MyGeekShow is back! This week I finalized the design and built the 50% scale solar airplane prototype. I'll complete it's first flight next week!

My current mission is to build an RC airplane capable of indefinite flight, where solar panels installed on the wings power the airplane and charge the batteries by day, and then those same batteries power the airplane during the night.

This 50% scale prototype will test some of the design elements of that airplane. It doesn't carry solar panels as it's wing area would be insufficient for a good test, but that it is coming up on the 75% and of course 100% scale versions.

Wingspan: 156cm / 61in
Wing Details: 156cm / 10cm / Clark Y
Total Length: 97cm / 38in
Weight (no batteries): 510g / 18oz
Weight with 1 NCR18650B Pack: 703g / 24oz
Weight with 2 NCR18650B Packs: 896g / 32oz

Follow the mission and learn more on:

Follow the Show:
Skype: MyGeekShow

Filmed, Edited, Produced and Published by Trent in Arkansas, USA

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • good luck

    remember for next project if u decide to use balasa wood try to replace engine mount , which does not change of cg cus u gonna extend fuselage   

  • Trent, please PM me. Sen't you a request. 

    Thanks, and good luck

  • Welcome back Trent.
    You really do know how to pick challenging projects don't you!!
    This is a problem large companies (google, facebook) and universities have been trying to solve for years and years with millions of dollars and resources thrown at it. Its not easy.

    Don't under-estimate the importance of motor and prop choice. You will want a big slow turning prop for maximum efficiency. The modern brush-less motors we use day to day are not particularly efficient at slow speeds so you may be better off with a brushed motor that is geared.

    If the goal is a 24 hour flight and the method is less important, then solar may not be your best bet, it is not particularly efficient and the weight of the solar cells relative to the energy delivered is pretty poor.
    It ends up resulting in extremely flimsy and weak air frames, the solar impulse looks like it would fall apart in a modestly rough landing.

    You might be better to look towards other higher energy density methods. Perhaps a fuel cell?

    Or a lighter than air design (helium) that combined an aircraft, solar and helium to allow extremely long duration flights.
    A helium vessel covered in solar cells could overcome many of the issues you will run into with a fixed wing design.

  • Check out the thesis of André Noth: (link to pdf at bottom).

    His solar plane flew successfully for 27 hours straight. Tons of great information for you in there !

  • Hi Trent - so nice to have you back - was starting to worry!

    You are such an inspiration to the community and you always come up with new exciting projects - can't wait to see how this adventure unfolds.

    If you are going to optimise every single "drop" of electricity in order to keep your plane in the air, you might want to consider also looking into the electronics for further optimisation. The APM you are using could probably be modified to use less current (removing leds, voltage regulators etc...), or you could consider changing to a more custom HW platform if you don't need all the bells and whistles of the APM.

    Do you plan to send back telemetry during flight? If so, this could be optimised as well.

    In general, the software could probably be modified for lower power consumption (ie: servo update rate lowering etc..)

    Just some ideas - Looking foreward to next episode!

  • Good to see you back Trent. I was wondering (like many others) where you had gone. Very interested to see how the project goes and best of luck to you.

  • Great to see you back on track!

    I don't know how it may effect flight-time, maybe a little dihedral on the wings could make it more stable, if that's a problem at all in you design and doesn't compromise solar function. Maybe exchange some thoughts with the also very experienced guy of "ExperimentalAirlines" ?

    Cheers Rob

    Tesla Details.
    An exploration of the many facets of the Tesla Model 3, focusing on the science, design, and details of ownership. Also many years of radio controlle…
  • 100KM


    It is certainly encouraging that the NCR18650Bs have an energy density of 243 Whr/kg.   This is slightly better than the Solar Impulse batteries.    Have you consider using a flying wing with this more efficient wing lift distribution?




  • Love your work mate!

  • It is great to see you back!  this is an awesome project and wish youall the best on this.

    One thing is that I think you will need at least some dihedral if you are using rudder only

    Best of luck and keep it up!!

This reply was deleted.