Vortex 700 First Flight


700 Class Trex Build (Flight Video to come still in editing)

My friend and I are in the process of building a Traditional Heli. I would love to get feedback from the community.

The Vortex 700 is a Traditional style Helicopter UAS designed with Police forces and Search and Rescue in mind.  The Vortex 700 can be equipped with a variety of payloads depending upon the mission.

The Vortex 700 is designed around the Align Trex 700 Dominator mechanics, a proven, reliable helicopter.

The Vortex 700
Length:  53 in.
Height:  22 in.
Width:  8 in.
Main Rotor Diameter: 62 in
Empty Weight: 9 lbs.
Calculated Flight endurance: 30-45 min
Range:  2 miles (C2 Link depended) 
Payload: 4 lbs
Auto Pilot: PixHawk from 3D Robotics


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Early days but looking good so far.  Nice to see a helicopter instead of just multirotors!

Thanks for the encouragement. I agree. Multi copters are great for short range missions but I believe that an electric helicopter can work well for medium range missions. We also are planing a 450 for a higher endurance short range. I am really impressed with the quality of align products. If we could get the auto tune to work on helicopters it would make setting up easy and fast.... This is a great project and it will be very awarding once this is completed.


I have a question on the PixHawk and APM:Copter Firmware. Is there a way to have mission Planner and the pixhawk 2 links and switch between them, kind of a diversity setup on 2 different frequencies? This will allow a redundant control link to the GCS. Even if we could have both links active and then have the pilot switch between as needed with a switch. Thanks and please excuse the crude drawing.

Masha Allah well done guys, I am gonna be following this :-)
I hope you guys will plan for different payloads to be switchable easily and quickly via a common interface even if they are third party.....that would help for people not have the budget and having to opt for a less expansive but similar tool
Yes, we are planning to develop a hot swappable payload system with shock mounting. Basically slide on the tray with the payload type you want and use 1 thumb screw to secure. Right now the initial payloads planed are:
1: an ccd eo with 10x zoom and it dual sensor
2: mapping still camera

Of course the payload tray can be outfitted to the customers requirements. This would allow custom payloads provided by the customer.

Thanks for the encouragement. We appreciate it...
Vortex 450 build started... Say hello to the 700s little brother....


We have successfully flown the Vortex in Auto for a total of 4 hrs cumulatively. Unfortunately we just had a failure in the mechanics of the tail-rotor control. After inspection, we found that the servo arm failed. I was a bad decision on my part to leave the stock plastic wheel. Completely my fault. The Prototype aircraft has suffered ~$420 in damage. This failure should not have happened. I should have replaced the servo arm when I was assembling it. 

Prior to the failure the aircraft was operating perfectly with 3.2 RC10. I have attached the Log from the failure. 

Parts have been ordered and the aircraft will be back in the air in 4 weeks. 

Thanks for the interest in the project and I will let everyone know the status as it moves forward.



That's too bad.  What happened to the arm?

I have wondered if we could somewhat save these situations by getting the copter to fly at high speeds with the tail out to the right.  That would stop the rotation.  Then bring it back home, cut power, and do an autorotation.

Unfortunately, this is very advanced stuff that would take a lot of work to make it work.  I don't have enough resources.

Thanks Rob, Could you take a look at the log and verify that nothing in the software/settings was wrong.

After an in depth inspection of the arm, it looked like there was a defect in the mold of the arm. It was a perfectly clean break. it happened while the helicopter was flying straight and level flight just prior to a turn. 

I knew better then to use a nylon filled plastic arm on the tail. all the rest of the cyclic servos are metal. 

It landed flat but it was spinning. I shut the motor off just prior to touching the ground so the damage was minimal. But, I am still replacing anything that spins.

Main shaft

rotor head


tail torque shaft

tail blades

tail boom

landing gear

tail assembly


I want to make sure that i limit any rebuild vibration... 

Thanks for all the help. Your advice was paramount in getting it flying right in the first place. I just wish i didnt make the mistake of using the servo arm in the first place. 



So the arm just snapped off?

I broke one installing it recently.  Snapped right off at the hub.  It was like the arm was hollow, I was very surprised.  IIRC, this was building the gasser. So I also went to a metal arm.

Yup. Just snapped off. Looked like there was an air bubble in it. Already ordered a CNC Aluminum wheel for the tail. The cyclic is already all aluminum.

Here is a recent video i put together for the last photo mapping mission i completed to test the canon trigger. I need a camera that can shoot faster. i missed some areas.


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