Flying First-Person View (FPV) drones is an exciting hobby that seems well-suited to technical makers. I started into it nearly six months ago but am just getting a handle on the very broad range of technical knowledge around the hobby. Brushless motors, electronic speed controllers, flight controllers, video transmitters, radio control protocols, receivers, antennas, lipo batteries, chargers, FPV goggles… and there’s more! It’s a lot if you’re the kind of person who likes to look before you leap, but it provides for hours upon hours of research, learning and entertainment. Not to mention that flying these things is a lot of fun!
I’ve discovered that 3D printing and drones seem to go hand-in-hand. While most of the frames are made of a carbon composite for its light weight and strenght, 3D printed, typically TPU, parts are often used to mount components like cameras and antennas. There are 3D printed frame designs available for the smaller, lighter weight drone classes, but whether they can hold up depends a bit on your skill as a pilot and the type of flying you like to do. In other words, it depends on how often you crash (not whether you will crash… you will). Designing frames for 3D printing is something I plan to explore more, hopefully soon.
In the mean time, I’ve made a couple of accessories for my TBS Tango 2 RC Radio. Here’s a quick video to introduce them.
The Tango 2 is a full featured radio controller in relatively compact form factore. You can easily throw it into your backpack but the gimbal sticks are prone to snagging and its just not great to have these sorts of parts get unnecessarily banged around or held in extreme positions. There is a Tango 2 Pro model which has folding gimbals, but I think they’re overly complicated for what you get.
Gimbal guards are definitely not a new idea and 3D models exist for many transmitters, included the Tango 2. However, the popular models I found weren’t designed with the constraints of 3D printing in mind. My design efforts focus on these constraints from the start, and I think stands out in terms of ease of printing and usability. This gimbal guard, which is designed to fit the stock 8mm stick ends, stays in place but is also easy to remove because it only grips a portion of the stick length end and provides a brim type handle that provides some grip to pull against. The bottom side is tailored to exactly fit the top of the gimble and its recess in the controller, preventing any stick movement. It prints easily in TPU with no required supports.
The Tango 2 is natively a Crossfile protocol radio and support of other protocols requires installation of the TBS Module Bay.
However, when a module is not installed, the pins on the bay are exposed and are subject to snagging and damage if left bouncing around in your pack. You can find a couple of available 3D models for module bay covers (there even one linked on the Tango 2 Radio listing referenced above), but as was the case for the gimbal guards, they don’t seem to consider 3D printing constraints. This design requires no supports and orients the thin interlocking features for the module bay along the printer’s horizontal axes for strength. I also incorporated the TBS logo, which renders surprisingly well since its printed on a vertically printed face.