QuadPlane support in APM:Plane 3.5.0

The upcoming 3.5.0 release of APM:Plane includes support for QuadPlane - a hybrid plane/multi-rotor that allows for high speed long distance flight with vertical takeoff and landing.

The above video shows a converted HobbyKing Firstar 2000 doing a fully autonomous mission, with VTOL takeoff, followed by automatic transition to fixed wing flight and then a VTOL landing. The planes builder, Jack Pittar from CanberraUAV, is shown with the plane below.

3689677459?profile=originalThe plane itself was fairly easy to build, with the simple additional of rectangular section aluminium arms on the Firstar wings and 4 quad motors.

One issue we found is that the battery we are using (a 3S 4Ah 65C) doesn't handle the 65A needed for vertical takeoff well, with the voltage dropping to 10V on takeoff. After takeoff completes and it transitions to fixed wing flight it quickly recovers. We will be changing the battery setup for future flights.

A second issue is that the wings tend to twist a bit in flight, especially when yaw is commanded. That greatly reduces yaw authority when hovering. We are still thinking about the best ways to prevent wing twist.

The new QuadPlane support is documented at and is included in the 3.5.0beta1 release (I will do a separate blog post on that release shortly).

In the near future we expect to add support for other hybrid frame types, including tilt-rotors and fixed wing aircraft with other types of multi-rotor frames attached.

This QuadPlane follows on from our earlier Senior Telemaster QuadPlane which used two Pixhawk flight controllers.

scaled_IMG_20150830_093548.jpgWe built the Firstar QuadPlane to test the new code where a single flight controller board running APM:Plane is used, which makes for much simpler operation. We plan on now building a much larger version, with a 50cc petrol motor for fixed wing flight.

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  • Developer

    @Rainer, the extra flight modes are the same as existing flight modes. You just edit the FLTMODEn parameters. So if you want flightmode 3 to be QHOVER then you would set FLTMODE3 to 18.

    I don't know which ground stations have added the names for these flight modes yet. If the new modes aren't listed then you will have to edit the flight modes manually in the advanced parameter list.

    For the auto-mission commands, that also needs GCS support to add it to the editor.

    Which GCS are you using?

    Cheers, Tridge

  • WOW WOW WOW AND WOW!! Thank you so much andrew, I have been looking for something like this for quite a while now. I was almost starting to try and develop it myself! Amazing work, certainly a game changer!

    When do you think you will have support for tiltrotors? I would love to have a talk with you to see if i can help in any development.

    Thanks again!


  • Hello Andrew Tridgell

    Thank you for the wonderful work.

    I have some questions about the Flightmods and navigation,
    How do I get the Flightmods
    18: QHOVER
    19: QLOITER
    activated or where they must be inserted, a screenshot would help.
    the next problem
    how do I get the commands inserted

    a screenshot and a description would be helpful

    best regards

  • 100KM

    I have written and video'd a build log for a VTOL conversion of a Volantex Ranger Ex

    Good work tridge!

  • Yaw authority can also be increased by shimming one side of the motors up and changing the thrust Andre.
  • Developer

    Hi Tridge,

    JB Aletky is correct that the yaw authority can be increased or decreased depending on the frame type use. In this case I understand that the flex is along the wing axis and therefore a standard quad X frame should provide additional yaw authority. So it doesn't make sense that the wing twist should reduce the yaw authority.

  • I tried setting up my X-8 as a y six some time ago, as the mounting and drag issues of the firefly6 motor positions worked well.

    I didn't have enough lift for it to work.
  • Developer

    btw, if anyone wants FireFly6 and tiltrotor support soon then finding someone to send me one would certainly help!

    Otherwise I'll develop the SITL sim for it and then wait for someone else to test it

  • Dear Anderew really tahank you very much I m waiting this update during several months..  

  • Developer

    @JB, good suggestion on the H setup.

    For other frame setups I'm planning on adding a Q_FRAMETYPE parameter to support all of the multicopter variants that are supported by APM:Copter. That should be quite a small change.

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