Obscure vibration dampener material tests for the Rev. III Tricopter

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Over these past few months, I have slowly been testing out various materials for absorbing vibrations in the Revision III tricopter. The goal was to eliminate the rolling-shutter effect (or jello-effect) from aerial video as much as possible.

If you don’t already know, this tricopter has its battery and camera equipment suspended from the main frame with three zip-ties. Dampening materiel is loosely compressed or adheared between these two subassemblies and is ultimately responsible for most of the physical vibration isolation. Usually this materiel is rolled into three separate ~1″ long by ~5/8″ wide cylinders and stuck between each of the three zip-tie loops.

Among the materials I have tested include vinyl furniture bumpons, Sugru blocks, double sided foam (vinyl) adhesive, and latex foams among other things. Most worked pretty well, but others were hard to come by or showed poor performance.

Here is a short list of my findings presented in a general order with the best (so far) near the top.

Orange latex foam rubber from HobbyKing [LINK]

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  • Preparation:
    • 30mm by 70mm strips were cut then loosely rolled into 25mm wide rolls. These rolls were then glued in place with CA glue to prevent unrolling. A small amount of CA glue was also used during installation to insure they stay in their intended spots.
  • Pros:
    • Very good vibration isolation performance (almost cloud-like; 9/10)
    • Allows for a wide degree of movement
    • Negligible “springiness” or “bounce” (in this instance)
    • Cheap
  • Cons:
    • A bit tedious to make
    • Fleshy orange color
    • Resonates at low oscillation frequencies brought on by certain PID values in multicopters.

Open-cell foam rolls.

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  • Preparation:
    • Approximately 1″ wide by 3″ long strips of 1/2″ thick open-cell foam are cut, then rolled into loose cylinders with the help of a slightly longer strip of duct-tape. These were then adhered into place with the aid of either glue or double sided tape (see picture).
  • Pros:
    • Good vibration isolation performance (8/10)
    • Cheap (foam came from some product packaging)
    • Durable
    • Reliable results
  • Cons:
    • A wee bit tedious to make

 White latex foam rubber from HobbyKing [LINK]

DSC_0238

  •  Preparation:
    • 30mm by 70mm strips were cut then loosely rolled into 25mm wide rolls. These rolls were then glued in place with CA glue to prevent unrolling. A small amount of CA glue was also used during installation to insure they stay in their intended spots.
  • Pros:
    • Good vibration isolation performance (7.8/10)
    • Negligible “springiness” or “bounce”
    • Ideal for those looking for more firm (compared to orange latex foam), but still functional dampeners
    • Cheap
  • Cons:
    • A bit tedious to make

Large furniture bumpons (~15mm tall)

DSC_0251

  • Preparation:
    • Peel and stick to intended area
  • Pros:
    • VERY quick and easy to install (bonus points here)
    • Ideal for racing or non-photography builds
    • Available at many retail and hardware stores
  • Cons:
    • Poor vibration isolation (but it’s still something; 2/10)

 Scotch Extreme Outdoor Mounting Tape

IMAG2740

  • Preparation:
    • 4″ to 6″ long strips were cut, peeled, then rolled into 5/8″ wide rolls. Wax-paper is used to prevent sticking on work surface.
  • Pros:
    • Fairly easy to make and incorporate
    • Firmly stays in place without any additional adhesives
    • Moderately acceptable vibration isolation (5/10)
  • Cons:
    • Probably not as effective in cold weather (materiel may become firm)
    • Attracts dirt
    • Foam materiel has some memory properties and may stay in ‘compressed’ state (perhaps from travel) for several seconds.

Molded Sugru blocks

[NO PICTURE]

  • Preparation:
    • Formed three little packets of Sugru into three little cubes and left to cure overnight. Later these were glued to their intended places in the tricopter.
  • Pros:
    • Fun to make?
  • Cons:
    • Very poor vibration isolation (Sugru is pretty solid when cured; 1/10)
    • Time consuming
    • Hard to find

Final thoughts

A couple things that are predicted to have acceptable results, but have yet to be tested include 1″ long segments of large (~15mm dia.) latex rubber tubing and generic rubber ball isolators.

Perhaps these findings might help you with your own multicopter build. Let us know what you think in the comments.

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