• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

mpbiv's 3D Printed Folding Tricopter: a work in progress

#1
Just thought I would share my current project. It is still a work in progress as the thread title suggests.

What I wanted to do was build a small folding tricopter that was made mostly of 3D printed parts. Unlike my previous Hybrid G10/3D Printed Tricopter, which was printed by Shapeways, this design will use parts printed at home using my Printrbot Simple Metal (w/heated bed upgrade). The idea is to create something which I can fly agressively, while having easy access to replacement parts by printing them at home.

As such, the design of the parts has been simplified compared to my other 3D printed tricopter in order to help reduce print times and eliminate support material where possible. I have also decided to use easy to acquire carbon tubing for the front arms (from Rockwest Composites).

Construction: FDM 3D Printed PLA main frame, woven carbon front arms
Frame size: ~250mm
Props: HQProp 6045
Motors: Cobra 2204 2300kv
ESCs: RTFQ 4in1 12A HV ESC(s)
Yaw Servo: Hitec HS-45B
Flight Controller: Acro Naze32
Battery: Multirotor Superstore 1300mAh 3S 45/90c
Flight Cam: Sony Super HAD CCD 600TVL (PZ0420)
VTX: TS5823 5.8GHz 200mW
RC RX: Futaba R2106GF 6ch FHSS
RC TX: Futaba 14SG(H)

Here is what I have so far:
IMG_0602.JPG
The Naze32 and the SunnySky 2204 are really just for mockup purposes. I have new motors and a new Naze32 without pins in the mail.

With the arms snapped into their flight position:
IMG_0603.JPG

Printed tail boom with servo pocket, still working on finalizing the tilt design:
IMG_0604.JPG

Closeup of the pivot/snap design on the front arms:
IMG_0605.JPG
I had some bearings laying around from another project that never got used, so I overbuilt the pivot :rolleyes:. I plan to reprint the orange parts in the same transparent yellow PLA I used for the frame parts. This PLA is super bright as the pictures show. The carbon tubes will be epoxied into the 3D printed pivots on this end.

View of the clamshell motor mounts:
IMG_0606.JPG
The motor mounts will also be reprinted in transparent yellow PLA. They are designed so that they clamp around the tube when you tighten the motor down. Motor wires will run through the carbon tubes as shown to the inboard mounted ESC.

This is pretty much what I have done so far, but there will be revisions along the way. Once the camera and vtx get here, I am going to work on integrating a "FPV Pod" using the blue vibration dampers shown in the first picture. I have a rough idea of how I am going to do this, but I need the parts here first to take some measurements.

I am also going to try and mount the Naze inside the frame plate with the ESC if possible. I plan to keep making thread updates as I go.
 

Twitchity

Senior Member
#3
I remember when you showed me those orange printed parts which seems like so long ago now. I had completely forgotten about then until I saw this thread. I really like that yellow PLA you're using, would you mind saying where you got it from?

My tricopter update could benefit from that orange PLA too. So many colors to choose from with these printers that it hurts just to think about it.

Looking forward to seeing more updates to this build.
 

jipp

Senior Member
#4
Just thought I would share my current project. It is still a work in progress as the thread title suggests.

What I wanted to do was build a small folding tricopter that was made mostly of 3D printed parts. Unlike my previous Hybrid G10/3D Printed Tricopter, which was printed by Shapeways, this design will use parts printed at home using my Printrbot Simple Metal (w/heated bed upgrade). The idea is to create something which I can fly agressively, while having easy access to replacement parts by printing them at home.

As such, the design of the parts has been simplified compared to my other 3D printed tricopter in order to help reduce print times and eliminate support material where possible. I have also decided to use easy to acquire carbon tubing for the front arms (from Rockwest Composites).

Construction: FDM 3D Printed PLA main frame, woven carbon front arms
Frame size: ~250mm
Props: HQProp 6045
Motors: Cobra 2204 2300kv
ESCs: RTFQ 4in1 12A HV ESC(s)
Yaw Servo: Hitec HS-45B
Flight Controller: Acro Naze32
Battery: Multirotor Superstore 1300mAh 3S 45/90c
Flight Cam: Sony Super HAD CCD 600TVL (PZ0420)
VTX: TS5823 5.8GHz 200mW
RC RX: Futaba R2106GF 6ch FHSS
RC TX: Futaba 14SG(H)

Here is what I have so far:
View attachment 41497
The Naze32 and the SunnySky 2204 are really just for mockup purposes. I have new motors and a new Naze32 without pins in the mail.

With the arms snapped into their flight position:
View attachment 41498

Printed tail boom with servo pocket, still working on finalizing the tilt design:
View attachment 41499

Closeup of the pivot/snap design on the front arms:
View attachment 41500
I had some bearings laying around from another project that never got used, so I overbuilt the pivot :rolleyes:. I plan to reprint the orange parts in the same transparent yellow PLA I used for the frame parts. This PLA is super bright as the pictures show. The carbon tubes will be epoxied into the 3D printed pivots on this end.

View of the clamshell motor mounts:
View attachment 41501
The motor mounts will also be reprinted in transparent yellow PLA. They are designed so that they clamp around the tube when you tighten the motor down. Motor wires will run through the carbon tubes as shown to the inboard mounted ESC.

This is pretty much what I have done so far, but there will be revisions along the way. Once the camera and vtx get here, I am going to work on integrating a "FPV Pod" using the blue vibration dampers shown in the first picture. I have a rough idea of how I am going to do this, but I need the parts here first to take some measurements.

I am also going to try and mount the Naze inside the frame plate with the ESC if possible. I plan to keep making thread updates as I go.

looks like a great little tri, i sure wish i had a plastic printer at times, looks like you can do all kinds of cool things with one. especially considering everything is made of plastic these days. :p

i also like the carbon you use. dunno, carbon always has that cool look going for it.. not to mention light, stiff and strong. attributes we need and use in so much of our life products. :p
chris.
 
#5
I remember when you showed me those orange printed parts which seems like so long ago now. I had completely forgotten about then until I saw this thread. I really like that yellow PLA you're using, would you mind saying where you got it from?

My tricopter update could benefit from that orange PLA too. So many colors to choose from with these printers that it hurts just to think about it.

Looking forward to seeing more updates to this build.
I don't mind sharing that info, it's from one of the manufacturers you already use I think. I bought the filament from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/3D-Solutech-F...8&qid=1424801544&sr=8-42&keywords=3d+solutech

http://www.amazon.com/3D-Solutech-F...8&qid=1424801544&sr=8-43&keywords=3d+solutech

Unfortunately it's not available right now, and it is no longer listed on 3D Solutech's page, so maybe they stopped making it? That would be a real bummer because I really like the yellow now that I have tried it. I just cracked open the 1kg spool of the transparent yellow this weekend. I still have about 2/3 a 1kg spool of the transparent orange, and a full 1kg spool of transparent red which is still sealed.

The orange is pretty cool too, I've made a few useless things with it for fun:
IMG_0607.JPG

If you need some of the transparent orange for your build and cannot find any, send me a text or e-mail.
 

jipp

Senior Member
#6
I don't mind sharing that info, it's from one of the manufacturers you already use I think. I bought the filament from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/3D-Solutech-F...8&qid=1424801544&sr=8-42&keywords=3d+solutech

http://www.amazon.com/3D-Solutech-F...8&qid=1424801544&sr=8-43&keywords=3d+solutech

Unfortunately it's not available right now, and it is no longer listed on 3D Solutech's page, so maybe they stopped making it? That would be a real bummer because I really like the yellow now that I have tried it. I just cracked open the 1kg spool of the transparent yellow this weekend. I still have about 2/3 a 1kg spool of the transparent orange, and a full 1kg spool of transparent red which is still sealed.

The orange is pretty cool too, I've made a few useless things with it for fun:
View attachment 41509

If you need some of the transparent orange for your build and cannot find any, send me a text or e-mail.
how long would it take to print the little robot guy? i know nothing about 3d printers and plastic build up.

well i know a little bit from the ben hack show.. about it tho.
chris
 
#7
looks like a great little tri, i sure wish i had a plastic printer at times, looks like you can do all kinds of cool things with one. especially considering everything is made of plastic these days. :p

i also like the carbon you use. dunno, carbon always has that cool look going for it.. not to mention light, stiff and strong. attributes we need and use in so much of our life products. :p
chris.
You'd be surprised how well even some of the cheaper 3D printers work when properly setup.

I was holding out on buying one because I really wanted to save for a $2500 Ultimaker 2, but after I saw what Twitchity was able to do with his Printrbot simple, I didn't want to wait any longer to start 3D printing. I purchased my Printrbot Simple Metal through Amazon for about $540 and that seems pretty affordable. I opted for the kit because it was slightly cheaper and it wasn't hard to assemble.

The ability to upgrade the machine also sold me on the idea, because it allowed me to start printing now, and add more accessories and capabilities later down the road when I have extra money to do so. I've already upgraded to a heated build platform, which makes it easier to print PLA since I don't have to prep the bed with blue painters tape. It also allows me to print ABS. Last night I installed an LCD screen and controller, so now I can run the printer without a laptop/computer.

It's become a little bit of a project on its own, but I've enjoyed building it, and it is so nice to be able to design and print things when I want.
 

Greg2B

Senior Member
#8
Your tri looks so cool, I want. But yeh this seems like an awesome build you have going, the carbon does add a nice look. I think it's really cool now that so many more people it seems are doing small Tri's when just not too long ago doing a small one seem either very hard or no one was producing frames.

Your printer is one that I have been eyeing to get for a while to get after I gave up on a kickstarter 3D printer I supported a while ago. If I can build my own Tri like yours I might have to go for it when I have the $ again.

Look forward to your updates.
 
#9
how long would it take to print the little robot guy? i know nothing about 3d printers and plastic build up.

well i know a little bit from the ben hack show.. about it tho.
chris
I don't remember exactly how long it took, but I want to say somewhere around 30mins. It depends a lot of layer height. When I started out I was printing everything with .1mm layer heights, which gives a very nice finish, but tends to take a long time. Now I print pretty much everything at .2mm layer heights which is twice as fast and perfectly fine for most stuff. All the tricopter parts in this thread were printed at .2mm layer height.
 
#10
Your tri looks so cool, I want. But yeh this seems like an awesome build you have going, the carbon does add a nice look. I think it's really cool now that so many more people it seems are doing small Tri's when just not too long ago doing a small one seem either very hard or no one was producing frames.

Your printer is one that I have been eyeing to get for a while to get after I gave up on a kickstarter 3D printer I supported a while ago. If I can build my own Tri like yours I might have to go for it when I have the $ again.

Look forward to your updates.
I think all the small Tri's are cool too! I think the reason no one was really building small tri's is because not many people were familiar with the Naze32 settings for tricopter (because it seems to be the defacto "go to" FC for minis), nor how to tune the yaw on smaller tricopters.

I've actually been flying my large Fortis Titan Tri on a full Naze32 board for over 6 months now. Once I got everything configured for tricopter it wasn't hard to tune because I pretty much just applied the PID's Fortis Airframes recommended for the MultiWii and went from there. With the smaller tricopters, the yaw is just a less dampened, you really have to fine tune it, and there isn't a lot of experience/or information out on the web to pull from as a starting point like with the mini-quads.

It's great that so many are building Mini Tri's now because the information and knowledge base will grow, and I suspect you'll keep seeing more builds and new designs in the future.

Speaking of designs, in the past I've had a few people ask me about releasing the files to the Hybrid G10/Printed tricopter I designed, which I am reluctant to do. Mainly because that was my own pet project and I had a lot of work in creating the models and design. I am still finely tuning that design, and I have an improved version on my work bench already.

For the tricopter I made this thread for, I plan to release all the files and a parts list on Thingiverse when I am finished so anyone can build their own.
 

jipp

Senior Member
#11
mpbiv - thanks for the info. that is a lot cheaper than i originally thought one would cost. and the ability to upgrade one is perfect. it can grow as you grow.. very cool times we live in.. if i was not disabled i know i would have a 3d printer and a CNC machine in my shop. lol. but thats ok, its fun to watch others play and see what they come up with.

the one tri-copter i like is the one that sorta looks like the chopper from avatar. it folds etc.. cant think of the name of it.. but its different than most tri just because the tail kicks up some. anyhow, its smaller to what tri-copters they use on the flight test. and the frame was like 40.00.. so after i learn a whole bunch more.. it will be a project to try.

and you are right. its always good when a bunch of minds have a place to share ideas and can move forward.. so its cool mini tris are the toy to play with now.. i wonder if its because from what im seeing the smaller the platform the more durable.
iv seen some mini 250s take some crazy hits and pretty much end up with just needing a new prop or nothing at all but dust the dirt from it. and i agree that yellow plastic looks good.

chris.
 
#13
I re-printed all the orange parts in transparent yellow the other night and it looks way better. I will have to snap a picture when I get home. I went ahead and glued the plastic pivots to the carbon tubes as well, and that seems to be holding up ok.

I brought it into work with me to show one of my friends, and after playing around with it and flicking the arm into position using the weight of the motor to overcome the detent, we both in unison had the same idea for what to name it. So I think from this point on, I am going to call this project "Switchblade".

I also made a little headway on the design. I have positions for the three vibration dampers defined, and I need to re-print the upper and lower main plates for this. Unfortunately I ran into a small problem with the extruder on my printer last night; the hob gear seems to be grinding the filament instead of feeding it. I suspect the nozzle has a slight clog and I need to clean it out. This has happened once before, so I am guessing that this is a maintainence item I will need to keep on top of regularly.

Yesterday, my FPV camera, VTX, and antenna arrived from multirotorsuperstore.com, so I plan to take some measurements and begin designing the FPV pod this weekend.
 

jipp

Senior Member
#14
sounds good. cant wait to see it. you know its sorta over whelming how much there is to learn with quads compared to a plane ( but i am learning from scratch unlike most tho, so i guess its all good.). but i guess that is what really has my attention. you can geek out on it. perfect nerd toy. :D i found that frame i was talking about. guess it goes by several name but general Y6.
reminds me of the avatar copter for some reason.

avatar copter 1.jpg
 
#15
Pics of the video transmitter and camera for this build!
IMG_0609.JPG

Please excuse the messy work bench, just fiddling with component placement
IMG_0608.JPG

I re-printed the tail section because I had few tolerance issues with the tilt mechanism. But now the tilt mechanism is done and ready for a motor:
IMG_0611.JPG

Playing with component placement again.
IMG_0612.JPG

As the pictures indicate, I have already re-printed several parts, including replacing all the orange parts with yellow parts. I also went ahead and reprinted the top plate and include the hole to mount the single rear vibration damper. I have a file ready to re-print the lower but it was late last night and I needed to swap to black PLA, so I will work on that later.

Basically the new lower plate will have two ears which extend out to where I have the camera in the pictures and it will include two holes to mount the front vibration dampers. The dampers will straddle the camera on the front. My plan is to design the FPV pod so that it mounts to the three dampers and holds both the camera, the video transmitter, and possibly an LC power filter. I will probably also incorporate strap slots to hold a Mobius on top of it, although I don't own a Mobius so that may come later.
 

Twitchity

Senior Member
#16
Looking nice! That's the same vtx I'm now using on my tricopter. What camera did you end up getting? My camera looks like yours, but I can't remember which one I got. I know it's a Sony 600TVL (I want to say this one http://www.surveilzone.com/sony-super-had-ccd-600tvl-fpv-camera-2.1mm-lens-cc1418f) but the picture doesn't match what I have. Mine also has that little capacitor in the bottom corner like yours.

I only ask because I'm having one hell of a time getting a video setting that's worth a damn while flying. I have to constantly adjust the brightness/exposure settings each flight, and even then in the manual settings the brightness seems to change as the flight goes on. In auto mode the image is just too dark.

I also like that antenna, did you make it or purchase it?
 
#18
Looking nice! That's the same vtx I'm now using on my tricopter. What camera did you end up getting? My camera looks like yours, but I can't remember which one I got. I know it's a Sony 600TVL (I want to say this one http://www.surveilzone.com/sony-super-had-ccd-600tvl-fpv-camera-2.1mm-lens-cc1418f) but the picture doesn't match what I have. Mine also has that little capacitor in the bottom corner like yours.

I only ask because I'm having one hell of a time getting a video setting that's worth a damn while flying. I have to constantly adjust the brightness/exposure settings each flight, and even then in the manual settings the brightness seems to change as the flight goes on. In auto mode the image is just too dark.

I also like that antenna, did you make it or purchase it?
Well the specs look very very similar, but I am not sure. I bought this from multirotorsuperstore.com and for some reason I cannot pull up the link right now. They claim it is a PZ0240 Sony Super HAD CCD 600TVL, the thing is I cannot remember if I ordered the one with or without the "IR Block". Honestly I have not read what the difference between the two is but maybe one is better for night flying than the other. I do know mine has the 2.8mm lens. I can check the part number on the box when I get home and let you know.

I haven't tried this camera, or flown with it yet so I have no feedback to give on the best settings. My understanding though was that it is a pretty decent camera, and supposed to be better than a Fat Shark 600TVL. I hope that is true.

Also, I didn't make that antenna, RF design is definitely outside my realm of expertise. It is just a cheap circular polarized unit with a 90* RP-SMA connector which I also bought from multirotorsuperstore. I believe it was ~$15 for the TX/RX pair so I don't expect it to be the best, but better than a rubber ducky antenna. If it proves to be bogus, I'll spring for some Immersion Spironets like I have been running on all my other builds.
 

Twitchity

Senior Member
#19
Thanks for the info. It looks like the same camera I have, but I also can't remember if I got the IR block or not. I'm still using the cheap rubber ducky antenna that came with the vtx so that may be my problem. I've heard great things about the Sony cameras too so that's why I got one.

I have a nice ImmersionRC antenna that I got with my first FPV kit, but no RP-SMA to SMA connector. I guess I should give that a try first before I do anything else.
 

jipp

Senior Member
#20
that looks great in yellow. look forward to hearing how she flys. what do you use for your viewer, a monitor or goggles? i cringe when i see its 400.00 for some.. and i have no idea if id even like goggles over a monitor. but the only other option is the 30.00 diy job from hobbyking. but im not sure if that would work as well as the sharks. but im not gonna worry to much about fpv for now. soon tho, it is on my mind.
chris.