Flying high – Neocopter project Part I

How to connect design and electronics with ordinary fun?

[youtube height=”500″ width=”640″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP1-MZmpxsQ[/youtube]

I created an UAV, or Unmanned Arial Vehicle, which is a multi rotor system. Some call it a Drone, this flying machine in a Quadro or Hexa configuration with 4 or 6 brushless motors. The airframe and landing gear used in this project are of own design, made out of fiberglass and carbon to maintain an extremely low weight. This is necessary, because every extra gram of weight will cost the copter 1 second of flight time loss. Attaching the engines at the outer end of the carbon booms and connecting the booms, in their turn, to the center plate of the frame is crucial. Drilling holes in a carbon boom is simply not allowed, so not an option, but I found a way to connect both the booms to the center plate and the motors to the booms in a safe way. It has already been crash tested and I will elaborate on the technique in one of my next posts.

Center plates & boom mounts

Landing gear & battery components

Tech specs

So, what parts are used to construct the NeoCopter? Most of the parts are developed with a CAD system and manufactured by using a Milling machine (CAM). The cabin is fabricated out of polyester, which was then thermo formed in a vacuum. Below is a picture of the frame and technical specs of the Quadro airframe.

 

  • Diameter: 400 mm
  • Height: 210 mm
  • Weight: 300 gram
  • Propellers: 10 Inch (max size)
  • Frame materials: Carbon and Fiberglass
  • Cover: transparent, vacuum thermo formed Polyester

 

 

Eyes for the copter

Although the multi rotor copter was fully functional, I thought it would be a great idea to include a task or application function, such as the ability to take inflight photos or create videos. All we need is a suitable camera and of course a camera mount to attach the camera to the copter. A well-suited camera for the job is a camera from the GoPro Hero series, which is especially designed for extreme sport events and creates full HD videos and pictures under extreme conditions. In addition, with a weight less than 100 grams, this camera is a good choice in this case. Remember, every extra gram takes one second off the copter’s flight time.

In attaching the camera to the copter, we also faced a challenge. Attaching it to the copter frame under the copter could be an option, the when the copter nicks and rolls, the camera would directly follow these movements. Might be fun in some cases, but we would rather see a stabilized video. The solution here lies in using a gimbal which keeps the camera in a stabilized position no matter the nick and roll movements of the copter. I started working on a project named ‘the Hero eye’,  a photo of which can be see below. This project is still in prototype.

What’s next?

In upcoming posts I will elaborate on integrating an NXP Cortex-M0 for sensing the battery and to get the LEDs flashing like a true helicopter. Furthermore, adding a power distribution board to the copter would make connecting parts easier. Continue to check out this blog to get to know more about these features!

Any electronics or software engineer out there interested in the project, or who would like to join or share ideas, feel free to contact me.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar Ivan Lagunov says:

    Truly amazing that you’re inspired to experiment with it and apply NXP products! Why didn’t you post the link to your website? It’s worth doing: http://neocopter.com/

    Looking forward to seeing the next post about it!

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