Mapping with A Flying Wing


I've had great success doing mapping with my Aeronavics hexacopter using a Pixhawk and Sony NEX 7 camera. But I wanted to start covering larger areas so I decided it was time for me to have a go at flying fixed wing aircraft. I started out with the excellent Volantex Ranger (HobbyKing sell it as a Quanum Observer) but the camera was a bit large for it so a friend suggested I have a try of an X8. We dragged a dusty old test X8 out of another friends garage and off we went. It wasn't long before we figured out how to bungee launch and auto land it thanks to some help from Tridge: 

And just today I finally managed to get the camera mounted and triggering from Mission Planner thanks to CUAV team member Jack who made a custom cradle to hold the camera. He also added a wire frame skid around the launch hook and a little skid pad on the rear of the plane to smooth out the landings. Up to this point we have only flown the plane with a single battery and no camera, so I was a bit worried when we launched it today that it might not accelerate fast enough to lift the extra payload. When I released the plane it launched almost exactly the same as before adding the camera and extra battery. 


So it was great day of flying and we are looking forward to our next test in a few days where we will be testing the endurance and doing some test mapping runs. 

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  • I hate the idea of having to hand launch a flying wing. I would prefer, if they could design a flying wing with retractable undercarriage.

  • ben, If you never fly, an airplane is easier to learn, than a flying wing, If you have flying experience a flying wing have better performance in windy days, you can assemble with removable wings too but more surface to damage if you land over rougth surfaces like harvested fields, the two have advantages and disadvantages.

  • Can I ask, If you could trigger a small lightweight (flat lens modded) action camera using APM/Pixhawk, would you choose to fly a Bixler-type plane or a fixed wing?

    I'm considering building a plane for a camera rig I have made, but haven't much clarity on pusher vs fixed wing. I like the idea of pusher as I can throw it into the sky more easily. I can also mount the action camera in portrait/vertically to fit a pusher plane fuselage.

    I guess my question is, which flies longer, has more stablity, easier to land, easier to transport (Bix3 has removable wing).


  • I love the Skywalker X8, but I hate landings.

  • The AUW is 3.6Kg with two 4S 5A batteries and a small 1300mAh to power the Pixhawk. I won't know the flight time until the next test but I'm going to guess 45-50 mins. 

  • What is AUW and how much flight time do you get ?

  • I can hear Tridge saying something about moving the landing position. How would I do that?

    We have been using the X8 for Mapping for +-3 years now and are getting very nice results with it. 24000mah 4 cell should get you more than 2 hours of flight time.

  • Developer

    The Skywalker X8 is a tugboat... Now all you need is some reverse thrust landing!

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