It has been some time since my last blog post. I have kept myself busy with work and projects. For the last couple of years I have been working on trying to develop an airframe that combines aesthetics with functionality. Some may remember some of my previous blog posts where I presented my attempts this.
I have never been satisfied with most of the kits offered through other retailers. They all seem to incorporate the same parts and means of construction; lots of brackets, screws, and wiring that just decrease overall efficiency. Popular consensus is that carbon offers the best rigidity and overall structural integrity, but at a cost. I knew that there had to be a way to bring the cost down of a high quality carbon airframe without sacrificing functionality. At the same time I wanted to offer a higher degree of aesthetics than can currently be found without breaking the bank.
After many prototypes this is what I have come to. The construction is about as simple as it gets, and really light. I have greatly minimized the amount of hardware needed to assemble a solid carbon frame that can handle some of the hardest of tumbles. Many of my previous prototypes utilized a large number of machined parts, which greatly increased the total cost to produce. This version uses less than half the amount of previous versions. The bodies are thermoformed out of ABS or Kydex. The version seen here is Kydex. The bodies are easily trimmed and then fastened to the airframe using two small nylon thumb screws.
I have been a long time supporter of the APM and DIY Drones. You simply cannot get the robustness of an APM out of an off the shelf autopilot, especially at an APM price point. Yes, it requires tinkering and there is a learning curve, but it is well worth it when all is said and done. I remember a time not too long ago when the APM1280 was barely more than an expensive stabilization unit, and there were less than forty members in the Arducopter user group. Boy has the project come a long way, and it just keeps getting better and better. This is why all of my builds are designed around the APM. Next will be the PX4.
I wish I had some good flight video of the unit to post a link to, but this was a custom order AP rig. A few test flights, some tweaking and it was shipped off. In the meantime I am working on refining some of my fabrication processes to get the production time and cost down. The airframe pictured would cost less than half that of a comparable airframe If I didn't have to outsource some of the machining. My hopes are that after selling a few more of these units I plan to buy my own desktop milling machine where I can cut the parts myself. I already have the parts in Solidworks and Sketchup, just need a machine. My goal is to offer a high quality and aesthetically pleasing airframe at a fraction of the going price. Almost there.