John Gaarsoe

Project by

John Gaarsoe

General Information

Aside from woodworking, I also bought my X-Carve machine to support another interest of mine: RC aircraft.

This is a custom designed quadcopter made from 2mm carbon-fiber sheets (main frame) and 1/4 inch thick 6061 aluminum plates (arms), both cut with my X-Carve machine.

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Material Description Price
Aluminum Sheet 6061

Aluminum Sheet 6061

Dimensions: 12 in × 12 in, Form: Sheet, Material: Aluminum, Thickness: .25 in

$25.49

Carbon Fiber Sheet

Carbon Fiber Sheet

Dimensions: 250mm × 400mm (+5mm/-2mm), Thickness: 2mm, Color: Black, Weave: 3k, Layers: 14

$86.49

$111.98
from Inventables

File Description Unit Price
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Upper Deck.crv

Upper Deck of Main Frame

$0

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Arm Spacer.crv

Spacers Used Between Lower and Middle Deck

$0

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Arm V3.crv

Aluminum Arm Vectors

$0

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Lower Deck.crv

Lower Deck

$0

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Lower & Middle & Upper.crv

All Decks in One File

$0

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Middle Deck.crv

Middle Deck

$0

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Lower Deck.dxf

Lower Deck DXF

$0

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Middle Deck.dxf

Middle Deck DXF

$0

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Upper Deck.dxf

Upper Deck DXF

$0

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Arm V3.dxf

Arm DXF

$0

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Arm Spacer.dxf

Arm Spacer DXF

$0

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InventablesCNCQuadPartsList.xlsx

$0

Download Zip

$0
from Inventables

1

Flexible Design

600 minutes

This design can accommodate any number of flight controllers, ESC, motors, etc. And how you assemble this quad will depend upon what electronic and mechanical parts you chose.

The main trick is spacing the lower, middle and upper decks of the main frame to accommodate the electronics you chose. Aluminum spacers of various lengths can be purchase online or at your local hobby shop.

If you put your ESCs (motor controllers) between the lower and middle decks, you can cut aluminum or carbon-fiber spaces (design file included) to place above and/or below your arms to allow enough room for the ESCs. But how you ultimately configure this is up to you.

If you are interested in building this type of project, you are probably already familiar with how to build a quadcopter, and I won’t explain that here.

The most critical part of this project is knowing how to cut the frame pieces and arms using your X-Carve machine.

I have included sample tool paths that have worked well for me for both the carbon fiber and aluminum.

The carbon fiber is fairly simple, and a standard composites bit will work fine.

For the aluminum, the bit makes a huge difference (as do the tool path parameters). And so far, the bit that I have gotten the best results with is the Kodiak b007btppvm bit (1/8 SE 2FL REGALUM).

And use the provided sample tool path parameters as a starting point. Also note that they are different depending upon the type of cut your are doing (cutouts vs. drilling, for example). This is intentional and helps to ensure good results.

Although I have not provided a lot of details here, please feel free to reach out to me if you are interested in building this project, and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.


This is in response to another forum member’s questions about cutting parameters:

The quiet-cut spindle should work fine with these parameters. But if it struggles any, just reduce the cut depth/feed rate and try again.

For this project, I actually used the same feed rate and plunge rate for cutting both the carbon fiber and the aluminum. (You can actually cut the carbon fiber much faster than this.) But I do plunge all the way through the material and then cut the full 2mm in one pass.

And for the aluminum, I use a couple of different strategies depending on the type of cut.

The bolt holes are 3mm, and I have found that you are better off to simply “drill” these rather than “cut” them. When you cut them, your router essentially draws a circle instead of just plunging strait down, and I have found that due to a small amount of flex in the system, including the bit, the holes are sometimes less symmetrical when you “cut” as opposed to “drill.”

Since both the bit and the hole are 3mm, I actually indicate in my “drilling” configuration that the tool is 2.9mm so that it will generate a tool path that is inside the circle rather than on it.

I also do two other things differently when drilling: When you plunge strait down, you are cutting with the tip of the bit only, and this actually takes more time, so I slow the plunge rate way down to .25mm per pass, and each pass is only .5mm deep. (You don’t actually notice the passes, because it just does one after the other strait down through the material, but this does create a brief pause between each step to give more time to clear out the material.) I also go .25mm deeper than the material. If you don’t, you sometimes don’t cut all the way through when drilling, because the material “pushes back” a bit.

For everything else (elongated holes, cutouts, etc), I use these parameters:

One critical component here is the cutting bit. I have tried a number of different aluminum-specific bits, and this one works significantly better than the other I have tried: Kodiak B007BTPPVM (1/8 SE 2FL REGALUM).

Aluminum Cutting Parameters:

Specified Bit Size: 3mm (It actually is. I just mention this, because for drilling I specify 2.9mm)
Cut Depth: .5mm per pass
Plunge Rate: .5mm/sec
Travel Speed: 3mm/sec

And one final note on these parameter: I had a professional machinist comment on my video and suggest that I be more aggressive and increase these substantially, and although I do value his experience and insight, these values were determined through a significant amount of trial and error to see what works best with these machines.

And you don’t seem to have a lot of leeway here: If you try to be more aggressive than I am here with these lower torque spindles (lower than the large production machines), you simply won’t get good results. Moreover, you will destroy your expensive bit in a hurry.

But if you do decide to experiment some yourself and happen to come up with something that works better, please post the details: I would love to see an even better way to do this.

Mike Benner
Is there a reason you went with aluminum arms and not carbon fiber?
Mike Benner
John Gaarsoe
This quad is designed for FPV flying rather than racing. And when you crash, aluminum actually bends and absorbs much of the shock and protects your expensive electronics whereas carbon fiber gives way entirely.
John Gaarsoe
John Gaarsoe
And although I don't use the aluminum for this reason, there is a significant cost savings too: They cost less than $2 each to fabricate.
John Gaarsoe
John Gaarsoe
Nor do you really sacrifice much flight time: The quadcopter in the video get about 12 minutes of flight time on one battery, which is actually pretty good for a quadcopter this size.
John Gaarsoe
John Gaarsoe
And by the way, Mike. The design file for the arms will work just as well with carbon fiber if you would rather go that route.
John Gaarsoe
Joel Wehr
Great project! I'm going to try to complete it on my Shapeoko 2. Could you post the feed/speed info that you used? I'm using the quiet cut spindle, and hoping that it is fast enough.
Joel Wehr
John Gaarsoe
Thanks, Joel! What software tool are you using? The uploaded files are for VCarve. If these won't work for you, let me know. I can also just provide the raw vectors that you can import into another software tool. I will update the instructions with the travel speed, plunge rates, etc.
John Gaarsoe
John Gaarsoe
Joel, I have updated my instructions and posted the details near the bottom. Please let me know if you have any questions when you review them.
John Gaarsoe
Joel Wehr
Do you like VCarve? I need to purchase a good program, but have only really looked at MeshCam. Is VCarve Desktop sufficient for most projects?
Joel Wehr
John Gaarsoe
Yes, I like VCarve. So far, it has been able to do everything I have needed to do, and I was happy to discover that the learning curve is not too steep: I watched a number of Youtube How-To videos and was able to start using it right away.
John Gaarsoe
John Gaarsoe
I also like the fact that it has the ability to import vectors from other sources, so you can use other design tools or even bitmap drawings to create vectors. I have, for example, been able to import some of my previously created OpenSCAD designs into VCarve.
John Gaarsoe
John Gaarsoe
I think you would be happy with VCarve. And they do have trial versions if you want to see what it can do before you purchase it.
John Gaarsoe
David Sohlstrom
Why did you only list i DXF file. There may be folks that have upgraded there XC to a different electronics and control software that can not use CRV files but can use DXF files and generate Gcode for there machine. I fall into this group.
David Sohlstrom
John Gaarsoe
Good point, David. I actually meant to upload the crv file for the middle deck rather than the dxf file.
John Gaarsoe
John Gaarsoe
And the reason I uploaded the crv files is because they contain sample tool paths so that people don't have to go through a lot of trial and error figuring out what works, especially for the aluminum. But it does also make sense to include the DXF file, so I have uploaded them also.
John Gaarsoe
David Sohlstrom
John I down loaded the zip to a new file folder. unzipped and opened lower deck in DraftSight and CamBam with no problems. CamBam was set to inches so it wanted to build a person carrying Quad copter. :)
David Sohlstrom
John Gaarsoe
Cool! :)
John Gaarsoe
John Gaarsoe
I'm glad those worked for you, David.
John Gaarsoe
Chris Rennie
John, that's beautiful work! I also build and fly quadcopters so this is very interesting and may well push me to finally take the plunge and get one of these machines! One cautionary word though - please do be careful with carbon fiber dust, that stuff isn't good to breath.
Chris Rennie
John Gaarsoe
Thanks, Chris! I fly planes also, and I use my X-Carve machine extensively to both design new models and to repair and fabricate mods for existing models.
John Gaarsoe
John Gaarsoe
And thanks for the note about carbon fiber dust: I do understand that it is bad news if it gets into your lungs, because your body has not way to break it down, so it kind of just gets stuck there. Anyone who is cutting carbon fiber should wear a mask at a minimum, if not a full respirator.
John Gaarsoe
Doug Hollingsworth
Thanks for the files. Do you have a bill of materials other than the frame components for those of us not that experienced with quadcopters?
Doug Hollingsworth
John Gaarsoe
I will put one together for you and post it, Doug.
John Gaarsoe
John Gaarsoe
Doug, I uploaded a spreadsheet with a list of all of the RC parts and web links for places you can purchase them. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or need any built tips. (My e-mail address is in the spreadsheet.)
John Gaarsoe
Doug Hollingsworth
Thanks John. I appreciate your time and your inspiring project.
Doug Hollingsworth
John Gaarsoe
You're welcome, Doug. And thank you.
John Gaarsoe