3D Robotics

Latest on Pixhawk-powered ducted fan drone

From Hackaday:

A while back, we wrote about the ducted fan, single rotor, VTOL drone that [Armin Strobel] was working on. It wasn’t quite finished then, and hadn’t got off the ground yet. He’s posted an update, and from the looks of it, he’s made tons of progress, including a first flight with successful take-off and landing.

The successful flight was no coincidence. Tuning any kind of ‘copter is a tricky business. Handling them manually during testing could be outright dangerous. So he built two different test-beds from pieces of wood, some 3D printed parts and bearings. One lets him mount the drone and tune its pitch (and roll), while the other lets him tune the yaw parameters. And just like they do in wind tunnel testing, he fixed short pieces of yarn at various points on the air frame to check for turbulence. Doing this also gave him some insight into how he could improve the 3D printed air-frame in the next iteration. He repeated the tests on the two test beds, going back and forth to make sure the tuning parameters were not interfering with each other. He also modified the landing gear to improve stability during take-off and landing and to prevent tipping. [Armin] is using the PixHawk PX4 for flight control and a BeagleBone Black for higher level functions and control.

Once the first flight showed that the drone could do stable flight, he attached a Go-Pro and recorded some nice video on subsequent flights. The next steps are to fine tune the flight control parameters to ensure stable hovering with position hold and way point following. He may also 3D print an improved air-frame. For details about the build, check out our earlier blog post on the Ducted Fan Drone. Check out the two videos below – one showing the first flight of the Drone, and the other one about the test beds being used for tuning.

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  • Any efficiency numbers available? Static thrust efficiency from ducted fans is typically poor with the best efficiency at speed with ram air into the inlet. For a hovering application it is in a static thrust state unless it is ascending.
  • Looks really cool though! ;-)

  • Nice work!  Love to see different types of airframes being explored!

    Definitely would like to see this with the some stub wings for fast forward flight.

  • Might should call it fuel to noise converter (or actually in that case electricity to noise). Outdoors it is not that extreme as it might appear in the video or I might got used to it.

    With the inefficiency of a ducted fan in hover mode I buy me the ability to make a transition into a very fast and relative efficient horizontal flight. I also will be able to equip the vehicle with a gasoline engine in a later stage. Just to mention some reasons (there are more).

    BTW a helicopter is much more efficient than a multirotor. And for my applications noise is less than secondary.

  • Moderator

    The point of a ducted fan is to convert energy into noise. 

  • Great Work!

  • What's the purpose of a ducted fan ?

    Once you start moving fast in horizontal plane it effectively becomes a plane with almost no wings.

    So technically it's a tailsitter that's a little bit less affected by wind in hovering stage but much worse in horizontal plane

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