3D Printed Quad Copter


I finally received my Makerbot Replicator (makerbot.com) and I am VERY impressed. After printing a handful of objects off of Thingiverse and dialing in my printer I promptly began work on my version of 3D printed quadcopter. I had a fair bit of practice using Google Sketchup from time is spent designing a handful of tricopters so naturally I started there. Sketchup is a very powerful program for being free and is very easy to learn, however there are some shortcomings to the program when it comes to 3D printing. I'll cover this in later posts but for now I would just like to show you my progress up until now. The incredible thing about 3D printing is how quickly you can prototype a concept. Sketchup is great for visualizing and object but it can never beat actually being able to hold it in your hand and inspect it. You get the feel of it. The weight of it. You can flex it and bend it. To flimsy? Add more material there. Overbuilt? Remove material here. It is simply incredible, a couple of late nights after work and I pretty much have the arms the way I want them.


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  • For those of you who are interested I posted the Sketchup files that I have so far over at the 3D printing Drone Parts Group.  

  • Here are the .stl files so far. I put it up this morning. It is still a work in progress. With my work schedule I thought it would be better to get this published and let some other people tinker with it. My progress is just moving slowly. If anyone finds and errors or problems with the files please let me know. So far I haven't had any slicing problems in RepG. My Thing

  • Jay, sure thing. You can use any of the photos I've posted here.

  • Jay, moderators don't approve groups, the administrator does.

  • Done, awaiting moderation.  Mike, do mind if I use your pic above?  Seems like the right thing to do since you kicked this off, and it's better than anything I've got.  

  • I guess that's my cue to start a group.  Just as soon as I figure out how to do that with this CMS I'll post a link to it...

  • Wow.  I'm glad that there is a lot of interest in a project like this and 3D printing in general.  Work has been pretty crazy for the last week but I am making some headway on the top and bottom plate and I will post pictures on those soon.  I'm also working on the GoPro mount which will be a tilt platform.  I do plan on posting the sketchup files as soon as I have some time and get the .stl files posted to Thingiverse.  I think having a dedicated page to 3D printing is also a great idea.

  • Jay, there's a lot of interest in 3D printing and drones.  Perhaps you can start a group up, for that.

  • Ah, I see.  From what I've been reading, a lot of the manual tweaking on the TOM has been automated in part on Replicator.  I have a feeling that I've been spoiled in comparison.  Agreed that it's still a black art from model to model, I have a number of models that despite many iterations just don't work.  I've been finding skeinforge to be somewhat a UI disaster.  Powerful but impossible to discern which knobs to fiddle with unless you make it your whole life.  I'm also not pleased with the new makerware closed-source program, some of the features are nice, but it doesn't actually work yet, and I've been less than impressed with makerbot's software production in general.  And closing the source shows a lack of confidence in their own capability   So I've heard tell of some replacement software options from various 3rd parties via kickstarters etc, and I'll be seeing how those pan out.  And/or building another printer.  

    Thinking on it, a "3D printed drone parts" page might not be a horrible idea, or we could just have a #droneparts tag on thingiverse.  

  • Jay, check out thislink, from Dave Durant.  It's a good basis for tuning parameters.

    Basically, from my experience with the TOM, parameters working for one model might not work great for others.  For instance using a small layer height, may be great for large models with long edges.  However, this may not work for smaller models, or models with many small edges.  Printing 3D is a multi-variable problem. 

    Also, I'm not sure I would approve a blog that was purely about 3D printing, without some kind of tie in to drones.  There's plenty of other forums, for that. ;-)

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