The Top 6 Frames to 3D Print for Your DIY Drone – MakeUseOf

Want to build your own drone? Here are six of the best 3D printable frames to use for it.
On your way to building a DIY drone? Here are some of the best drone frames you can 3D print for free.
Making a sturdy and standard frame is a key part of the process of building your own DIY drone. Of course, you could also buy a frame, but that doesn't match the DIY spirit. Especially if you've already got access to a 3D printer.
One advantage of 3D printing your drone's frame is that you can do it again. This means that if you ever get in a flying accident and damage the frame, you won't have to go looking for spare parts as you can simply print them.
So if you plan on 3D printing a frame for your drone, there are plenty of models available for download and print online, and here are some of the best ones.
Building on the success of the original MHQ, the Hovership MHQ2 is a complete and functioning frame model designed for brushless rotors. This frame is designed to accommodate the rotors in an H shape, and the arms are foldable so that you can tuck them inside the body when you're not using the drone.
The MHQ2's design has room for plenty of auxiliary modules and sensors, though if you're planning on building your drone with Arduino, you're better off using a smaller board like the Arduino Nano.
The MHQ2 is easy and straightforward to print and doesn't have any tricky parts. It's best if you print the arms with an infill above 75% so that they don't snap in your first flying accident. You're going to need a handful of M3 bolts and nuts to put the frame together.
Related: What Is Arduino? What Can You Do With It? Explained
This Micro H-Quadcopter frame is designed for tiny brushed 8.5mm motors and is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. The arms are attached in an H shape, and the frame houses a rubber band mount for a small 1S LiPo battery. It's also got a mount for attaching a tiny camera with double-sided tape.
The flight controller compartment is 30x37mm, so there isn't much room for extra modules, but you can easily fit a flight controller or a tiny Arduino board in there.
The Micro H-Quadcopter's frame model is easy to print and it's also a quick print as it's pretty small. Keep the infill above 60% to get a sturdy frame. You can put the frame parts together with M3 bolts, no glue required.
The Crossfire 2 might be the best true X-shape DIY frame out there. Sturdy and yet lightweight, and with a spacious three-story compartment to fit nearly every module you want, it’s a great choice for beginners and veterans alike.
This frame is large enough to house a 4S LiPo battery, a large flight controller (or Arduino Uno), and tons of modules. The electronic speed controllers are mounted on the arms and tightened with plastic clamps.
The entire frame weighs around 400 grams, which means the print will take quite some time, but it's a full package as it comes with numerous plates and even a GoPro cover. The Crossfire 2 has been standardized to work with M3 hardware and the designer MikeyB has included an extensive guide on how to print the frame and build a drone on it.
Related: The Best Cheap Drones With Cameras
Though most DIY drones show off their wirework, the PL1Q Vampire offers a different approach. The only visible parts in a drone with this frame are the motors and the propellers, and everything else is hidden inside the frame, or under the vampire's cloak if you will.
The model is designed to work with brushless motors, the arms are long enough to use 8" propellers, and the flight controller compartment is big enough for an Arduino Uno.
The PL1Q Vampire is harder to print than the other models in this list, and some parts will require supports to print properly. Use 100% infill on the motor mounts and 40% for the rest. Print the landing gear in 100% if you plan on making rough landings.
Yet another Micro-Quad, albeit this time with foldable arms. This Foldable Brushed Micro-Quad isn't as micro as you would expect, but it still fits in the palm of your hand if you tuck its arms inside. This frame is built in a stretched X shape which gives you more stability at high speeds.
You can build this quadcopter with 8.5mm brushed motors and a 1S LiPo. You'll be skipping the speed controllers since this model works with brushed motors. The frame is a bit too heavy for doing acrobatics, but since it's got a nice camera mount it's perfect for FPV flying.
The print process for this foldable Micro-Quad is simple, as the parts are small and you don't need any rafts or supports. You can put the frame together with M2 and M3 bolts and nuts.
Related: Essential Drone Photography Apps and Guides for Beginners
The idea behind Nanolongrange was to make a long-range lightweight drone that's designed around a single lithium battery and it does a great job at that, as the entire drone, with a camera, weighs under 45 grams. Having built the drone around a single lithium battery gives the frame a unique structure shape, which is neither an X and nor an H.
This frame is designed for brushless motors. However, it cannot accommodate external electronic speed controls, so you should use an AIO flight control. This makes building this drone with Arduino harder, compared to other frames.
The print is a single file that you can print at above 40% infill with PLA or ABS filaments. This design uses lithium-ion batteries instead of the go-to LiPo batteries that most brushless drones use.
Related: Unique Ways That Drones Are Being Used Today
Now that you've got a good array of frames to pick from and print, you can further customize the frames by changing the size, the material, the color, and more to build a truly unique drone. Be it an X or H shape, with brushed motors or brushless motors, you can build just about any sort of drone if you've got the right frame.
If you've recently gotten yourself into drones and want to start learning more, then you should start with the first step and first learn how drones fly.
Drones have become more accessible and can be used for numerous purposes. So, how do they fly and what are they often used for?
Amir is a pharmacy student with a passion for tech and gaming. He likes playing music, driving cars, and writing words.
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