A few decades ago before the advancement of electronics, we used to play with hand-made models of toy planes and cars. Fast forward to the present day and the same toy planes and cars are fully functional thanks to the advancement in technology. With the emergence of 3D printing, quadcopters or drone enthusiasts can design and build their crafts from scratch.
Although it is possible to buy one from many retail stores, it is, in fact, much cheaper and more fun to make one of your own drones. The process of making drones offers you a valuable opportunity to learn how the quadcopters work and react to various modifications, hence an educational 3D printing project for all ages.
3D Printing Project: Building A Drone
How To Build 3D Printed Quadcopter
Let’s get started on your 3D printing project, but before you build your quadcopter, it is important to note that there are non-printed parts that you must first purchase. These components include motors for powering your drone, batteries, sensors, electronics, and the remote control for controlling your craft. The central part of the quadcopter to 3D print is the frame.
The design should give you enough space for your first-person view (FPV) equipment, gimbal, and electronics parts. If you can’t create your frame from scratch, there are several open-source resources online where you can choose a suitable design that best suits your needs.
The quadcopter propellers are other accessories that you can 3D print. Buying these components from the stores can be very costly, and there is no better way than printing your own.
3D printing your drone’s propellers have an advantage because they are prone to crashing and being damaged especially when you are a novice pilot. Besides, you will have an indefinite supply of spares to cater to these unforeseen mishaps.
Another important part that can be 3D printed is the landing gear. Quadcopters are very delicate machines that must be treated with care. The landing gear allows for a smooth launch as well as facilitating its safe landing. There are several designs of landing gear to choose from. However, you can opt to come up with your design.
Mount The Power Distribution Board
The power distribution board (PDB) is a 3D printed frame for holding the battery that supplies power to the entire drone’s electronics. By use of double-sided tape, press the PDB into place in the middle of the mainframe. It should be quickly accessible when placing and removing the battery.
Mount The Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC)
There are two ways of installing the ESC; you can either mount them on the mainframe or the extending booms near the spinning propellers to take advantage of the cooling from the downdraft. In this case, we are going to mount our 4 ESC devices on the frame by use of small strips of double-sided tapes.
The ESC should be placed in a symmetrical manner around your already installed PDB allowing the red and black power leads to point towards the center of the mainframe. Let the black motor leads point outwards since this is where our propellers will get their power.
Soldering The Leads
By soldering, connect all the positive and negative leads from each of the 4 ESCs such as to make a parallel circuit. This just means that you connect all the red leads from the ESCs to the positive strip of the PDB and the other remaining black leads to the second strip on the PDB that makes up our ground or the negative side of the power supply. Ensure your connections are securely soldered for good conductivity while considering where you will position all the wires.
Mounting The Motors
Lay the motor flat at the top of the boom while ensuring the mounting holes are well aligned. Now secure the motor on the boom by use of the four provided screws. Repeat the same exercise for the other three remaining motors. It is important to pay attention to the thread direction, in general, clockwise spinning motors should have the reverse threaded shaft and vice versa.
Now connect your motor to the electronic speed controllers via each of the three black wires.it is important to label each ESC with the associated motor to ease your work when doing any changes.
Double-check to ensure everything is well secured and in place. Also, confirm that your soldering work is perfect, and nothing is loose. At this point, you can now mount your flight controller and your battery on your quadcopter frame along with the landing gear. Run a test once you have mounted the propellers and adjust where necessary. See now you have finished your 3D printing project and what fun it was.