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$70 DIY Landing Mode Inspire Case

Sep 19, 2017
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Let me first start off with this, I do see the irony that I will spend +$3500 on a drone yet 'cheap out on a case'. But to me, spending $500 on a case from GPC or wherever is WAY overkill unless you are flying/beating the ever lovin tar out of your equipment.

Lets start with the parts. Everything is fairly cheap. The foam isnt the best, super annoying to cut. I would recommend some polyethylene foam online, a 2-3in thick foam sheet around 2'x2' should suffice. It also solves the detail foam because it looks nicer and is easy to cut. Another, more expensive option is Kaizen foam. Its little 1/8in layers of foam stacked up. Lots of custom options but its pricey. I used the detail foam because the green stuff doesnt cut well with a hotknife so I used the EVA foam mats to cut the details. It is also much more stiff. I used my 3D printer to make some cut templates to save me some hassle. You will have a lot of left over foam and fiberglass resin which helps cut down on the cost.

Parts list:
$59 Case: 35in Mobile Job Box Husky 35 in. Mobile Job Box-222167 - The Home Depot
$7 Foam for volume: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Morning-Glory-18-x18-x2-High-Density-Craft-and-Cushion-Foam/44106462
$14 Foam for detail: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Gold-s-Gym-High-Impact-Flooring-Puzzle-Mat-6-Pieces/21672523
$20 Fiberglass resin and mat
$8 Paint: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Rust-Oleum-248914-Auto-Truck-Bed-Coating-Aerosol/16652310

So long time viewers of the forum may recognize this case. It has been used for the Inspire 1 before but people dismissed it for the Inspire 2 due to height restrictions and size. The Inspire 2 is just BARELY too big for the case, but many things in life can be solved with a rotary tool.

To Start off, cuts are made on both sides along the red line. This allows for the depth the Inspire 2 needs, and the footprint to be solved. Make sure to leave about 1 in around the cut for later. Next, slightly heat the top of the case with a hot air gun or blow torch. This requires some finesse, but once soft, use something glass (and not from the kitchen) to slightly bow out the plastic. This gives room for some foam. black-husky-portable-tool-boxes-222167-1f_1000.jpg

With those cuts made, you now must fill the gap. I found a clever way. Not listed on the parts sheet is a cutting board from the dollar store. They are SUPER thin and slick. Using this, I made the outside shape of the box and glued it on. Now, pretty much nothing sticks to these boards. Some cheap 5min epoxy around the outside edges is enough. Provides a slight bond with some mechanical hold. The 5 min stuff isnt that strong, and the cheap stuff doesnt bond well but this is intentional because they are just temporary. Just dont let it cure all night. Start fiberglassing withing an hour of application. With the boards in place, The inside of the box is fiberglassed. The goal is to seal the box, so make sure everything sticks down well. A trick I found is to score the the box around the edge with a burr bit in a dremel, gives the resin something to grab on to. As you can see, its a little messy (no fiberglass expert). A way to clean this up might be spraying some flex seal or something like that along the edges. Its black, so it blends in. Its a seal, so keeps moisture out. Also rubberized so it protects the Inspire from the fiberglass.
PANA5369 (Medium).jpg
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With the inside sealed, The box is technically ready, but I want to look at least semi professional when showing up to a shoot, so the outside needs to look ok. To do this, I just fiberglassed a few layers to smooth things out, then used some body filler to fix any cracks. As you can see, I didnt try too hard on this stage, its a good 10 foot mod. :eek:
PANA5363 (Medium).jpg

I then painted the box with truck bed liner. This stuff is strong and will bend. Also provides some texture. 2-3 coats seems to be plenty.

Now for the inside.

I used the green foam to make up the volume I needed. Once that is achieved, I used the templates I printed to cut out the shapes for the batteries, remotes, etc. The EVA foam is annoying to cut and eats up razor blades. With all the layers cut, I glued them lightly. As you can see, I have room to add more gear so I want the foam to come apart if needed. I also printed a prop holder to secure the props.
PANA5365 (Medium).jpg PANA5366 (Medium).jpg PANA5367 (Medium).jpg
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Overall, I like this case alot. It really supports the Inspire and also allows for a mobile point to take off. The only think I would change is the foam. Could really make it look professional with my hotwire cutter and some more time. But I wanted a weekend project. It has a TON of room. I could easily modify the bottom to fit all of my camera gear. You can easily carry a stupid amount of batteries, 2 remotes, props, and more in this case.

Installing the Inspire is a little finicky. You put it in a 45* angle, then begin rotating it down while moving the back legs back. Once its done once, its super easy.

I havent seen anyone else do something like for the Inspire 2. I honestly thought about refining the process and trying to sell these but most people probably will just buy the GPC one. After all, we all did spend $3k on a drone.

  • The green foam CANNOT be cut with heat. It creates a sticky goo
  • The EVA can be cut with heat, but burns if too hot
  • ^^^^ I cannot stress this enough. Some fumes released when a glue cures can eat away at rubber seals. Silicon is notorious for this. I dont know if epoxy needs this, but it doesnt hurt to wait.

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