Angus is the first big storm of the season, and, although it’s almost blown itself out overnight, it’s still wet and very windy this morning. In other words, I’ve been building stuff.
First, there was the 100mm quadcopter X-Frame which I 3D printed at work on Friday. This took the entire day to print and then I discovered that the model was completely welded to the raft. I shouldn’t have printed it on a raft, although the idea is that it allows the model to be removed from the 3D printer more easily. The problem here was that the raft didn’t separate from the model and I spent most of Saturday morning hacking all the excess plastic off with my Permagrit file. We need this frame for an event we’re running at the end of November, so it needed to be done.
That then got me to thinking about whether I could build my own design micro quadcopter frame and build it in less time than this one took to 3D print. So, on Saturday afternoon, I built my own one from plasticard and white foam.
Basically, it’s just black plastic stuck onto white foam to give it rigidity. The way I made it was to make two straight arms with black plastic top and bottom. Then I cut a hole through the white foam in the middle of one and pushed the other through to make an “X”. You can see where the plastic overlaps in the picture. With the benefit of hindsight, it might have been better to cut a top and bottom “X” out of the plastic and make the top and bottom a single piece? That would have allowed me to add some more material in the centre where the flight controller will sit, but I quite like it the way it is.
The interesting thing is that this took less time to build than the 3D printed model took to print and what’s more, it’s also lighter.
As you can see, my frame is 3.8g lighter. I just can’t figure out how to make the blade guards at the moment. You can also see that it’s slightly bigger than the blue frame, which is to accommodate the larger and more efficient 75mm props. I got the flight controller and radio working last Sunday evening, which was quite an impressive feat. It took me quite a while to figure out how to bind my Futaba Field Force 8 with its Frsky DFT module. You first have to press the button on the back of the module while switching on the transmitter. This puts it into binding mode, which is confirmed by a constant beep, beep, beep. Then you power on the QX908 receiver while holding down its bind button, keeping it pressed until the green light goes solid. Disconnect the power from the receiver, then turn off the transmitter, power everything back up normally and they should be bound to each other. I was then able to see my control inputs in the Cleanflight application on the computer when the flight controller was attached via USB. Once I have a quadcopter that’s flying with the FPV working again I’ll do a full build article. At this point I discovered that the leads from the motors wouldn’t reach the flight controller and decided that adding plugs and sockets as we do for the HubSan assembly kits would be a good idea while I’m experimenting. I don’t have any left, so I’m going to Maplin tomorrow. This only adds less than 1g in weight, so it’s not a huge penalty. I might rethink the motor attachments, though, as I’m not completely happy with just pushing them into foam. That’s where the fun is in making your own quadcopter frame.
I still have the preparation to do for the “Drones Masterclass” that we’re running in a little over a week, so I’m probably not going to get much more building done today.