11 - Drone Frame Calculator
Its been a while since my last post but I have a LOT of stuff planned so I wanted to give everyone an update. Building frames from scratch, using a variety of materials, can be time consuming. You’ll buy some materials that seem like they could be lighter but when you cut the pieces and glue them all together, you may have only saved a few grams overall. Worse, your frame might even be heavier. Some people fill notebooks with measurements and weights of all the different parts, while others put everything into an Excel spreadsheet.
I don’t really like either approach, plus I wanted something to do the math for me…
I wanted to make a tool to help me calculate and keep track of all the weights of my frame parts.
What I thought would be a simple project, has turned into something much more complicated. Sound familiar, LOL? Anyway, I’m pretty far along with this new tool, and I’d like to share a preview of it…
Introducing the Drone Frame Calculator
I’m sure many of you have used eCalc and if you haven’t, its a great tool for calculating which motors and propellers to use for your drone. My tool serves a completely different purpose. The Drone Frame Calculator or “dCal” helps you compare different materials for building drone frames. It lets you store multiple lists of parts and weights online, so you can compare them against each other, or against your friends’ designs. And, it lets you calculate the weight of any size piece of material, if that material is listed in my database. I’m currently filling the database with hundreds of materials, from carbon fiber plate and tubing, to steel, aluminum, and nylon bolts, to plywood, balsa, foam, and carbon fiber composite sandwich materials.
An Example of dCal’s “Irregular Shape” Mode
Here’s one example of how you can use the Drone Frame Calculator:
Here’s the top plate from my H4 Alien 680mm quadcopter frame. It’s a fairly complicated shape. It would be difficult to estimate what that exact piece would weigh if it was cut from a different material. This is where dCal comes in handy.
As you can see, the original piece weighs 65 grams. Its made from 1.5mm carbon fiber plate with a matte finish on both sides. The material looks exactly like the 1.5mm carbon fiber plate I bought from GetFPV. The thickness measures exactly the same.
In dCal, I clicked the “NEW PART” button and selected “Irregular Shape” mode. I selected 1.5mm Carbon Fiber plate from the Materials drop-down menu. I entered 65g in the weight field, gave my part a name, and clicked “Save”.
Next, I made 2 copies of the part. On the first copy, I selected “1.0mm carbon fiber plate” from the materials drop-down menu and dCal showed me what the new weight would be, if I cut out the same shape from the new material.
The third example shows the weight if I cut the same piece out of 1/16" birch plywood. It would weigh less than half of the original!
More to Come…
I’m still building and testing this thing. It’s not quite ready for the public but its getting close and I wanted to share what I’ve done so far. This will be a FREE utility. I might run some Google ads to help with hosting costs but its running on my company’s server for now. I have many features planned, and I hope some will be influenced by this community, so feel free to pm me.
You can also follow my dCal blog