It's official. Guinness World Records validated the flight (see link under Flight 1).
Two flights were achieved to demonstrate that multi-rotor aircraft can stay in the air carrying a payload for a long period of time. While 20 minute flights were considered long in 2014, these demonstration flights show that 1 hour flights can be the norm. Imagine the increase in commercial applications when it is common for ships to stay in the air for an hour or more carrying different payloads. It's just a matter of finding good rotors (Tiger), flight control electronics (3DR), batteries (Panasonic Li-Ion), ESCs, and removing unnecessary weight. Once industry realizes the importance of performance, we will also see a jump in rotor and ESC net-lift efficiency (lift after it gets itself off the ground first).
Flight 1 – Guinness World Record for Longest Electric RC Multicopter Flight (Duration). Pending Guinness review.
Earth view of the hover breaking the world record.
The officials: Michael Allen (expert in UAV flight control; Cloud Cap Technology), Brett Faike (UAV extraordinaire; teaches UAV tech at local schools; gave FPV demo after flight), Forrest (pilot in training), and Kirby Neumann-Rae (editor of the Hood River News).
Celebrating surpassing the old record of 80 minutes (ahhh ... hey pilot ... a little less champagne and eyes on the copter ... it's not time to prune the orchard yet!). Bud, not shown, was taking photos. Hope you got some champagne Bud!
Co-pilot, Dr Carie Frantz ... yes this amazing looking lass is single, is an unreal outdoor bad-ass, and has a great job in case you were wondering. Thanks for keeping pops sane Carie.
Posting the final time (for the final application to Guinness, I requested that 4 seconds be taken off because some blades of grass were brushed prior to the ship finally giving up and setting down. An interesting note on the battery:
o The Li-Ion batteries used are rechargeable (flight was on about the 8th recharge).
o Running Li-Ion batteries down to where the ship drops out of the sky does not hurt them if the ship mass and battery voltage is engineered to invoke that event before voltage runs down too low.
o A few days later, Flight 2 was made using the same battery pack with the ship carrying a camera (see Flight 2 next).
o Li-Ion are low C discharge (not 30 or 20 or 10 ... think about 1 C). The chemical barrier will break down if amp draw is too high. This causes the ship to loose altitude. And if there isn't enough altitude for the battery to recover, crash. As an example, using a 4S5P battery pack (about 15000mAh), Rufous hovers and flies at moderate speed at about 8 to 10 amps depending on payload and flight demand and does great even in moderate winds. Rufous has even flown 60 mph (97 kph) on the same Li-Ion battery pack. However, get up to 15+ amps turning a sharp high-speed corner and the battery chemical barrier locks up in about 2 seconds (yes I've had to rebuild a few times before I figured this out). So caution. Do the calculations. Try to design a safe ship that stays in the air at 2x the amp usage at hover.
Flight 2 – Performance demonstration flight (actual flight versus stationary while carrying a payloads)
[note: will try to beat 90 minutes carrying a camera when I get back from Sri Lanka]
Earth View showing the flight path of the performance demonstration over my orchard.
Photo taken by Brett Faike, a local multi-copter flying legend, of the flight area (man-cave on left and princess palace on right). He treated the witnesses of the Guinness record to FPV flights afterwards using two sets of goggles so we could "ride" along (keeping the ship within visual range and over my farm, of course).
Flight #2 (with camera and telemetry payloads), Elevation Profile.
Flight #2 (with camera and telemetry payloads), Watt Profile.
Flight #2 (with camera and telemetry payloads), Speed Profile. The wind speeds were about 2 - 4 m/s from the north..
Acting Guinness Judges/Timers
Ship Summary: 1.65 kg (w/ camera & telemetry)
Design Elements of Note:
Photo taken from tripod (baseline) with GoPro Hero 3+ at med 7m.
Photo taken from Rufous. The camera was hard mounted, so now need to work on camera isolation that works.
Test Flight Highlights: Prior to “Flight 1” the ship crashed three times.
Crash 1 – Tried saving 2 grams by using Single Ply Carbon Skin Nomex core sandwich panels for motor mounts. The Nomex core on one motor sheared causing a cascading event where all of the motors sheared. Picture the ship moving away in an uncontrolled fashion with one motor suddenly floating away and quickly followed by the other three motors as the frame and battery kept flying in a deep descent.
Crash 2 – Really stupid piloting. I cut power after a landing but forgot to disengage the motors (throttle lower left). As I bent over the ship, my belly pressed the throttle to full and I got a face full. Luckily wearing protective goggles and thick clothing. Sometimes it takes a hard lesson to learn – always disengage the motors and the first thing one does when approaching the ship is to push the red button on the Pixhawk.
Crash 3 – Had been suspicious of one motor mount bond (didn’t sand all surfaces on all the mounts). The suspicions came true as one motor left the motor mast and the ship impaled itself into the lawn (photo below) after some high speed runs that loosened the faulty bond. This crash broke one of the motor masts. The motors are held on with nylon screws that are sized to shear off without harming the frame. This works most of the time, but not this time.
Anyone interested in beating this record (the 100 minutes mark is itching to be broken), friend me and I'll gladly pass along what you need to do to satisfy Guinness. I only ask that we are gentlemen and set records using engineering and piloting skill minimizing the use of ground lift (e.g., please avoid a hover off of a hot tar roof above a heated wall or on a side of a hill/ridge or in ground effect). We want to show industry what is possible under normal flight conditions. I also ask that you fully disclose your ship so we can all learn from what you achieved. Thanks.
If you have any engineering questions, I'll will answer them below.