Possibility of an alternate power system?

Hi,

( Firstly )  - please excuse what might be a really stupid  question - but, since I'm new to all of this... I cant help thinking....

Isn't there some way ( even on a very small scale ) to use a combination of a small 2 stroke powered motor ( or a typical RC gas powered engine ) to spin a small generator and thus create power to assist in "trickle charging "  - or even powering a quad?

I understand there is a weight issue, but I'm thinking the right combination of ESC and motors ( electric ) and prop size could possibly provide enough grunt to lift the thing.

If this were possible, then using a real liquid fuel would ONLY make the drone progressively lighter  compared to the total weight at the start  as it consumes its supply of fuel - in the meantime,

While I'm at it - what about using DC to AC inverter technology some how to an advantage in power output?

 - Just asking.. lol!

[ there are no stupid questions -  the only time a question is stupid, is when you should have asked - but you didn't.]

Cheers!

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  • Hybrid electric power sources have been discussed in some length before in this venue.  The bottom line is: not only are fossil fuel engines feasible for aviation on-board power generation (high energy vs. mass ratio), but they're IN USE today.  Adapting one on a small scale for an electric multicopter has yet to be done commercially, but the basic physics calculations are compelling.

    http://diydrones.ning.com/forum/topics/confusion-over-engine-sizes-...

  • Hi there 

    Im new here Ive always been wanting to make a UAV with the intention of using Hydrogen cells I know they use them in RC cars and was going to experiment with the idea and thought this might be some thing you would like to look upon for alternative power.

    Link below is to the site witch sells these little power plants i dont know to much about them as yet need to look into it.

    http://arcolaenergy.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=&products_...

    Hope this helps/Inspires some one

    Jamie

  • Hi rick.

    I too have thought about doing something like what you mentioned above. i found this tiny engine on youtube that can possibly, with some mods, run a small generator that makes enough power to feed 3 motors, a kk2 board, 3-4 esc's, and the receiver. who knows, it might work?

    http://youtu.be/ph2PMs2-7G4

  • Funny enough, I brought up a very similiar idea of using a stripped out Honda inverter generator in this other thread.

    http://diydrones.com/forum/topics/selection-of-suitable-gas-engine?...

    Being that it's a Honda, already built reasonably light once you remove all the housing, inverter and controls to just a bare engine and the alternator, one could easily build a decent power source. No, it's not as powerful as a 2 stroke, but at least it could be a start to a rather large drone with Honda reliability. Some quick searching for cheap inverters led me to this gem, a 2 stroke $299 version that surely is lighter than the 4 stroke when stripped down to just the bare minimum. 

    http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200394824_200394824

     

    One interesting aspect is the ratings for power. Since we know this is likely a 3 phase alternator, rectified to DC, then converted to AC, I'm thinking the DC portion is more than the 900watt rating (has to be for losses alone). I'm not sure how voltage control is implemented or if they just let it free runs say 90-180 volts DC, and expect the inverter section to handle the final output.

  • Rick, this is not a stupid question at all.  In fact, you're discovering "the elephant in the room" with regards to vehicle power (flying or not).  No electrical storage medium can begin to approach the energy density (joules/mass) of fossil fuels.  It's not even close.

    The reason electric flight in general, and multicopters specifically, are so popular, is the relative ease of precision control.  Well, that and less noise, no fumes, no volatile chemical handling, etc.  But if you want heavy payload capability and long flight durations, a "series hybrid" is, at least conceptually, an excellent solution for a power source.

    Unfortunately, I am not aware of anyone attempting this on a model scale.  On a (much) larger scale, auxiliary power units, consisting of a turbine engine and an attached electric generator, are used in most large commercial aircraft instead of large batteries for electric power when the main engines are not running.

    As a concept, I think this is a wonderful idea.  As a practical matter, unless you have expertise in power generation (or lots of time and money to experiment), adding a bit more battery to your craft and enhancing the efficiency of the system is the most direct route to a longer flight duration.

  • Rather than trickle charging, which is likely to be impractical especially if multi cell lipos are involved, you'd likely be better off powering the unit with it or using the weight penalty to increase existing capacity.

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