Tag Archives: 3D-Printed Drone

Freebird is a safe and multi-use 3D-printed drone

Hate shoveling snow and raking leaves? Let the Freebird Flight One do it for you instead.

We’ve all seen and heard of drones crashing into water, trees, people and more recently, the Empire State Building. If you’re spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on a drone, you would expect it to be worth your while but the viral videos show us otherwise. One drone that you’re unlikely to see as the subject of these crash compilation videos is the Freebird One — a completely 3D-printed quadcopter with advanced safety unlike any other UAV on the market.


Maker Roger Freeman, who like many first time drone owners, experienced the early demise of his new toy. Instead of buying a new part for his broken drone, Freeman tapped into his tinkering talents and 3D-printed a replacement part. Similar many Maker stories, Freeman thought to make something that already exists even better with more functions, stability, strength and safety. And so the Freebird Flight was conceived.

Freebird is being touted as the first fully 3D-printed, large-format carbon fiber UAV that is commercially available and consumer-friendly. Freebird has a unique patent-pending SurroundFrame that encloses the rotors and distributes the vehicles weight evenly to increase efficiency and safety. Its motor mounts also act as sturdy landing pads, allowing it to have extended flight time and absorb hard landings without the cost of damaging gear. The shield is weatherproof, protecting the motors from rain, snow and wind.


In addition to its thoughtful airframe design, safe operating practices were prioritized in the creation of Freebird. It has a virtual fence with a programmable radius and altitude limit to prevent runaway UAVs if the fence is breached. Plus, Freebird is configured to return to home base when it reaches low battery and loses signal from the controller/PC/phone/tablet. There is also a pause button to steady the vehicle while in the air.

If that doesn’t entice you yet, maybe this will. Freebird has capabilities beyond aerial video and photography. Airflow from its four motors runs as high as nine horsepower, turning it into an airborne leaf and snow blower. Freebird can clear a sizeable yard of leaves in a 25-30 minute run on a single battery. When it’s not doing yard work, its ample flat mounting space can attach additional electronic devices. Freeman is also developing a line of attachments to make Freebird more versatile in its applications.

At three feet in diameter, Freebird has a 20-pound payload capacity and can fly up to 70 miles per hour in horizontal speed and 3,000 feet per minute in max vertical speed. It has a 15-mile range with a GPS compass to prevent unexpected crashing.

Freebird boasts that it arms you with the best, and expanding, toolset to protect your investment and people and property around you. Ready for a failsafe drone? Check out the Freebird Flight website for more information.

ELF is a selfie and virtual reality nano drone

Sorry selfie sticks, it looks like your days may be numbered.

If recent projects like Nixie and Zano are any indication of what is to come, 2015 may very well turn out to be “year of the dronie.” Looking to usher in this new era, Shenzhen-based startup ElecFreaks has unveiled a nano HD camera-equipped quadcopter that is capable of capturing videos and photos from a variety of angles. According to its description, the pocket-sized ELF not only features cutting-edge technologies but a fully-hackable platform as well.


Similar to other next-gen flying selfie devices, ELF offers instant takeoff and connects directly to its accompanying smartphone app via Bluetooth. To initiate launch, users simply slide their thumb up, click the “capture” button and the mini UAV heads off into the sky. Meanwhile, an embedded Wi-Fi module enables users to snap special moments and share them online in real-time.


What may differentiate ELF from others available today is its virtual reality integration, which allows pilots to experience first-person 3D views of everything the drone sees without requiring any additional remote control or costly imaging transmission modules. The ELF VRdrone app can even convert these images into “side-by-side” format by merely attaching a phone to a VR cardboard set.


In true Maker form, ELF is completely open-source and hackable. Moreover, the ‘copter boasts a fully 3D-printed hull and motor mounts. This means users can modify the hardware to redefine new functionalities, personalize the app and 3D print their own drone. Beyond that, anyone can learn and start building their own ELF using readily available files including its main board design, electronics layout and schematics.

“We take open-source seriously. It is where we started and hopefully, by being truly open, we can ultimately get more advanced developers involved to help move forward and make the cutting-edge technology accessible to ordinary people,” the team writes.


Based on an ATmega328P, the Arduino-compatible drone is packed with an operating range of 15-30 meters and a flight time of around seven minutes, dependent upon weather of course.

ELF is currently live on Indiegogo, where the ElecFreaks team is seeking $20,000. If able to attain the necessary funds, future stretch goals include adding a “take off” and “land” button to its app, offering compatibility with other VR devices, implementing a “follow me” mode, including 180-degree aerial panaromic shots, as well as developing an SDK for future drone applications. Interested? Head over to its official page here.

University of Virginia team creates 3D-printed drone

When testing a flying prototype, an inventor’s biggest fear is a crash landing. David Sheffler’s team at the University of Virginia has eliminated this risk with their creation of a 3D-printed drone they call “The Razor.” If their UAV plummets to the ground, they can just print out another one on the spot!


Sheffler’s team of engineering students has devised a UAV, which utilizes an Android smartphone as the central processor. The lightweight Razor can carry a payload of 1.5 pounds and fly at speeds up to 100mph — though, Sheffler admits the “sweet spot” is around 40mph. The Android phone’s camera can be tasked to take pictures while in-flight and the navigation system can track the UAV’s distance traveled.

The former Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce engineer had designed some 3D-printed engines previously in his tenure at the university. The MITRE Corporation, a DoD contractor, caught wind of his creations and asked if he could create a 3D-printed drone that would be built with common tools and parts. Sheffler was certainly up for the task and so, The Razor was born.

The six-pound drone features nine distinct parts that can be printed for about $800 in total. If one part becomes damaged in the field, a new piece can easily be sourced and installed for a negligible cost.

The team has gone through a series of Razor prototypes before settling on the design. The first prototype — the orange and blue model seen in the video below — was based on a conventional RC aircraft comprised of balsa wood, which is much lighter and stronger than the ABS plastic used in the university’s 3D printers. The same plane made of plastic would have weighed five times as much as the wood version. “You’re printing out of a material that’s really not well-suited to making an airplane,” Sheffler tells Wired.

The ease of retooling and testing designs has made the project incredibly informative for the field of 3D-printed flight. The team’s drone can now be hand launched and patrol the skies for up to 45 minutes. If lightweight, low-cost drones like this one were implemented in crisis zones across the globe, innumerable lives could be kept out of danger.

“3D printing is at the phase where personal computers were in the 1980s. The technology is almost unbounded,” Sheffler reveals. “This program was really tasked with showing what is possible.”