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Old Oct 16, 2014, 07:17 PM
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New Aircraft Design for FPV Application

Hello everyone.
My name is Alex Kuehn and over the past couple of years I have been expanding my interests/endeavors as an avid RC modeler. I have been involved in the hobby for almost 15 years now and as I have grown as a person so has my relationship with RC. I have always enjoyed flying aerobatics(3D) and a couple of years ago I branched out from airplanes into helicopters as well and currently fly both, but around the same time I was getting into helicopters, I completely different sub sector of the hobby caught my eye and that was the amateur/hobbyist UAV movement.

Since then I started to look at all of the possibilities for RC aircraft besides the obvious joys of flying from a 3rd person view as traditionally was the case in this hobby. While for me, I found that hobbyist UAVs were more of an engineering and design tool that allowed for more affordable development of aircraft and aircraft concepts I was also aware of the timely an unique opportunity presented by the ever expanding FPV and DIY autonomous aircraft enthusiasts for new aircraft designs and products. Early last year I started a small business with a couple of friends with the intention of using UAVs as a research tool and that is what I have been doing for the most part since. We have done a number of projects, some personal, some for other organizations/companies and some are still in progress today even. While it has mainly been a side project for me as of this past summer(I currently work for Cirrus Aircraft full time), it is what I enjoy doing on my free time. You can take a look at our website http://www.xair-robotics.com if this interests you at all.

Quick background on me:
I currently work for Cirrus Aircraft on the SF50 Jet Program as an Experimental Technician. On the side I run XAIR-Robotics and enjoy flying anything RC.
I have almost 15 years of experience with RC.
Studied Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Two time Ignite Grant Winner.
I was an experimental aircraft designer in the Aerial Robotics Laboratory for NASA Space Grant while at ERAU and I was invited to present my undergraduate research at the Arizona NASA Space Symposium last spring, which I did.
I also happen to be an independently published novelist and enjoy writing.

Back on topic though.

With this side venture(XAIR-Robotics) I have recently been considering releasing our first product and it is my intention to have this product be an airframe targeted specifically at the FPV market and even more specifically FPV hobbyists, considering it is getting ever more complicated regulation wise in terms of commercial small unmanned aircraft systems. Seeing as how this is a very diverse sector of the hobby I thought it would be incredibly valuable to come on here and really reach out to the people that use these products on a daily basis and see what you guys truly want in an FPV airframe. Now keep in mind this is a side venture of mine and as such I don't devote all of my time to this, it's almost become part of the hobby to me, so even if I only sell 3 of these things it's worth it to me. That being said I am serious about this and I approach this work professionally.

The specific criteria I am interested in getting feedback on are listed below.

- What size aircraft are most desirable for your current FPV needs? Would you be interested in a larger aircraft if it was as portable as a smaller one?

- Are you more concerned with getting a cheap airframe or would you rather pay a fair price for a domestically designed and produced airframe of good quality?

- Do you desire any unique features that aren't typically available in more "standard" FPV aircraft?

- Do you enjoy having something that looks different or are you more concerned with the practicality of an aircraft and would prefer something more traditional?

- If you were to briefly describe your ideal FPV bird with a short paragraph what would you say?

Example: X wingspan, with X amount of flight time, payload capacity X, in such and such configuration and it would be really awesome if it had VTOL capabilities, available for this price, etc.

Hopefully when I get some feedback from you guys I can start to narrow down what I am going to pursue with this aircraft. We have started a number of aircraft designs and even some basic prototypes that could apply to this, but I made the decision to hold further development of them until we understand better the needs of the consumer, you. If you want to get a taste of some of our projects and stuff we've designed, built, or are still building take a look at the attached images. A few of the designs being considered for this FPV airframe are the tandem stagger wing aircraft(really curious if this has any appeal to the FPV crowd as it was originally designed for aerial video capture from high altitude) we originally called AXIS-1 and the E-Series prototype which is a fairly traditional polyhedral winged aircraft. We have other ideas in the works, but those are the two we began to build and have done glide tests/preliminary aerodynamic analysis of. I am completely open to starting a new design from the ground up though as well. I love to see my designs go all the way from concept to completion.

Now before you guys go and say you want to see video of this stuff flying I'll go ahead and post a link: http://www.xair-robotics.com/gallery You can see a couple videos of tests we did and what not(you'll have to excuse the quad copter bird, that was just something we test flew for another research team) on there. Of course after we nail down what is important in an FPV design these days and get to the prototyping phase I would be sure to have tons of video of available of the prototype aircraft flying. Can't fly on CAD drawings alone and I'm hesitant to dump a lot of money into these projects until I'm more confident that there is a demand of some sort. Once that's established I will get something flying for you guys. I know that's the first thing I want to see whenever someone is spouting off about making a new product.

Looking forward to hearing what you guys have to say and getting to build some cool airplanes!

- Alex Kuehn, XAIR-Robotics
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Old Oct 17, 2014, 06:50 AM
USA: LakeGeorge, New York
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^
Those planes look expensive....
that double wing looks neat (tandem staggered wing),
I've never seen that before. Have you flown these prototypes'?
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Old Oct 17, 2014, 07:51 AM
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how about this old bird I did 3 years ago.
Twin Radian.... fpv...works a treat
....Pete.
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Old Oct 17, 2014, 09:21 AM
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I like the twin fuselage Radian, pretty neat. As for the question about flying these, we've done free flight tests for the tandem stagger wing and the E9 prototype. We will go ahead and do a pre-production prototype of something soon(after we nail down what FPV guys are really interested in) and when we do that we'll set it up completely with electronics and a camera and get some good flight footage.

This was a free flight test we did with the tandem stagger wing.
AXIS 1 Forward Free Flight (0 min 5 sec)
I know it's short but it was really windy that day and by the time we got the CG dialed in for free flight the airframe was in pretty rough shape. Looked promising though in terms of flight characteristics.
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Old Oct 18, 2014, 01:41 AM
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I might also add, to address the comment, "these look expensive", that that depends. I built most of our prototypes relatively cheaply, what's expensive is labor and when you have someone like me willing to do this stuff mostly for the fun of it that isn't necessarily a big factor. What it costs in material depend on what kind of an end product you guys want. If you want these to be all composites and beautiful and refined they're going to cost a little more, but if you just want EPS planes then they can be cheap but the statement, you get what you pay for does hold true to a point. I would rather have a refined composite bird than EPS any day.

Is no one interested in voicing their thoughts on the questions I posed in my first post on this thread?
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Old Oct 18, 2014, 09:26 AM
USA: LakeGeorge, New York
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broken flyer,
I'm sure there are a lot of interests, there are over 200+ views on your thread.
Just give it time.....

I would suggest make the dual wing design (the plane in your sample video),
"Tandem Staggered Wing"
put a FPV gear on it, fly it with OSD
so all of us can see the readings....then,
from there we all can make our judgement:-)

Designing a plane is fun no matter how it looks, its the FPV performance
that counts.
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Old Oct 18, 2014, 06:28 PM
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I understand that, but it's just so hard to know where to even begin when you don't understand the market extensively. Like at my local club we mostly have guys that fly gasoline 3D planes and warbirds and that sort of thing, so this is a little out of the ordinary for this area. It would just be helpful even to know what size airframes you guys really want, you know?

I can build aircraft in any kind of configuration and make them work for this, it's not rocket science, but to build something tailored to the consumer requires insight into the FPV sector that I am lacking because of where I am located/the RC demographics I've been exposed to. That was the purpose of this thread and so far haven't gotten much of that kind of feedback.

I want to know what size plane is ideal for the average FPV guy or if its more about portability rather than size, as well as what price point so that whatever design I choose I can tailor it to those demands.
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Old Oct 19, 2014, 01:03 AM
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I'm in, I'll keep it simple and may add in later..

a) Size, no hard and fast ruIe but I can't see less than 1.5m being practical and once you go over 3m it starts to be impractical in the other direction. Not mentioned but important is weight. For my taste 3kg max, must be hand launchable. (not usually able to use runways)

b) In the big wide wonderful world and you speak of domestic design? What do you mean? A good airframe is a good airframe no matter where it comes from.

c) Cost effective of course, I'm prepared to pay a buck for a good airframe. We are getting out of foam once the dollars go over about $150US.

d) Unique features are just that, they might do as options but we all have our own opinions, just to make your life difficult.

e) A new improved Skywalker springs to mind. By that I mean a good solid well thought out basic airframe that will cope with a lot of messing around with it and "improvements" being made to it and still be able to fly.

From a personal note now, if you could come up with a cool canard that would be nice. Something like this.

Canard Maiden Flight (4 min 0 sec)


BTW I'd have bought one of these, but for 350 euro's and freight from Germany (which is not too bad) and our ratty exchange rate ......
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Old Oct 19, 2014, 01:23 PM
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Thanks for the input. I didn't mean to say that there aren't good designs or products from the international market. I used to fly a Sebart KatanaS and thats an Italian design I believe and that was a beautiful airframe. I just meant that I want there to be more of this type of thing made here in the US, US made RC airframes are almost non-existent it seems unless it's something really really high end. I know some guys that I went to school with that run a small UAV company and made a Kelvar airframe for video mapping, but they charge upwards of $3k for it(airframe only) and I just think that is a little ridiculous. I know labor in the US isn't cheap, but those kinds of numbers don't make sense to me. Even if you have someone working on one of these for 16 hours say at $15/hr that's $240 in labor "only". With good tooling and the right design I think there could be US airframes available at competitive prices. If you've got the start-up capital to buy 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines and that kind of thing you build this stuff with very minimalistic labor too(granted that's not what I have in mind for the airframe I hope to develop).

I'm starting to see some trends in the responses I'm getting(I have also received a few PM's since starting the thread with suggestions and feedback) and I think I have a few ideas. Keep the responses coming and I'm going to see what I can come up with.
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Old Oct 19, 2014, 03:34 PM
USA: LakeGeorge, New York
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Joined May 2010
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This guy is going to charge $500 per airframe Composite (Albatross)
Its similiar to the RMRC Anaconda, but he mentioned that
its a lot better then the Anaconda
So far, he's been all talk and no show
He did send me test flight images.....its coming!

http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/...age=2#comments
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/member.php?u=334921

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2067204

http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/...age=2#comments
http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/...ss-uav-project

Applied Aeronautic's Albatross UAS (1 min 44 sec)
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Old Oct 21, 2014, 12:26 PM
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I think I have gotten a lot of the information I was looking for and I have a lot better idea now of the desirable traits for an FPV plane. I have consulted my partners in this venture and we're working on a design right now. Feel free to keep responding to this thread and voicing your opinions on what you would like to see in your next FPV plane and we will try to incorporate as much of this stuff into our design as possible.
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