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Jan 18, 2012, 03:36 PM
Custom FPV Setups
United States
Joined Oct 2011
3,751 Posts
Discussion
Dan Thinks #1: Introduction + FPV In Space?

Introduction:

I think a lot. I think in school, when I'm in a car, flying model R/Cs, charging batteries, in my study periods, when I'm doing homework, and every time that I can in between. It all started in August of 2011, when I started thinking about Science Fair, and what I would do for the topic. I wanted to build a generator, so I started to sketch designs for this generator, potential costs, how it would work, and when I could obtain these parts. Ever since, I've been drawing designs for just about everything, from generators to flying wings. I started keeping them in a binder, but I ran out of room, so I used something like it that could hold a lot of papers.

I have done a lot of drawings, ~90% of these are double-sided with writing on the back also.

When I first heard about FPV, I was really interested, so I started drawing FPV setups and everything in between, and got on a roll with those drawings. I'd like to start sharing some of my drawings on my blog here. Last night I was thinking, as usual, about what my first topic would be for "Dan Thinks." I liked FPV, and I remember Trappy from Team Blacksheep saying that he wanted to do two things in FPV in the future: fly to Mt. Everest and into space. FPV in space seemed like an interesting topic, so I started researching.

Dan Thinks #1: FPV In Space?

Part 1 of 4: Introduction to Space

Although it's only an approximation, space starts at about 120 kilometers (~75 miles) above Earth's surface. That's a long way. 20 miles is about the maximum reach of most UHF systems like the EzUHF and Dragonlink, so an autonomous UAV system would have to be used in the aircraft, and special modifications would have to be made to make it fly in the extremely thin air about 4 miles from Earth's surface. At 75 miles above the surface, the average aircraft would definitely not make it in the thin air.

Also, please do NOT attempt anything that I've written here, these are only theoretical values and ideas. (All pictures and drawings subject to copyright).

Part 2 of 4: Could Trappy's Zephyr Make It?

Quote:
 Originally Posted by TeamBlacksheep.com Maximum speed 135 km/h (level flight) 85 mph
One of Trappy from Team Blacksheep's goals was to fly into space. Now, is that possible? Let's start with Trappy's main FPV airplane: the TBS Ritewing Zephyr flying wing. Great FPV platform, fast, stable, and flies for approximately 30 minutes with two 3300 mAH 4S Hobby King Turnigy Nano-Tech Li-Po Battery packs. To even attempt such high heights, the GoPro would have to be removed to save weight. The maximum climb for the Zephyr is 5000 meters (16,500 feet), which isn't even as high as planes fly. So, there would be no way that this aircraft could reach into space. Even with a more powerful motor and batteries, the Zephyr isn't built for speed or thin-air flying. If you really pushed the envelope and set out with larger battery packs and more modifications to the Zephyr, you could possibly hit 18,000 feet, but at that point, it would be unsafe for real aircraft, and may stall or the batteries could die.

Conclusion: NO, Trappy's Ritewing Zephyr FPV Build could NOT make it into space.

Part 3 of 4: Could An FPV Flying Wing Reach Space?

Now, let's see if a souped-up Ritewing Demon LCD (40'' WS) could be able to make it into space safely. Chris from Ritewing created this model specifically for speed, and speed is a crucial part of space travel. The Ritewing Demon LCD will have to be able to travel at least 75 miles in 30 minutes or less. These Demons can be set up for 6S setups, though, which will work for this type of project. Traveling at 200 MPH for 30 minutes, the Demon could conquer 100 miles flown. Since that space is rated to be about 75 miles above Earth's surface, this certainly could come close. But, in the thin air only 4 miles above the surface, the Demon still might not have enough wing area and power to reach 50,000 feet. Also, because the radio link will fall out at about 20 miles, and the video link, too, the Demon would have to be controlled by a UAV system. A UAV autopilot system could be bought, and that would allow the user to set up a certain flight path (straight up in this case) for the aircraft and it would find GPS signals and fly in that path.

With only one motor and limited wing area, though, even a 200 MPH Ritewing Demon LCD would have a hard time flying into space. It would stall at some point in the extremely thin air, and wouldn't be able to take the heat of the sun, even if it did make it. The foam would combust, along with 12 explosions from the dual 6S battery packs, and there wouldn't be anything left to the expensive 200 MPH aircraft. The space flying idea would fail.

Here's the drawing that I made (250 MPH is a mistake, it should read 200 MPH):

Conclusion: NO.

Part 4 of 4: Could An FPV Aircraft Be Designed to Fly Into Space?

It doesn't have to be a flying wing or even a plane, just an aircraft. A rocket will do. Because of failing video link and radio links, a UAV autopilot system will have to be purchased, and the rocket must be:

1. Small enough to not be a real rocket.

2. Powerful enough to reach 75 miles of altitude.

3. Strong enough to withstand extreme pressure and heat.

The rocket that I've designed has 8 stabilizers, and 2 with control surfaces, as minimum controlling will be required for flight. It will be powered by 5 "turbines" (4 electric and 1 nitro). The nitro one will have more thrust than the rest to ensure enough thrust for zero-gravity space flight. The nitro fuel tank gets smaller as more fuel is used so that, in zero gravity, the motor can still run. This will allow the nitro motor to run until it reaches space (about 20 minutes). The other 4 "turbines" are 4 6S motors and ESCs with propellers enclosed in PVC pipes, with tinfoil around the pipes to reflect the sun's heat. This method is also used on the outside of the rocket, with a 3'' layer consisting of the following over each other.

Tinfoil
Metal
Carbon
Tinfoil
Tinfoil
Steel

The layering allows the aircraft to be rigid, stable, and cool on the inside. The cooling is extremely important, as a hot ESC may start to burn, devastating the whole aircraft. As stated before, there would be 2 control surfaces, and that means two servos. At the extreme speed that this aircraft has been designed for (600 MPH), 1/5 scale servos are needed, as they need to work in the most extreme conditions. A GoPro has also been positioned at the top. There will be a clear and tinted part in the front of the rocket that will allow the GoPro to record where the rocket flies. No glue can be used, because at extreme temperatures, glue may melt and everything will fall off and apart. Everything would have to be zip-tied or bolted to the aircraft's structure.

Here's the diagram of the rocket that I made:

The only thing that was left out of the diagram was a parachute for landing, which would be operated by a spring and servo to slow the rocket down at 600 MPH, and safely land it.

Conclusion: YES, a FPV aircraft could be designed to fly into space, but it will cost a lot and will have many risks.

I hoped you enjoyed this article and I hope to make more in the future!

A big thanks goes to zanek, who has helped me a lot in the past, and who I asked about posting this sort of blog on here. He's always looking for new followers on his BLOG, so make sure that you check that out.

Dan

# Images

Last edited by DJO; Jan 18, 2012 at 03:44 PM.
 Jan 18, 2012, 05:26 PM DFC~ We Do Flyin' Right USA, GA, Atlanta Joined Nov 2008 15,575 Posts As far as feasible aircraft, do you think a larger and lighter platform like a Windrider Queen Bee might have a better shot? 100" ws; mine is set up for a Scorpion 4025-12 swinging a 16"folding prop, and it can carry large payloads... just got me thinking about it. Latest blog entry: Inverted Hover- UNSEEN Technique
 Jan 18, 2012, 05:31 PM Custom FPV Setups United States Joined Oct 2011 3,751 Posts There may be more wing area, but in terms of flying high, it really all depends on the power system and thrust. 16'' propeller is nice for high-altitude flying, and you may get close to flying in where real planes fly, but never space because the foam would burn up.
Jan 18, 2012, 05:35 PM
DFC~ We Do Flyin' Right
USA, GA, Atlanta
Joined Nov 2008
15,575 Posts
Quote:
 Originally Posted by DJO ... but never space because the foam would burn up.
You have really thought this through
 Jan 18, 2012, 05:40 PM Custom FPV Setups United States Joined Oct 2011 3,751 Posts Thanks!
 Jan 18, 2012, 06:58 PM Registered User Canada, ON, Hamilton Joined Feb 2009 721 Posts Would the Turbines work at that altitude? dont they need oxygen to make the combustion?
 Jan 18, 2012, 08:09 PM Custom FPV Setups United States Joined Oct 2011 3,751 Posts I believe you're correct. The nitro motor will help with lift-off, but probably not over 30,000 feet. If a second prototype were created, that middle turbine would have to be electric. That simplifies it a little bit, too, without the specialized fuel tank. Good catch!
Jan 18, 2012, 08:28 PM
Agressive driver
United States, CA, Santa Barbara
Joined Jun 2011
1,207 Posts
Quote:
 Originally Posted by DJO I believe you're correct. The nitro motor will help with lift-off, but probably not over 30,000 feet. If a second prototype were created, that middle turbine would have to be electric. That simplifies it a little bit, too, without the specialized fuel tank. Good catch!
I think what you would want to do is have a battery pack, and electric system, and then a nitro motor that would run until there wasn't enough oxygen to save the battery
 Jan 18, 2012, 08:31 PM Agressive driver United States, CA, Santa Barbara Joined Jun 2011 1,207 Posts I am going to get technical on you- I think that you would need a constantly variable transmission pushed by a servo so the gear ratio could slowly increase, speeding up the propeller as the air got thinner to compensate for the thin air. This is what I am talking about http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...&ct=clnk&gl=us
 Jan 18, 2012, 08:37 PM Custom FPV Setups United States Joined Oct 2011 3,751 Posts That could help, but the motors and ESCs will heat up more as the atmosphere heats up, too? Smells like smoke already. They'd already loose the nitro turbine, so they'd have to work harder as it is.
 Jan 18, 2012, 09:15 PM Agressive driver United States, CA, Santa Barbara Joined Jun 2011 1,207 Posts At what point does the atmoshpere heat up? I thought it got colder as you went out of it
 Jan 18, 2012, 09:30 PM Custom FPV Setups United States Joined Oct 2011 3,751 Posts Once you fly above the ozone layer, it's extremely hot. Sure, the motors will stay OK until the ozone is conquered, but it will take all their effort to push through that, and they will need to be as cool as possible with the sun past the ozone. It does get colder high up, the sun's heat reflects off the ground.
 Jan 18, 2012, 09:30 PM Agressive driver United States, CA, Santa Barbara Joined Jun 2011 1,207 Posts I see
 Jan 18, 2012, 09:35 PM Custom FPV Setups United States Joined Oct 2011 3,751 Posts A rocket flying past you at 600 MPH, or my logic?
 Jan 18, 2012, 09:38 PM Agressive driver United States, CA, Santa Barbara Joined Jun 2011 1,207 Posts Your logic