For about a year I have been getting into FPV tri- and quadcopters, which is a extremly interesting and time consuming hobby (and not cheap either). Just for fun, I ordered a micro-quad from Flitetest called "Gremlin", so I'll have something to fly around inside during the winter. It's a very nice build and I enjoyed it a lot - soldering these really small flight controllers and ESC's is awesome!
I flew it for just one day before I realized that I want to build my own frame for this quad - I found some macassar ebony veneer leftovers and decided to go for probably the first ebony quad frame (maybe not, I just assume that...)
Step 1: Material and Bonding
I cut the wonderful macassar ebony veneer down to squares, 4 layers per piece and prepared everything for bonding. For projects like this (creating my own laminated wood) I use a polyurethane-foam-glue that expands quite a bit and hardens in about an hour. The layers need to be turned by 90 degrees between the layers so the final material gets the stiffness and stability desired (many laminated woods have an odd number of layers so the top and bottom look similar, but I wanted the grain to look different top and bottom). To get a good result it is really important to compress the pieces as much as you can - so the glue will not fill up more space than needed. I used 5 clamps per square and one for a small piece i made from scraps.
I let the glue set for 3 hours and was really pleased with the resulting 2mm thick material. It is not as stiff as the carbon-frame I bought for the gremlin, but it will suffice. It's very dense (ebony will not float in water, it sinks!) and looks stunning, even before sanding.
Step 2: Frame Shape and Fabrication
After drawing a shape (I copied the dimensions for motor mounting from the bought carbon frame), I glued the plan onto the laminated pieces with spray-on glue. Sawing the frame on the jigsaw took some time since I tried to get the cuts as clean as possible. Using a very fine sawblade and feeding the material slowly helps a lot to circumvent more sanding than necessary afterwards.
To saw the cutouts I drilled holes and then mounted the sawblade through these holes for cutting.
I finished all the edges using a fine "key-file" and sanded the surfaces to a very fine finish (120/320/1000 grit).
Drilling the motor-mount-holes with a cordless drill turned out fine and posed no alignment problems.
I oiled the parts of the frame with furniture teak oil but masked the part in the middle so I can mount the flight controller using double sided foam tape. Then I assembled the frame to see that everything aligns.
Step 3: Soldering and Assembly
Since the shape of the frame differs a bit from the original build, I had to re-solder parts of the electronic build. Some cables had to be shortened, some had to be extended (i.e. replaced). The wires for the front motors are still a bit too short - maybe at some point I'll redo this again. To get as clean a build as possible, I used new shrink tube for the ESC's and zip-tied everything down to the frame (I prefer that to taping everything, since it's easier to remove and change something).
As mentioned, I used double sided foam tape to mount the flight controller and zip-tied the camera to the frame. The RC receiver is mounted between the flight controller and the top plate of the frame and the antennae are routed to the back of the frame.
The lipo is attached on top with velcro-tape and that's about it. I mounted the props and took off for the "re-maiden" flight. It flew just fine but will need tweaking as soon as I find some time.
I had a lot of fun building this frame and will certainly make another one with the leftover laminated macassar-ebony.
Thanks for looking through this instructable - if you have any comments or questions, please go ahead!