I've been several months under the radar, being pretty elusive. My apologies to all who are or have been hoping for more information. I noticed this morning that there have been a consistent number of views of my goofy Introduction video (See here: Introduction to the Orange Hawk ), and so, here is an update of the progress on the project:
I presented the Orange Hawk at the AIAA Region VI Student Conference, held in Salt Lake City, March 28-30, 2013. I won 1st Place in the undergraduate division, and was spoken of highly by the attending AIAA special guest, Dr. Sandra Magnus. As I've won the regional conference, I will be one of a dozen or so finalists to present in the AIAA SciTech 2014 conference being held in Maryland this January, less than 25 days from this writing. ("Dozen" as in a handful of other undergraduates presenting in the student competition, the SciTech Conference proper will be huge with hundreds of presenters.)
I've probably placed about 2 hours of flight on the Orange Hawk prototype since the conference, of which about 20 minutes has been sustained forward flight. The majority of that flight time was accumulated in May and late August and the first week of September. I took an internship with Raytheon in Tucson AZ for June to August, and only flew the Orange Hawk twice during that time, due to the lack of accessible fields (it is nothing but cactus there) and little time. One flight is documented in this Vimeo upload:
On September 12, during the furthest and longest forward flight test thus far, I flew out of range of the 72 MHz R/C link that I had been using on the vehicle. I was flying "heads down" using the vehicle's FPV video telemetry, and dealing with severe interference on both the video link and my old 72 MHz receiver. At about 500 feet, the control link spazzed out and the vehicle dove into the thick alfalfa that comprises my main test flight area. There was little damage, but as a full time student in electrical engineering this semester, I've had little time to repair and fly the vehicle. I've decided to retire the offending 72 MHz R/C receiver, and have purchased a DragonLink V1 setup for all further test flights.
The most common questions I've had, both in public and private messages, have been requests for the code for some other multicopter flight controller. One of my regrets from this summer is that I was offered a position by a fellow to work out porting the project to the APM or PixHawk architecture. Worried about money for school, I took Raytheon instead. :( It is still possible to port this to other platforms, and in it's full implementation, would see the Orange Hawk and other VTOLs flying around in fully autonomous forward flight. I would like to pursue this goal, and would like to see it realized at the SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Competition to be held in Boulder CO in June 2014. Otherwise, my hands are full in just trying to keep the code up-to-date with the most recent version of the MultiWii. In the RcGroups VTOL forum, there have been posts about a VTOL software suite for the OpenPilot architecture; I've not kept up on the specifics. Here on DIYD, there have also been efforts/suggestions to build a cross between the ArduPilot and ArduCopter code bases, again, I'm somewhat ignorant on specifics, but would like to contribute.
Another question I get is "Why 'Orange Hawk' ?". The predecessor to this project was the tail-pusher I constructed in August 2011 (shown here: White Hawk Flight Video ), which I christened the "White Hawk". Googling for obscure hawks, I found that there are/were hardly any entries for "Orange Hawk", and as orange is my favorite color, that is what I chose. At present, searching for "Orange Hawk" almost always yields a link/reference to this VTOL design.
Beyond the Orange Hawk and school, there is actually a lot more I've been working on. During May, I constructed my own Long Range System based on the RFM22 and RFM23 RF transceivers and the atMega 328p. It is my own design, motivated by my interest in making a system that functions as both a LRS and an emergency locator beacon. The system has a single cell LiPo charger built into the receiver, and is capable of intermittent transmission for several weeks even if disconnected from the aircraft power supply. I was inspired by FMkit's emergency locator modules that are also RFM22-based, and use an audio tone location scheme. I'd like to improve on that by making the locator capable of audio and data, such as transmitting the most recent good GPS value along with time-stamp. The prototype boards are finished and have been tested with a simple audio tone generator, but I have not had the time to code the firmware for the actual R/C system functionality.
My blog at RcGroups still has the links to the design plan PDFs and MultiWii source code that I use on the Orange Hawk. The main landing page for that blog is here: KatanaGuy RcGroups Blog . I hope sharing my work here will promote interest in VTOLs and demonstrate the utility and value of such designs. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think.