Prototype Tiltrotor Development using APM 2.5


We are a two-man team that just completed the first major phase of our yearlong APM 2.5 tiltrotor project. We wanted to keep things in the dark until we knew it had potential. Here is a quick summary, but if you’re interested in VTOL aircraft, we’d really like you to read our detailed project summary (attached PDF) and give us some feedback.

Just some of many major accomplishments include:

Design and manufacturing of a tiltrotor on a relatively low budget.

  • Utilized many free software applications to make educated design compromises
  • Utilized 3D printing to create complex flight control components
  • Slow, methodical engineering to identify problems and solutions before first flight

Stable hover with conversion to 23 m/s full airplane flight

  • Light hover maneuvering completed in STABILIZE
  • Hovering tested in LOITER
  • Thrust vector can be set at any intermediate angle and flown carefree all the way to airplane mode

Merged several significant portions of Arducopter and Arduplane software on APM 2.5 hardware

  • Heading strategies for quad and plane merged with unique tiltrotor control
  • Seamless blend of servo actuated aerodynamic surfaces, and 2 brushless motors to achieve stable flight at any speed and intermediate thrust angle


Tiltrotor 1 Prototype Stats:

  • All-up Gross Weight = 2.4 KG
  • Motors= 2x G15 810kv with 14 inch CF props / single 3300 mah battery
  • OGE Hover Power Required - 40 amps
  • Conversion Power Required – Thrust vector at 30 degrees from vertical 10 m/s = 20 amps
  • Airplane Power Required - 23 m/s = 30 amps


We have lots left to do, but would love to get some feedback to help guide us.

Here is what we have planned next:

Autonomous Flight

  •  Merge Copter and Plane navigation strategies to suit a tiltrotor.


  • We’d love to incorporate the new capabilities of EKF, spline waypoints, terrain following ect someday. The APM 2.5 has not limited our development at all, and is still our bread and butter.

Tiltrotor 2?

  • We learned A LOT in a year. There are numerous things we can make better on this prototype, or improve upon with the “next generation” model. We’d like to build a bigger, better, more efficient tiltrotor with all the lessons learned. This is where we need some feedback from the community. Please read the detailed design summary (attached).


Of course we are not going to brag about designing a tiltrotor and NOT post a video.


This barley summarizes a year of work in 10 minutes.


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  • Team Tiltrotor Great project, any latest development? Im interested to copy this setup and put it in existing twin prop plane like the MTD.   

  • Hi

    Nice, ...Seems your working on moreless the same configuration as I do.

    If there is a way to share experience let me know.

    Did you already release some code? -Would be very interesting how you fixed transition.

    ->i still struggle to "not disarm" at low throttle  ( flying like sailplane motors forward)

    Good Luck!

  • Ah yes, thank you.

    I have seen the drawer slide/MDF/All Thread approach before.

    Simple, economical, and effective.

    Look like you have a lot of axis movement/range.

    Thank you!  What software are you using for the G-code interpreter? (or what method are you using?)


  • R.D. Here is a couple photos of our hot wire set up



  • T.T. - Something like Bell's QuadTiltrotor.

    IMHO, that seems to be the way package drones will probably end up. 

  • My respect to the developers. Great job and the video gives an idea of how long does it take to make them fly nicely. I'm working on titling rotor too and I hope I could be helpful in developing the code once shared.

  • R.D.- The hardware was simply threaded rods, stepper motors, drawer rails, and lots of MDF Board. Tomorrow ill get you some photos/video. If you have an airfoil or shape in mind and some dimensions message it to us and we might be able to get to it. We are going to be cutting some airfoils in the next 4 weeks or so.

  • From your paper...

    The wing, vertical, and horizontal tail were created with our own homemade Arduino-controlled 2-axis
    hotwire cutter used to cut high-density foam...

    What did you base the hardware (nuts and bolts and mechanics) off?

    I have considered this as another project and would like to know more... unless you plan to offer a cutting service.


  • Matthew- Thanks. We also like to think that VTOL makes a lot more sense for certain missions. We will be working with the software developers to incorporate our code in future releases. Currently our code is very specific to our tiltrotor (at an airframe level). When you say 4 engine config, I assume your talking about the SLT VTOL  or similar configuration? Some of the code strategies we use on thrust vector angle, and blending airplane and copter heading strategies will enable that type of VTOL aircraft (and many others) to convert well. We will have to start working with the developers to make the code more flexible and include parameters for users to adjust and manipulate in Mission Planner.

  • Awesome job guys. 

    I really believe this will be the way businesses will end up implementing their drone business.

    It's just the best use of the battery resources and safer if an engine cuts out in airplane mode.

    It's my wish that your code can be folded into the APM/Pixhawk tree with proper recognition (and at least some compensation I hope), so that we can enjoy more flight configurations from 3DR.

    Can your code handle a four engine configuration?

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