X4 UAV Project On Hold PDF Print E-mail
Written by Coyt Barringer   
Thursday, 17 May 2012 17:46

The X4 UAV was flown several times and did achieve some Autonomous Flight! More videos of these flights may be posted later. 

Unfortunately, during the last flight, X4 crashed and was damaged beyond repair. We believe the cause was a loss of signal between the on board RC reciever and the RC transmitter on the ground. If the signal is lost, the Autopilot system is supposed to land the plane safely, but instead, the Autopilot system floored the motor and drove the plane straight into the ground from a couple hundred feet. We are still unsure why the Autopilot behaved this way, but the crash was definitely due to the loss of the RC signal coupled with this weird Autopilot behavior. Ultimately, the force of the plane hitting the ground in this manner completely destroyed the airframe along with some of the electronic gear. One of the GPS chips on the Autopilot board literally broke off it's solder joints and landed several feet away from the plane! I will mention that the GoPro DID SURVIVE! That little camera is awesome (as i said earlier, the video may be posted later)! 

While the airframe was destroyed, The X4 UAV was in NO sense a disaster! The X-Labs team learned a ton about UAVs and flight in general. We made many friends through the project including the Zephyrhills Can-Am flyers who graciously let us use their flying field for crashing...oh I mean testing.  Many of the UAV's electronics did survive and will be reused. 

Several of the X-Labs members who spent long hours on the project are still a little shaken up by all the crashes, so that is the reason for the hold. As a club, we want to focus on a couple other projects such as the Big Tesla Coil and another High Altitude Balloon Flight as well. However, THE UAV WILL EVENTUALLY BE REBUILT! We have in no way given up on the project. The idea of having our own UAV is still as cool as it was the day we started, and maybe we will be able to pull it off now that we have some experience!

Please stay tuned for the return of the X4 UAV! 

Here is a picture of the damage from the last flight (wings surprisingly survived but fuselage is totaled!): 

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 May 2012 18:23
First Flight! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Coyt Barringer   
Thursday, 11 August 2011 19:55

The X4 UAV flies! About two weeks ago we took the plane out to a field and tried to fly it (regular RC mode - no AutoPilot). After a few minutes of debugging, X4 was up!

Here is the video of the first flight from the GoPro:

As you can see from the video, there were a few problems. The main one was an issue with lift. After some research, we found out that the ESC, Motor, and Propeller WERE ALL TOO SMALL FOR THE PLANE! A new 60 Amp Turnigy Plush ESC and some 9x6E pusher props have been ordered. The motor will be ordered after we test the plane with the new ESC and props. Overall, the first test was a huge success because we had a fun flight, nothing broke, and we found several areas that need to be improved. 

We now have two long range XTend 900Mhz 1w Data Radios so we can begin building and programming the Autopilot and other control systems. Step one is to implement a regular RC transmitter and receiver with the XTend modules. Signals from a controller on the ground will be sent via Serial over the air using the XTend "Zigbee" modules. The receiving Zigbee module on the plane will convert the Serial control data into PPM signals for the servos on the plane.

The overall next steps:

- Continue testing the plane

- Setup the Ardupilot and Ground Station

- Start building the main flight controller and data links

There is still a ton of stuff to be done, but we now have the perfect platform to build on. Let the fun begin!

The Plane is Assembled! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Coyt Barringer   
Thursday, 11 August 2011 19:07

About three weeks ago, we assembled the majority of the Skywalker airframe. A regular RC system is currently setup (Battery, ESC, Receiver, Motor, Servos). The on board video system is also built and working; this includes the GoPro, EazyOSD, and Video Transmitter. The Autopilot is not setup yet. 

Here are some pictures of the build and the finished plane:

The two images below show the packing tape hinge method we used on all of the control surface hinges.

Below is the test video receiver setup showing the live video feed and overlay from the on screen display (OSD). 


I honestly have no idea why Joe decided to take my picture sideways... when I asked he said it was a photography thing                              -____-

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 August 2011 19:53
6/5/11 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Coyt Barringer   
Thursday, 11 August 2011 18:56

As of 6/5/11 X-Labs has acquired most of the parts to build the UAV! We will be assembling the UAV over the next couple weeks! Below are some pictures of the parts that we currently have! 

Here are some pictures of the parts: