but I choose this a bit more heavy design in order to properly protect the circuits and stable fix for the battery. But sure, it could certainly be improved at some points for some extra seconds flight time but in this case there are other factors in the design than just stress analysis. Keep in mind, the chassis is just about 4g, that is light enough for me at least. I will probably not bother to change this design now but as I included the original CAD, anyone is free to do that =)

gravityisweak (author)Joohansson2015-02-20

It would be incredibly interesting to also see a frame built on the other end of the spectrum where you tried to make it as robust as possible and give battery life less of a consideration. Something like this maybe

http://www.brookstone.com/webassets/product_images/700x700/902851p_alt2.jpg

gravityisweak (author)clazman2015-02-20

I like the way you are thinking here. Do you have any skills in 3D modeling? Unfortunately I do not, but the author has made his file free so it can easily be changed or upgraded by others. Your suggestions could easily be tested and printed by others.

schumi23 (author)clazman2015-02-17

About integrating the circuit board in the printing process: There is a way, usually used for inserting nuts in parts to be screwed together, in which you pause the print at some midway point, maybe raise the print head, and place the part, before resuming the print.

But that case introduces the problem that the (220C) print head will hit the object inserted if it is not below the level of the current layer being printed.

Joohansson (author)schumi232015-02-17

Integrating the circuit in the printing is interesting and I think it could be done with proper design. I heard that at least ABS stick to FR4 fiber board quite good so the first layer on top of the board won´t be a problem.

clazman (author)schumi232015-02-17

Thanks for your knowledge of 3D printing. I have not done any or been around any 3D printing, so my suggestions may not be viable. It's nice to hear from those experienced in such processes.

gravityisweak (author)2015-02-20

This looks like a lot of fun. I also have a 3D printer and Simplify 3D although I have not mastered the settings yet.

shivadog (author)2015-02-18

Didn't Mom tell you not to play with a quadcopter in the house?

Joohansson (author)shivadog2015-02-18

It's my house :)

faizan.faisal.9216 (author)2015-02-18

WHERE CAN I GET THE KIT AND HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?????

faizan.faisal.9216 (author)2015-02-18

WHERE CAN I GET THE KIT AND HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?????

Bilow (author)2015-02-17

Hi, I don't see the circuit board (flight controller+ESC's) in the materials. Maybe did you forgot it ?

About This Instructable

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Bio: I like to design, construct and experiment with both old and new technology, especially when it includes mechatronics. I'm also devoted to photography, computers ... More »
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