3D printing has really turned the custom UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) space into quite the hobby when it comes to new ideas meshing together to create real, flying vehicles of all types. Prior to 3D printing technology, if one were to set out to build a UAV from scratch, it would be almost unbearably frustrating to achieve. With the advent of desktop 3D printing comes the ability to not only model you own parts, but also share those parts with others via open source 3D file repositories such as Thingiverse.
Need a spare part for your Quadcopter? Then download it, and in a matter of hours you will have it laying on your 3D printer’s bed, ready to be put to use. It’s not just spare parts though. We have seen dozens upon dozens of individuals design their own UAVs from the ground up by 3D printing the plastic parts, assembling them, and then adding in the electronics need to make them fly.
For one man, named Richard Hill, 3D printing allowed him to create his very own UAV, a vehicle inspired by his liking for Apache helicopters. Hill, a 30-year-old man who loves to build and design things in his free time, set out to create his very own Apache themed quadcopter.
“The idea came from another 3D printed Quad Called the Hovership,” Hill tells 3DPrint.com. “I downloaded it [from Thingiverse] and printed most of the components. Whilst it is an awesome 3D printed Quad, I was after something different, something that did not look like your traditional Quad. The idea came to me to design one that looked liked an Apache. Whilst thinking about it in my head, I thought that I would also raise the rear props to see how it would go.”
Hill set out to design his Apache-Quad, using Autodesk 123D Design. It only took him a few hours to complete the design, which he attributes to the fact that he’s been designing things for several years now. Although he doesn’t have any formal design training, he believes his experience is just as helpful.
“I researched what parts I would need online and ordered some from overseas,” says Hill. “I tried to get the measurements online for the parts so I could print the Apache-Quad prior to getting the parts in the mail. I do most of my pre-designing in my head.”
Once the parts were all modeled, Hill used his Flashforge Creator Dual to 3D print them, prior to assembling them with the rest of the parts that he had ordered overseas. The electronic components and parts which he used to create his Apache-Quad included the following:
- DYS BX1804 2300KV Brushless Motor
- Emax Simonk Series 20A
- OpenPilot CC3D Flight Controller
- CC3D Flight Controller Mini Power Distribution Board
- Gemfan 5×4 5040 Propellers
- Skyzone TS5823 5.8G 200mW 32CH AV Transmitter Module
- Turnigy 1300mAh 45-90c Battery
- Walkera receiver rx703
- Devo 7 Transmitter
The Apache-Quad turned out just as Hill had expected. It performs very well, and has very good acceleration. At the same time, it is also very stable in windy conditions, although Hill tells us that it does lack in its ability to “corner hard.”
“Have I crashed it? Yes, a few times,” Hill tells us. “That will happen when you try and do rolls for the first time. For my first time, I broke two right arms on impact. I then went home printed two more, and two hours later I was back in the air, only to attempt a roll again.”
As you can see in the video below, not only does Hill’s Apache-Quad fly quite well but it looks pretty cool too. For those of you interested in creating your very own, Hill has made all of the 3D printable files available to download free of charge on Thingiverse. He encourages that you print most of the parts at 2mm resolution with 30-50% infill.
What do you think of this unique quadcopter? Have you printed one yourself? Discuss in the Apache-Quad forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below.