Quadcopter Frame Design (fiberglass).




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I'm a 17 year old student in South Africa with a passion for RC helicopters quad copters and planes 

RC Quad-copters are becoming a craze throughout the RC world, and its no surprise as these machines are extremely fun and rewarding to fly. One of the main problems however when starting in Quad-copters (as i found out) is finding a strong cheap reliable and well designed frame. My fist attempts at a frame were extremely heavy monsters of aluminum tubes and steel bolts.

This drove me to search for a better frame made of composite materials specifically G10 fiberglass.

Unfortunately frames from common Quad-copter shops can be very expensive and not very well engineered or suited to my needs. 

Because of this I decided to Design my own frame to suit my every need.

This instructable focuses on the frame rather than electronics and motors however i will give some guidance on appropriatly sized  
motors and such.

Step 1: The Design


The design is made up of a very secure "ball" that protects the electronics and attaches the arms, making it extremely crash proof.

The arms are reversible so you can fly with some motors facing up and some down, all the while maintaining the correct thrust line.

The Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC) have their own mounting boards, with appropriate mounting plates.

The Motors lie inboard of the arms for additional protection.

There is a LARGE battery bay with mounting strap holes.

The electronics platform, is large, to accommodate even the most complex installation.

The Design is also fully modular for easy replacement of parts.

No glue is used. There are some nylon bolts for easy assembly and changing out of parts / sections of the Quad Copter.

The fiberglass board and my design makes for  an extremely strong and high crash resistant  Quad Copter. 

A GoPro or any other suitably sized camera can be mounted directly to the top or bottom, of the Quad Copter.

A Sonar sensor has it's own mount place, on landing gear, with clear visibility of the ground

The whole structure is VERY LIGHT and hence gives increased flight time.

Step 2: Tools and Materials

All parts were designed by me over a three month period, using SKETCHUP  a free 3D cad software from Google.

All renders are done using ShaderLight.

I used a local cnc miling shop to cut all the parts.

The fiberglass G10 board is 1.5mm thick and can be bought from http://www.mcmaster.com/

Any flight controller can be used, including:
ArduCopter from DIY DRONES - an open source Quad copter initiative

The Props and Motors I used, are from DIY DRONES STORE 
Props are:10 X 4.7inch
Motors are 450 size

30mm nylon spacers 

10mm nylon spacers 

M3 nylon bolts 6mm

Battery 2200mah 3s or more (3 cell or more)


Step 3: Assembly

I will not go into much detail as this instructable would end up being too long.

THE DESIGN and hence the assembly is made as simple as possible.
  1. Assemble the arms with motor mounts and  ESC mounts 
  2. Assemble main ball (electronics platform)
  3. Using the Nylon bolts, specified, bolt the arms and landing gear  to ball  in the configuration of your choice.
This is a super simplified set of instructions, but putting the frame together is just that easy.

Use the pictures to guide you.

Step 4: Video

A quick flight in the back yard with my dad on the camera.

Step 5: Whats Next?

My Current project is to add a camera gimbal to the Quad Copter Design.

This is my current project, a full two axis camera gimbal that attaches directly to the Quad frame.

The Camera Gumbal fits in place of the landing gear, and hence you can use either the standard frame / landing gear for flying, or have a camera platform with incorporated landing gear..

To buy an equivalent gimbal costs hundreds of dollars. I can't afford this, and hence i desperately need the prototyping ability that having a shop bot will grant me, to complete this second phase of my design.

This really is an awesome project but i need your help to make it a reality.

ShopBot Challenge

Participated in the
ShopBot Challenge



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    21 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I just downloaded the .pdf for your instructable and from that I found the link to the .dxf file. I really like your design and appreciate your effort to design and document your build. I have two questions for you, Did you design this in inches or metric measurements? The other question is can you give me a dimention for one of the square or rectangular parts so I can properly scale the drawing? I would like to have a friend of mine laser cut the parts from G10 or baltic birch plywood.


    John Guenther, Anderson Indiana U.S.A.


    3 years ago


    Where can I download the appropriate files so that I could attempt to build one.



    4 years ago on Step 5

    starkec, really nice job!

    Regarding the gimbal design I would strongly recommend to go with the brushless motors instead of servos. I have recently finished building my gimbal with "ultra fast" servos, but still this speed is not enough to compensate quad's rapid orientation changes during the flight.


    4 years ago on Step 5

    Did you make the camera gimbal, if so could you show us how and where it would fit on to your Quadcopter, the design of which is brilliant and the fact you designed it on Google Sketch Up. I also must agree with Ipray1 and say you could be a good Engineer


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Elegant design! Where can I download the .dxf or SketchUp files?

    Thank you


    4 years ago on Step 5

    Great job! You could be a very successful engineer.


    5 years ago on Step 2

    This is awesome!

    Not really what I was after, but very awesome! I will be hopefully building a custom Carbon Fiber frame soon. They cost way to much, so I figure that I can build a cheaper one. Hopefully it will be durable!

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Amazing design. Also waiting on the article to help mount the cameras.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi. Hoping all is still going well. I'm also in SA and would like to make contact to chat about the components (frame specifically). Thanks for your time.


    5 years ago on Step 4

    Hi.. its great frame design for quad.
    I see in your video, you put 2 of the motors facing down with the arms on the upper side. I just wondering if that both motors still facing up just like the others with the arms on the upper side.. this will give a space for camera to get clear view, right?
    Oh once more, do you share your cad design for public? Can I get it?
    Btw, thanks for your idea in quadcopter frame design here...


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I love your design, would definitely fancy trying to build my own, and tinker with the camera gimble. Are the DXF files available to download anywhere?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome design! The ability to reverse the rear props is not only cool but functional. You created a passive orientational frame.

    BTW did you know of any places to get cheap G-10? I can't find good prices. To make your design would probably cost $80+.


    6 years ago on Step 3

    hi, cool design where is the dxf download? dont see on page 3 u said.,


    6 years ago on Introduction

    How much would it cost me to purchase this frame kit from you? And, how is your gimble design coming along?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, how can I download de DXF files? I can´t find the links


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Have you published DXF files for the camera gimbal? Did you made any gimbal prototype?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    what main controller board u using?

    I been playing about with KK multicopter board, and multiWii.
    yet to make something that flys yet but doing tests with servos and stuff to see wat is more stable and can be promising

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Im using the Arducopter flight controller from DIYdrones http://www.diydrones.com
    It works very well and is in constant development as it too is an open source project.