Mar 17, 2016 | By Alec

If you’ve been around the 3D printing block a few times, there will have been a time when you were tempted to build a 3D printable drone or quadcopter yourself. The designs are manifold, often free and the off-the-shelf electronics can be picked up for next to nothing. So what’s stopping you? If you were unconvinced before, then the IRIS+ by 3D Robotics will definitely convert you this time. A 3D printable drone made with off-the-shelf parts, it has been purposefully designed as a fully automated smart drone featuring a ‘Follow Me’ function that enables it to follow you and your smartphone around for some amazing footage. Without a doubt one of the most amazing 3D printable drones available – and it’s even free.

3D Robotics (or 3DR for short) is, of course, one of the most innovative UAV developers out there. Firmly committed to the open source movement, they are known for their transparency and openness as much as for their excellent drone designs. Last year, they released the Iris drone, a radio-controlled drone that could also fly between GPS-programmed points autonomously. Just last week they also showed an even more ambitious side to them, announcing a collaboration with Autodesk and Sony to map the world in 3D using a 3D scanning drone.

But the IRIS+ shows that they haven’t forgotten about the open source community either. Essentially an upgraded version of the Iris drone, it features some amazing autonomous flying abilities. What’s more, in light of the Made for Solo Project, they’ve just released it free of charge via MyMiniFactory, where users can download all the files and info needed to build it at home. “This is the first time we’ve released design files like this, and it’s in service to our commitment to the past, present and future of open source drones and the global community that made our drones like IRIS+ possible and popular. We encourage you to add to and embellish parts of the IRIS+ — by tapping the extraordinary power of 3D printing, you can truly make this drone your own,” they proudly say on their website.

So what is it capable of? Like its predecessor, the IRIS+ can either be flown manually, or by using its onboard GPS to fly between a series of preprogrammed points autonomously. The biggest feature of the new drone, however, is the Follow Me function, which enables autonomous flight above a GPS-enabled Android device. If you’re surfing with a GoPro on, you can essentially record yourself from the skies without any extra effort. What’s more, using its Tarot T-2D motorized gimbal mount, the drone will even keep you centered in the shot – pretty much guaranteeing some amazing footage.

Aside from that cool feature, the drone comes with a few other excellent features a state-of-the-art drone is expected to have: self-tightening propellers, LED orientation lights, lightweight parts, and more. The mount incorporates 2-axis stabilization, while it is also open for a GoPro Hero 3+ Silver edition camera. Using its Region of Interest function, the gimbal can be programmed to focus on a single GPS point throughout flight. Its remote control flying can be done through Mac, Windows, Android, or Linux, while you can even draw a flightpath on the map of the free DroidPlanner app – making drone control easier than ever before.

But obviously, it’s the autonomous flying options that make this drone stand out. When power runs out, the drone will even autonomously return to the take-off point. However, one battery charge should be good enough for up to 22 minutes of flight time, so that won’t happen very quickly. The only downside is that it doesn’t come with any type of collision avoidance system, so be careful where you use it.

Interested? Well, the drone can be purchased with prices starting at $750 USD (not including a GoPro), but you can also obviously 3D print one with the help of the MyMiniFactory download. The MyMiniFactory team has also taken the time to 3D print and assemble one so they can provide a good making tutorial.

As they reveal, the MyMiniFactory version was 3D printed in PLA with a 10% infill, taking about seven hours. The full 3D printer settings can be found here. Several other 3D printable accessories, including an extended landing gear, a mounting bracket for the DYS 3 axis gimbel and an FPB camera and transmitter mount can also be found on My Mini Factory. As it is quite a detailed build, you can find more details on the tutorial page here, and more info on installation of the electronics and all other components here. A full setup guide can also be found in the YouTube clip below.

 

 

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Ken wrote at 3/17/2016 5:32:16 PM:

Just don't do this in Canada where autonomous drone flights are illegal. ... the electronics can be picked up for next to nothing? HAHAHAHAHAHA



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