Using Flying wings for aerial mapping

Hello forum, 

First of all some background...

Having spent a good 2 years playing about with an Skywalker, Ursus and a Canon camera running  CHDK, and designing my own uav, which actually flew recently ,I have come to the conclusion that flying wings may just be the best type of platform for short range aerial mapping tasks to create DEM, DSM models for GIS purposes.

The Skywalker was okay (but quite fragile, and now in pieces!), but I think it is too small to fit a roll gimbal on it. And I've found that if pictures are taken on a slight angle, it is very difficult to use software to tile them up nicely. this is my best effort, but far from perfect. The roads on the right do not line up as the camera must have been on a 45 degree angle when the picture was taken. (click for larger resolution) - It was taken using an ixus80 attached to an URSUS Airframe


Realizing that I need to use an airframe that can accommodate a stabilized roll gimbal, i started to design and build my own twin boom design. It took 6 months from initial design, to first test flight. It has a wingspan of 2.4m - AUW of 5kg, and a flight duration of around 30 minutes with 2 x 5000mah packs. However it needs a heck of a lot of room to take off and land, something i don't have in the areas i need to take photos. 

Picture of twin boom plane...


What are peoples experiences with using flying wings for this reason? I have the following types of flying wings, and wondering which one is the best to begin with?

  • jp-si 48" span Zagi
  • Scaled up 60" span jp-si Zagi (hot wire cut by myself)
  • x8 2m wing

I have been using the 60" wing to test the APM2 and 3dr radios. And was using the URSUS (now in pieces after a nasty crash!) as a test platform to practice with the Canon CHDK Kit.

Here's a few pictures of the wing and camera....(click images for larger version.)


My question is how straight forward do you think it is to fit a roll stabilized gimbal to any of the above airframes?

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  • 3702106082?profile=original

     construction site

    • How do you use the black and white squares?

      • These markers are used as Ground Control Points. During postprocessing they help to keep scale and transform precisley between coordinate systems (primary/secondary). All measurments on the construction site must be calculated with the same reference system (XY and H). I.e. after flight you get photos geotagged with accuracy of 2-15m in WGS 84 (X,Y,Z from ellipsoid). You want to obtain 3D model in polish planar coordinate system called "2000"  and height reference system "Kronsztadt '86". So , we use GPS+RTK (kinematic) or static receiver to measure GCPs in with sub centimeter accuracy.  

        • Thank you for the explanation, i appreciate it.

          • 3702852134?profile=original3702852285?profile=original

            @LL in one - 3layers case. A pocket for markers (GCPs) will be added soon.

  • Hi All ,

    this is my mapping wing, 97cm wingspan, 850g takeoff-weight (including 200g 12MP camera), 3S 2200mAh, flight duration at 11m/s up to 70mins, flight with 15m/s 30mins. No airspeed needed. UV filter. Chinese APM2.6+GPS+MAGNETOMETER+433Mhz telemetry onboard. Wind conditions: 12m/s constant wind (blows up to 15-16m/s). Real carbon cover mats.



    and 2nd version - 1m wingspan, 1450g ready to take off including Sony Rx 100 (20MP), 30-45mins flight, LiPo 3s 4600mAh , bungee or hand launching, 3DR Pixhawk or APM onboard. UV filter. Real carbon cover mats.



    Follow the customer wing (low quality, sorry)




    • Rafal, any chance you can share any details or build info on the wings themselves? Really nice work

      • Thanks Justin, Marcin and Chad. 

        I am sorry but I can not tell more details. I hope it will be available on the market soon. Typical FPV version is taken into account as well. 

        Few wings are sold and work on the building site (orthophoto, volume calculations, as built documentation) in small and big companies. I see a space on the market for my DIY projects based on APm/PixHawk - low price and excellent results.  The problem is hot wire cutting. So far I used to cut by "hands" and it took all day for one set. Now I am thiniking about purchasing hot wire plotter to start production.  

        A friend of mine has also adopted camera for NIR and confirmed results. 

        BTW, one of my project made for customer:

        I do full composite bodies as well. 



    • I like it :-)
      Made in Poland.

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