Assisted FPV: Help to launch a heavy Zephyr

The Zephyr is a popular FPV wing.  Launching a heavily wing loaded Zephyr by hand is super tricky and many times results in a hard belly 'landing'.  I've been using the new "RUBY" Auto Pilot from uThere in my 60" Zephyr to perform fully automated launches, without fail.  Take a look and read more about it here.

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Comment by Mike on July 5, 2011 at 10:28am

Tim, looks good, I use the UAV Development Board in stabilised mode and the launches are a breeze. One comment - you seem to throw the aircraft up rather than horizontally - is that normal for a wing hand launch?



Comment by Tim Nilson on July 5, 2011 at 10:56am
Mike -- throwing the Wing up rather than horizontal gives you a bit more distance between the ground and the wing. The wing is heavy at 2.3KG AUW. The power set up on this wing is super strong with a 4s battery set up -- so the wing has enough thrust to climb out even when you throw it up rather than horizontally. I will try throwing it more level now that Ruby is fully operational and consistent. It may work just as well or even better -- old, failed manual launch habits :)

Comment by Martint on July 5, 2011 at 12:47pm

Looks very much like what the APM will do when set to stable mode,
when throwing the wing / plane, I use it a lot when doing a big throw, power on
chuck it and it levels out and flies away at 5 / 6 feet till fingers are back
on the sticks!!





Comment by Tim Nilson on July 5, 2011 at 1:07pm
Martin -- a difference here is that Ruby will manage the total climb out to 75 feet -- not just stabilization.  Can an APM do that as well?  I am not touching the sticks after I throw the wing.
Comment by Mike on July 5, 2011 at 1:47pm

Tim, I find that with the UAV Development Board in stabilisation mode that I can get away with flatter and less aggressive throws. Throwing it up in the air is not generating vertical lift other than that provided by the motor so whilst you have gained a little potential energy it is going to verge on stalling and have little control until it really gets some decent airflow across the surfaces. Maybe launch it horizontally from on top of a high point or embankment to give yourself a safety margin and test the theory - hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised.


By the way I have been considering a bungee launcher - looks like some cheap altitude on some of the versions I have seen. your launch looked rather flat for some reason.


Cheers and good luck!


Comment by Ritchie on July 5, 2011 at 2:46pm


Yes it can to any height you want in any direction you throw it. It will also send the plane where you program it to without you doing a thing with automatic landing. It also does stabilised flight for the novice pilots (or rubbish ones like me) as well as two fly by wire modes and a loiter mode so you can take a moment to think about something. If you have an OMG moment you also have a hardware failsafe to let you rescue everything. You also get datalogging at upto 50Hz and all the IOs for the processor broken out from the start as well as PID control loop which allows you to fly most airframes straight out of the box and with further tuning (of the PID values) fly exceptionally well for $300 ready to fly.

You also have the expansion of features created by you or others.


Not sure if anyone else does this but wings are sods to launch manually but throttle up and throw it like a discus. Launches between 30° and 45° with significant lift in comparison to the weak wristed launches as well as more time to "pull up".

Comment by UFO-MAN on July 7, 2011 at 12:06am
Nice project. I am going to use UDB for my project by the way.  I am now working on a catapult launcher for a Zephyr. I haven't decided if using a hook on the cat rail or pushing on the rear of the wings with a cradle arragmenet is the best method yet. Problem with hook is that the prop may interfere. Problem with the cradle is that pushing on the elevons may break them. If anyone has an idea regarding a proper catapult launching arrangement for the Zephyr, let me know.


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