Garry Qualls's Posts (7)

Sort by


I just wanted to let everyone know that early registration is open for the UAS Airspace Operations Challenge. Please take a look at the web site ( to see the deadlines (early registration ends Nov 15), the new Team Agreement, and the revised rules.  You can sign up for the competition mailing list there, as well. The first phase of the competition will be next Spring, with a total prize purse of $500,000.  Feedback is always welcome!


Read more…


Since I first posted here about this competition last October, we've been pretty busy.  NASA selected Development Projects Inc. (DPI) of Dayton, OH to be our partner and run the contest.  We've selected Camp Atterbury, Indiana (in the restricted airspace around Himsel Army Air Field) to be the location, and we're working on putting everything in place so we can stage the competition in mid-May, 2014.


We've made quite a few changes based upon feedback we received from everyone and assembled a new set of Draft Rules and a draft Team Agreement for you to look over and give us your feedback. We're trying to cast a wide net and run a contest that will be open and fair to any group that plans to work professionally with unmanned aircraft in the U.S. National Airspace System.

A big part of our preparation is putting together a "Traffic Squadron" of unmanned aircraft that can create the air traffic for the competition. We're using some large scale RC planes and outfitting them with Ardupilots and ADS-B transceivers.


DPI has has put up an initial web site and they have posted the new drafts of the rules and the team agreement on this page:

You can also sign up for the competition mailing list on this page to be informed of future developments:

I look forward to your comments!


Read more…

New $500,000 UAS Competition Announced by NASA


NASA has announced a new UAS contest that I think might interest people here. It is called the UAS Airspace Operations Challenge and it's being developed as part of NASA's Centennial Challenge Program. Our goal is to hold the competition in the Fall of 2013 and the total amount of prize money available at that time will be $500,000. If the 2013 competition goes well, it will be followed by a tougher competition in 2014 with $1,000,000 in prize money. We're announcing it now, along with a preliminary draft of the rules, to get feedback and ideas from the UAS community and to see if any organizations are interested in partnering with us to run the competition. The rules are incomplete because there are many details that still need to be worked out and we want to be able to improve things based upon your feedback. 

This is your chance to give us your ideas on how we can structure this competition to foster significant progress toward solving the technical challenges to integrating unmanned aircraft into the U.S. National Airspace System. The web page lists the kind of information we are looking for and how to submit official feedback to NASA. There is a link to the draft rules on that page. 


Read more…

Last week in Colorado a 46% scale RC plane flying a demo at a charity event at a private airfield got clipped by a full scale biplane with two people in it. Apparently, the video has been taken down from Youtube but there is a short article and a copy of the video over on Jalopnik (I have attempted to embed the video above). You should probably watch the whole video and read the article to get a sense of the event and the airfield before jumping to any immediate conclusions regarding blame.

I think this is a decent indicator of the complexities and responses you can expect when incidents like this eventually occur that involve amateur, unpiloted vehicles...the general aviation guys will say "get those toys out of our way!" and the UAV people will probably say something equally one-sided.

You guys with a lot of experience at managed RC events will probably see a lot of things that I don't see. The FAA is investigating, of course, and I imagine that there will be plenty of blame for just about everyone involved by the time the report comes out. A few feet one way and it would have been a near miss we might never have heard about and a few feet the other way would have produced multiple fatalities that might have defined the future of this hobby.
Read more…

Commercial Quadrotor Recommendations?

I am setting up a lab this summer for some student research that will be similar in most ways to this one at MIT:

I would like to buy 6-8 commercially available trirotor or quadrotor helicopters in the $1000 - $1500 price range that would be similar in capabilities to the old Draganflyer V Ti. I've looked around and I would be very happy using Parrot AR Drones, but they have not set a date for releasing them or published a price. Likewise, Draganfly's web site says they will release their E4 in 2010, but no price or date of availability either. I could swear their web site used to say the E4 was coming in 2009.

I will only have the students for 10 weeks, so I would rather have them doing higher-level research using copters that work out-of-the-box and have available spare parts than have them spend a big part of their summer testing and debugging copters that they have built from scratch. Any suggestions?


Read more…

Groundstation Display Suggestions?

Tablet PCDoes anyone have a computer display that they are happy with when they are outdoors? I am looking for a laptop, tablet, netbook, or stand-alone monitor that has even barely acceptable contrast and readability outside in the sun.The iPhone and iPod Touch have transflective screens (320x480 px resolution) that work pretty well in direct sunlight, so I was hoping someone had put a similar display into a larger system. There are VNC clients around for the iPhone, but that's not really a satisfactory solution, no matter how much fun it would be to try.Otherwise, I think it would be smart to have a high contrast mode or "skin" for the ground station software that would allow for safer and easier operation by displaying graphics in a more or less a black & white mode with no important information represented by color, gradients, etc. in this vein, some kind of e-paper solution like they have in the Kindle would be pretty awesome.MacBook running XP Has anyone had a good experience outdoors with a computer display?
Read more…
Now that the Ardupilots are back in stock, I am ordering what I need to get one up in the air. The FMA IR sensor is out of stock at FMA Direct until May 15, so does anyone know of another vendor that may have them or if there is an easy replacement I could order or build? It's just three weeks, but I am anxious to get started ;)Question 2, I would like to put a decent IMU onboard to document the vehicle attitude in flight. The three options I've found at SparkFun are the IMU 6DOF - v4, the Atomic IMU 6DOF, and the UAV DevBoard. The "v4" is the only one with magnetometers, so one could expect it to be more accurate at the end of a 30 minute flight, but I've seen similar systems where the magnetometer readings were so noisy that they were useless. Down the road, I might want to use the IMU I purchase to drive a motion compensation system. Has anyone used one of these? All three are within my price range. My main concerns are accuracy and ease of integration. So, does one have a clear advantage? Are there other IMUs on the market that I should consider?
Read more…