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  1. #1
    Engineer-in-Training
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    Mar 2014
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    Fully printed UAV/FPV plane

    Here's something I've been working on for a couple months, it's a one meter wingspan airplane , a prototype in fact of a bigger version I plan to use for aerial photography and to supply to a NGO to monitor manta ray populations near Bali in Indonesia.

    I have printed all the parts and I just need to finish the assembly and install the electronics in before doing the maiden flight... some time after I come back from my holidays.

    Nomad_Exploded2.jpgIMG_0276.jpgIMG_0277.jpgIMG_0285.jpg

    It was printed in PLA on a MendelMax 1.5 and if someone feels like printing one the entire STL files are here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:272478
    I'm still refining some details but it's rather minor stuff.

    Once I've test flown it I plan to enlarge the design by 50% and print a fuselage master to make a fiberglass mold, the wings and stabilizers will be fiberglass with a foam core. I need something lighter and more durable than PLA for the intended application of this plane.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator old man emu's Avatar
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    Oct 2013
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    It is interesting how these UAVs have adopted the inverted V-tail design.

    Good to see that you are using 3D printing as a step in the manufacturing process, not the one and only step.

    OME
    You may go past me,
    But you won't outlast me!

  3. #3
    Nice! I do have a penchant for friendly drones!

    Can you explain the purpose of the inverted tail? I've been curious about this for some time - why is it common in drones?

  4. #4
    Super Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by doodadDoes View Post
    Can you explain the purpose of the inverted tail? I've been curious about this for some time - why is it common in drones?
    Various reasons, apparently.

  5. #5
    Engineer-in-Training
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    Mar 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by doodadDoes View Post
    Nice! I do have a penchant for friendly drones!

    Can you explain the purpose of the inverted tail? I've been curious about this for some time - why is it common in drones?
    I don't know in other designs, but in my case it was a combination of many things, a V-tail is lighter and has less aerodynamic drag than a conventional tail, besides that by inverting the tail it protects the propeller on landing, in fact it eliminates the need for the main landing gear further saving weight and drag, the design only needs a nose wheel to land and take off. Even without a nose wheel the inverted V tail would keep the underside of the fuselage from dragging on the ground, so if I install a camera turret there it would be protected.

    The drawback of that arrangement is that the stabilizers are vulnerable to damage, but then they are also very easy to replace if they break, there's two screws holding them to the fuselage.

  6. #6
    Engineer-in-Training
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    Mar 2014
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    All parts printed and assembled, electronics installed, controls rigged and mixing programmed on the radio transmitter, so it's ready to fly... now fingers crossed for good weather next weekend for the maiden flight.

  7. #7
    Engineer-in-Training
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    Mar 2014
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    First (short) flight!



    Based on the results I'm doing some redesigning, some structural and aerodynamic changes and also redoing the wings so that the aileron servos will be mounted on the wings rather than the fuselage. I'm also aiming to reduce weight by 10% during the redesign.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Roxy's Avatar
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    Very cool! Did those test flights have the weight of the servo's in the plane? If so... It is very close to being ready to print!!!!

  9. #9
    Engineer-in-Training
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxy View Post
    Very cool! Did those test flights have the weight of the servo's in the plane? If so... It is very close to being ready to print!!!!
    The flight was with all the R/C gear installed, servos, receiver, battery, etc... Later on I plan to add a GPS autopilot and FPV gear (live output camera) to it

  10. #10
    Technologist American 3D Printing's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
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    Add American 3D Printing on Facebook Add American 3D Printing on Google+ Add American 3D Printing on Thingiverse
    Instead of PLA, have you considered HIPS or Nylon? We print with both and they offer many advantages over PLA (or ABS). The HIPS is lighter than PLA and very rigid like PLA is, and nylon is both lighter and stronger than PLA. Depending on the type (we have Taulman 618, 645 and Bridge) can be somewhat flexible which might be an advantage in the UAV application, just as it is in many of the other applications we build with nylon. The main issue with nylon is getting it to stick to the bed, but we've learned a number of techniques to get past that. One of the cool things about both HIPS and nylon is that you can sand them. Obviously, anyone who has tried to sand PLA has learned that you just get a gummy mess.

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