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The 3Force Proto: A Tri-Drone of the Future

Blending old tilt-rotor tech with a tricopter design, this new innovation will redefine the possibilities of flight and aerobatics.

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The 3Force Proto has been under development as an idea for some time now, and it is ready to become something more. With an innovative new twist on tilt-rotor tech, the 3Force Proto will be able to adapt to new flying conditions smoothly and easily. With the addition of onboard processors and sensors, in-flight stabilization can happen instantaneously without user input, creating a flight envelope smooth enough to rival those of many high-end filming and photography drones. When it comes to racing, the 3Force again can show its prowess. With the ability to tilt all 3 rotors on a 180 degree axis (the rear rotor having an additional axis to that typically seen on tricopters), the 3Force can maximize its thrust to drag ratio while still allowing for quick and deft maneuvers to avoid obstacles and make it to the finish. The next step is the CAD & prototyping phase, and for that I will need a bit of funding and some good support from all you here on Hackaday!

Practical Applications:

The 3Force will be able to fit any role currently filled by drones today. Filming, Racing, Transport, etc. The list goes on. It could also be scaled up during production and used for Search and Rescue operations, and the delivery of supplies to remote areas in need.  It has the potential to be used by everyone, from police forces chasing down criminals on the run, charities delivering medicine to inaccessible or hard-to-reach communities, and everyday people exploring the world around them through the endless limits of technology.

A particularly interesting use I believe the 3Force will be the first to specifically allow by design is a drop-away or detachable cargo pod on the underside, which can be used for any small-item delivery application.

The mount point for the pod(s) will also allow for an interchanging range of components, i.e. manipulators, cameras, sensor suites, and spotlights for an ever increasing range of purposes.

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2018 Hackaday Prize - Challenges Addressed

As an entry to the 2018 Hackaday Prize, Round 1, I have decided to address two problems facing the world today: the delivery of medicine over impassable terrain or to remote locations, and the problems of reforestation and rehabilitation of natural areas. The cargo pod system mentioned above is what allows this.

For delivery of medicines, a properly lined drop pod can be delivered safely to the hands of those in need through one of two methods. Either the pod will have an attached parachute that opens after the drop, or the 3Force can land, safely detach the pod, and then lift off to ensure delivery in windy conditions.

To address reforestation, a similar system will be used. In particular, the 3Force will be able to fly over remote areas and drop seeds in order to facilitate reforestation and rehabilitation of wild areas. A specially designed cargo pod can act like a bombing bay, for lack of a better analogy, to allow a fly-over of an area and the spreading of seeds without the need to land or have humans on the ground causing unnecessary harm to the ecosystems present, essentially creating a footprint-less system.

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But why 3 rotors? What makes this better than any drone currently in production today?

A 3 rotor layout, by design, is easier to stabilize and has significantly less drag than a standard 4 or 6 rotor layout. It is also cheaper to produce, based on the fact that it has less motors and therefore less total required circuitry. The reduction in motors also means that more channels of the receiver are open for use by other functions, e.g. manipulators, gimbals, and the aforementioned cargo pods. This is compounded by the use of an onboard processor system, as there only needs to be one port of the receiver dedicated to controlling thrust, instead of the typical 3/4/6 for controlling the rotors individually.

Furthermore, the ability to tilt all 3 of the rotors will enable further reduction in drag, and aid in the overall stabilization of the craft. Admittedly, the rotors will need to be larger or more powerful than those on a typical drone in order to achieve the same amount of thrust for the craft overall, introducing the problem of power requirements, but this is a problem I hope to be able to smooth out rather easily during the prototyping phase.

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Controls:

Originally, I intended to create a custom control interface for this craft due to the unique design and flight capabilities. After further review, I decided that it would be easier to just have pre-programmed maneuvers and responses, allowing the 3Force Proto to be controlled by any standard hobby controller with the required number of channels. That said, I have not abandoned the idea of a custom controller entirely; I have simply...

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  • New Funding Campaign

    E. Grames08/23/2018 at 13:13 0 comments

    So, I mentioned previously I might start up a Patreon or some such thing to help fund this project. Well, I decided against Patreon for now, and instead I have started up my own little website with affiliate links!

    "Oh, greatttttttt, another one..." you may be thinking. But no! My site uses an entirely new (at least I think it's new) system for rewarding people who use the affiliate links there.

    You see, when you buy through an affiliate link, the price of the product isn't any higher than when you buy it the normal way. The only thing different about affiliate links is that about 5% or so (this varies) of the cost is redirected to me, and that allows me to fund projects! 

    So what exactly is new about all this? Well, I have set a "milestone" amount of funds, and when I hit that amount, I will run a giveaway featuring some of the products on my site. The giveaway will have a very short (3 days) period for entry, to ensure that the majority of the people entered are in fact followers and not free loaders. 

    Now, you don't have to buy through my affiliate links to enter the giveaway. That would be a lottery, and is illegal. However, the giveaway will happen much faster and more often if you and your friends use the affiliate links. This increases the number of chances you have to win. 

    In addition to the giveaway, the funds raised will be going directly into my projects, including this one!

    So what are you waiting for? Have a look yourself!

    Visit Dangerously Explosive's Awesome Website Here!

  • UPDATE: Tools Acquired (3D Printer!!!)

    E. Grames08/15/2018 at 12:52 0 comments

    Hooray! I bought a 3D printer!

    After careful evaluation and about 2 years worth of research, saving, working, drooling, and other such stuff, I have ordered the Tronxy X5S 3D printer!

    I decided on the X5S for a couple of reasons. I know it's a bit of a controversial printer, but in it I see opportunity and a huge ability to expand. I am aware the electronics are (mostly) crap, and the bed is underpowered, and the belts aren't aligned, etc, etc. But what I am also aware of is my love of tinkering, upgrading, and cheap printer kits :P

    The X5S undoubtedly needs improvement (I'm already lining up a 24V PSU and a 32 bit controller) but at the same time, it is the cheapest CoreXY on the market and presents an immense capability to become a powerhorse printer, once tweaked and improved. It also has the build volume I need to make this project viable!

    So what's next? 

    Once I receive, build, tweak, and tune the printer, I will begin building prototype frames for the 3Force, building up to the full-fledged working model!

    Stay tuned! CAD files coming (relatively) soon!

  • Parts and Printers

    E. Grames04/18/2018 at 11:57 0 comments

    I was typing a long version of this, but my browser reloaded the page before I was finished and I lost about a half-hour's worth of typing. So I'm going to cut this log down a little to avoid another similar instance.

    This log is mainly about my decisions for a few of the electronic components I will be using and what kind of 3D printer and materials I plan on manufacturing this with.

    I'll start with the printer and material. I really like the CR-10 4S printer with it's huge 400mm cubed build volume, and I'm leaning towards getting one of those so I can fabricate larger pieces faster. I am also considering the original Cr-10 and a few of it's competitors, namely the TEVO Tornado as possible options. The predominant theme here is "big, cheap, decent printer".

    For material I've decided to go with PLA, because it is not half as harmful to the environment as ABS or PETG, besides the fact that it's really easy to print with. Another consideration is the MatterHackers Ryno filament, which is supposedly better for mechanical parts. I'll look more into this when I actually start the prototyping process.

    And now onto electronics: an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi is a given, but from there I'm not really sure on what components i'll be needing exactly. I'll be using larger metal gear, high torque servos for rotational joints, probably overkill but it'll need to be durable to withstand the stress of flight and fast maneuvers. These will need a hefty bit of power, and I want the flight time to be significantly greater than many consumer drones currently on the market, so I'm looking at a 4s 10000mAh Lithium Polymer battery pack for power. In larger models I may even consider a small hobby engine fitted as a generator to supply sufficient power. I'm not sure about ESCs and motors, other than they will be large and brushless. I will likely buy all of the other components and print the frame first, weigh the whole thing, and then find motors that will supply enough power based on that number as well as power requirements. 

    Before I end this log, I want to mention that I am thinking about starting a Patreon page and doing some other promotional things to spread word and gain funds for this project, so look out for those sometime soon. I may even do a few giveaways... So yeah, keep an eye out guys, and make sure to keep being awesome! Kudos to everyone who has liked and followed this project so far, I really appreciate the support!

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