Super Simple 3D Printed Drone Build

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Introduction: Super Simple 3D Printed Drone Build

This simple fully 3d printed drone was originally designed to replace the frame from a drone that happened to have an interesting encounter with the ground. However, you don't have to have smashed your drone into the grass to do this project. All you need is to buy some parts (see list below) and follow the instructions.

This project requires roughly 30 hours of printing on the settings I've used. I supplied the settings below.

This is a fun project and an interesting test of the strength and usability of 3d printed parts. Everything was designed in fusion 360 and I have provided the .f3d along with the STL files as well.

The total build cost of this drone is roughly $160 USD if the parts below are used. These parts are very versatile so can be used in future projects.

I hope you enjoy the project and have fun flying.

Supplies

The supplies that you are going to need for this project are pretty straight forward and are listed below:

- 3D Printer and some filament (I used PLA) - colors of your choosing, I used green, black and yellow.

- Drone electronic components - if you don't have any and still want to build this project, or you are a beginner having a go at printing a drone, check out this guys website which documents the process for assembling a drone. Please use the components listed below or ones that are similar as they will be compatible with this frame design - https://www.mydronelab.com/blog/how-to-build-a-dro...


Drone electronics components

I used components from my previous drone. I recommend these or something similar if you undertake this build as they are compatible. Components are:

- 4 brushless motors - RCX H2214 950KV not available any more but these would be a potential substitute: https://www.banggood.com/4X-Racerstar-Racing-Editi... Please note if you do decide to buy a different motor make sure the holes are 19mm and 16mm apart as that is what the frame is designed to accept

- 4 ESC's - 30A ESC: https://www.banggood.com/4X-XXD-HW30A-30A-Brushles...

- Flight Controller - CC3D flight controller: https://www.getfpv.com/openpilot-cc3d-flight-contr...

- Receiver and Transmitter: https://www.banggood.com/FlySky-FS-i6-2_4G-6CH-AFH...

- 4200mAh 3 cell battery

- Power distribution board: https://www.amazon.com/Water-Quadcopter-Distributi...

- XT60 Connector: https://www.banggood.com/Amass-XT60-Male-Female-Pl...


Other Necessary Non-Electronic Components

- Some zip ties

- If you want to - not necessary though - four 4-5mm carbon fibre rods or wooden skewers which you can slide down the length of the arms through the holes created for this purpose, and then glued. This will strengthen the arms quite a bit. I had a broken umbrella with carbon fibre rods so I just used some of them.

- Nuts, bolts and washers you need 16 1/8" x 12mm bolts and 16 nuts to go with them, as well as 16 washers.

Step 1: Design

Fusion 360 is a great tool, and I absolutely love using it. It was the CAD software used for this project.

After going through different design iterations I settled on the design for this quadcopter. One or two test prints and slight modifications later, the final version was ready to be printed. 3D printers are awesome tools and it was fun to test out the parts printed in a different way.

If you are wanting to design your own 3D printed drone the process is very easy. Just start with your basic arm design (make sure you account for the prop size) and design the main body to suit. I had to put reinforcing ridges on my design which ended up looking quite cool and helped a lot in reinforcing the frame.

I hope that this is a fun project that will allow you to test the limits of 3D printing for yourself. I also hope it inspires you for new projects. 3D printers combined with great CAD software like Fusion 360 really opens up all sorts of possibilities.

Step 2: Printing

Once you have gathered all the other parts its time to get printing. Download the files listed below and start. If you want to change anything about them I have also provided the files in .f3d just for convenience so you can put them into Fusion 360 - this is FREE by the way to Hobbyistslike us which is awesome - and change them to suit.

When printing the files ensure that you print two sets of arms. For clarity one of the files is the mirror image of the other. This is labelled "Drone-Arm-Mirror. Please print 2 of each type

The print settings I used are as follows and the filament type I used was PLA:

For both the arms:

Layer Height: 0.2 mm

Shell thickness: 0.8mm

Bottom/Top thickness: 0.8mm

Fill Density: 40%

Print Speed: 50mm/s

Printing Temperature: 200°C

Bed Temperature: 60°C

Support: Yes

Platform adhesion type: None

Note: I flipped the arms upside down in order to avoid printing extra supports you may wish to do so as well.

For the Top and Bottom Frame:

Layer Height: 0.2 mm
Shell thickness: 0.8mm

Bottom/Top thickness: 0.8mm

Fill Density: 60%

Print Speed: 50mm/s

Printing Temperature: 200°C

Bed Temperature: 60°C

Support: No

Platform adhesion type: None

Note: If you have a smaller 3D printer like I do 200mm x 200m then you will have to position the frame pieces so that they face diagonally across the build plate and move them around a little to get them to fit. Please also print the bottom frame piece with the extrusions/strengthening bars running along it facing upwards.

Step 3: Assembly

Once you have gone through the process of printing out the parts - which is relatively quick at 30 hours, but painfully slow when you are waiting to build the drone - you are ready to assemble. Its a very simple assembly process with just a few nuts and bolts and a little glue.

The first step is to clear out all the supports on the printed parts including the little holes where the nuts slide in. This can easily be done using a small screwdriver.

Once this is done you can move on to the rest of the assembly process.

Step 4: Assemble Your Electronics

My electronics were already assembled from my previous drone. Assembly of the electronic is a reasonably easy process, with plenty of online guidance. Here is a great website (also previously mentioned in this instructable) https://www.mydronelab.com/blog/how-to-build-a-dro... that gives you all the knowledge necessary to configure the electronics.

Step 5: Mount the Motors to the Arms

Mounting the motors is a very simple process that is fairly self-explanatory.

Step 6: Mount the Arms to the Bottom Plate of Body (Make Sure the Holes Line Up on the Bottom As One Arm Is a Mirror of the Other)

This process is quite straight forward simply line up the arms to the holes, make sure you get the mirrored arms on the right holes. Then simply slide the nuts into the small holes on the side of the arms and ensure they line up with the hole. Then once it all lines up simply bolt it all together.

Step 7: Mount Your Flight Controller and If You Want Glue in the Rods

To mount your flight controller drill some small holes in the bottom of the frame to put some bolts through, or just use some double-sided tape - whichever way you like.

To clarify my flight controller is double-sided taped to the power distribution board. The power distribution board is bolted onto the bottom.

Once you have done this if you want to hot glue your four 4-5mm rods into the hole running the length of each arm. I put a bit of hot glue at either end of the hole once the rod was in, securing it nicely in the hole.

Step 8: Mount the Top Plate

Once again much like the bottom plate slide the nuts into the little holes and ensure they line up.

Place the top plate on and make sure all the holes line up without too much moving of the arms.

If they all line up without too much flexing then simply bolt it together the bolts should quite easily screw in.

Step 9: Zip Tie Everything So That It Is Nice a Tidy

Once its all together tidy it all up by zip tieing any loose wire to the frame.

My ESCs had a lot of cable on them and as I didn't really want to shorten their length in case I needed it in the future I zip tied them on the outside of the arm, which work very well and might be quite a good option anyway. Otherwise, if you can mount the ESCs in the frame then you may want to with some double-sided tape or a little hot glue.

Step 10: Your Done!!!!

Now that you have fully assembled your 3D printed quadcopter get out there and fly. Test it to its limits and most of all have fun. Just remember that if it breaks you can just print another one :).

Just in case you have not flown a drone before, the website I listed earlier https://www.mydronelab.com/blog/how-to-build-a-dro... also includes the setup up of a drone up till you do your first flight. If you want some more guidance on how to actually fly check out this video by flitetest:

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    5 Comments

    0
    YLBright
    YLBright

    1 year ago

    Couple of things. Okay, Super Simple is relative, you do know that, right? It might be the simplest, but...

    Everyone doesn't have a 3D printer. Do you guys ever think of selling the 3D printed parts as a kit? You would probably recoup your $160. The nearest 3D print shop is at least 60 miles away.

    0
    Robby-the-Robot
    Robby-the-Robot

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks for your comment. I hope this instructables is easy to follow and relatively simple to build. I tried to design it to be relatively simple and tried to make the instructions as clear as possible. I realize that it will be easier for some than others but hopefully everyone can follow along if they want. I know it can extremely frustrating when instructions are not clear.

    I totally agree with you it is very frustrating to not have to tools necessary to build a project. I would definitely be interested in selling a kit if this build proves to be popular. However I do live at the bottom of the world - New Zealand - so shipping may be a little pricey. Thanks for the suggestions.

    0
    RandomDev
    RandomDev

    1 year ago

    I'm a big FliteTest fan!
    It would be awesome if you could add FPV.
    You don't have to do that though, as it's pretty easy.

    0
    Robby-the-Robot
    Robby-the-Robot

    Reply 1 year ago

    I too love FliteTest. They inspired me to get into the hobby of RC aircraft. I most definitely would want to add FPV, however sadly my FPV camera is broken ☹️. But this definitely would be an addition I would want to add in the future. Thanks for your comment and suggestion.