Worlds Smallest Pixhawk Powered Quadplane: SUAVX Nano VTOL UAV

Yesterday Was the first successful transition flight of my Nano Quadplane.  After limited success a few years ago with two separate pixhawks on the VTOL Anaconda, I decided it wasn't feasible to use multiple Pixhawks/Pilots for anything other than a tech demo.  

Now with all of the work done by the Devs for creating the quadplane code (awesome work gents!), I was inspired once again to make something that worked as seamlessly as imagined back then.  I knew there would be challenges and a large margin for failure, so I chose a small EPP plane to minimize damage and rebuilding. Turns out I don't think I've ever seen a quadplane that uses Arduplane/pixhawk this small, so I thought I would share this with everyone.  It took about a week to make and probably took it apart and back together no less than 10 times...seriously there is so much crammed in the fuselage I don't think there is room for air. 

In this flight I was running Arduplane 3.7, and have yet to test some of the advanced features like weathervaning and pusher motor position hold assist. Using old batteries so I can only hover for about one minute, so no time for autotune.  All gains were done manually the old fashioned way, though they still aren't perfect. Now that I am confident and familiar with the code, I will try again on a much larger model (2 meter+ wingspan) with decent flight time and payload carrying ability. 

Nano VTOL Full Specifications-

AUW: 610g

Endurance with VTOL Takeoff/Landing: 12 Minutes

Autopilot: Pixhawk 1 with GPS, 900mhz Telemetry, & Power Module

Firmware: Arduplane 3.7.0 

Airframe: RMRC Skyhunter Nano RTF 

Battery: Turnigy Nano-tech 4s 850mah 45C

Pusher Motor: Multistar 2206-2150kv

Pusher ESC: 3DR 20A w BEC

Pusher Prop: 5x5 Tri-Blade

Lift Motors: Emax 1306 4000kv

Lift ESCs: DYS 20A 

Lift Props: 3x3 Quad Blade

FPV: RMRC 25mw 5.8ghz all in one Tx + Camera

Also if anyone would like the file to 3D print the booms send me an email:

Thanks again to the Devs and Testers who made this possible-

Views: 4562

Comment by Marc Dornan on September 16, 2016 at 1:47pm

That is sweet! Do you think you are maxed out at 12 minutes with that setup or do you think more battery can be squeezed into that setup.

Comment by Joseph Aletky on September 16, 2016 at 3:08pm

I think you could get a 1000mah or even 1400mah in there, but there are a few problems.  For one, its too nose heavy with anything larger than the 850mah. Second, the AUW is already at 610g when RMRC recommends under 375g for this platform. Not only that but the drag of the quad motor props and structure make the L/D ratio much lower.

So in short, this configuration is really just a novelty was built just to test the code features and functions with minimal risk. Any real improvements on something this size would require a scratch build, but I would love to see it done-

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on September 16, 2016 at 3:39pm

I love it! I'd been thinking of building a tiny one based on the Disco, but this is even smaller. Great!

Comment by MarioSpeedwagon on September 16, 2016 at 3:47pm
This is great, Joseph. Nice work!
Comment by Joseph Aletky on September 16, 2016 at 3:48pm

Thanks Tridge! Let me know if you have any experimental changes for the code, that's what this thing is for! It crashes really well so no worries if something doesn't work as expected. I certainly proved that with my regular fixed wing nano skyhunter. This thing is pretty tough-

Comment by Galaeta on September 17, 2016 at 2:57am

Good work. I like it!. May you kindly post awing reinforcement photo? How about the wing root twist?


Comment by Joe on September 17, 2016 at 7:27pm

Mario- Thank you!

Galaeta- There were no mods to the wing, looks just like a stock nano skyhunter but with a bunch of extra wires. The quad booms were glued on with shoe goop type glue.

Dave- Yes I have an old v1 talon that I've always wanted to convert. Never had the time either.  The problem with the cg in the quadplane is that it needs to be correct for both modes of flight. If it were nose heavy, it would be ok in airplane mode but in quad mode there would be an imbalance in the power output to maintain level between the fore and aft lift motors. 

Comment by Pascal Fust on September 18, 2016 at 3:34am

Great job and prove of the potential of the current autopilots. Congrats!

Comment by Steven Adams on September 20, 2016 at 3:23am

Dave - I'd say the XUAV Talon isn't the best airframe for a quadplane, it will do it, but it is a pig of a thing and puts any good sized props where they get interfered with by the elevators. I don't think it is ideal either for bracing the wings to prevent twist.

Joseph - great work, I was just looking at that airframe the other day - maybe now I'll pull the trigger

Comment by Dorjano Baruca on September 26, 2016 at 11:08am

Hi Joseph

One question though.... What are the four motors doing during a horizontal flight? In a aeroplane mode. Let me guess... nothing. A death weight, right?

This configuration is no good. You should use the same propulsion for VTOL and for horizontal flight. Though there is a better way/firmware - use tilting of the propulsion system. Check this video to see what I mean:


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