Looking for advice on a university project

I am working in a 10 person group on a project in Aero E. Long story short its a two semester project, first semester we came up with a design for a full scale VTOL Tilt-wing 4 person flying car. This semester, one of our main tasks is to build a functioning "demonstrator" model of our design. The purpose is not to be as close to our full scale as possible, but just to demonstrate important aspects of our design. 

While we have a number of great engineers in the group, we have very little model aircraft experience among us. I myself have flown numerous models owned by my GF's dad who is into the hobby on a dozen or more occasions, but the only thing I've built is a 450 quad that I finished this week actually. We have a couple other guys who have flown small planes and helicopters before, but nothing close to this scale and complexity. 

We'd like to build a model with 3' wingspan and functioning tilt wing for vertical takeoff and to transition to forward flight. We're trying to figure out exactly how to design the model to accomplish this, and this is where I have questions for you guys.

Here is a solidworks version of what we envision for the model. http://i.imgur.com/xSZOI2W.jpg 

We have since revised this to have a smaller fuselage, but I don't have that version on me now. Our full scale design has just two engines on the wingtips. For the model, we are considering adding a small motor/servo to the tail for yaw control and better pitch stability, essentially making it a tricopter in vertical flight. We don't intend to do much maneuvering or flying in vertical, only enough to get high enough to transition to forward, and then to transition back to vertical to land. In forward flight, we will have traditional plane control surfaces controlled by servos.

Questions

1) Do you see any major problems with this plan?

2) Is arducopter the right choice for this project? Will we need to do custom programming of the flight controller to accomplish this, and if so, where is the best place for info on how to do that? What about transmitter/receiver? What would you recommend for a receiver/transmitter?

3) What is the best way to mechanically accomplish tilting the wing? Is it possible to do with the wings attached in the middle of the fuselage as pictured?

4) Good way to mount motors to the wingtips? I believe we are strengthening the wings with aluminum spars, how can we effectively mount to aluminum?

We have a lot of equipment and budget at our disposal, we have a big 3d foam cutting machine for the fuselage, wings, etc. Any more advice that you can offer? Is there somewhere else I should post this?

Thanks!

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Replies

  • It's been more than 5 years and I want to know how your project ended. How did you manage to solve the stated problems and is your team working on your new project now?
    Thanks in advance for the answer!
  • Zach,Here are some thoughts to your questions-

    Questions

    1) Do you see any major problems with this plan?

    As you accelerate to convert to an airplane, the AOA of the wing is constantly changing with both speed and your thrust angle and could be stalled for most of the accleration. It will be much more difficult to control both the vertical axis (climb descent) and x axis acceleration independently. A tiltrotor avoids this by moving the thrust vector and not the wing itself.

    2) Is arducopter the right choice for this project? Will we need to do custom programming of the flight controller to accomplish this, and if so, where is the best place for info on how to do that? What about transmitter/receiver? What would you recommend for a receiver/transmitter?

    Arducopter is probably the most powerful software you can use for customization, but as of right now VTOL software is still in early development and is not a part of the master software. To customize arducopter for VTOL is  a significant amount of work (over a year for us now). If you want to be able to autonomously navigate, this will be another very large task. If you only want to demonstrate your vehicle manually with an RC Transmitter I think MultiWii VTOL is your quickest path.  Look at what the Vertex has done with it! I recommend this as a starter, but you may have to modify it to change your thrust vector. Most transmitters don't have thrust angle as a flight control that your fingers can reach. The FRSky does have something close!

    3) What is the best way to mechanically accomplish tilting the wing? Is it possible to do with the wings attached in the middle of the fuselage as pictured?

    Servocity.com will probably have something for this. Endless possibilities await.

    4) Good way to mount motors to the wingtips? I believe we are strengthening the wings with aluminum spars, how can we effectively mount to aluminum?

    This will be challenge. There are several VTOL that have done something similar. Look for wing copter and SLT VTOL

    Good Luck! Keep us posted

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