You may remember our previous posts of Guppy, Hornbill and Kiwit. Well, we now have a fully composite UAV, called SurVoyeur, in production.  This aircraft is a sub 4.5kg electric, able to carry up to 600grams payloads for up to 45minutes. It is also a fully autonomous system, with full autolaunch and autoland in harsh terrain. It has been extensively flown here in Namibia, mostly on land surveying missions, photographing up to 150hectare in one flight. We have fitted it with a Samsung 20Mpixel camera, giving us down to 2cm ground resolution on the resulting georeferenced ortho-images.

It is fitted with a Hacker A30-12XL motor and a 12x8 folding prop. 2 Lipo packs are used, 4 cell 5Ah each.

Takeoff in no wind is in 8 meters ground run, climb out at 7meters/sec @ sea level.

We have also fitted the FLIR TAU-2 IR camera and the FLIR QUARK IR camera and are currently busy with flight trials with a view to using the system as a further aid to the Ministry for Conservation here, for anti-poaching efforts.

Here are some pictures showing the path walked to get to the above result......

First the fuselage plug primed then painted :


And a bunch of wings cut and ready for vacuum bagging:


All these parts were designed on a CAD system with a full 3d Model created for all parts. Molds were made for fuselage, horizontal and vertical stabs ( and for the V tail stab) and for the many small parts that go into such a project.

Here are the horizontal and vertical stabs:


And the Vertical Stabs:3689464747?profile=original

The Vertical Stab Molds:


Many Parts:




Here is a PDF of the system, for info.


And some videos:



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  • James, I agree.  Nothing made out of foam or wood is a serious industrial tool.

    This whole thing makes me think that a Robin by Andy Lennon could actually be a good UAV aircraft.  The flight characteristics are exceptional, but I always though the front engine was a non-starter.  It sort of is in a gas/glow application, because you'll constantly end up with oil all over the mid-mounted camera.  But electric power solves that.

  • Nice work. To become serious work tools, this is how UAV's will need to be constructed. Foamies are great for the low cost, low margin hobby market, but won't last long in a tough work environment. Here in Western Australia, we have similar conditions to Namibia, especially in the mining areas where a lot of the use for these tools will be.


    Good luck with your project. It's good to see the market maturing.

  • I'd be really interested in seeing a price for these, both tail setups

  • that's a nice job.  Looks like a pretty plane to me!

    What's the Price - website?

  • Thanks

  • Lorentz-

    Conventional method, painted Mylars, then fiberglass cloth onto that, and then sandwich the foam cores in all that, bag it and vacuum. LEdge has a wraparound layer of carbon, ailerons have a layer of thin carbon top and bottom for stiffness

  • Congrats.

    Thoughtful, simple and optimized design.

    What material did you use to cover the styrofoam wings ? (just curious).


  • What is the price of your system?

  • Hikkakaru  - Yes, I guess you are right, but that was never the aim of this aircraft - it was designed as an autopilot flown photogrametric system , always fitted with either a downward looking still camera for orthographic purposes, or IR camera for night flights over bush. It is pure and simple a working plane....and like working horses, the motive power is always forward of the cart.. I think a lot of the UAV 'work' seen on DiyDrones are efforts by people having fun, or companies with large budgets, so the planes look pretty as that is part of the kick - SurVoyeur must just fly, efficiently, and take all the knocks. Bush repair kits out here contain hammers, pliers ( size-large..) and bits of wire!  

    I wonder if there are posts on DIY drones of the IMU attitudes data for various planes that folk have integrated and flown? It would be interesting to have a Trust Time Trial for the smoothest flying plane keeping the tightest course!

    Have fun, and Rough Landings!

  • I think what r_beflevre was referring to was why not use a upwards rear mounted motor/prop, like for example a Skysurfer or Bixler. Hand launching is okay with those types, and certainly cuts down on noise if you were to use the plane in an FPV configuration.

    With that said, I like your current design. K.I.S.S. design is always good.

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