Friday, February 7, 2014

Building a Quadcopter Part 1

In this blog series we will be going through a step by step guide on making a Quadcopter. With the help of SolidWorks we will be designing, simulating and ultimately making the frame for the Quadcopter with 3D printing.  

What you’ll need

Before you embark in your project, get the necessary parts first. 

Parts List :

4 x Brushless Motors
4 x Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC)
4 x Propeller Blades
Flight Controller Board (FC)
4 Channel radio controller and receiver
Li-Po Battery pack

You can source all your parts through Hobbyking at

Make sure your parts are compatible with one another, for example. The Motors need the right amount of Amp power from the ESC for it to run at its highest potential and not to much to burn the motor. The battery should hold enough charge to have a flight time of more then 20 minutes. to learn more about selecting the right parts. you can check out this useful site here

Start Designing

Start drawing up sketches of frames you want, the basic anatomy of a Quadcopter are just its main central body that houses the FC, Radio Receiver and the Battery pack. There are 4 extended arms that will hold the Rotors and ESCs.

The arms are face on equal 90 degree angles of each other and should stay firmly so. The motor to motor distance, which is the length of one motor placement point to the opposite motor point can be determine by the size of your Propeller blade, leave a distance of 3/4 or 1 Propeller length from tip to tip. For example, if you were using the popular propeller size of 10 inches diameter, the motor to motor distance would be about 450 - 500 mm. Thats basicly 2 propeller lengths = 20inches/ 500mm.

For the next post we will be looking into designing the frame.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

SolidWorks World 2014 Recap

As always The SolidWorks World is full of inspiration and excitement. Over 5600 engineers rocked up at SolidWorks World 2014 this year at San Diego. The conference starts off with greetings from Bertrand Sicot, CEO of SolidWorks. Below are some highlights I find particularly interesting:

The OceanCleanup” Project – a project to clean up our ocean by extracting 7,250,000,000KG of plastic out of it. 

The CopenhagenWheel – A hybrid bicycle that allows you to capture the energy dissipated while cycling and braking and save it for when you need a bit of a boost. It also maps pollution levels, traffic congestion, and road conditions in real-time. 

Home.By.Me – Online 3D space planning service developed by 3DVIA. Contact us for a 3DVIA demo now!

SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual – The New way to tackle concept:

BiomechatronicsBionic Limbs – bionic limbs that emulate the function of natural limbs. Read about the interview with Mr Hugh Herr (Designer and user of the bionic limb) after the session here

eatArt Foundation – Fostering energy awareness through art. Check out the Walking Machine and Mondo Spider. Designed in SolidWorks. 

Watch the Mondo Spider in action:

Partner Pavilion highlight:
SolidWorks and 3D printing: SolidWorks being the first 3D CAD package to implement direct 3D printing. We saw SolidWorks 2015 on a Windows 8.1 device, the product development team printed a 3D model directly to a Makerbot Replicator 2, without exporting to a neutral format (such as STEP or STL) or using any third-party software.

Top 10 Enhancement Requests for SolidWorks 2015:
#10 Auto Hide Components while mating to improve selection
#9 Purge Data Command to reduce file size
#8 List quantity of identical holes in a hole callout
#7 Redefine a Fillet to a Chamfer (and vice versa)
#6 Redefine (flip) angular dimensions after placed
#5 Unlimited Undo/Redo
#4 Esc to STOP immediately
#3 Draw line from Midpoint
#2 Rename component in Feature Manager Tree
#1 Equal Spacing for Linear Patterns

CADMAN to the rescue - Sneak Peak for SolidWorks 2015: 

  • Split command now cuts surfaces (SolidWorks)
  • Define asymmetric fillets - set face fillet bias (SolidWorks)
  • Switch pattern from a feature to a body pattern without deleting and redefining. (SolidWorks)
  • Render region tool - draw a box over the screen and render it within the model (PV360)
  • Midpoint line tool - draw a line from midpoint and it auto relates (SolidWorks)
  • Convert spline to Style Spline without replace or delete (SolidWorks)
  • Segment lines with auto-split, co linear relationships and equal length (SolidWorks)
  • Rectangle tool has orthogonal construction lines with new options (SolidWorks)
  • Weldment cut list uses weldment details for the folder description (SolidWorks)
  • SolidWorks Costing now works on SolidWorks Weldments (SolidWorks)
  • View results while Simulation is still solving (Simulation)
  • Ducting feature and wire raceways inserted similar to piping (SolidWorks Routing)
  • Width mate now supports geometry limits.  This is similar to PhysicalDynamics so it detects surface to surface contact. (SolidWorks)
  • Chain pattern - allows alignment to a curve and relationships can allow motion (SolidWorks)
  • Profile Mate - Mate two faces and SolidWorks automatically aligns the surfaces coincident and the center of the profiles are also aligned. (SolidWorks)
  • Open part from drawing in same orientation (SolidWorks)
  • Break View works in parts and assemblies then leverage in drawings.  Works for isometric views too! (SolidWorks Drawings)
  • Angular dimensions can use many model edges to avoid creating construction geometry. (SolidWorks Drawings)
  • Zone lines for drawings (SolidWorks Drawings)
  • Decimal rounding options in Document Options
  • Layer Printing - control print access to specific layers (SolidWorks Drawings)
  • SolidWorks Inspection integration inside of SolidWorks.  It can read many aspects of the drawing like tolerances and other aspects to auto build inspection reports.  This tool also runs outside of SolidWorks and can do OCR (Optical Character Recognition) of PDF and TIFF Files. (SolidWorks Inspection)
  • SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Web2 - A server-side web client that can run in any browser and has mobile specific views for phones and tablets.  It also can call up eDrawings mobile from the device for viewing and markup. (SolidWorks EPDM)

That's it for now. We look forward to a smooth sailing and prosperous year ahead, and ofcourse, SolidWorks World 2015 in Phoenix Arizona February 8-11, 2015.