This project is researching and developing, the implementation of a hydrogen fuel cell into a small autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle.
The aircraft will be a development platform for the integration of a Horizon 100W hydrogen fuel cell, along with the development of eco power management to increase endurance.
Using ArduPilot Mega 2.5
and a RaspberryPi
with WiFi dongle, flight and power data can be obtained and transmitted in real time to a laptop, over a network or the internet. The system can also accommodate a webcam (to be upgraded to a GoPro 3) and stream all this data on a user friendly webpage.
Try the first link below for my YouTube channel, the second link for the code:
Overweight testing of the X8 has begun. A few modifications include a larger prop 16x8" folding and fiberglass tape on the lower wing. Flying at 5.6kg very well
, next stage to push towards 6kg!
Calculations on wing loading done by Robert of NuvAero Flight Systems give promising leads to the capabilities of the X8:
X8 has 80 sq. dm of wing area. Lets compare it to the popular Gatewing X100 which is 23 sq. dm. Gatewing is 4.4lbs so has a wing loading of 31.5 oz/sq. ft. Cruises around 75km/hr and reported stall speed of 45 km/hr.
Our X8 at 8.5lbs has a wing loading of 15.8 oz/sq. ft. At 9.9 lbs it would be 18.5 oz/sq. ft. In fact our X8 would need to weigh 16.8 lbs to have the same wing loading as the Gatewing.
I'd say that at 8.5lbs it flys great. Could easily handle a couple extra pounds as far as flight characteristics go. Would consider proper carbon fibre wing spars and maybe some fiberglass packing tape first.
Watch this space for results!
I am also in need of peoples flight data; I need current, voltage and throttle for any flights you do, which I can include in my PhD research. Inbox me if you can help!Any advice, experience or ideas please let me know!
- SkyWalker X8 Airframe
- ArduPilot Mega 2.5 Autopilot
- Spektrum AR12010 12Channel DSMX Receiver
- Hyperion ZS-4025-10 505kV motor
- 16x10" non-folding 2 bladed propeller
- Hyperion Titan 85HV Opto PO31 ESC
- Hyperion G3 CX-25C 4000mAh 7s LiPo Battery
- Hitec HS7965MG Servos
- Spektrum DX8 Transmitter
The X8 has successfully flown at 5.6kg. It flew well, however upon landing (on long grass) the main spar snapped. I have fitted a new spar and have also fitted plywood plates in the wing root (there is already a recess in the X8's design for this).
I have also made good progress on the code for the fuel cell controller, which is available on github
. I'm also using MAVProxy
to save all the flight data onboard and transmit it to the ground over WiFi at the same time.
The X8 has successfully flown at 4kg, rocketing into the sky with no issues. I have also now finished t
he fist prototype of my hybrid power setup, which will eventually see the raspPi take over from the Horizon controller to manage the whole system. And, of course, the various components will be condensed onto a single breakout board rather than wires & bits everywhere!
All suggestions for improvements welcome!
Older Older News
In order to take such a high weight I have beefed up the structure using fiberglass tape. I am also running a 4Ah 7s LiPo with 1800W motor (needs to be a high voltage for fuel cell integration). Currently I am running a smaller 12x7" prop which stalls if much above 50% throttle, stopping torque roll completely. I will up the prop as I increase the weight.
The X8 has now flown! Cruising around on 20% throttle on the first flight. I shall be doing some more flights (weather permitting) and collecting some data & video.
All-in-all this is a very impressive aircraft, currently weighing in at 2.72kg including about 500g of ballast.
I've also got the raspberry pi transmitting a nice HD webcam with low latency (~0.25s) and about 15fps!
I have successfully moved from using XBee to connect our vehicles together and to the ground, and have replaced them with a WiFi network. It could be set up as an ad-hoc network, but for development I am using a standard home router to host a wireless-g network, which my laptop with mission planner connects to, as do our vehicles, at the full 54Mbps (less errors than 100Mbps). This is 100x faster than the XBee's, and in testing has proved to have a better range and signal quality. Below is an image showing the new setup, and how "plug-and-play" it is. I have no experience of networking but this was very easy to set up in 30mins.
Much Older News
I have now received ArduPilot Mega 2.0 (APM2)
, a full autopilot suite for model aircraft. This has a 6DOF accelerometer/gyro MEMS sensor, static and dynamic pressure, GNSS (GPS) and a magnetometer (compass). Is can be used in pass through mode (manual control), fly-by-wire for automatic stabilisation and autonomous for waypoint following. It has 2.4GHz telemetry to communicate with ground station software on my laptop, where missions can be updated in flight!
This has now had three flights, all successful! It is heavy, requiring 60-70% throttle to cruise in wind. I have tuned the low level stabilisation gains allowing for carefree handling. Airspeed hold is proving to be more difficult for FBW-B mode, so when the weather perks up I will go straight for autonomous circuits with me commanding throttle!