Buttoning up 98" MQ-9 Build



Okay, it's been a learning process, but I'm pretty much done with the build of my Nitroplane Projet 98" Reaper.  I do not recommend this model for either pros or novices, just because it's not very well put together.  However, I would guess that for the money, it's probably a decent bargain, considering the fiberglass body and film covered wings mostly arrived intact.  




I have an E-Flite 46 Brushless motor mounted, with 2 metal gear standard servos controlling the tail, and 4 metal gear micro servos in the wings.  I also have a micro plastic gear servo in the nose controlling the tilt on a GoPro HD wrapped in it's waterproof pivoting case.



I have a 4S 4000mah battery + charger coming, along with a 8 channel radio and receiver with telemetry.  After I get it, ill start programming the radio and test flying with the radio.  Then I plan to grab the autopilot and develop a flight setup for this airframe. 


As far as the plane is concerned, I still need to make some servo hatches for the wings. I need to clean the surface and remove any excess adhesive from the body.  I need build a cover for the turret hole.  I need add some epoxy on one of the wing lugs inside the fuselage.  Then I need to fine tune the controls to make sure I get as much movement as possible but without a ball joint popping loose, and I need to sync the elevators.

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  •   Per your comment on wing durability, I reinforced them with carbon rod and am redoing the center to have the wings connect or detach within a few minutes -- keeping portability. 

       On the site (Botmite.com), I added "Camera" and "Antenna" pages - both currently in progress.  With its current configuration, it calcs out at a 20,000 foot ceiling but I have not tested actual. 


  •      Quick reply.  Here's a fyi, a number of nitro MQ-9 owners have emailed me regarding crashes, some on maiden flight.  Sparse info was passed on to me but here's the precis:  all were within a 100 feet of the ground.  They were doing circle descents.  Wind was light. 

         I suspect the CG suggested by factory is actually too far back from the nose but the CF solid round is at the factory CG.  This is why I braced the battery compartment in front of the wings and added carbon fiber and aluminum supports. 

          Another factor in these crashes may very well be pilot experience.  A trainer software package may provide this experience.  Also, I protected the LiPo batteries expecting the worst. 

          I hope you video some flights and put them up here.



  • I saw your site when researching MQ-9 builds, your's is very impressive.  I had to cut open one of the faux cargo hatches on the side to get to the wing lugs.  One of the factory reinforcements came off and had to be epoxied.  I've thought about cutting out the whole center section like your's, but I'm not quite there yet.  I'm still only days into my first drone.  I'll worry about plane surgery when I'm looking for increased flight time.


    As of right now the CG will be the factory location until the first flight.  And I hope initial flying weight will be within factory specs.  I haven't built or bought some of the bench equipment I need such as a scale of some sort, so I haven't weighed it yet.  Also my local hobby shop doesn't carry 4S batteries???  I wont be able to power my plane for a couple of days unless I can find a local battery source.  I have a 4S 40C 4000mah on the way, but I'm looking for something locally just to test the motor and the servos.


    I'm still waiting on a radio (DX8 + AR8000 + TM1000)  The TM1000 will provide basic telemetry to the radio, most importantly battery voltage.  I think the first thing I'm going to do is integrate sensors into an OSD setup with my gopro video output, and have that sent to the ground via a 5.8ghz video transmitter of some sort (haven't researched it yet).  Then I wanted to integrate an xBee system in later.

  • I built up nitro MQ-9 reaper too - botmite.com - and ran into several challenges or opportunities, depending on your point of view. Because of the design, I had to extensively re-build this aircraft.   Did you locate the CG before the leading edge of the wing or use the default location?  Have you flown it yet?  What is the flying weight?  And which telemetry do you use?  And have you posted any videos from your plane online?

  • Ohh. yeah if you already have GoPro your choice is evident :) Thanks the answer :) We are waiting your next picture/video/info pack :)

  • This thing is like a cross made of a 4 foot 2x4 nailed to an 8 foot 2x4, if you could find wall studs made of glass.   The specs sheet puts the completed weight at around 5.5 pounds, the wing loading is also around that if you calculate it from the specs sheet.  To me it feels heavier, but I don't have a scale handy, I figure if I get a decent luggage scale that would give me a good idea on the weight.  The wings have a carbon rod supporting them, running right through the plane, and the motor says it should be capable of borderline 3D flight, but I'm more concerned about the CG being correct.


    As far as endurance? I figure it'll last all the way to it's first crash, the body is made of fiber glass, and it practically came from the factory broken.  However, a little epoxy and man handling can put the fuselage  back into shape pretty easy.  My concern is the wings, being film covered wood and 3.75 feet long, they don't exactly scream durability.  They have a metal rod on the ends that's supposed to keep them out of the ground, so I guess I'll deal with repairs when it comes to that.  If you keep the plane rubber side on the ground when landing, I think it'll last a while.


    aad9ddb1.jpg61bd1944.jpgThat's about as good of pictures as I can get of my GoPro at this time with my Iphone.  It's a regular GoPro 1080 inside the waterproof case, with a microservo taped to the back, and a rod going to the quick disconnect.  The pivot joint's knob has been removed to allow easier movement.  I tested the movement of the servo, and it's got decent travel and a lot of strength.


    I'm using the GoPro because it's what I had on hand, I ride motorcycles, me and my friends film each other just incase we find something youtube worthy.  Generally I shoot at 720 because 1080 is kind of annoying to process or upload.  I also once saw a skydiving video, where the case latch broke on the GoPro and the naked camera fell 3000 feet and landed in grass, and it was absolutely fine.  I also saw a video where a guy stunting his BMW 800GS wiped out a little bit and his GoPro came flying off but was unscathed.  It's decent camera, okay HD video quality and it's fairly cheap.  Ken Block uses a crap load of them in his DC commercials.  I've used my on my helmet and on my bike, and in the rain.  The mounts hold up really well, even past 90mph.  It does video output now so you could hook it up to a video transmitter and still record to the camera.  Plus the camera has a full size SD card slot so you can use the cheaper fullsize 32 gb cards. 



    Here's a video test from my GoPro on my bike.  Don't watch the whole thing, it's boring but skip around for an idea of quality.  You can tell that the bike's vibrations give the GoPro a bit of a Jello effect.  You could probably fix this using a rubber mount of some sort.  As for me, I'm not shooting professionally, it looks fine to me.  Plus I don't worry about my camera.  As long as you don't smash it's lens it's generally fine, and even if you do, you can buy new lenses at best buy.  I don't have any experience with the FlyCamOne, but the FlyCamOne 3 looks pretty cool.


    I don't have the receiver yet, nor the ardupilot.  The receiver is the in the mail, the ardupilot will be in a couple of weeks. I'll post pictures of the electronics as I get them.

  • Your drone looks sooooo great. Congratulation. 



    I only ask. why "everybody" using GoPro? No better, or another solution? (what do you think about FlyCamOne?) I not have experience, but in the near future I want to create my own drone :)



  • More pictures of GoPro and electronics mount will be appreciated. Looking forward to see first fly video :-)

  • Dear gods! It's huge!


    What's the all-up weight of it currently, and what sort of endurance do you predict it will have?

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