Everyone who has a hobby of any sort is familiar with what I call the hobby grind. In RPG video games, grinding is slang for doing relatively boring, repetitive or monotonous in-game activities that help you level up your character. No one really enjoys grinding, but fans of RPG games consider it just a necessary part of the game that helps you get to the fun stuff faster. But I’ve found that all hobbies have aspects to them that are less than thrilling, and oftentimes downright annoying.
For fans of flying quadcopters or multirotor drones, the hobby grind is dealing with the broken propellers that result from an inevitable crash or collision. Propeller breaks are common enough that average users usually need to replace them several times per flying session. For most quads, this involves unscrewing the individual propeller caps, which need to be loosened with a pair of plyers, change the propellers, and then screw the caps back on tightly. That may not sound like a big deal, but trust me, if you’re flying your quad and it crashes, you’re down for a good ten minutes while you struggle with the propeller caps. And lord help you if you forget a pair of plyers.
Take a look at the typical quadcopter crash here:
The problem was annoying enough that Thingiverse user Davey Tran decided that he was going to try to figure out a better way to do it. He envisioned an adaptor that would allow him to change multiple broken props with a simple click, and not the hassle that he typically needed to deal with. Tran is admittedly new to flying quadcopters, but after a few months he found himself still needing to deal with three to four crashes per flying session. Each crash could conceivably result in multiple broken propellers, adding to the annoyance of getting his quad airborne again.
“Overtime it became a chore and I realised, I would spend almost half of my time at the park grounded. I wanted a better way to mount the propellers, so it wouldn’t take so much effort. As side project, and using my new 3D Printer, I began designing this “better way”,” Tran explains.
First he laid out a list of requirements that his new propeller adaptor would need to meet. The Click! adaptor would need to allow broken propellers to be changed quickly, with no tools and require no tightening of any kind. The Click! would also need to be sturdy enough to survive the high speed rotation of the propellers, not break before the prop does during a crash, and would sit on any standard M5 Prop Adapter. This was no easy task, as the amount of pressure that would be put on any adapter would be significant, and if the device wasn’t strong enough, it would send the prop spinning off of the quadcopter’s body.
“Immediately, before I had a 3D Printer, I posted my designs to Thingiverse and Reddit to see the response and possibly find someone with a 3D Printer to do some safety/proof of concept tests. This is where /u/rubicksman, a fellow reddit user, offered his help and has since made several feedback videos as I released new iterations,” Tran continued.
Tran started his NimbleWings website to act as a hub for the inventions and RC Multi-Rotor Hobby related information. Thanks to several Reddit users, followers of NimbleWings and the Thingiverse community, the 3D printable Click! has gone through several significant upgrades and improvements, and Tran believes that he is ready to take his adaptor to the next level. Because most of the quadcopter hobbyists don’t have 3D printers, Tran wants to start mass producing the Click! adaptor.
Here is some video of Tran swapping propellers and flying a quad with the Click! adaptor:
Currently he is readying a Kickstarter campaign to manufacture them without 3D printers. He is also still looking for beta testers willing to try the Click! out and offer video testimonials for his campaign video. If you want to join in on the beta development of Click! you can visit NimbleWings for more information, or join the Beta Testing Google group. And if you enjoy RC quadcopters then let us what what you think of the Click! on our NimbleWings Propeller Quadcopters Adaptor forum on 3DPB.com.