1 hour 20 minutes - APM 2.5 takes the world record for Multi-Copter Duration of Flight powered by a rechargeable battery. [note: other records exist for hover]

Flight Requirements


To discriminate flight from hover:

o Fly the following land distance -

  - While flying at an elevation greater than 2.5 meters

  - Cover 2.5 kilometers of land or more using 50 or fewer GPS points

  - Where two or more of the way points are more than 250 meters apart

o Gain the following altitude -

  - Accumulate elevations gains of 250 meters

  - Consisting of individual continuous elevation gain runs of 25 meters or more

  - Where every one second period, the elevation gain is positive

o Lands within 50 meters of Launch (to even out the use of wind)

o Without using thermals or wind lift affect to gain lift (flat ground, etc).

o Generation of flight logs (GPS, time, and elevations)

o Certified or scientific method (full disclosure of the ship design)

Actual Flight


- Distance covered 2.551 km

- Min elevation 2.5 meters

- Ended at start (within 6.1 meters)

- A hundred waypoints with two waypoints 283 meters apart

- Two climbs of 126 meters and 112 meters with a total of continuous 25+ meter climbs of 515 meters.

- Flight over ground that was void of thermals and updrafts (level ground +/- 10 meters)

- Wind was none to slight

- Temperature was approximately -2C to 1C from start to end of flight

Record Established:  +1hr and 20 minutes (81.43 minutes)

Date:  November, 26 2013, 10AM

Flight Documentation:

Earth views of the flight:  This is the top view.  It's an important perspective for understanding the video.  The man-cave is the L shaped building at the bottom where the ship was brought up to the 2.5 floor window where the camera was located.  The camera is pointed north from the man-cave to the turn-around point of the second way point (top of earth view).  The third way-point was mid-left on the route back to the man-cave.


The south-west side profile of the flight.


Elevation profiles of the flight:  From Mission Planner, showing BarAlt R


Data imported to Excel and plotted.


Videos of the flight:  are compiled from 2754 time-stamped Canon stills taken every 2 seconds.  At a video rate of 20Hz, the videos are 40x actual speed.  Sometimes the copter goes outside the FOV of the camera (had to trade between showing detail and scene area).  The white box that is the most visible part of the copter is the thermal blanket on the battery.  If you lose track of the copter, watch where I am and the copter is usually 5 to 120 meters up.

Stage 0:  Shows the flight prep and takeoff location about 1/3rd the way between the mancave and way point 2.

Stage 1:  The octa

- is launched

- brought to the man-cave viewing window

- sent north on it's first slow 120 meter climb reaching the apex about .3km away

- reaches the second way point (near the lone fir tree at the end of the field)

- turn SE over the orchard fan towards way point three

- turns SW back towards the mancave

Stage 2:  The octa

- shows at the man-cave

- pauses near the launch site

- returns to way point 2

- returns to way point 3

- heads back to the man-cave

Stage 3: The octa

- shows back at the man-cave

- begins second 100+ meter climb

- returns to launch

- lands

- return copter to mancave

Note:  Suggestions would be appreciated on a camera system that:
- works for 2 hours at -5C without needing a battery change
- can take 2 hours of video without needing a card change
- can produce a video that can be condensed and shared
- can be worn on your head

Flight Logs:  See attached or

o 2013-11-26 11-41 187.kmz (earth view logs) real-time generated by APM

o 2013-11-26 11-41 187.log (gps and elevations) real-time generated by APM

o 2013-11-26 11-41 187.log.gpx

Certification:  Scientific method chosen where full disclosure of the ship architecture and flight conditions can be replicated. 

Multi-Copter Design

- Octa

- A novel rotor layout to demonstrate the flexibility of APM 2.5 (a regular quad is likely the most efficient for duration)

- A rotor layout that can be adapted for camera use (open front and rear)

- Thus, two connected side-by-side + oriented quads with 6 rotors up + 2 rotors down


Ship material list and weights were as follows:


ESCs are stripped of all insulation, painted with silicone, and put in the prop intake to cool.

The battery, 40 Panasonic Li-Ion combined into a 4S10P, had to be wrapped in PVDF foam (made prop clearance a bit fun; PVDF is a nontoxic fire certified foam) since it was -2C out (significant weight gain).  Even with the foam, the battery only produced about 80% of what it should in the summer.


Spot welded serial connection for the batteries.


Construction process: followed the blogs on carbon tube construction using braided carbon composite tubes, aerospace adhesive, and zip ties.  See following links.

Modification to APM Code:  APM is easily customize for any multi-copter rotor layout.  Documentation is available to explain the process.  The code below replaced the code for a V ("variant") octa.  The motors were numbered 1 to 8 going from left to right and then fore to aft.

        add_motor_raw(AP_MOTORS_MOT_1,  0.691, 0.522,  1.000, 1);
        add_motor_raw(AP_MOTORS_MOT_2, -0.691, 0.522, -1.000, 2);
        add_motor_raw(AP_MOTORS_MOT_3,  1.000, 0.000, -1.000, 3);
        add_motor_raw(AP_MOTORS_MOT_4,  0.382, 0.000, -1.000, 4);
        add_motor_raw(AP_MOTORS_MOT_5, -0.382, 0.000,  1.000, 5);
        add_motor_raw(AP_MOTORS_MOT_6, -1.000, 0.000,  1.000, 6);
        add_motor_raw(AP_MOTORS_MOT_7,  0.691,-0.522,  1.000, 7);
        add_motor_raw(AP_MOTORS_MOT_8, -0.691,-0.522, -1.000, 8);



o APM Development team

o Forrest Frantz (integration engineering, test, and pilot)

o James Frantz (electrical consulting and Scottsdale Foamie club)

o Leonard (math model)

o Hugues (motor suggestion)

o 3DR, T-Motor Company, Helibatics, SimonK, HobbyKing, Panasonic

o cptfrazz for setting such a high bar and use of Li-Ion

Purpose of the Record & the Challenge to Others

Please participate in the advancement of multi-copter technology by taking on the challenge of beating this world record. All that some of us ask is full disclosure of the ship so everyone can advance.  Multi-copters can be applied to many fields: inspection, conservation, and rescue to mention a few.  The faster we advance the technology, the more this amazing technology will be used, the more benefit society will accrue, and the more lives that will be saved. 

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  • MR60

    Congrats Jim!  You must be so glad to have a ship that is reliable enough to set records at will.  Great build.  You should now be ready to fly a camera/gimbal for easily over 60 minutes.

    Do you think you made the 2km distance and 200m altitude climbs to qualify for flight?  If so, I'll load your log files when they are available and calculate your distance and altitude gains (have a macro that calculates the altitude gains, distance flown, and time).

    And yes, you will be the first 90 min as soon as you post your log.  For the Guisness record, be sure to read their requirement sheet to certify the flight.

  • DIYDrones Record Duration Flight Using APM 2.5 at 93 minutes 

    A new DIYDrones record for a rechargeable battery multi-rotor flight was set at 93 minutes and 14 seconds by Jim Frantz.  His custom built quad flew over the Sonoran desert in Scottsdale, Arizona at altitudes of over 100 feet and covered some distance but remained in sight at all times.  Jim says, “It could have flown longer but I decided to insure myself of a controlled landing.  Next month I’ll try to beat my brother’s official Guinness record while breaking the 100 minute mark when I can arrange for a full complement of observers.”  The weather was less than ideal with winds 4 gusting to 11 mph and 85 degrees.  Jim is a retired electrical engineer, professional pilot and still farms.

    Thanks to the contributors at DIYDrones and especially my brother Forrest who is my partner for weight savings and efficiency ideas. I believe I am the first to make the 1+30 multi-rotor "endurance group" on this forum. My copter was built of spare parts from Max’s copter (my grandson) mostly of 3D Robotics electronics and wiring.  Forrest spot welded together the 747gram Li Ion battery pack for me.  My custom frame weight was 66 grams including the battery holder, and bays for electronics.


    • 16 Li Ion NCR18650B batteries in a 4S4P configuration
    • All CF frame of 0.28”ID x 0.35”OD tubes and 1/8” sandwich panel
    • T-Motor MN3508-29 BLDC motor swinging a 16” CF prop
    • Spektrum DX8 and AR110e 6 channel receiver3701689337?profile=original
    • 3D Robotics APM2.5 modified with their remote compass
    • 3D Robotics Power Module


    The pictures attached are of me and the copter seconds before returning for the landing and a close up of the quad after the flight.  I’ll send along the log files later with more detailed building data if anyone is interested.



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