The Ball-Drone Project

Single rotor, "human-safe", selfmade ball-drone with air vanes for position control

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This functional model shows a complete 3D designed and printed single rotor ball drone. The special design with only one rotor and air vanes for position control make this project particularly interesting in the area of drones. Common RC components (radio receiver, lipo battery, ESC, motor, propeller, servos) were used. A dedicated flight controller and software was developed to control the drone.

You can find more informations in the details section and project logs!

This thing is flying!

If you want to find out more, read on!

What is it?

Yes, it's another drone project, but still different!

This is a functional model showing a complete 3D designed and printed flying single rotor ball drone. The special design with only one rotor and air vanes for position control make this project particularly interesting in the area of drones.

  • only one rotor
  • 4 air vanes
  • standard ESC
  • brushless DC motor

  • 1 × Lipo battery
  • 1 × turnigy digital servo TG9d digital servo
  • 1 × 30A ESC
  • 1 × BR2830 BLDC Motor
  • 1 × 10x4,5 propeller

View all 8 components

  • The Ball-Drone Project MK II

    Benjamin Prescher10/22/2020 at 18:51 0 comments

    Drastic changes in the design led me to open a new project. Here I will publish more details, also diy instructionsThe Ball-Drone Project MK II

  • Still ongoing?

    Benjamin Prescher10/17/2020 at 10:28 0 comments


    Much has happened in the meantime. I also restructured the project a bit and moved some items from the "Details" to the project logs. I hope to be able to show more updates in the coming days.

  • Whats next?

    Benjamin Prescher10/17/2020 at 10:26 0 comments

    1. improve the mechanical design and make it lighter
    2. design of fully integrated electronics with esc and postion control
    3. replace the lipo and use a more suitable battery system
    4. continue to have so much fun on the subject!

  • Updated vanes profile

    Benjamin Prescher10/17/2020 at 10:24 0 comments

    This gives a more closer look at the build, showing the flight controller in place, the settings with air vanes as well as the ESC and motor mounted on top:

  • Control the hole thing and stop the jitter!

    Benjamin Prescher10/17/2020 at 10:22 0 comments

    With the fully assembled first prototype, the expectations regarding the functions were accordingly high. Unfortunately, the wings, along with the rigidity of the construction and the servos used, began to tremble, known as servo-jitter. In addition, radial bearings were installed on the opposite side of the servos for support.

    But there still was servo-jitter. In the end, the challenge could be met with a different air vanes resulting in smooth vanes movement.

  • First assembly

    Benjamin Prescher10/17/2020 at 10:22 0 comments

    The 3d printed parts were assembled with nylon screws for the first sample.

  • Things become clearer

    Benjamin Prescher10/17/2020 at 10:02 0 comments

    The idea behind the structure is to reach a low center of gravity with the battery underneath the rotor in order to not build an inverse pendulum. Furthermore, standardized components from the RC area had to be included in the planning (with the exception of the flight controller). The safety of the drone is an important aspect. Touching the rotor is made more difficult by a kind of ball-shaped cage, but the rotor can continue to rotate when the drone is pushed or flying against an obstacle. In an early state of design, plates were used to control the air flow.

    In order to make the flow more efficient, a wing profile was modeled. Further bracing also took place.

    Everything was designed in FUSION360 and 3D printed.

  • Testing of the new flight controller

    Benjamin Prescher10/17/2020 at 10:00 0 comments

    Once developed - it has to be tested. To keep things simple, a first test of the new flight controller took place on a standard 220mm 4X copter.

    The first tests (and flights) went well ... This was the base to start with the further design and construction of the ball drone.

  • It doesn't work without electronics - luckily!

    Benjamin Prescher10/17/2020 at 09:59 0 comments

    Design of the flight controller:

    This build requires a flight controller with small dimensions and minimum 5 ESC or servo connections. The development of an own flight controller was one of the goals anyway. So the decision was to downsize a TI launchpad and limit it to the required connections. In addition, an InvenSense ICM20689 and a Bosch BMP388 for position control were added. The "real-time JTAG" was particularly important for development tasks. Thus, a complete debugger (XDS100v2) is integrated on the flight controller and allows communication with the controller via JTAG and UART, just as you know it from the development board...

    The board features:

    1. Some of the newest TI Controller: TMS320F280049PMS
    2. Dual channel debugger (JTAG//UART) based on a FTDI 2232 (XDS100v2)
    3. 3V3 buck-converter
    4. connections for 5(!) ESCs or servos
    5. external I2C and UART connection

  • How it all started

    Benjamin Prescher10/17/2020 at 09:56 0 comments

    In mid-2018 I completed my first quadcopter project with the goal of designing a own flight controller and expand the software, mainly to further and deeply deal with position algorithms. Additionally looking for new ideas for building drones,  a very rare case came across: a single-rotor drone with air vanes for control, which is based on the principle of "torque" of an RC model aircraft. This principle aroused my curiosity and it was clear to me: I would like build up something like this and get this thing flying!

    First sketches emerged:

View all 10 project logs

Enjoy this project?



Meg wrote 01/11/2021 at 21:04 point

hi, great work; where can we access the 3D files for this project please?

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Benjamin Prescher wrote 01/24/2021 at 16:25 point

Hi - the files are not open source. You can look here instead:

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Meg wrote 01/11/2021 at 21:00 point

hi, great work; where can we access the 3D files for this project please?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Benjamin Prescher wrote 03/07/2020 at 18:54 point

Wow! Thank you for the great interest and great feedback!

Since I have already received several inquiries: Yes, I am thinking about further publishing the project (possibly even for replication). However, further development steps are required before this project is suitable for the general public. I will continue to follow the project and post updates from time to time. I am looking forward to mails and suggestions about the project. Greetings Benjamin!

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Leif wrote 03/05/2020 at 13:02 point

Hey Benjamin-

Great project! I am a High School Technology teacher in NY- this would be a great project that I could adapt for my robotics class to tackle. If you post a link to your fusion 360 file I'd love to see if some of the components could be adapted to get cut out on our laser engraver instead of 3d printed. Thanks for the great ideas! Lets keep making this drone better!

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Galane wrote 03/05/2020 at 04:02 point

One more single propeller or coaxial / stacked twin propeller flyer *not* being used to build a functional copy of the one in "Runaway". ;)

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cr0sh wrote 03/04/2020 at 20:45 point

This is a very interesting project; I didn't realize the whole multi-vane thing tilted until I read the build notes. Do you think that - although more mechanically complex - if the individual small vanes tilted (think of something like how window blinds work, or hvac registers, or the vent direction control in some automobiles), if it would work better or worse? That's how I originally thought it worked.

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Gelstronic wrote 03/04/2020 at 18:06 point

Very nice, do you plan to publish more information so that the copter can be rebuilt ?

What Lipo do you use and what is the weight ?

Keep up the good work !

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joel.godin wrote 03/04/2020 at 17:15 point

Here's a similar one from 2017 Japan if you want to see how it flys.

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gregory simmons wrote 02/07/2020 at 14:54 point

@Benjamin Prescher  where did you find  the 

TMS320F280049PM available online?

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Benjamin Prescher wrote 02/07/2020 at 20:41 point

You can get them on the TI store for e.g.

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Dan Maloney wrote 02/05/2020 at 17:28 point

I like it, reminds me a little of the training drone that zapped Luke in Episode IV. 

So there's no countertorque except for the air vanes?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Benjamin Prescher wrote 02/05/2020 at 19:18 point

Haha nice comparison! Yes, the control system balances the torque and aligns the air blades accordingly so that the drone does not turn.

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