I was reminded by the Pict'Earth guys last weekend that one of the best all-purpose planes for carrying cameras, GPS recorders and any other sort of equipment you want to test is the Multiplex EasyStar, a virtually unbreakable powered glider. Because it's made of elastopore foam you can carve out the equipment compartment to carry pretty much anything you want, and the same foam protects everything in case of a "hard landing".

EasyStars are available for $54 without the radio equipment. This post is just a quickie to show you what else you'll need top make them good UAV platforms.

Although the kit comes with a brushed motor, I suggest you upgrade to a brushless so you can carry heavier loads with ease. This motor is a perfect fit and has power to spare. I matched it with this ESC. As always, you'll want Li-Ion batteries if you can afford them. An 11.1v, 2200 mAh pack will allow you to fly for more than half an hour under power. A 6x4 prop fits perfectly

For a radio, almost anything with six channels or more will do. The EasyStar has compartments pre-cut for servos; the HITec HS81s fit them best.

Finally, here's an important point. With the more powerful brushless motor, you'll find that rudder is really too small to be effective. You need to make it bigger to increase its "authority", which both helps in more extreme moves and at slow speed. The easiest way is to glue or double-sided-tape two business cards to the rudder. Here's a picture of one such mod (I didn't bother to trim mine as neatly as this guy did):

Once you've done all that you can shove all manners of cameras and such in the equipment area. If you don't want to carve holes in the bottom, you can always just bolt a camera to a bit of wood and strap it to the top, like this.

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Comment by John on February 16, 2009 at 12:26pm
Another mod that will give you a bit more control is to add ailerons to accommodate FMA copilot and ardupilot. An excellent guide can be found at the following link,
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=350408&page=14
Comment by John on February 16, 2009 at 12:29pm


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on February 16, 2009 at 12:43pm
We'll be releasing a version of ArduPilot that doesn't need the ailerons this week. Does both navigation and stabilization with the stock rudder setup.
Comment by James Turner on February 16, 2009 at 12:48pm
will you be able to flash upgrade the existing Ardupilot? the only reason I ask is because I just ordered one through sparkfun last night and having stabilization and no requirement for ailerons means I could use with my existing easystar.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on February 16, 2009 at 1:18pm
Yes. The ArduPilots do not ship with any autopilot software at all. They all need to be programmed, and you can just use whichever version of the program you want. In this case, you'd want to use the EasyStar version. It will also require a little bit of cutting and soldering of the FMA sensors so they can plug into the ArduPilot's digital I/O connectors.
Comment by James Turner on February 16, 2009 at 1:36pm
Thanks for the reply so quickly, That sounds great and I'm looking forward to receiving my board.
Comment by John on February 16, 2009 at 4:33pm
Nice developments to hear and read about, I noticed a similar post after posting the pic myself. I sure you guys are working hard to get it out. I'm sure we're all hoping to try it this if the weather clears up weekend?
Comment by Thomas Pyo on May 3, 2009 at 5:51pm
Hello, I've been lurking for quite a while b/c I didn't really have anything to say, other than fawning adulation. That having been said, I'm a huge fan of what Chris and Jordi are doing, and I've been looking for something like the ArduPilot for years. Paparazzi was really hard for me to grasp and it was just too powerful for what I wanted to do. I'm also very impressed with how good the software is. It is well documented and easy to follow, This website and the support everyone is providing is also very encouraging, and I've noticed that there is a lot of patience being exercised when a newbie asks a question for the 100th time. I find the absence of elitist jerks very refreshing.

Anyway, calling the Easy Star "Indestructible"- Har har. I put that to the test. I'm currently putting it back together. I bought it so that I could follow your project to the T (I even went so far as buying the radio and servos you recommended). When I flew today it was windy and it seemed like I had no left turn capability. I didn't upgrade the motor or add the rudder extension, but I'm wondering- is it possible to fly this thing in 10 mph winds?

It's so light that I'm inclined to say no, but then I start thinking, "Wait a minute. It's a freaking glider!"

I'm going to glue this sucker back together and make the rudder larger and see how it behaves in zero wind.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on May 3, 2009 at 6:10pm
My EasyStar needs a lot of left rudder trim and a 50% rudder area extension. But I can fly in 15-20mph winds with it (with the brushless upgrade). It is pretty vulnerable to the wind, so you've got to be a pretty good pilot to handle it. If you're just starting, you'll definitely be happier with less wind.

But it glues together great! At this point my original EZ is mostly glue.
Comment by Jerry Turner on May 13, 2009 at 8:44pm
Here is a plug-and-play system that I have been wanting to put together for a while now. Notice the laser cut Easy Star replacement cockpit at the very bottom of the page. I gotta have one of these soon.

http://www.rangevideo.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=49&products_id=135&zenid=2313566819607541d9a0593d7ddd07a6

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