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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  • Yeah lots of great ideas, that's why I go ahead and order some stuff to start out with, to force myself to make decisions with what I have....
  • One other idea I thought of was, leaving the predator the way it is with long range and cameras and using it as a relay for a smaller helicopter that could drop out from the "mothership" survey the brush below (while the predator is flying it self in circles above) and then meet back up.....
  • A University here in Australia has developed a system for producing solar panels by "Printing" them onto film.They use modified bubblejet printers and simply run the film through the printers in order. Each printer has a different component of the cell in the ink cartridge and prints the layer as the film passes through. The result is a flexible photoelectric cell that weights as much as a peice of card. Last I heard, several industry bodies have picked up the idea for production. Universities generally don't sell thier patents, they make thier money back on long term licencing agreements.

    With the imminent introduction of a carbon tax, subsequent emissions trading scheme and an abundance of sunshine, Solar is getting pushed quite hard in the land down under.


    After looking at the Skywalker... a foamy with a parachute looks like a cheap and feasable option...

    Unpack, throw antenna in the tree, put wing on Skywalker, fire up hardened netbook, run diagnostics, launch.

    Maybe even insert some small ducted fans in the wing roots and tail plane for "Trawling speed"


    Man the longer this conversation goes, the more great ideas come out. Awesome

  • Mick as far as the solar cells go, you are probably right, however, with a glider type model do you think there would be any benefit with current technology? As far as air time? If there is the slightest benefit (possibly only a few cells) I may do it, simply for the fact that once it is grounded it can recharge itself, possibly after a spare battery change) however long that may be.

    I am considering using a gas rc engine to power an alternator for all the fans....

    I have started my ordering process, 2 planes over the internet. One a RTF power glider and the other a 63" Predator (just the airframe). I am going to use the power glider to try things and work out kinks before I implement them into my predator system. However I do plan on modifying the predator airframe. Only problem is I fear it may take a heavy drain on battery power if I choose to go in hover modes, alas probably will need a gas generator. One problem I do not like with the airframe I chose is tight brush that maybe a two foot model could make it through. However I feel since I am planning on going long range and scouting above trees and along tree lines it will work out. Maybe some not so thick bursh I can hover through....

    I also ordered a miniature wireless camera with receiver as well as a usb video hook up so I can view the video on my laptop. Although I put the link up earlier I plan on hopefully altering 2.4 ghz with a better antenna. I may even use part of one guys idea, only instead of a blimp just a helium balloon or weather balloon that can be blown up quickly and in the air for the antenna.

    I will give you progress reports on my project (and if you don't mind) share your blog with you. I think we may be able to tackle some of the portions of each others projects together. Even if you don't want to share blogs it is great to have someone that has close to the same goals in mind to share ideas with.

    I like Nicolas design idea, that may be a perfect design for what we want to do..... No turning back for me though, I just ordered to other platforms...

    What design software did you use? CAD, 3DS? Looks really well balanced.
  • Just allow unused patents to be open source and you have high efficient solar cells right now. That is one of the worst problems: a lot of people that invented efficient stuff sold the patent to some company that holds locked somewhere just to continue to sell inefficient stuff that is cheap to produce. But this is another story....

  • Low speed cruise would just be your fans at 3/4 tilt. That way you'd still have wing lift from your forward movement supplimented by fan lift. I think I'm gonna go with the quad tilt-rotor though.

    That's a great design concept Nicholas, although even though a solar wing would be cool, unfortunately solar cells are weight inefficent to the point where your UAV would have to land, relax in the sun for a few hours just so it could fly another 10 minutes. Wait a few years though and the new generation of printed panels will be commercially available and we'll all have 7 hour flight times (Till the sun goes down)

  • the 1stuse of the word range in the previous post should be replaced by durable.


    I have also thought of an alternative set up utilizing ducted fans at the tips that aren't tilt rotor. These would be used for STOL or to cruise at very slow speeds without the power drain of VTOL.

  • I've been considering something along those lines too (plane for longer distance, with hovering capabilities). My project is to build a tri-rotor tilt wing, but this is still in the planning / experimenting phase...


    My design so far :



    Still a lot of work ahead of me... the road ahead is long,  but it should be fun!

  • I just found this blog and this is exactly the same reason while I am going to be building one as well. I have had the same idea with the tri-motor VTOL concept. Mine is also for hunting vermin (not on WMA as this is against rules but on private property). The property I go small game hunting has several open fields with large and small patches of woods. I wanted a VTOL to be able to get to the patches of woods quickly and then to be able to look for the squirrel in the trees hovering. I was thinking of going with the air hogs toy osprey as a base but just decided to come up with my own design, which I believe I will be using a modified predator with 2 tilt rotors at the end of the wings and modifying the back section to tilt down in the back. I would like to mount solar panels on top of the wings to increase range as well as long range. I came across this site for long range:



  • I'll have to check on the rules here with regards to game. I'm pretty sure vermin are fair pickings though. The main use is not so much to look for game as it is to look at the vegetation as compared to the topography. Many times we've planned a trip based on terrain and satellite images only to arrive at the location and find it less than suitable. If it's one thing we have plenty of here it's state forest and feral animals.
    I quite like to idea of a quad rotor tilt wing. It's like two chinook side by side. Also for antennae, I was thinking of just using the same method as we did in the army... Throw it up a tree :)
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