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 Update: LUAV Project

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Spl. Durkee
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PostSubject: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:58 pm

So as many of you know, I have a project going right now for a LUAV for SAR operations and maybe wargaming (hey, might as well).

I just got my new airframe in the mail. I decided on the EasyStar after getting my hands on a Firebird for a demo flight. To say the least, the Firebird had some pretty nasty stall characteristics. I had to fly at ~40% power or higher...creating an airspeed that made the airframe unstable and would create problems with image clarity when mounted with the camera systems.

In flight trials of the EasyStar, I found I could fly at as low as 15% power (virtually a slow crawl) and still maintain control. Crashed it twice during the first two hand-launches because I didnt have it trimmed right. No damage. Still don't think it can handle 10 mph winds, but thats fine. I'm probably just going to leave it as a 3-channel for simplicity.

Upgrades/mods planned:
-Update video/control transmitter/recievers for increased operation range http://www.rangevideo.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=35_22&products_id=91&zenid=2c81db5238dbc919adb0b2834416f3e7
-Maybe incorporate FMA copilot and ardupilot (thats the good stuff)
-Brushless motor (for greater lift capability)
-Battery! (provides 45 minutes of continuous power
-Speed controller
-6x4 prop

So basically...the EZ will be frankensteined out of it's mind.

Any input/comments/concerns/problems/opinions/observations?


Last edited by Spl. Durkee on Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:52 am; edited 4 times in total
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alexkmmll
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:35 am

My dad has a challanger, or did... We were flying one time and he crashed it, theyre not easy to fly in any cross wind so be careful, especially with all that gear on board. The crash broke the prop, busted the wing, and demolished the front.
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Zane
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:20 pm

Well on the bright side if you do crash it they are easy to repair
Quote :
Update video/control transmitter/recievers for increased operation range (trying to figure out exactly what though)

Fast-Scan Television is a great way to combine ham radio with other hobbies, such as RC model airplanes and model rocketry. Amateur radio can be used to send video from a remote camera back to the operator over long distances.
Below ill add some links to an article on the subjeckt, its a bit old (1993) but maybe it will give you an idea on what it does..imn to lazy to read em :p, or easier you could just google Fast Scan TV.
An Introduction to Amateur Television - Part 1
An Introduction to Amateur Television - Part 2
An Introduction to Amateur Television - Part 3
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:15 pm

Zane wrote:
Well on the bright side if you do crash it they are easy to repair
Quote :
Update video/control transmitter/recievers for increased operation range (trying to figure out exactly what though)

Fast-Scan Television is a great way to combine ham radio with other hobbies, such as RC model airplanes and model rocketry. Amateur radio can be used to send video from a remote camera back to the operator over long distances.
Below ill add some links to an article on the subjeckt, its a bit old (1993) but maybe it will give you an idea on what it does..imn to lazy to read em :p, or easier you could just google Fast Scan TV.
An Introduction to Amateur Television - Part 1
An Introduction to Amateur Television - Part 2
An Introduction to Amateur Television - Part 3

Great info, although ya...a bit outdated.

I've been looking into fast scan/ham tv linking...but every system I've looked at has been WAAAAY out of my price range.
Many consumer systems (non-ham/fast-scan) often have acceptable capabilities...and for what I'm doing, FSTV may be overkill.

The need right now is a matter of 3/4 to 2 miles of digital transmitting.
That can easily be done by many off-the-shelf wireless streaming video systems for as little as $200...and custom rigs can be built to top that performance for just as much dough.

But FSTV is still an option.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:53 am

So I did a couple flights today in 8-13 mph winds at a local park:

It handled remarkably well actually...maybe even helped it perform even better for the role it will soon fill. I found that at 30% throttle with headwinds I could litterally hover in place without any major altitude changes and instability. At high speeds with strong headwinds, the craft did develop a habit of pitching....but nothing that couldnt be solved by control manipulation.

I've pretty well mastered hand-launches, which I found can be done without even touching the controls. Roll it onto 75% thrust and throw it at an obtuse angle and it climbs right out. (there are some videos around where the user launched the craft while his controller was still sitting on the ground). I thermalled (flew on 0 throttle using thermal venting to stay aloft) for a good 10 minutes straight until I had to land after this dude came and wanted to get his plane in the air.

This was definitely the best airframe for the task at hand. Hopefully after minor modifications and boosted range, it will get even better.

I still need to do flight trials with added weight (to simulate future camera/radio systems) before purchasing any of said equipment.

Stay tuned! Pictures will come soon, my camera is in the shop.


Last edited by Spl. Durkee on Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:57 am

Very cool, where are you going to attach all the gear to it?
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:57 pm

alexkmmll wrote:
Very cool, where are you going to attach all the gear to it?

Feuselage. Theres more than enough room externally and if I need more space (probably wont), I can always grab a carbon fiber kit Smile
There is also alot of empty space inside that can be carved out to make room
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:27 pm

Finally got some info on laws restricting non-commercial UAV's...
--fly within line of sight
--under 400' alt
--under 30 knots
--under 4.4lb
--Fly at least 3 miles from any airport

So I'm going to have to keep all this in mind while building/designing/flying.
For any of you interested in similar projects, do keep these in mind.

The FAA is in the process of creating new guidelines (more strict) for civilian UAV's, along with establishing barriers to help integrate UAVs in the national airspace.

On anothe note, I was given the recommendation by Chris Anderson of "DIY Drones" to throw EasyGlider wings on the airframe rather then the shorter stock ones. Supposedly this will help slow-fly and stability dramatically.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:43 am

Well, I've pretty well figured out the video system:

Aerial Video System

Survey Video System (Maybe)
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:09 am

Well since your devoloping it for CAP/search and resc, do you still have to worry about the FAA restrictions on civilian UAV's?
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:17 pm

Zane wrote:
Well since your devoloping it for CAP/search and resc, do you still have to worry about the FAA restrictions on civilian UAV's?

Unfortunately, but we shall see what happens...the FAA is supposed to be releasing new drone regulations soon.

I'm still going back and forth about using a pan/tilt camera. I might incorporate it once I get either a 'fly by camera' or gps omnidemensional autonomous flight system.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:29 pm

It would be cool to mount a small camra in a "turret" under the nose or somewhere on the body of the aircraft that would rotate and raise or lower the camra, much like the Preditor Drones. Although it might be a bit expensive it would be a simple thing that could be controled by just one joystick.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:25 pm

alexkmmll wrote:
It would be cool to mount a small camra in a "turret" under the nose or somewhere on the body of the aircraft that would rotate and raise or lower the camra, much like the Preditor Drones. Although it might be a bit expensive it would be a simple thing that could be controled by just one joystick.

Ya thats what I'm thinking too. For now I may just stick to a static camera system [like that used RAVEN man-portable UAV's] then upgrade to pivot once I've gotten an autonomous flight controller. Having flight and camera controls could get confusing.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:06 am

yeah, of corse you could make it so there was two opperators, one flys it and the other controls the camra, so basicly 1-2 camras would be devoted to flying (would be used by the pilot) and the other 2-3 would be for recon (used by other guy who needs a cool name) But that would require two TVs/Laptops, and two controlers, but that would be pretty easy. Also, you could make it drop stuff, I know the Challanger has things that can do that. You could have it drop a small radio, or a flare or smoke grenade. something like that. Again, just an idea...
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:14 am

alexkmmll wrote:
yeah, of corse you could make it so there was two opperators, one flys it and the other controls the camra, so basicly 1-2 camras would be devoted to flying (would be used by the pilot) and the other 2-3 would be for recon (used by other guy who needs a cool name) But that would require two TVs/Laptops, and two controlers, but that would be pretty easy. Also, you could make it drop stuff, I know the Challanger has things that can do that. You could have it drop a small radio, or a flare or smoke grenade. something like that. Again, just an idea...

I'm planning on a system that can be deployed and operated by one person...which is why I'm going to incorporate an autonomous flight controller (ArduPilot with U-Blox5 GPS). It will allow the "pilot" to set coordinated on virtual airspace (3-D GPS waypoints), switching control of servos to ArduPilot...allowing for fully autonomous flight (until landing). Unfortunately, the system doesnt have the capability to update flight path in-flight (but I'm working on getting my hands on a system update that can). So while ArduPilot is in control of the aircraft, the operator can focus on working a pan/tilt streaming video device.

This system is estimated in the $600 range. Will be persued once I get a steady source of moderate income back. (ETC: 6 months)

For now, I'm only making a static-camera UAV...meaning the operator manipulates flight controls to scout. It's alot simpler and what I'm starting with as a proof of concept.
This system is only going to cost $250 or so and I expect to have a working model in then next couple months.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:24 am

Well, how about the Idea of dropping stuff, especially for CAP SAR missions. Say your doing a pass and you spot someone that A. Needs to communicate with you, or B. Needs to be rescued. A. Drop a small Radio to be able to communicate, B. Drop a small flare to mark their position so a Helicopter or some other Vehicle will be able to find them for evacuation. Again, just an Idea.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:03 pm

alexkmmll wrote:
Well, how about the Idea of dropping stuff, especially for CAP SAR missions. Say your doing a pass and you spot someone that A. Needs to communicate with you, or B. Needs to be rescued. A. Drop a small Radio to be able to communicate, B. Drop a small flare to mark their position so a Helicopter or some other Vehicle will be able to find them for evacuation. Again, just an Idea.

Well with the autonomous GPS system, I'm quite sure I could incorporate virtual markers of some sort.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:13 pm

Just an Idea but......why not have some kind of high frequncy siren or something that can be heard by the people on the ground so they would know to signal you.....
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:27 pm

It would be confusing as "Watch your language" unless you had it clearly say "signal your position"
and you have the what if's
-The person is deaf, doesn't hear the loudspeaker
-The person is injured, asleep, or unconscious.

If I saw a UAV I would of course try to signal it as much as possible, that would include using a signal mirror. Which if you had a full 360 or 180 panoramic mirror'ed camera mounted at the nose of the UAV you may be able to isolate the bright flashes.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:51 pm

HUH.....The point of having the the siren is so people Can hear the UAV flying around. I doubt many people will be able to hear a tiny engine on the plane thats going to be flying relatively high. If the persons deaf then they wouldnt be in the woods and if they were in a town disaster zone then theres a good chance the teams will know about it and use dogs or whatever.
If they are injured that doesnt nesscesarly mean they can't signal. If they are asleep or unconscious they would hear the "siren" just as well as a regular plane or Heli.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:04 pm

Oh there can be numerous variables that can put a deaf person in the woods. Lets say he has his own private jet and pilot, doesn't know any better to stay near the crash site and wanders off. What if they cannot signal you at all. No flares, no Mirrors/ There is certainly no way someone would want to try to follow a UAV that is going deeper into the area, and faster than they can move on the ground.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:07 pm

Why would they want to follow anything thats moving faster than them.....I still don't see your point?
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:15 pm

...then whats the point of the siren?
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:17 pm

To alert the rescuee that theres a SaR operation and that they should either try and signal the craft or make a signal fire.
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PostSubject: Re: Update: LUAV Project   Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:21 pm

...OKAY. what if the rescuee cannot signal the UAV?

I am repeating myself.
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