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Old Jun 17, 2008, 10:14 AM
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Help!
Long-Range, Semi-Autonomous Spy Heli

I'm new to RC Helis and RC toys in general, so I'm looking for some advice. I would like to build an electric RC Heli, with mounted camera, GPS, laser, IR floodlights, etc. This, of course is the ultimate goal, I will start with a mounted camera first. I am planning to use a cell phone uplink for control and video transmission, and estimate my payload requirements to be about 100 grams at first, maybe increasing to 250 - 300 grams in the future, upon adding GPS and other components. I was hoping some of the more experienced members here could suggest how to approach this project and what choices to make in terms of components. Here are my objectives in the order of importance:

1) At least 30 mins of flight time (but the more the better).
2) Ability to hover without requiring control input.
3) Stealth (silent operation)
4) Price
5) Size (the smaller the better)
6) Easy to repair in a crash.

With all that in mind, and I know its quite a list, can you suggest any existing kits or complete models that could be used for my purposes. If not, what components should I use to build one. Sorry if all this sounds very n00b, but I'm trying to narrow down the areas for my research. Thanks for any answers.
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Old Jun 17, 2008, 10:48 AM
characters welcome!
Mark Wood's Avatar
United States, CA, Bear Valley Springs
Joined Feb 2000
26,322 Posts
avernix:

Welcome to RCGroups!

We have a large helicopter section here on this board with lots of people that can help you. I suggest that you take a look at the Electric Helis forum. Lots of great people and information there! I've requested that the moderators move this thread so that the Heli-specific gang can help.

mw
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Old Jun 17, 2008, 07:53 PM
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Thanks Mark,

I've made some new posts in UAV and Heli sections, so I think this is redundant, unless someone can think of something relevant to powering this thing.

Mod, please delete this thread.

Thanks.
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Old Jun 17, 2008, 10:16 PM
mad heli scientist
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United States, OK, Oklahoma City
Joined Dec 2005
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Before delving into all the James Bond activity, you should get yourself acquainted with the basics of flying model helis first- it's not an easily learned skill for most, and if the autonomous controls malfunction, you must be able to safely pilot the model.

Start out by learning the controls using a good simulator, such as RealFlight G3.5 or G4. Get a simple fixed-pitch heli (like a HoneyBee) that you can practice flying indoors that has a high tolerance for crashing- it will happen often in the initial stages until you get the hang of it. Then get into a large electric, such as a TRex 600, Swift 550, eRaptor 550, etc. because a small heli will not have the payload capacity that you require. Smaller helis are inherently more unstable and would make a poor candidate for your purpose. You are looking at spending in the between $1500 to $2000 to get off the ground with the necessary tools and support equipment.

For the "stealth" requirement- the way to get there is with a belt drive system instead of the common gear drive of the main shaft. There are very few models that feature this. You could modify any existing model with some custom machine work and belts from SDP/SI. One such model that might fit the bill is the new Protos, which features one belt to commonly drive both the main shaft and the tail. If you stretch the tail to use longer blades, it might give you enough lifting capacity to tote around the electronics and camera gear.

For autonomous control- that will likely require some sort of gps guidance computer along with 3-axis gyro stabilization. If you seek out flybarless stabilization technology, it will get you in the neighborhood. Also, the lack of a flybar will yield greater flight duration because of decreased drag and also contribute to less noise since there is less airfoil beating up the air.

Good luck
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Old Jun 17, 2008, 10:39 PM
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USA, IL, Champaign
Joined Dec 2006
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For the "stealth" requirement, have you even stood by a large or even small helicopter and heard the blade noise ?

Not like the TV shows where they are whisper quite...

Just listen to my helicopter from 20-30 feet away..

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Old Jun 17, 2008, 11:12 PM
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Joined Sep 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avernix
I'm new to RC Helis and RC toys in general, so I'm looking for some advice. I would like to build an electric RC Heli, with mounted camera, GPS, laser, IR floodlights, etc. This, of course is the ultimate goal, I will start with a mounted camera first. I am planning to use a cell phone uplink for control and video transmission, and estimate my payload requirements to be about 100 grams at first, maybe increasing to 250 - 300 grams in the future, upon adding GPS and other components. I was hoping some of the more experienced members here could suggest how to approach this project and what choices to make in terms of components. Here are my objectives in the order of importance:

1) At least 30 mins of flight time (but the more the better).
2) Ability to hover without requiring control input.
3) Stealth (silent operation)
4) Price
5) Size (the smaller the better)
6) Easy to repair in a crash.

With all that in mind, and I know its quite a list, can you suggest any existing kits or complete models that could be used for my purposes. If not, what components should I use to build one. Sorry if all this sounds very n00b, but I'm trying to narrow down the areas for my research. Thanks for any answers.
The only thing that probably fits your specifications are the helicopters made by Yamaha for crop dusting aplications . However u will need customs clearence to import these helicopters into the country as they are considered sensitive.

But they will do all that you require. In fact all you need to do is plot the flight path on the lap top and the heli will fly itself there.

Oh. it also costs about 200k if i am not wrong.
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Old Jun 18, 2008, 01:15 AM
mad heli scientist
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United States, OK, Oklahoma City
Joined Dec 2005
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So basically, this project hinges on your ability to make a functional flux capacitor.
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Old Jun 18, 2008, 01:22 AM
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Fred Bronk's Avatar
In Heli Wonderland
Joined Aug 1999
22,799 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget01
So basically, this project hinges on your ability to make a functional flux capacitor.
I think the pocket book may be the biggest challenge here.

Plus you just can't fly these where you want, especially(?) with what you want to do.

Learn to fly first as gadget said. These are not as easy as you think.

FB
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Old Jun 18, 2008, 07:44 PM
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Killeen, TX
Joined Jul 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by learninginverted
The only thing that probably fits your specifications are the helicopters made by Yamaha for crop dusting aplications . However u will need customs clearence to import these helicopters into the country as they are considered sensitive.

But they will do all that you require. In fact all you need to do is plot the flight path on the lap top and the heli will fly itself there.

Oh. it also costs about 200k if i am not wrong.
That would be for the middle of the line version:

The absolute base-model airframe (suitable for agriculture), with a single GPS and the ability to fly only within sight, and no more than five yards above the ground costs $86,000. The Aerial Photography version can fly up to 100 yards above the ground and costs between $150,000 and $230,000.

The fully autonomous Yamaha R-Max with ground station, antennas, computers, monitors and two complete autonomous airframes and a four camera system runs $1,000,000.00. With the million dollar helicopter the pilot can watch what's happening from all four cameras at once while the RMAX goes about the flight plan it has been programmed with from the controlling computer. If the operator sees something they want to look at closely, they can override the plan to get closer and then resume the original flight plan or program a new one. -from a report in motorcrossactionmag.com
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Old Jun 18, 2008, 09:11 PM
Our Daddy and Heli Junkie
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Hey, its only money
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Old Jun 18, 2008, 09:22 PM
mad heli scientist
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United States, OK, Oklahoma City
Joined Dec 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMA Outlaw
The fully autonomous Yamaha R-Max ~~ runs $1,000,000.00.
Yeah... it's only money. Pocket change, in fact. I have a fleet of them reprogrammed for combat. They autonomously shoot at each other with dual automatic 12-guage shotguns until there is only one that can barely fly itself anymore.
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Old Jun 18, 2008, 10:05 PM
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Joined Jul 2006
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I was working on Ft. Riley for a while where they would shut the airfield and airspace down a couple of times a year for this university research team to come out with their r/c stuff and fly around. They had a Rap30 and 50 with cameras and sensors on it, but the star of the thing was the RMax. Very large, very impressive. At the time I was only flying FP helis so this thing at about 30" high and with a 6 ft rotor system was positively huge! Started up with the twist of a knob, all preprogrammed flight from startup to shutdown. It would have been nicer if it wasn't limited by the internal flight programs to certain altitudes, airspeeds and patterns. Everyone wanted to know if it could do 3D, I guess they got a little tired of THAT question.
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