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I'm an amateur drone pilot that would rather design my own frame instead of buying carbon fiber. This is my eighth design of 3D printed drone frames and one that I am very confident in. I use this drone for acro flying and racing. I've only been flying for a few months and I crash frequently but so far I haven't broken a single arm on this version. I would love to see people try this frame and let me know what you think and what I can improve on.
I printed mine in PLA but only because I ran out of ABS. I would recommended ABS for this frame because It's stronger and less brittle but I've has success with PLA. The Frames are designed to be printed with thick walls (I did 3.2mm) and arroung 30%-50% infill (I did 45%) and triangle infill patern. Everything else can be printed with 100% infill except the bottom plate which doesn't have to withstand tons of force. you might be able to loose some weight by printing the camera protector with less infill but I wouldn't recommend it because It protects the camera when you crash.
DESIGN FEATURES OF THE FRAME
The frame is a 240mm X frame with individually replaceable arms. It also has staggered motors meaning the rear motors are elevates by 5mm from the front motors. This reduces the amount of prop wash felt by the back motors and is preferable for racing, however some acro pilots don't like having this. That said a 5mm stagger isn't very much. I fly both acro and racing and I cant tell the difference between this and a frame with even motors. The stagger is more of a design feature than a flight features. Having the back arms raised allows the arms to fit together the way they do. That swooping motion makes the arm think strong at the base with a thin end that reduces any flexing in the joints. One of my design requirements for this frame was that every arm had to be individually removable for easy replacement.
Bolts & assembly
The frame is designed to get bolted together with 6-32 bolts. You will probably have to drill out the holes because I designed them slightly small so that it works with different 3d printers. You need to bolt down the electrical components of the drone before you assemble the frame. You cannot put your FC bolts in once the arms are on. The four arms get sandwiched between the drone body and the bottom plate and bolted together with six, 1.5" 6-32 bolts. The nuts sit in the body and the bottom plate has groves for washers. I would suggest dropping all the nuts into their groves and then put some tape over them to hold them in. This gets a lot harder after you've installed your flight components. The canopy and camera protector get bolted to the body with three 2" 6-32 bolts. The antenna adapter gets bolted to the canopy with one 1/4" 6-32 bolt (no washer)
The camera protector is designed specifically for my camera (link below) although I image it would work for others. If not it would be fairly easy to design a camera protector for whatever camera you have. The notches on the insides are for setting your camera angle they start as 0 degrees and go up in increments of 5 degrees.
The canopy opens by undoing the bolt between the canopy and the camera guard.
The antenna adapter attaches to the back of the canopy. It holds an antenna with an
SMA connection for your video transmitter. The slots at the bottom are for two zip ties. their angled at 45 degrees (90 from each other) for two whip antennas for the receiver.
The body has holes for a flight controller in the front with 30x30mm bolt holes and a PDB in the back with 30x30mm bolt holes. You can stack your other components on top of those.
The frame has an over slung battery which I found has the best center of gravity in line with the front propellers. It also has slots for two Velcro straps which is nice. I also glue Velcro to the tops of my batteries because without them the batteries can slide out the front in a crash.
The frame alone weighs 292 grams including the nuts and bolts. This is probably the biggest reason people don't use 3D printed frames with some carbon fibre weighing less than 100 grams. In order to make a 3D printed frame crash resistant it has to be a lot bulkier. But I've never flown carbon fibre so I don't know what I'm missing. Most of the weight is in the arms but I'm sure there's things I could do to reduce the weight. Let me know if you have any suggestion in the comments. The total weight of my drone is 550 grams without a battery.
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