Hi the idea here is to come up with a new UAV specific airframe design for the DIY community. Seeing that the AP's are rapidly improving and are cost effective for DIY we have no Airframe to match. We need something with Ailerons to start with, its the only way to fly properly and prevent nasties. A Pod design may be the most flexible as they can be interchanged, also if positioned at the CG it will help to keep the airframe light and reduce CG problems with differing Pods/Payloads.

We need some new standards for form factor for the AP and Payload to ease the pain of design and prevent the issues with adapting other designs. To start the ball rolling a few ideas below:

UAV specific design, long term platform
Cost effective, not cheap
Airframe with Rx, AP, Batt
Pod for payload/AP (Interchangeable for different missions/payloads) with own power
Pod design to form factor & Volume (maybe different Pod designs for same Airframe)
New AP form factor (standardization) for mounting and space utilization

Max Payload
Max weight to conform to legislation, also max speed
Duration, batt size & motor
Airframe weight (lower means more payload)
Pod vibration isolation
Sensor vibration isolation
Sensor mounting points on airframe with wire pathways to ease installation & attachment
Pod electrical connector or means to electrically connect to Airframe
Pitot tube and/or AoA sensor build in, baro sensor position
Wheeled or not
Land and stall speed
Gimball for camera and other sensors


Views: 16733

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Maybe the most important task at this stage will be to decide on how to organize, structure and coordinate the work. How to describe the project, design-tools etc. Besides that, some of the steps might be to:
- decide on a set of basic requirements,
- decide on a "type" of airframe,
- roughly outline the ideas, make some simple sketches,
- split work in sub-tasks, ...


That is a good idea, thank you.

Basic Mission requirements:
Carry camera like FlycamOne for video and 10Mp Digital stills camera as payload.

The 10 megapixel Pentax Optio A30 has been used before.

Weight Digital stills camera 150gram
FlycamOne 37 gram
Micro Servo 12 gram
This is a great idea. Ideally, it will also designed to be easily and cheaply manufacturable, so if some vendor wants to make it a product they can.
Hi Chris,

Yes when we get to the airframe selection, this will be on of the criteria as well as ease of assembly.

The payload module should be a standard enclosure size. What do you think about making the payload compartment the size of a Radio Shack plastic project box? The main advantage would be abundant/ inexpensive supply... easy for anyone to purchase and modify. I've been messing with a design that has a 1.5 meter wingspan. Foam wing are an excellent choice because they are light, strong, inexpensive, and replaceable.

I think a more important measurement than range is airborne time. Sending your drone 50km away doesn't make much sense and the radio equipment needed to do that is impractical for this budget. Most UAS missions are local- drones fly in circles or raster pattern. I would like to shoot for an airborne time of about 2 hours. This is not impossible with a very small nitro engine. It is, however, nearly impossible with electric motors due to the size and cost of the battery pack.

Sarel Wagner and Mark Shekleton are right about the need for modularity. Others contributing to this thread have hit very important features summarized as affordability, availability (is it too windy to fly?), capability, transportability, durability and repairability (nice if the average Joe Flyer can repair the dings on his kitchen table in the apartment) affecting the selection of materials and the configuration's design approach.

I am very new to DIY but considered a very high timer in the UAV industry. I have been professionally manufacturing R/C and UAV airframe products for 25 years. In that time, I have designed and manufactured nine different R/C models from Trainers to Pattern and Funfly (selling over 30,000 units) and twenty-three different customer driven UAV platforms, delivering over 200 production units (who said there is one, two, or three design(s) that meets everyone's diverse mission requirements?). Based on this experience, I have found that our modular P5, P10, and P20 airframes have more than ably filled the bill for universities and commercial clients for over two decades. They are very affordable (there is a P20 WASP on Ebay, search under "DIY Drone") and can carry meaningful payloads.

Like most things with 25 years of hard work on them, our website (www.seeop.com) is in for a major facelift and upgrade. The new site will be completed in a few more days. Until then, previous material can be viewed at http://web.archive.org/web/20071115140202/http://www.seeop.com/

For what it is worth, I can commit some of our resources toward the desire for a modular airframe to support DIY's intent - affordability and expanding telepresence activity. For example, we could easily adapt or scale down from our existing product line RTF, ARF, Kit, and even Plan packages that would yield very capable and repairable airframes with superior handling qualities at affordable costs that will keep the family home economics sensible. We also have a very large windtunnel that could be used by members of the community should other platform development efforts be considered. You would be surprised how tethered flight tests in a windtunnel improves the development process. I would also be happy to help with a teleconference node should others in this string want to have a venue to discuss these various ideas and help "gel the concept." It's amazing how fast things can be accomplished when you talk live with each other with immediate feedback.

If anyone would like to discuss this great opportunity further, feel free to call me at 480.355.2435 or drop me an email at thorpe@seeop.com.

Happy Landings,


Please give us a well defined and realistic mission in the US and the associated requirements and I would gamble you are referring to the Cat III 9kg Wto model here.

Most of the small UAV;s are restricted to LoS only, so anything up to 10 minutes would be ok, 30 minutes would be wow. Also they are exclusively electric. Most of the entry level AP's cannot fly gas.

If you visit here: http://www.barnardmicrosystems.com/UAV_analysis_V1.htm and plug in some numbers (I used Range 180km, Wto 9kg, Speed 80kph) you will see that you need much longer wings, 2.5m in fact as well as about 1 lbs for payload left in order to get 2 hours duration. Don't be fooled by the distance of 180km because at 80kph this is the distance covered.

Hi Douglas,

Firstly welcome here at DIY Drones. And thank you for endorsing what we have been saying here. You offer is most generous indeed and I am sure that as a community we may indeed make use of your generosity in the future.

As with most things UAV it is all still a bit new, not as mature as the GA and commercial airframe development world. We are after all a bunch of like minded hobbyists with a passion.

Long ways to go yet me thinks before we will be talking manufacturing here, lots of requirements and ground rules still needs to be settled before we can even start thinking airframe type or even just planform. Any kind assistance will indeed be valued in the meantime.

Sarel Wagner
Hi Mark,

Really like the idea of using some plastic project boxes, neat idea, we now need to come up with the sizing, form factor and volume for these things, one for Cat II and a different one for Cat III or maybe more than one form factor.

How do we protect these darn things against a hard belly landing in the small airframe tho, no wheels an undercarriage and hand launch. A number of users wont have suitable launching areas for normal wheeled undercarriage.

What about vibration transfer from the fuse and how are we going to attach the thing to the fuse? Another thing to consider is accessibility of the payload?

Thanks for your reply. I look forward to being of service. In the meantime, I am standing by.

Payload, defined as anything but the fuse, propulsion, fuel and Rx plus servos.

What payloads do we need to fly along? How much do we need for the AP plus sensors, video and stills camera, maybe a gimball plus 2 servos and a 3rd servo for other stuff. Any ideas on this? For how long do you think we need to be airborne to satisfy 80% users?

my 2 cents worth
< 2 kg
up to 10 k flight distance
2 km range (telemetry, etc)
electric engine
foam and carbon/fiberglass
rough design:
a foam based body with carbon or fiberglass boom to foam V tail
tail servos in body
body to include wing roots
carbon wing spar. no dihedral. possible wing fins.
servos in wing with wing as separate section.
all foam with smooth finish. spray finish
location of pilot parts pre determined and built into mould

polyurethane expanding foam or polystyrene beads etc unless someone knows how to DIY EPP
2 part mould
Wings could be off the shelf or moulded also.

Reply to Discussion


© 2019   Created by Chris Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service