3D printable drone development frame

Drone Development Frame (3D printed)

On my way to develop a 3D printable camera drone I designed and printed different housings and frames. But I always came to a point where I had to make changes: sometimes I had to reposition the GPS unit, change the position of the camera, relocate cables, etc. I had to make a lot of changes. All this led me to discard the design again and again and develop a new one. This slowed me down a lot in the development, so I decided to create a flexible and quickly customizable development framework.

Overview:

  1. Flight controller mount
  2. Motor mount
  3. Frame weights
  4. Parts list
  5. Download drone frame

Flight controller mount

Since there are many different flight controllers on the market, all with different dimensions, and I want to make my development framework as flexible as possible, I have developed a separate mount for the flight controller. This allows me to test a new flight controller at any time without having to print a completely new frame. All I have to do is change the holder and adapt it to the dimensions of the flight controller.

Flight controller mount
The prepared flight controller Mateksys F722 on my custom flight controller mount

I use special thread inserts for 3D printing, which I melt into holes with a soldering iron. The procedure is really very simple: Since I printed the frame with PETG, I heat the soldering iron to a temperature of about 250 °C and carefully press the thread in.

Threaded inserts

Motor mount

In my first attempts, I tried printing the arms of the drone with a 3D printer as well. Unfortunately, the attempt failed several times: the printed arms were either not stable enough or too heavy. I also had problems with the motor mount, because the motors get very warm during operation and this deformed the mount.

I therefore decided to use carbon tubes: they are light and very stable. For the motors I have designed a separate motor mount, which is surrounded by the motors with enough air, so that it hopefully does not come to deformation there. 

Frame weights

The weight of a drone is an important factor: not only does it affect the power consumption and thus the flight time of the drone, it is also important to meet legal requirements in some countries. However, I have to admit that I didn't pay much attention to weight when designing the first prototype. Nevertheless, I am quite satisfied with the result: The frame comes to a total weight of about 364.5 g.

Part Material Infill Quantity Weight (g) Total weight (g)
Case Top PETG 20% 1 91.5 91.5
Case bottom PETG 20% 1 91.8 91.8
Case clamp PETG 20% 4 9.6 38.4
Motor mount clamp PETG 100% 16 1.9 30.4
Motor mount plate PETG 100% 8 3.7 29.6
Flight controller mount PETG 100% 1 7.6 7.6
Carbon tube Carbon   4 18.8 75.2
Total frame weight         364.5

Parts list

Part Quantity
M3x40 bolts 16
M3x10 nuts 16
1m Carbon tube (18mm dia)
(cut down to 4 pieces á 250mm)
1
M3 Threaded inserts 14

Download drone frame

Download all printable files from Thingiverse: Drone Development Frame

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