Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Milling & 3D Printing Your Own Drone From Scratch

Being an obsessive maker of machines that make things was what eventually pushed me to make my homemade hexacopter drone.   As I detailed in an earlier blog post, I used my Shapeoko CNC router to cut many of the parts I needed from Dibond.

I did not really like the motor mounts that were cut so I decided to look at what the world of 3D-printed motor mounts held for me when I came upon this brilliant parametric design by pwnas on Thingiverse:

I printed six of them in black PLA plastic.  Between what I could make myself with the CNC router and the 3D printer, I had all the frame and landing gear parts that I needed except for motor boom arms.  I bought 6 Aluminum booms from Hobby King for less than a dollar each.  With all the frame parts in hand, I then acquired the following electronic and other components:

  • HKPilot flight controller
  • Flight controller power module
  • GPS module
  • 9-channel radio transmitter/receiver
  • 6 motors
  • 6 electronic speed controllers
  • 6 carbon fiber propellers
Of course I also needed to make use of screws and nylon standoffs.  In the end, I was very happy with the results:

Upside down

It needs just a little more tweaking before it will be ready for its maiden voyage.  I can't wait to see what I'll be able to do with flying heavy lifter!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Hexacopter drone assembled: Almost there!

I'm just about there.  I assembled the the home CNC machined frame and landing gear.  I wired all the electronics including the 6 motors, electronic speed controlers, ARDUpilot flight controller, GPS and radio receiver.  I'm having trouble binding my transmitter to my receiver but assuming I can get over this hump, I should have this bad boy in the air by tomorrow!

More shortly...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Scrambling to finish my drone before the holidays

I started building my drone a while ago.  I cut many of its parts with my home-made Shapeoko derivative CNC router.  I was flying high for a while as work piled up and I decided to put it aside.  I now pick it up.  I am a little ashamed that it took me so long to get my soldering iron heated up but I reached that crisis point today, with the hope that I will be launching my hexacopter drone on its inaugural flight on this holiday week.  This is one of its 6 arms complete with carbon fiber propeller:

Each arm had 9 connections to be soldered.  I made it a day and got the rest done:

I now need to get this heavy lifter in the air.  I know a bit about Arduino and less about ARDUPilot but I am psyched that I may successfully launch my first homemade drone in the coming days.