This is an introduction to building your own 3D printed quadcopter drone. You will learn some basic concepts and we’ll introduce you to several step-by-step guides. It’s a relatively easy endeavor cause the guides are so detailed.
What you need to get started
Besides a 3D printer you will need some non-printed parts like the motors to power it, the batteries, some electronics, the sensors, the remote control unit and some basic skills to put everything together.
Why 3D print a quadcopter drone?
That said, you can 3D print the frame and the housing structures. Sometimes you can also print the propellers. Why is this important? Well… drones crash and break. Specially if you are a novice pilot. This picture describes it perfectly:
With 3D printed parts you have an infinite and quick supply of spare parts that will make your pilot training and everyday mishaps easier to handle. Besides easier repair, making a DIY drone will give you much more knowledge about the inner workings and mechanics of your flying machine.
Last but not least, 3D printing utilises the quick development of custom build parts. So let’s say you’ve bought a new camera for your quadcopter drone and you need a new connector. Just dive into your favourite 3D modeling software, print it out and test it. Make changes iterate et cetera.
What is a quadcopter drone?
A quadcopter is a multi-rotor helicopter that is lifted and propelled by four rotors and no tail rotor. It’s the most common form of hobby RC drones.
With their small size and maneuverability, these quadcopter drones can be flown indoors as well as outdoors. Besides that, at a small size, quadcopter drones are cheaper and more durable than conventional helicopters due to their mechanical simplicity.
Below you can see a more detailed overview of quadcopter drone parts of a commercially available top-tier drone used for aerial photography:
Almost everything that is not a motor or an electronic part can be 3D printed. The 3D printed version looks a little bit different:
Besides the visual and aesthetic differences, the 3D printed version is easily upgraded and modular. In the following video Dennis Baldwin explains his 3D printed quadcopter in detail:
How to build your own 3D printed quadcopter drone
If you want to get into building one yourself we have found several entry level projects. Here is a detailed construction guide for a 3D printed quadcopter:
… and this is a build guide for a different type of H-frame drone with a smaller frame:
3D Print a remote control
If you want to 3D print the remote control unit housing and make your own joystick, you have to check out this project:
3D print an insectoid ornithopter
If you are interested in more exotic designs and experiments you could 3D print a small UAV insectoid Ornithopter which flies by wing flapping and not propellers:
Detailed Ornithopter guide: http://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Printed-Ornithopter-Micro-UAV-Drone/
Laws and regulations
Do keep in mind that there are some laws regulating operation of hobby RC UAVs and drones – consult your local regulations. Also stay safe! High flying objects with high speed propellers and inexperienced pilots can cause a lot of damage to people and property.
How to fly a quadcopter drone?
Youtube is filled with “how to fly a quadcopter” instructional videos, so that will be your starting point to figure out the basics. Once you get the basics you can do some amazing stuff like drone racing from point of view!