Oh dear, we’re pretty terrible at flying these things, the slightest bump and they explode into 100 pieces…

Another crash and another propeller has spun through all our cabling, slicing the delicate cables in two.

Another crash and it’s back to the workshop for a new frame and to desperately salvage the flight controller and radio.

What we need is something that can take a knock and be bashed about.What we need is something rugged that can protect all the expensive flight critical bits.

The challenge for a rugged drone is:

  1. Keeping all the delicate and expensive electronics safe.
  2. Making a frame that is strong enough or flexible enough to take an impact.

1. Keeping flight electronics safe

For us the obvious place to start was with a famously tough and rugged plastic case, the Pelicase… prompting many names such as the PeliHeli or Pelicopter!

We chose one of their small cases, confident everything would fit, and started 3D printing a honeycomb to house all the delicate internal parts. In the future we might be able to print this in a plastic rubber for even more protection. Looking good so far.

2. A tough, flexible frame

Next is to make a frame that will hold the motors, but won’t snap as soon as it sees a wall, or meets the ground rather aggressively.

For this we chose to be a bit radical and use flexible carbon fibre strips. These flex and bend on impact, much like the carbon running legs of paralympic runners.

rugged-drone-peliheli-06
Carbon frame flexed over the Pelicase

 

rugged-drone-peliheli-04
Making the fit just right

3D printed collars held the carbon neatly around the Pelicase and locked everything in place. These also gave us nice mounting points for some chunky batteries. More 3D printed parts placed the motors in a ‘dead cat’ configuration .

We love this design, it looks so good with a GoPro on the front. The matching aesthetic of the transparent Pelicase and GoPro housing. Think we’re ready for a test flight!

rugged-drone-peliheli-10
No amount of design can compensate for terrible pilots!

Hahahaha… oh dear!

For a brief moment there, we had the world’s first and only flying Pelican Micro 1020 case. Despite the apparent total annihilation on our first flight, the only thing that had actually broken was a prop and a 3D printed arm joint. The frame had sprung apart. All that tension in the curve was maybe a bit much.