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3D Printed Drone DIY list of drones to make using a 3D printer from Thingiverse

3D Printed Drones from Thingiverse Worth Making

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In this article, we’re going to explore 3D printed drones that you can build from Thingiverse. Even though DJI just released a new drone, the DJI Mavic Air 2, you might be looking for a DIY drone that you can build yourself. The latest model will set you back $799; however, you can spend half of that, and build a drone from start to finish by 3D printing components and purchasing the electronics.

Don’t get me wrong, building a 3D printed drone will not give you the same quality as buying a drone through an OEM. And, if you’re planning on using a drone for photography or videography, then buying the new DJI Mavic Air 2 makes a heck of a lot more sense.

However, if you’re looking fr a new hobby, then building one will give you a lot of hands-on experience working with mechatronic components.

Plus, you can truly customize your drone, which makes flying especially rewarding once it’s built.

Sale
DJI Mavic Air 2 - Drone Quadcopter UAV with 48MP...
Video Capture Resolution: 4K Hd
$799.00 −$95.88 $703.12

You’ll need a 3D Printer to Print a Drone

Not to state the obvious, but you’ll need a 3D printer to print a drone. You can outsource prints (we do this) or use sites like 3D Hubs to get parts 3D printed.

However, if you plan on doing a lot of projects, it might make more sense to just buy a printer.

While this isn’t a guide on how to 3D print (we have one of those here), or a reference on which 3D printers you should buy, I did want to mention a couple of solid options for a few affordable and mid-range 3D printers.

If you’re printing drone components (or really anything), I highly recommend getting a 3D printer with a large build area.

An affordable choice is the Creality Ender 3. If you have a bit more budget to spend, then I recommend checking out the QIDI TECH X-MAX or the Sindoh 3DWOX 1.

Remember, if you’re new to 3D printing, there will be a learning curve associated with getting quality prints. So, I don’t recommend tackling drone building and 3D printing simultaneously unless you have a lot of patience!

And, don’t forget a few spools of PLA or PETG! I’m a fan of Hatchbox and Gizmo Dorks. Feel free to get whatever colors you like the most!

1. T4 Quadcopter Drone

A popular choice for 3D printed drones on Thingiverse is the T4 Quadcopter by Brendan22. While this project was created in 2014, it’s had over 51 makes and 37 remixes.

3D printed drones from Thingiverse DIY quadrotor with camera
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Photo Credit: T4 Quadcopter Drone by Brendan22 is licensed under the CC BY-NC 4.0

The T4 Quadcopter is a completely 3D printable without any supports and is very simple to assemble. The strong and braced tube section arms have plenty of space to conceal motor wiring.

You can even attach a GoPro mount on the nose! Grab the files and build this 3D printed drone from Thingiverse.

2. Hovership 3DFLY Micro Drone

Next on the list is the Hovership 3DFLY Micro Drone. If you’re looking for a hand-sized drone that’s perfect for beginners, then you’ll want to check out this option. Additionally, its small size makes it a great option if you have a small print bed. (100x100mm is all that’s required.)

3D printed drone Thingiverse Hovership 3DFLY mini drone
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Photo Credit: Hovership 3DFLY Micro Drone by Hovership is licensed under the CC BY-NC 4.0

Once you have this project built, you can fly the Hovership Micro Drone indoors or outside. Be sure to take your time, as this project does require some basic soldering skills and set up on the computer. The 3DFLY Micro Drone kit is out of stock on GetFPV.com, however, they do have a list of components that you’ll need to complete the drone. A lot of these components can be purchased on Amazon.

Hobbypower 8520 Coreless Brushed Motor Set...
Operating Voltage: 3-5V; Speed: 31,500 RPM with 3V Voltage; 53,000 RPM with 5V Voltage; Motor Diameter: 8..5mm; Motor Length: 20mm
$9.99
FrSky XSR 2.4GHz 16CH ACCST Receiver S-Bus CPPM...
Number of channels: 16(S-Bus) : 8(CPPM); RSSI output: analog voltage output (0~3.3V); Operating Range: >1.5km (Full Range)
$39.99

Get the 3D files from Thingiverse.

3. TinyTina 90m – Mini Drone

The TinyTina is a mini drone that is ready for standard 20x20mm flight stacks and can be used with an FPV camera. Out of all of the 3D printed drones, this one offers the most comprehensive tutorial guide.

3D printed drone Thingiverse TinyTina
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Photo Credit: TinyTina 90mm – Mini Drone Frame by jnscz is licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0

While you’re not saving a ton of money by building this particular drone—it’ll cost you just under $300 plus your time—you will gain a wealth of knowledge about drones by creating your own.

Plus, this 3D printed mini quadcopter comes in at 90mm, which makes it suitable for both indoor and outdoor flying.

Grab the files for TinyTina from Thingiverse.

Electronic Components You Need to Complete a DIY Drone

There are obvious components you’ll need when making a DIY 3D printed drone. Propellers, motors, batteries, ESCs, flight controllers, and an RC Transmitter to name a few.

Let’s take a look at each of these components.

Flight Controller (FC)

The Flight Controller controls all of the onboard electronics on your drone. It’s similar to an Arduino and includes a processor, firmware, and on-board sensors (Gyros, Accelerometers, GPS, Barometer, Current sensors, etc). You can find FCs in a variety of PCB footprints.

For 220 sized quadcopters, you’ll find 30.5×30.5mm spacing as a standard. For 70-130 sized quadcopters, 20x20mm spacing is fairly common. You can connect external components to a Flight Controller using solder, header pins, and connectors.

Here are some FCs worth checking out:

DYS F4 Mini Flight Control,Flight Controller FC...
★STM32F405 master with higher refresh rate and more function ports; ★Dimension:33mm*30mm/Hole distance:20*20mm/Net weight:6g without cable
$30.53

Electronic Speed Controller (ESC)

The ESC connects the flight controller and the motor.

Each brushless motor on the drone requires an ESC. This is because brushless motors because they lack the brush that acts as a commutator, which uses physical contact to spin the motor. The ESC provides an external way to convert the signal from the flight controller and power from the battery for motor control.

Here are some ESCs worth researching:

Sale
iFlight SucceX-E 45A BLHeli_S 4-in-1 ESC 2-6s...
The STM32F051 is combined with high-performance 3-in-1 driver; Rational layout design with extended solder pads ensures easy builds, fixes or adjustments
$38.99 −$3.00 $35.99
Sale
Crazepony 4pcs BLHeli_32 35A ESC 2-5S Electronic...
Choose your favorite BGM music to remind you where your drone is.
$59.99 −$10.00 $49.99

Propellers

Propellers are the blades that lift the drone in a forward direction, providing a force known as thrust. On a drone, you’ll have two propellers that rotate in the clockwise (CW) direction and two propellers that rotate in the counter-clockwise (CCW) direction.

Here’s what that looks like on the drone.

drone prop rotation diagram
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Photo Credit: hobbyrc

You’ll notice that there are CW and CCW propellers. Make sure that your CW propellers are mounted on CW motors and vice versa.

Motors

Motors provide the electromechanical power from the control board and the battery to the propellers. The motors are attached to the flight controller (FC). For small drones, you’ll see that 8.5mm and 11mm diameter brushed motors are pretty common.

drone brushless motors for DIY quadrotor
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Photo Credit: “IMG_0300” by xunil96 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

On a drone, there are four motors. Two rotate CW and two rotate CCW. On each set of motors, there’s a set of corresponding push and pull propellers. Ideally, you’ll want to generate enough thrust that’s at least double the drone’s weight. (A 1:3 ratio tends to be a sweet spot, but racing drones tend to go much higher than that.)

8pcs 8520 Motor 8.5x20mm 15000KV Brushed Motors...
Basic Edition 15000KV / 49,000 RPM3.2V; Shaft diameter: 1.0mm, Motor Diameter: 8.5mm, Motor Length: 20mm, With 1.25mm JST Plug
$16.99

Drone Batteries

To power the motors, you’ll need a battery. However, if you want to spin the motors faster and longer, you need a larger battery, which then adds more weight to the drone. This makes it an infinite loop of determining the best power-to-weight ratio for drone agility.

RC Transmitter

The RC Transmitter is what you’ll use to “fly” or control the drone. While there are many types of RC radios on the market, it’s difficult to choose the best one to buy.

GoolRC Flysky FS-i6 AFHDS 2A 2.4GHz 6CH Radio...
Reliable, interference free 2.4GHz AFHDS2A signal operation.; Use only 4*AA batteries for transmitter.
$54.99
FrSky Upgraded Taranis Q X7S with M7 Hall Sensor...
Hall sensor M7 gimbal Receiver match Support wireless trainer function; Audio speech outputs (values, alarms, settings, etc.) Real-time flight data logging

If you’re a beginner (and not sure that you want to play with drones forever), then you may want to stick with a simple 6-channel option. You can get better RC radios with 10-channels. In this case, price dictates quality, so if you plan on getting into drone racing, then it’s better to invest in a better radio at the beginning.

Cheaper RC transmitters use FlySKY protocol, but you’ll often see FrSKY and DSM-X protocols as well. Just make sure you choose a receiver that’s compatible with the same protocol as your transmitter.

Camera and FPV Goggles

Some drones also have built-in cameras. You can add a camera to collect images or video footage. Or, you can use the camera for First Person View (FPV) for drone racing and leisure.

what is FPV look like on a drone
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Photo Credit: TinyTina 90mm – Mini Drone Frame by jnscz is licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0

If you have a set of FPV goggles, then you can wear them while you’re piloting your drone, as if you were sitting in the cockpit! This makes flying drones a lot more interactive and a lot of fun!

5.8Ghz FPV Goggles, ARRIS VR-009 Video Headset...
Small size and light weight, only 183g, easy to carry and more comfortable to wear.; Double antenna reception to make the signal more stable.
$49.98
AKK A1 Mini 5.8Ghz 25mW VTX Raceband 600TVL 1/4...
Super light weight:4.5g, Small size: 18.7*13mm(L*W); 4-leaf antenna for better signal transmission, easy to install. Installs in seconds

Additional Parts and Tools

Finally, you’ll also need cable ties, Velcro, adhesives, assorted hand tools, and fasteners.

Time to Build Your 3D Printed Drone

Once you have the design selected, and the components ordered, it’s time to get to work!

Go through the design guides and build your 3D printed drone. Don’t rush the process! You’ll want to make sure that the motors are rotating in the correct direction and the right props (CW and CCW) are attached to the correct motors.

After you have your drone built, place it on the ground, and gently raise the throttle. Keep the drone low, and keep it flying safely. You should start to see it taking off at about 30% throttle.

If you’re new to piloting drones, they have a lot more power (and are more agile) than you think.

Also, as the pilot, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you stay out of inaccessible and restricted air spaces. Make sure you follow all local laws and regulations.

And, most of all, take things slowly, and remember to have fun with it!

Which one of these drones are you going to 3D print?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

And, if you enjoyed this article, please share it on your favorite Social Media platform!

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