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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Hi Rich, I'll second Gary and Martin, but especially Gary - nice man-cave - is that a green house at the bottom left?

Congratulatins Richard, great fligths from that pretty place :)

Hi Martin, cheers for the information, you've saved me $120 there! I was mainly buying it for a bit of fun. I was thinking of the techpod, I like the idea behind it. 

regarding the glider, I have been given a lightly damaged 2.2m fibreglass glider with no power system, didnt think of trying AP with that.... good idea!

I also still have an x8, HK Bixler to build!

I also have all th eparts necessary to build my 2nd twin boom aircraft with pusher configuration for AP/Surveying. My first one was much too heavy, I've had proper wings cut for this one though...definitely a winter project! 

Cheers, fingers crossed it'll be fully functional in a few weeks, may need a log burner in there over the winter, it's going  to get cold!

It is indeed a greenhouse (in the centre of the photo). I intend on swapping it out for a hot tub though... when I can afford it!

This looks great. Do you have a higher resolution version of the image composite that I would be able to see?

Hi Rich,

It's been a long time. The new place looks amazing!

I built up my first X5 mapping plane and man, it's fantastic. I'm running 4400mah (2200x2) and getting 40 minutes flight time with a canon S100 on board. It was surprisingly easy to set up and tune, it's easy to hand launch, and it tracks mapping missions very well in a variety of wind conditions.

I just need to either install a servo driven camera lens cover or figure out how to shut the camera down via pulse value and CHDK script. 

Keep up the great work!


Hi Brenden,

Here is a simple CHDK script from Conservation Drones that starts the camera and shuts it down by radio command.



Hi Dennis,

Thanks for the response!

I am actually one of the Directors at CD. lol.

That script is great for its purpose but it doesn't do what I'm looking for. It allows you to send a pulse to start the intervalometer and then send another to shut the camera down. Very useful for its purpose but I need something a bit different.

Ideally, I want to be able to let APM use CAM_TRIGG_DIST and then use a WP to send a pulse that shuts the camera down. I have yet to see anyone accomplish this but in my opinion it would be a great way to use the mapping camera.


Hi Everyone,


I have been following everyone's posts and it is great to see lots of people out there creating their own platforms.

Have not been here in a while as I have been bus with my X8 development.  Gave up on the Maja as an aerial platform for photography.  Great flight characteristics when it was flying but stalls and falls out of the sky when you blink the wrong way and is the most fragile airframe I have every seen.  Our wings were getting cut to pieces landing in tall grass. Try landing the Maja in a cutblock and you can forget about the entire airframe as it will most certainly get completely destroyed.

The X8 is proving very reliable with a 90 minute duration under ideal conditions with an AUW of 5.25kg.  Flying with the Nex5 or 7 and getting some great photography.  Can collect close to 1000 ha. per flight at a resolution of about 7.5cm/pixel.  I will post some ortho imagery at a later time.

Here is a link to some of my takeoffs and landings while collecting data for ortho and topographic survey.  Very happy with the performance.  Needs about 25 meters to get into the air and clear any trees.  Tough to land when you have no clear place so we just perform controlled crashes.  The X8 can take it really well and when it does get broken up it just needs some Foam Tac glue to make it as right as rain again. :)











Hi Brenden , the setup that you have sounds the ideal one :) .

Can you share with us the electronics used and the layout-position of the electronics on the wing ?

Thank you.

Hi Alex,

I'm still working out exact positioning of gear but I'll try to share after finalizing. CG on flying wings is very sensitive so I want to finalize gear and then place accordingly. I am setting CG a little in front (maybe a cm)of the designated location. I have not determined final anything yet...

In general, I have 2 2200mah 3s bateries in front, s100 in middle section, and autopilot in rear. ESC is underneath in designated spot and GPS and telemetry are currently taped on, one on each wing.

I am using a 980kv motor with 9x6 propeller and 30A ESC. It draws around 4A or so during mapping missions, a bit more in turn-arounds.

In addition to CG, thrust angle is very important. I increased thrust angle and achieved much better flight performance. 

I hope this helps...


Nice launching rig JR.

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