3D printing stuff: I built a working drone in 24 hours

Last week I manage to get some time off from markings, teaching classes and meetings. As a designer, I found that the more stressed I am, the more drive I got to build things.

So armed with a caliper and an old ProEngineer CAD software, I manage to design from scratch a simple quadcopter frame. It is basically consist of a centerbase (I printed it twice), and an arm (I printed it 4 times).

You can download the the STL files here:

Scidrones 3D Printed Quad

2013-12-16 12.17.11
Pic above: the built drone, fresh from the 3D printer

The motivation comes from my DJI F330 frame that broke due to a crash last few months ago as shown below. So I was thinking, well this is a good reason to custom-design my own simple frame. If it crash and broken, I’ll just print it again. So it makes the downtime shorter.

2013-12-10 16.50.45
Pic above: My broken quad

So once my frame were printed, which took about 6 hours to complete (ABS material, 50% infill, on a FlashForge Replicator printer), I installed the control board (APM 2.5), the 20 amp electronic speed control (ESC), a 2200mah battery, four Gemfan 8×4.5 SF prop and four brushlesh motor (Prodrive 1200kV) on the frame.

It took me another half an hour to upload the PIDs, checking the balance, trimming the cable-ties and whatnot before I test-fly it in my office.

And it fly great! No wobblings, very light and fairly strong!

Some flyers concern about the motors being hot due to enclosure, but this is a tough decision that I have to make. In my defense,
1. I’ve tested the hover to the maximum battery-time capacity of 7 minutes and the motors only heated up to 63 celcius and the 7-minute ride is more than enough to cover UMT’s shoreline at the altitude of 600 metres.
2. The battery and esc’s are cool and happy!

Now the to-do’s!
1. Design and build a simple camera-gimbal to stabilize my GoPro camera.
2. Design and build a water- and sand-resistant enclosure for the motor and electronics.

Next up, if I’m not in the office, I’m probably at the UMT coastal line to run aerial coastal monitoring. See you there!