Introduction: Flone 3.0 Drone Quadcopter

This is flone 3.0: an Open Source Drone Ecosystem.

After the first release of our award winning flone 1.0 instructable three years ago, we made a lot of work.

Flone is a powerful, compact, and smart design of a low-cost quadcopter that can carry easily an smartphone, or a camera in a gimbal, and much more.

The flone ecosystem is composed by:

* SVG files for produce a low cost quadcopter with a laser cutter.

* Android App for control the quadcopter.

* Cut files of a servo gimbal for a camera.

* Instructions and cutting files of atransportation box.

Software is licensed by GPL v3. Frame and the rest of elements are licensed under Creative Commons BY-SA.

The construction process has moving parts, configuration files, brushless motor test, and much more. Let's go there!

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Step 1: Adquire Materials

Security First
Making mistakes building or operating a drone is normal, sometimes there are accidents. To avoid them, we must follow some safety rules before starting to fly. Only when you know what you are doing, last element to be placed in the quadcopter are propellers, and check that everything is OK before plug the LiPo battery.

Parts List

The difficulty of getting the components to build a flone is highly variable from one country to another. Overall in United States and Europe can be achieved without major problems, but there are other countries that can be held in customs or lead high taxes.

Download the frame and cut in a Fablab or Makerspace near you, or customize the file using the open source tools you know and love. The best material is 30x30cm 5mm plywood, but you can use also MDF or even 3D print-it. The right size to cut the file is 300x300 mm.

For the electronics you can buy them from different stores like hobbyking, banggod, goodluckbuy or ebay. We share this table as a reference:

Frame Files for laser cut in or 3D print files from Thingiverse. $ 5~20

Flight ControllerNaze32 rev6 10DOF with 32-bit STM32 $17.89

4 x Brushless Motor EMAX CF2812 1400KV Brushless Motor $35.04

4 x ESCs SimonK 10A ESC with BEC $20.44

2 x Propellers3-Blade Propeller 6x4.5 (CW/CCW) $4.10

BatteryLipo 1500mah 3S 40C $15.69

RadioLinkBluetooth Module (Level 5v) $8.99

4 x Propeller MountPropeller Adapter (Collet Type) 3mm $4.80

Battery PlugXT60 Male Female Bullet Connectors Plugs $1.19

Total (without shipping cost) $118

Step 2: Mount Airframe

Step time:15 minutes.


First disassemble the pieces and mount the frame following the steps of the images. Glue the legs, and then glue the legs to the main body. After this glue the reinforcement arms to the main frame.Check the video if you have doubts.

When everything is glued, remove the glue from the holes of the motors, check all holes removing the glue with a small stick.

Take a look of the optional last step adding three nuts only in case you want to attach extra accessories, like the servo camera gimbal.

Step 3: Flash and Configure Flightboard

Step time: 15 minutes.
Tools:Computer with Chrome & Cleanflight.

If you don't have, please install first Chrome browser & Cleanflight configuration tool.

Flone can be controlled with, or without any phone on it via our android app with Bluetooth or Wifi (in progress).

Like the rest of the quadcopters, also can be controlled by standard radio control.

Naze32 uses a USB cable to communicate with Cleanflight configurator on the PC. Verify that you have communication.

Accelerometer Calibration

To calibrate the accelerometer to let flone on a flat surface and press CALIB_ACC not move for 8 seconds.

Magnetometer calibration

To calibrate the magnetometer CALIB_MAG press and turn in all directions and axes for 30 seconds.

Place the NAZE32 in the center of the bottom plate. It is highly recommended to glue the board with a sponge to isolate it from the vibrations of the plate.

Connection of serial radio Bluetooth / Wifi

You should wire RX from Bluetooth to TX on flight board, and TX from Bluetooth to RX on flight board.

The out-of-the-box way is by Bluetooth, but you can also connect by an ESP8266 Wifi Module.

The safe range of Bluetooth is up to 30 meters. By Wifi arrives to 100 meters in open sky.

Step 4: Mount Motors

Step time:10 minutes.
Tools: 16 small zip ties.

Before solder the motor wires, first place the four motors and hold them with zip ties to the main body frame.

Zip ties act as a physical fuse in case of crash, breaking it before the axis of the motor, they are cheap, light and makes easy the maintenance.

Step 5: Solder Electronics

Step time:20 minutes.
Tools: Soldering Iron, Heat shrink or tape, 4 zip ties.

Soldering XT60

Solder the XT60 connector directly to the four ESC. Pay attention that the connector has positive (red) and negative (black).

There can not be any contact between the positive and the negative, or a shortcircuit that can blow the battery can occur. Also think about how to isolate the wires, the best is heat shrinkable sleeve, but you can use also tape or hot glue.

Put all black wires on the negative side of the connector XT60 and solder them, do the same with positive cables. When you're done check that it is well insulated, and wires are holded properly and well isolated.

Soldering ESC to Motors

Start wiring the three cables of the motor randomly to the three cables of the ESC, and then check that the rotation direction placed in the arms of flone is the same that the motors. If is wright solder the wires in that order, if not change the order, connect the battery and power up the motor again.

Finally, secure the ESC and the cables from ESC to Motor with the zip tie to the leg.

Step 6: Install Flone App & Pair Drone

Step time:5 minutes.
Tools:Android Smartphone.

The android smartphone used for control flone should have magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope in order to read the sensors and determine the movement of the smartphone for send the controls to the quadcopter.

Instead of using the screen as a virtual joysticks like the rest of apps, Flone app uses the inclination of the smartphone for pitch, roll and yaw. Throttle is controlled with a finger on the screen, at any moment you can lift the finger from the screen for altitude hold. Arm and disarm are volume buttons.

The App works on old smartphones from android +v2.3, but works better with new smartphones.

You can download the Flone App from Google Play visiting the link or scanning the QRcode with your android device.

Then, you should pair the radio device bluetooth/wifi with your smartphone and open the app.

Don't worry about calls, the app is a running service, so will work even if you receive a call.

We strongly recommend first to fly a small toy quadcopter, or pilot in a flight simulator in order to understand how to control the quadcopter and physics. There are some nice simulators for Android like Quadcopter FX Simulator.

Step 7: Ready to Fly

Step time:20 minutes.
Tools: Android Smartphone, 80 cm of isolation tube.

Landing Gear

Build a lightweight landing gear cutting four pieces of isolation tube and placing them on the legs.

Mount Propellers

The last step is to place the propellers, only when the configuration is checked, drone is successfully connected to the smartphone, and you know how to safely fly a quadcopter.

Placing the Smartphone

We recommend to make the first flights without any smartphone on the quadcopter, and then when you are confident, you can build the holding system gluing a band of latex to the upper plate for avoid vibrations, and tight the extremes of a textile rubber band with hot glue to the upper plate.

Congratulations, you and flone are Ready To Fly.
Enjoy, connect battery to the XT60 plug and have a nice flight.

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Step 8: Bonus: Extra Hacks

We love flone. The community proudly shared some cool add-ons for extend the capabilities of this quadcopter.

For extra hacks check how to:

* Transport flone with the Drone transportation box.

* Add a camera with the Flone Servo Gimbal.

* Extend capabilities with the Spray paint add-on for Flone.

* Drop seeds with the Drop release system.

Feel free to contribute or fork the GitHub open sourced repositories:

* Frame repository.

* Android App repository.

Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016

Participated in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016