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Old 02-20-2013, 03:21 PM   #371
therivermonster OP
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Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Tacoma, WA
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Project #8: Designing and Building a Multicopter Frame

Of course this is a motorcycle forum, but this is a thread about composites and how that stuff is made. To be more specific and further from the pourpose of this forum, this project has everything to do with radio controlled awesomeness.

If you are into the RC scene at all, than chances are you have heard of multicopters, quadcopters, and the like. To put it simply, they are not your grand dad's, or even your dad's RC toy. They are computer driven, complex machines that fly like never before.

If you aren't into the RC scene, follow this thread and you will be soon.

Quadcopters have traditionally been simple platfors or frames with a few key pieces of electronics mounted to the hub with 3, 4, 6, or 8 arms radiating out from the center. At the end of each of these arms is an eletric motor with a fixed pitch propeller.

Pilots of these craft are keen to strap on micro video cameras that transmit the video back to the pilot allowing them to fly the copter as if they were sitting in the pilots seat. This is very awesome tech, and it works very well for less money than you might think.

Check out this video to see what this F-irst P-erson V-iew, or FPV flying is all about.


Right about now you might be saying to yourself, "hey, that look a lot like them there drones they been talkin' about on the news lately". This quote is in fact exactly what the news has been talking about. These things are real, little "drones".

Enough with the intro; let's get down to the meat of it.

Like I mentioned before, historically multicopters have been built around simple frames. Glue some sticks together, slap on some motors, a battery and a receiver and you're good to go. But what if it rains? What if you crash in water, or if you just want to land in the water? What if you want something more substantial to look at than a few sticks flying around? "Hey Joe, did you just see them sticks fly by?" If you're the guy flying that multicopter just then, you might feel really bad that those guys weren't the least bit impressed with your state of the art flying machine. Don't fret, man! If you're that guy, we're working on the solution for you.

Now it is important to keep in mind that there are a small number of people out there that have built enclosed frames for multirotors before. Generally, from my research, they have done a fair job, but I see a number of ways that they could improve on their designs and darnit, I'm going to try.

My goals for this project are:
-design a frame that will be easy enough to install electonics into.
-make it from scratch. This means building the plug, making a mold, infusing the parts, and assembeling the final parts.
-I want it to look like a 'drone' in my eyes. Not like some toy that has a fake cockpit with a little dude flying around inside of it. I want it to look like the government is watching you from the treetops while you eat your chicken picknick at the park. You get the idea.
-I want it to be light, solid, and fast.
-I want it to float. It would be very cool to be able to land this thing in water, and I think that I can do that without too much trouble. The motors can get wet and fly just fine BTW.

That's the list so far, but I may add to it, or delete items depending on how well this build goes.

Let's get down to the build.

I want to make this plug out of MDF for a couple of reasons. First let me say that I have never worked with MDF in this capacity, so it's all new to me and a great learning experience.

MDF is easy to shape, but not too easy to shape. I made the handguard deflectors from foam, and I really like the foam, but you can get carried away with shaping it and shave too much off. So MDF slows you down in this respect. It also comes in sheets that you can glue together and cut with a band saw for example to get a rough shape.

I wanted to conduct a little test to see how the MDF was to cut and shape. I made a little paper template in the shape of what I thought a multicopter fuse would look like. It in fact turned out to look more like a bar of soap in the rough shape of the Star Ship Enterprise, but I digress.

I spray glued the paper template down to one piece of MDF, then spray glued the two pieces of MDF together. From there I cut out the rough shape of the paper template with the jig saw. Once the rough shape was cut out, I sanded to the lines on the paper. Then I went at it with sand paper and the Dremel tool.

This is what I ended up with.




The MDF cuts and shapes so nicely. I'll be using it to make our multicopter plug, and many more plugs in the future. However it is super dusty, so if you can, do your shaping outside.

Once I was done with my test shaping, I gently pried the two pieces appart at the spray glued joint.


From here, you could glue the two halves down to a nice smooth surface, primer and polish, apply mold release, lay your mold, and when you pull your mold you'll have two molds of each half of the part. Lay these parts up, trim them, glue them together and you have a finished part.


That's the jist of this project. We'll make the plugs, make the molds, make the parts, and hopefully end up with an awesome little flying machine.

Stay tuned...
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therivermonster screwed with this post 02-20-2013 at 05:35 PM
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