I wanted to announce the successful first forward flight with the Local Motors/Airbus VTOL UAV. Powered by a Pixhawk 1 with Arduplane 3.7.1, weighing in at 54.85lbs!
I was called in three weeks ago to help them design, build, and fly all before 11/30/2016. I showed up at the shop and they had nothing but some ESCs, Motors, and concept art. Well on Wednesday we made the attempt to transition, and it came back in one piece.
The full report and video of the flight can be found here:
Yesterday Was the first successful transition flight of my Nano Quadplane. After limited success a few years ago with two separate pixhawks on the VTOL Anaconda, I decided it wasn't feasible to use multiple Pixhawks/Pilots for anything other than a tech demo.
Now with all of the work done by the Devs for creating the quadplane code (awesome work gents!), I was inspired once again to make something that worked as seamlessly as imagined back then. I knew there would be challenges and a large margin for failure, so I chose a small EPP plane to minimize damage and rebuilding. Turns out I don't think I've ever seen a quadplane that uses Arduplane/pixhawk this small, so I thought I would share this with everyone. It took about a week to make and probably took it apart and back together no less than 10 times...seriously there is so much crammed in the fuselage I don't think there is room for air.
In this flight I was running Arduplane 3.7, and have yet to test some of the advanced features like weathervaning and pusher motor position hold assist. Using old batteries so I can only hover for about one minute, so no time for autotune. All gains were done manually the old fashioned way, though they still aren't perfect. Now that I am confident and familiar with the code, I will try again on a much larger model (2 meter+ wingspan) with decent flight time and payload carrying ability.
Nano VTOL Full Specifications-
Endurance with VTOL Takeoff/Landing: 12 Minutes
Autopilot: Pixhawk 1 with GPS, 900mhz Telemetry, & Power Module
Firmware: Arduplane 3.7.0
Airframe: RMRC Skyhunter Nano RTF
Battery: Turnigy Nano-tech 4s 850mah 45C
Pusher Motor: Multistar 2206-2150kv
Pusher ESC: 3DR 20A w BEC
Pusher Prop: 5x5 Tri-Blade
Lift Motors: Emax 1306 4000kv
Lift ESCs: DYS 20A
Lift Props: 3x3 Quad Blade
FPV: RMRC 25mw 5.8ghz all in one Tx + Camera
Also if anyone would like the file to 3D print the booms send me an email: Joseph@suavx.com
Thanks again to the Devs and Testers who made this possible-
I have been working on and off towards a VTOL aircraft for a few years now. All of this work has been kept off of the record, but I had the very first successful VTOL Flight and transition with this aircraft yesterday and am very excited to share these results. This method of VTOL is not a new concept, and was mainly inspired by X-planes of the past and the more modern Latitude Engineering's Hybrid Quad Rotor UAV.
Separate Lift & Thrust VTOL Aircraft were attempted in the early days of aviation, but gas powered engines and no flight control computers meant that they were unreliable and unstable. Now with the advent of powerful electric motors and advanced flight controllers like the Pixhawk, we are able to make these vehicles practical.
The Aircraft was assembled using the RMRC Anaconda as the base airframe, mated with a 3DR X8+ Power system. While my hardware and aircraft design knowledge is great, I have next to no knowledge of being able to edit software code. If anyone would like to assist in developing code for such an aircraft, it would fulfill the missing piece of the puzzle. Ideally for VTOL aircraft to be completely practical, the entire flight with transition and back should be automated and not rely on piloting skill.
I hope you all enjoy this, I will try to make more tests and videos as we continue to improve the aircraft-
A first hand hand account, by our 17 year old High School Student: Gustavo De Leon-
"I go to a school in Southern California called High Tech High Chula Vista, and as part of our junior year academic requirements we are asked to participate in a month long academic internship. That way we can gain valuable real world work experience and to get a chance to see if our career goals are something we really want to commit to, or perhaps something we only liked in theory. I was lucky enough to secure an internship with 3D Robotics at their engineering offices in San Diego where I spent the last month working from 9am to 6pm.
My first project was to build an old quadcopter, something which I was told should take about a week, but instead I finished building it in the morning of my second day. It took another day or so to set it up with Mission Planner, and it wasn't until that Friday that I was able to go out and fly it, but I was off to a pretty fun start. I spent the next three weeks doing a little bit of everything. We spent a few days organizing the Flight Ops area, another week or so installing Go Pros and LEDs on X8s, and replacing autopilots and GPS units and diagnosing any issues.
My free time was spent on an abandoned project from a year ago, a one of a kind copter with eight arms and sixteen motors (in the X8 style). It took quite a bit of work to get going, including soldering a power module into the existing power connectors, but I was finally able to get flying on the final day of my internship.
All in all, it's been a fantastic experience, and I am not particularly looking forward to going back to school next week."
I am excited to announce that on Friday, February 7th 2014, 3DR Flight Ops SD flew our modified Skywalker Airplane for over 4 hours (4:00:18 to be exact!) and covered a distance of approximately 134km or 83.5 miles. This is a new personal record for flight time and distance, all accomplished over a few months of planning, building, and testing. Installed in this skywalker was the new Pixhawk Autopilot along with the new digital airspeed sensor, which performed flawlessly for us.
We have been testing some of the new battery technology in different configurations and we think we found the optimal configuration for the Skywalker. I have attached the KMZ and Screenshot of the flight. The tlog is 20+mb so it isn't attached at this time. We optimized for time aloft vs. distance, but we could imagine that a 100 mile flight would be possible with a slightly different flight profile. Note that this flight was performed in accordance to all DIY rules for safety, including a safety pilot in the loop and remaining within LOS at all times. The figure 8 pattern is exactly 1 mile in length, and also note that the kmz file only counts the mileage for the AUTO portion of the flight, with the remaining 2.5 miles being in FBW, Loiter, etc.
During the 4 hour flight we were able to capture some great air to air shots with our Y6:
3D Robotics had a great weekend at the First Annual MultiRotor Challenge. We were there both Saturday and Sunday and competed in most of the events, including a fully autonomous demo mission with a Stock 3DR Hexacopter. In the Auto-Land Competition, APM powered Multi's got 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place! We also won 1st place in the Pilot's Choice event for the coolest looking MultiRotor with the X8 Octocopter (complete with a color FLIR Camera). One lucky fellow won a brand new 3DR RTF Quad kit in the Raffle!
We met a lot of great people out there, and it was a great chance for builders and pilots to show off their hard work. If you are a multirotor fan, experienced expert, or an aspiring multirotor pilot, this is the place to be! We look forward to next year's event, and judging by the response, this event will get bigger and bigger each year. For more info, visit: