Drone Wars Week 2: Engines on 5, 4, 3…Part 2

   By Whitney Bell on July 25, 2016

As we reach the end of Phase II of the TriMech Drone Wars, we’re starting to see each team’s drone come together. Our four teams have continued to inform us of their latest activities and strategies. If you missed our kick-off blog, you can find it here.

Per the usual, here’s a recap. Each team was provided an off-the-shelf drone that they will modify using 3D printed parts. Modification expenses are capped at $250.00. The drones will compete against each other in a speed race, a precision flight, and a payload test

In this post, we’ll review the outcomes of these teams’ modifications in the second part of Phase II!

Missed Phase I? Find part one here and part two here. Part 1 of Phase II is here.

Team 1 – #TeamCyclone

Team Cyclone’s demand for a cool looking drone without sacrificing the functionality of their design lead the team to 3D print components of their canopy.

Cyclone design canopy

Cyclone design canopy

Though the 3D printed canopy did not yield the same strength to weight ratio of the carbon fiber counterparts, there were a greater variety of shapes and design options that became available when 3D printing was deployed.

The guys didn’t realize how beneficial and valuable integrating 3D parts into their design would become. FDM parts didn’t yield the same strength to weight ratio, but that didn’t inhibit them from providing added benefits like the reduction of materials. Before utilizing a 3D printed canopy, Team Cyclone would have had to use tape and glue to secure the radio antenna to a fiberglass plate. Instead, the 3D printed canopy had been designed with openings to hold the antennas at the price angle without the use of additional tape and glue, which provided a cleaner and lighter overall design.

Team Cyclone Drone 3D Rendering

Team Cyclone Drone 3D Rendering

Team Cyclone shared with us a not very well known function in SOLIDWORKS that they utilized to determine if their new canopy would obstruct the view of the drone’s camera. In SOLIDWORKS, users can add cameras to either save a cool viewing angle of their product or to locate optimal camera positions in their design. They were able to position the SOLIDWORKS camera in their digital drone prototype to discover the price angle they needed for their camera!

Drone SOLIDWORKS Camera

Drone SOLIDWORKS Camera

Team 2 – #GameofDrones

As it turns out, the stock motors that came with the Ares Ethos FPV drone are not powerful enough to generate the torque requirements of the 3-blade propeller design. Game of Drones ordered brushless motors that would increase the maximum RPM to over 8,000 RPM without an increase in voltage from their power supply. This will help the drone lift more weight as well as fly faster during the race.

The team originally had plans to 3D print their new motor mounts, but they drafted up a new design that would incorporate lift hooks to distribute the weight that the drone will carry between four points in hopes of increasing the stability of the system while in flight.

The motor mounts and hooks were printed on a Stratasys 3D printer, which enabled the team to make multiple iterations of their design in a short amount of time.

Drone motor hooks

Drone motor hooks

The team has expressed confidence that their drone will be able to carry a lot of weight using new motors and 3-blade propellers, but they’re concerned that the hooks on the motor mounts won’t be strong enough. To test them, they’re going to use SOLIDWORKS Simulation to run a quick FEA analysis on the hooks. Stay tuned to Game of Drones to find out just how much weight this improved design will be able to lift!

Team 3 – #Drone2Win

The 3D printing process was not without its challenges for Drone 2 Win. The team used FDM technology to 3D print their redesigned propeller using ABSplus thermoplastic and soluble support material spools. After the 3D print job had been completed, the team had to overcome the challenge of removing the support material without breaking the thin propeller blade and support ribs.

Drone blade redesign

Drone blade redesign

Team 4 – #BatteriesNotIncluded

The motto this week for Batteries Not Included has been “Do or do not. There is no try.” We personally thing it should also include “Go big or go home” because this team is going BIG. In the last post, the team introduced the idea of adding another drone to the mix and flying two aircraft simultaneously. The team’s first challenge was syncing the control boards so that the drones could be operated from a single transmitter.

The team admitted to feeling a little bit like Dr. Frankenstein in this modification process, but they were able to put together their boards so that the blades were in a coaxial configuration.

“It was both scary and exciting to give it the first test flight. It flew decently well, and once we tightened up the connections it proved pretty stable,” said Todd Troutt, a Batteries Not Included team member.

The lift that was generated by both drones was a bit disappointing, so the team put their heads together and created a prototype that would add extra motors to the drones’ design in a radial pattern. This sucker looked wicked/scary cool, but its flight capabilities were pretty rough. The stability was gone and the added weight killed their lift.

With all of these modifications, Batteries Not Included mocked up some new prototypes that they’ll run Flow simulation tests on in order to figure out what their final modifications will need to be. 3D printing their parts from spacers to board mounts to propeller blades made the prototyping possible in rapid time. They still had to do their real jobs after all!

Related Products
Stratasys 3D Printers

Browse the TriMech web store for Stratasys 3D Printers for rapid prototyping and short-run production manufacturing.

Whitney Bell

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