The Planning Begins


ITU Tilt-Rotor VTOL UAV concept from here



A good mate and I were talking a few weeks ago about the AR Drone and it's possible application in scouting for our hunting trips. We discussed putting bigger batteries in it and using a directional antenna to increase it's range and flight time but we came across several problems, the first being the fact that by the time we unpacked it and flew it out to it's maximum range, one of us could have just walked over and taken a look for ourselves.


This prompted a discussion on what our actual requirements were and after seeing a few youtube clips of aggressive maneuvering by quadrotors, we decided to build. My mate has an electronics background and mine is IT so we figured we'd be able to work the project ourselves. I fly micro helicopters as well as R/C planes and have built several from scratch.


Our requirements are these:

  1. Man Portable
  2. VTOL
  3. Autonomous flight via waypoints
  4. Ability to loiter
  5. Video Feed

So from here... the Planning begins.

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  • i don't know if this is the case in Australia, but arial scouting for hunting in the states is regulated. I know you have to wait 3 days between scouting from plane to actually hunting here in NM. I doubt it is closely enforced, but it would suck to have your hunt ruined. The EDF tilt roter idea looks pretty promising.

    Also if you are out for a week in the back country w/o electricity gas might be the way to go.
  • T3
    Just a thought... You've probably already considered this option but a glider/fpv type plane like easyglider (or preferably the Skywalker in your case) can be launched almost vertically with enough power. An easyglider I use for taking aerial photos, for example, weighs about 1 kg and with a 350w motor and big prop it takes off virtually vertically. It's at more than 20 meters in less than 10 meters. Landing could be achieved in similar space with a parachute. And the bonus is the 1h 25 min flight time with only one 3s 4400mAh battery. As for radios: sounds like you'll need a 433 or 900 mhz datamodem/radio module and/or video tx. 2,4 and 5,8 GHz links are seriously degraded by any obstacles like trees but lower frequencies less so.
  • Hmm, a 2-rotor VTOL mimicking the Osprey might be a pain in the ass due to the necessity to preserve the center of gravity. Each time you make a modification - throw a larger battery or add a module (e.g. camera) - you'll have to make sure it doesn't mess with the balance.


    If I were fantasizing about a tilt-rotor, I'd probably go for a quad.

    qtr.jpgAs for comms, there's plenty of radio solutions used in the DYI UAV world, but they'll probably be pretty expensive.

    As for preserving line-of-sight in uneven terrain, one might consider a relay blimp. Or simply the radio module (or just the antenna) of the base station floating on a balloon on a leash.

  • I'll whip up some sketches and post them tomorrow. Some good ideas and advice so far though.
  • In my opinion a smoothless changing from hover mode to winged flight is the ideal implementation. A switch will do the job, but you should first set the vtol in ff flight enough for the wings to start work. It's the harrier-dilemma: pilots havo to concentrate to the ground effect and then change the angle and thrust to go in flight forward mode. I heard that the ideal harrier pilot should have 3 hands to do that. The f-35 do this change by computerized assitance. This can be indeed be done with an aerostat too. 
  • Also I thought it would be a good idea if: you are really gona use an EDF motor on the tail..

    then make the fusealodge like that of a "F86 Saber" where the intake spans through the whole fusealodge offering max intake, and min drag


  • Personally I think your best bet is an Aerostat. VTOL and Loitering are indeed possible, and if you're smart about building them they can pretty much last forever during the day. Speed is a problem, especially in wind so I'm not sure how much that means to you. Portability is also a problem, but if you're smart you can make it so it can be disassembled/assembled while easily transported in a car.

    Also I'd like to add that I am currently building an Aerostat that uses 3G for communications, and the outback I have tried seems to be fine for me (using Telstra).
  • Dose the convertion really need to running off of the APM though? couldnt you just run that stright to the treanmiter since its as simple as flicking a switch?
  • One thing I was wondering about: I there a project for APM code that handles this kind of VTOL? I mean the switch from a tri- or -quad copter mode to a wing aircraft mode. I can imagine that it should be capable to change from one mode to the other once the forward speed is enough for the wings resp too low.

  • After daydreaming at work all day I think an Osprey type configuration would be best suited to my needs.

    Tilted rotors at the extremities of stumpy high lift wings with a ducted rotor at the center of the tail plane. 

    I think this would give me my maximum "Bang for buck" allowing for VTOL and limited hover capabilities with the extended flight time and payload of a fixed wing UAV.

    I'm off to get drawing!

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