Phone DroneThe convenience of modern technology gadgets has made many tech enthusiasts eager to acquire their own iPhones, laptops and tablets.

This is especially since these devices can today be used to improve both one’s social and career life. Could you imagine a world without a smartphone or laptop? Good, you get the picture – unbearable!

Now thanks to a startup based in Idaho called xCraft, there is a new tech ‘toy’ in town that should definitely find its way at the top of your must acquire list. xCraft has simply named it PhoneDrone. Just as the name suggests, this is a drone, but is nothing like the usual drones you’ve seen before. Actually, the PhoneDrone is an iPhone that has been converted into a drone.

As a startup that mainly specializes in drones, the xCraft team explains that they thought wouldn’t it be nice to have a drone that was simple and within the reach of everyone? It is with this in mind that they came up with the idea of creating a 3D Printed Smartphone drone. The drone essentially would be an exoskeleton designed in such a way that there is space left for your phone to fit in.

Forget about what we have seen before, where a smartphone is just used to control a drone via an app. The PhoneDrone makes your smartphone part and parcel of the drone itself.

Another really intriguing factor about the PhoneDrone is that it will be incredibly cheap. According to JD Claridge and Charles Manning, who are the main creators of this iPhone drone, PhoneDrone will be offered to the market in two main ways. The first is it will be provided as a pre-manufactured kit that is ready to assemble. This will be the best option for those who for some reason don’t want to go through the trouble of printing out the relevant parts using their 3D printer in order to put together the drone.

Better than that, xCraft is providing a significantly frugal DIY 3D Printing Kit that comes with all the imperative 3D printing files that enthusiasts can use to fabricate their own 3D printed smartphone drones. Generally this DIY kit will include 3D printing files, four motors, necessary hardware and electronics such as the motherboard.

In consideration of the fact that some users have relatively small sized 3D printers, Charles Manning and JD Claridge have designed the parts in such a way that they can fit on small to average sized desktop printers accommodating pretty much every user out there. So far what is considered the largest part is only about 5.8 × 5.8 inches.

Those who have their own 3D printers and have no problem creating PhoneDrones can buy such DIY kits at only $99. Pre-manufactured units on the other hand are currently being sold at $199 but the quantity is limited. The price for the pre-made units will increase to $249 once the limited quantity is over.

xCraft has already raised close to a third of their Kickstarter goal of $250,000 with still about three weeks left to go before their campaign comes to an end. Clearly, more and more people are thrilled by this amazing idea of converting a smartphone into a drone whenever one feels like.

How the PhoneDrone Works

One thing has contributed a lot towards the popularity of the PhoneDrone is the fact that it is extremely easy to use. Users do not require any previous experience with drones to be able to use their PhoneDrones.

It doesn’t really matter whether you are a novice when it comes to drones or not. The PhoneDrone’s concept is very simple in that users attach their smartphone to a 3D printed exoskeleton of a drone. The drone will come with a free app that you need to install into the smartphone you want to place within the 3D printed exoskeleton. There is also another app that you will have to install in the smartphone you are going to use to control the drone better known as the ‘Drone Controller’.

Although we talk about the iPhone a lot here, the app is also available for Android. There is currently a limited list of compatible devices, but it should work on many similar generation Android phones and the list is sure to grow inline with the popularity of the PhoneDrone.

PhoneDrone has a couple of cool features that allow you to easily control it. These include ‘how high to fly’, ‘where to go’ and ‘return to owner’ features. With these features, you can control how high the drone flies just to make sure that it does not run into a building. Moreover, you can choose where you want it to go and you can also set it up such that it returns back to you when the battery is about to die.

Possible Uses for the PhoneDrone

There is no telling just how many functions the PhoneDrone can be used for. Even then, there are a number of upsides that have already come up as a result of its use. For instance, when you’re going for your usual morning run, how about have your own ‘personal bodyguard’ watching over you? People who are engaged in extreme sports will particularly find this to be an advantage of the PhoneDrone that they can utilise.

The PhoneDrone can also act as a home monitoring Robot, guarding your home. Not to mention, real estate agents can use it as a virtual tour device to give their clients an aerial view of a certain property. This will allow property buyers to have excellent views of a property before making a purchase decision. What’s more is if there’s a particular game or event that you would like to have real time feeds of, the PhoneDrone is the perfect device to stream live videos of the event with.

Coming closer to home, perhaps its time you forget about your usual selfie-sticks. PhoneDrone provides an ever better opportunity to take cool and breathtaking aerial selfies of yourself, friends and family.

Conclusion

No doubt Steve Jobs must have a wide grin on his face wherever he is because since the advent of the iPhone back in January 9th, 2007; it has given birth to many other wonderful creations that have marvelously changed our world today. Eight years down the road and a basic smartphone is not basic anymore. Talk about a gaming device, a media player, a camera and even a personal assistant – all roads lead you to the iPhone.

And if the PhoneDrone is any indicator, the uses of the smartphone are likely to increase in the coming years through the use of 3D Printing Technology. PhoneDrone in itself has literally taken the drone technology to a whole new level.

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RC Car 3D Printed TyresYou may remember that back in March I designed and 3D printed some Wheels and Tyres for my Kyosho Mini-Z 4DW Buggy.

For the design I used Tinkercad and for the 3D printing I used PLA plastic for the wheels and NinjaFlex for the tyres.

They worked really well as you can see from this YouTube Video, but the tyres were very basic and more of a proof of concept than a serious design.

Well, after discovering the OpenSCAD 3D Design Tool recently I figured that it would make a great experiment if I were to design some high quality, fully customizable off road tyres.

This design is still a work in progress but you can see from the pictures and video that they are indeed customizable, 3D printable and are looking pretty good so far.

OpenSCAD TyreAs well as 3D printing a small set to fit my Mini-Z RC car I also downloaded a 1/10 Scale Hex Drive Wheel from Thingiverse so I could modify the OpenSCAD tyre parameters and make what is so far the largest thing I’ve created using NinjaFlex, an off road tyre for a 1/10 scale buggy.

I went though a few iterations of designing, testing and tweaking the Mini-Z tyres before finalising them. Altering the wall thickness, infill and printing temperature all played an important part in creating an optimal tyre.

A shell (wall) thickness of 3, an infill of 0% (hollow), a layer height of 0.2mm and quite a hot temperature of 235 degrees ensured the tyres were flexible but strong. Anything less than 235 degrees meant that the NinjaFlex didn’t fuse as well as it should and the tyres looked like they could disintegrate during heavy use.

The much larger 1/10 scale tyre also printed really well, but the parameters I had to use so it fitted the wheel meant it needed supports. Supports break off quite easily in PLA plastic, but not in NinjaFlex rubber, so I really need to redesign the wheel rim and the tyre so supports are not required.

I know how to do this and plan to do it soon, but a little bug in OpenSCAD is preventing me from designing what I really want. It’s frustrating but like any problem I’ve faced, I will solve it somehow.

3D Printed TyreDuring the testing of the Mini-Z tyres I was removing and refitting the wheels quite a lot and noticed that the standard plastic wheel nuts were becoming looser, with one of them threading completely.

With only three wheel nuts left there was only one thing for it, to design and 3D print some new ones.

Here’s the design for the new wheel nuts and again after a few iterations of tweaking and testing they worked really well. If you look at the car picture you can just see them printed in blue and holding on the cool looking florescent PLA wheels.

3D Printed Wheel NutBack in March when I created my first NinjaFlex proof of concept tyres the weather outside was rainy (as it often is in the UK) so my YouTube video had to be shot indoors on carpet.

Well, today it’s fine outside so I created myself a little ramp from a door mat and a football (as you do) and filmed a video of the RC car in action with the new tires fitted.

It’s filmed in high definition and turned out ok so feel free to have a look at this little beast in action. Yes I know I really need to mow the lawn in the background, but 3D printing is much more fun so the lawn can wait a little longer :)

I uploaded my first ever OpenSCAD Design to Thingiverse a few weeks ago and I have every intention of uploading this tyre too, but I don’t feel it’s quite ready yet.

Incidentally this design I uploaded (Roller Blind Beaded Cord Connector) was the smallest thing I’d ever designed and 3D printed, until today that is. The Mini-Z wheel nut is even smaller, about 6mm across and takes less than a minute to print, even when set to a slow (30mm/s) print speed.

Anyway, I’ll be sure to post it on Twitter as soon as the tyre design is finished and uploaded to Thingiverse.

Thanks for reading and feel free to Like, Share and Comment if you found this article interesting.

Happy 3D printing.

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We all remember that frog in our biology classroom that we dissected so eagerly to learn about the inner workings of living organisms. However, while the procedure increased our knowledge, it left us with a feeling of guilt for sacrificing the ill-fated frog in the name of education. Dissection of animals (termed necropsy) has been […]

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