Gather all the mandatory electronics parts of a drone inside a 3D printed TPU enclosure, with connectors as only interface with the outside world:
- ESC with MT30 connectors
- Flight controller with integrated Vtx
- Low ESR capacitor
Why an enclosure ?
So far, electronic protection in a quad rely on the frame itself to prevent physical damage and on PCB coating for moisture protection. Although this is enough in most cases, it’s not bullet-proof. Ultimatly, a branch may knock off a component from the flight controller, or grass and dust accumulation on the board may cause some issue. Crash in wet and tall grass, and you’re good to clean up your flight controller..
A sealed enclosure will prevent all those hazard, regardless of the frame used or the flying environment.
Ease of use and flexibility
An other benefit of this idea is the flexibility it brings in terms of repair or part swapping. Let’s say you have build a nice TPU stack with high quality components. You can know use it on different quad, swap a motor on the field without soldering, or even change all the motor to a new set of different size. With all the extra protection and connectors acting as strain relief on solder join, a stack like this could survive several quads and just be moved quickly to a new build in minutes.
Limits and usefulness
As I see it today, the enclosure will be designed around a specific 4 in 1 ESC and a specific flight controller, meaning I have to choose now which combo I will use for the lifespan of the stack. This is a big drawback, as the hardware in this hobby can evolve very quickly, leaving 6 months old boards obsolete. Furthermore, all this protection and connectors will add some weight to a build, which is usually the last thing people want in their quads.
But I think this design can be useful for some peole who are looking for highly reliable setup, like professional drone operator. As for the weight (spoiler, it’s about 30g), it will be totally manageable for 5″ and bigger quads. And for the parts obsolence, hardware evolution seems to have slowed down lately. As far as I know, BLHeli_32 has no successor planned, and an F7 flight controller should be future-proof for few years.
Anyway, I will explore this concept in the months to come. Feel free to give me you though on this project in the comment section.