Introducing Firefly Mark One - First 3D Designed and Printable Quad Frame

For those who haven't seen my previous blog here's some background on what this project involves.

The goal of this project is to prove that it is possible to print a miniQuad on a 3D printer at a reasonable price.  This frame was designed using the excellent 3D modelling program Blender 3D.  It would then be manufactured using a 3D printing service  By using this printing service it becomes available for the public to order their own copies of this frame.

I am now one step closer to that goal.  Over the holidays, I received the printed frame from Shapeways, and assembled it.  Unfortunately, I need a few more parts, like additional motors, propellers, and batteries, before first flight.

My assessment so far is that, the strength and weight of the frame is more than adequate for flight.  The plastic used has a small amount of flex, which should help to survive hard landings, but is stiff enough to keep the shape of the quad.

I have decided to dub this frame Firefly Mark One!

The following is major components for this project:

1 x Firefly Mark One Frame from

4 x 18-11 2000kv Micro Brushless Outrunner (10g)

4 x HobbyKing Red Brick 10A ESC

2 x GWS HD8040 3 Blade Prop Counter Rotate (2pc)

2 x GWS HD8040 3 Blade Prop (2pc pack)

1 x Turnigy nano-tech 950mah 2S 25~50C Lipo Pack

For those who always ask, "How much does it cost and where can I get one?":

I've placed all the parts of the Firefly Mark One frame in my shop on, for public viewing.  You can look at each model in 3D, spinning it around for better viewing. 

The Firefly Mark One will come in at a cost of under $100, the long arm version of the frame (25.7 cm motor-motor), including the hub, 4 arms, battery holder, and APM mounting plate. Electronics, and mounting hardware not included, of course, since I can't print nuts and bolts.

Flight videos and tuning parameters coming, as soon as I get my parts from HobbyKing.

Would love to get any feedback from the community, before making it publicly available for ordering.

Views: 1627

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 3, 2012 at 9:23pm

Delighted you did this! My vote would be for making it a bit bigger. Got any pictures of the "long arm" version?

Comment by Ellison Chan on January 3, 2012 at 9:30pm

Here's the link to the long arm version, Chris:

I just extended the arms to accommodate larger props.  Actually it can be any size you want, since it can accept TREX 450 tail booms, and I have already designed motor mounts for it.  The integrated arms get a little expensive, if I make them too long.  Part of the design compromise.  Beside, it's supposed to be a mini quad.

Comment by Red Goldman on January 3, 2012 at 9:30pm


Comment by Ellison Chan on January 3, 2012 at 9:33pm

The new version now can accepts 8 arms, for an Octocopter.  Of course one would need to use longer arms to get enough prop clearance.

Comment by Ellison Chan on January 3, 2012 at 9:37pm

Hey Chris, where can I get the dimensions for APM 2?  I'd like to add a mounting plate for it, since it's an excellent controller for this mini quad.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 3, 2012 at 9:44pm

Ellison: the APM 2 Eagle files are here, which will give you the exact dimensions. 

Comment by Ezra Zygmuntowicz on January 4, 2012 at 4:54am

Are you providing STL files for this model anywhere for those of us with our own 3d printers? Or do we have to buy one from shape ways?

Comment by Ellison Chan on January 4, 2012 at 6:51am

Hi Ezra, no plans to give the STLs away at this stage.  If there's enough demand, I'll open it up for people to buy on Shapeways.  Most people who have their own 3D printers, usually want to design their own stuff.  That's the point of getting such an expensive piece of equipment, no?

Comment by Ellison Chan on January 16, 2012 at 8:28am

Just a small update on status:

I am still waiting on motors from HK.  I anticipate their arrival this week.

Meanwhile, while waiting, I have added APM2.0 mounting support for Firefly, with a new mounting plate,  The mounting plate now support APM1.0, APM2.0, and KKMulticopter boards.

And the centre hub has a new embossed logo. and rather than having integrated spacer on all the mounting points, I've decided to print separate spacers.


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