Round tubes offer the following pros:
- handle twist better than square tubes. Thus for the strength, are far lighter.
- are more readily available (pipes, tubes, arrows, kite frames, golf clubs and sticks of all materials).
- easier to cut (square tubing can twist and be damaged by cutting forces)
- easier to peg (fits into a drilled hole and easy to find extenders)
- less expensive
Round tubes are thought to have the following cons:
- difficult to mount motors
- difficult to join
None of the cons are real if you know how to work with tubes. Mounting round tubes to motors is easier and faster than with square tubing. Round tubes are also faster and easier to join together. The resulting joins are also far lighter and better.
In the H-frame forum, I was asked to share these build techniques so have decided to demonstrate the methods on the most complex multi-copter one can build, an Octa-V. I'll do this step by step. The result will be a multi-copter that reduces frame, screw, gusset, and motor mount weights by more than 40%.
The steps will be Design, Assembly, Charmin Test, and Flight Test
Installment 1: Design
First, both simple and complex multi-copters share something in common. When using round tubes for arms, there is no reason to cut a perfectly good tube in half for each arm. And then add a bunch of weight and fasteners to hold the halves together. How this is done will become evident in the third installment, the Charmin Test. For now, just know that each tube is continuous (no breaks, no joins). Opposite rotors share the same boom in a quad, hexa, or octa. All of those fasteners are gone. The cross beams on a V or H are also continuous. Assembly and disassembly is quick.
Most quads are so simple that one grabs two pieces of wood the same size and slap them together. Done. If the angle of view isn't good, just move the camera forward a bit. But, if you want to know the exact length of a quad boom based on prop diameter and platform size so you can minimize weight to get longer flights, then I've attached a worksheet that does the math.
An Octa V is a bit more complex. It is specifically used for camera work. So you need to optimize the motor boom angle and aspect ratio of the frame to achieve the desired Field-of-View for the camera (void of propellers), It also uses 8 motors so that if one dies, the copter can return to the ground with the $12K of camera/lens in tact. You also need to minimize platform vibration, so the platform needs to be large enough for the electronics, gimbal mount, and at least 1.2" (30mm) from the prop radius.
I've attached an Excel worksheet that does all of the calculations for optimizing weight. There is an instruction sheet if you want to ever build one and calculations for a Quad X, Quad +, Quad Spider, and Octa V.
The next installment will be Assembly.
P.S. I'm not experienced nor am I an expert. I'm just a tinkerer like many of you. There are builders out there with far more experience and wisdom. I'm hoping that this blog will allow us all to share ideas on building strong, fast, and light not only for initial build, but also for crash repair.