Hi,

It looks like a few people have tried, and sometimes have found success, in making completely solar-powered drones. As someone with little drone making experience, how can I expect to replicate this and make a similarly fully-solar powered drone?

Views: 490

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

It's easy to build solar drone today since thin film  powerful and lightweight solar PV foil is available today

So you just laminate the wing with  powerful PV foil/film

Today we can make solar PV cell to fly finally.

Modern PV foil is highly efficient and a nice idea is to have to your drone to fly batteryless

since you get more continuous energy supply from PV than demanded by engines, making your drone really lightweight project

Though if I need the drone to work through the night, I will need a battery, right? Also, I just mainly need the drone to move to a place and hover for its entire flight time (and then move back to base). Will also need to add an infrared sensor. 

Do you have any recommendations for pv foil?

d j said:

It's easy to build solar drone today since thin film  powerful and lightweight solar PV foil is available today

So you just laminate the wing with  powerful PV foil/film

Today we can make solar PV cell to fly finally.

Modern PV foil is highly efficient and a nice idea is to have to your drone to fly batteryless

since you get more continuous energy supply from PV than demanded by engines, making your drone really lightweight project

"Though if I need the drone to work through the night, I will need a battery, right? 

In theory you are right but in practice you don't need extra solar payload if the drone should be operated through the night

"In theory you are right but in practice you don't need extra solar payload if the drone should be operated through the night"

could you expand on that thought Darius? I would be very interested in your solar film details, please post the link. The modern solar films I work with only output low mA, not practical for aircraft unless you use cutting edge, very large and lightweight aircraft structures and high performance airfoils. 

What is hot about PV today is printed solar PV film

Two years ago price was prohibitive

https://infinitypv.com/shop/solar-cells/1m-110mm-bidirectional-sola...

offers 2-3% efficiency PV foil for edu, demo

there is just another company, claiming 20% efficiency

They are on the move to a new location but I will try to call them to give you latest info on their products

BTW

Tell me why the night operated drone should be made with solar cells ?

The drone would take the energy stored from the day and use it in the night. It needs to be in the air with as little downtime as possible, and as you mentioned, solar energy can power the drone during the day and even give additional power to be stored for later. And the drone will only have to hover for long periods of time (ideally, perpetually) so energy usage is low compared to one in directional motion.

This is a question for anybody viewing the thread with some experience: what are the first steps to making this drone? I would like to make a working prototype by the end of this summer (the start of Sep). If anyone is willing to mentor me or just give me any sort of guidance, please leave a comment on my profile so we can get in touch 

Thanks!
Also thank you D J for your response
d j said:

What is hot about PV today is printed solar PV film

Two years ago price was prohibitive

https://infinitypv.com/shop/solar-cells/1m-110mm-bidirectional-sola...

offers 2-3% efficiency PV foil for edu, demo

there is just another company, claiming 20% efficiency

They are on the move to a new location but I will try to call them to give you latest info on their products

BTW

Tell me why the night operated drone should be made with solar cells ?

"The drone would take the energy stored from the day and use it in the night. It needs to be in the air with as little downtime as possible

Not feasible idea since you are limited by a size, weight and capacity of the drone installed battery.

Just make basic calculations, baased on power consumption of installed motors

"And the drone will only have to hover for long periods of time (ideally, perpetually) 

Just make basic maths

Tethering is the only known solution to your problem.

Get relevant threads at diydrones from the past

BTW

For solar charging at day time you can employ induction charging station powered by ground based solar panel,

getting boost in flight time, having removed solar payload from the drone.

follow-up

the company developing Perovskite Thin Film  printed PV cells, claiming 10-15% efficiency

is not ready yet to offer market product.

There is a chinese company selling semi-flexible solar cells, which can be lightweight to lower solar payload footprint

and just another company claiming having developed technology to cut crystal silicon ingot

to very thin slices, making them almost flexible.

Give me more time to get in touch

It seems that other people have achieved at least long (not perpetual) flight times by using this model of recharging batteries with solar during the day. The drone also would have to fly at a relatively low latitude, and again unlike projects like this which are in constant motion the drone will only have to hover. I will keep researching, but I think it is possible to have the drone in the air for days if not weeks on end. but ill try calculating it

tethering seems like an interesting solution to combine with a solar powered charging station - it also seems like solar uavs in the past like atlantik solar (which ran purely off of solar because it was operated in the ice caps where the sun never sets) suffered from instability in adverse weather conditions & wind because of how light they needed to be (information i got after emailing the lab in charge of the drone), which tethering may also help? sorry, im extremely new to this and still in high school.

Hi there, just to be clear are you saying you want to build a solar powered quadcopter because it is less complex than a solar powered fixed wing aircraft because it only has to hover? And you want the solar powered quadcopter to stay aloft for weeks?

yeah, but i realize quadcopters dont have the surface area and dont have lift to lessen the amt of power required
Andrew Murphy said:

Hi there, just to be clear are you saying you want to build a solar powered quadcopter because it is less complex than a solar powered fixed wing aircraft because it only has to hover? And you want the solar powered quadcopter to stay aloft for weeks?

I carefully followed the success mission of powered glider called Zephyr

And what you call "other people have achieved at least long flight times"

is $MM  budget funded project

"

solar-powered robotic plane, dubbed Zephyr, soared above the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona from July 9 to July 23.

Built by British defense contractor QinetiQ, the drone’s 336 hour, 22 minute flight crushed the previous endurance record for a robotic plane, which was held by Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Global Hawk drone. That unmanned flight, which took place in March 2001, lasted 30 hours and 24 minutes.

To succeed, Zephyr required remote navigation to fly against jet streams to boost altitude for free.

To fly against jet streams you need an international team of weather forecasters, collecting live data on geolocation, wind speed.

Othewise your powered glider may ground  prematurely as any other powered glider from the past.

In case of quadcopter, there is no room to install solar cells, so just give up such project as mission impossible.

What I have built for 100kg cargo drone challenge by Airbus, was powered paraglider and it makes sense to turn powered paraglider into autonomous or RC solar paraglider

qrun said:

It seems that other people have achieved at least long (not perpetual) flight times by using this model of recharging batteries with solar during the day. The drone also would have to fly at a relatively low latitude, and again unlike projects like this which are in constant motion the drone will only have to hover. I will keep researching, but I think it is possible to have the drone in the air for days if not weeks on end. but ill try calculating it

tethering seems like an interesting solution to combine with a solar powered charging station - it also seems like solar uavs in the past like atlantik solar (which ran purely off of solar because it was operated in the ice caps where the sun never sets) suffered from instability in adverse weather conditions & wind because of how light they needed to be (information i got after emailing the lab in charge of the drone), which tethering may also help? sorry, im extremely new to this and still in high school.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

© 2019   Created by Chris Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service