Bixler FPV - With All-In-One Equipment Pod! - RC Groups
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Jan 06, 2012, 08:21 PM
Purdue Engineering
Rocketman1092's Avatar

Bixler FPV - With All-In-One Equipment Pod!

Hey FPV Pilots,

I'd like to share a project that I'm really proud of. I fly FPV with a couple friends (one of them is Dadude here on RCGroups; he'll probably chime in shortly). We've all become a little annoyed with the amount of setup that FPV planes usually require before flight, and with how messy they usually are inside. So, we decided to attempt the cleanest possible build with quick & easy field setup, but still with full features.

We chose the Bixler/Sky Surfer as our starting platform, as it's a proven aircraft that'd be easy to transport and would be stable enough to make RTH tuning easy. We went with HXT900 servos (they seem to handle RF noise well and are a great value), 2212-06 outrunners, 35A ESCs, and each pilot's radio system of choice. I'm using a Turnigy 9X radio with custom "ER9X" firmware and a FrSky DIY module.

For video and OSD gear, we chose to install a full suite of Eagle Tree equipment. This includes the OSD Pro, Guardian expander, Elogger, GPS, and Altimeter. Cameras and vTx's differ among the three of us; I'm using an SN555 camera, a 300mW 900mHz video transmitter with an IBCrazy inverted vee, and a Tinymic. All three planes have Sander-style LC filters to power the video gear.

The way the gear is installed is one of the best features of this build. Using experience from my engineering courses in college, I designed a plywood pod to fit the airplane using CATIA 3D modeling software. The pod houses all of the video gear and Eagle Tree equipment. The built-in battery tray places the battery (or batteries) near the CG, while a jumper on the top side allows for battery connect and disconnect while the pod is installed. I also designed an ESC tray, plywood guides for the aileron leads and rubber bands, and my own version of the outrunner motor mount that ReadyMadeRC sells.

For seperation purposes, the receivers were installed towards the tail of the aircraft. However, since the OSD Pro requires connections to the aileron, elevator, throttle, and two auxiliary channels, we needed to find a way to avoid a mess of servos and connectors. The solution was to create 5V and Ground power leads using 18awg wire, then use colored ribbon cable for all of the signal leads. Everything goes into a single 10-pin Molex connector to connect the plane and the pod. Easy!

AUW is 34.2oz with a 3S 2200mah pack. Video to come!
Last edited by Rocketman1092; Jan 06, 2012 at 08:27 PM.
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Jan 06, 2012, 08:36 PM
Registered User
Wow, that setup is awesome. How did you make sure that the motor mount is aligned correctly? Like for instance, what if the motor thrust line aims too much left or right?

Jan 06, 2012, 08:47 PM
Purdue Engineering
Rocketman1092's Avatar
The inner part of the motor mount is a tight fit into the stock cavity for a 28mm brushed motor or inrunner, so the thrust angle is pretty consistent with what was intended for the stock motor. It behaves well in the air, so I'd say that the current angle is more or less correct. Granted, this is the first Bixler/Sky Surfer/Easy Star I've ever flown, so I don't really have any reference
Jan 06, 2012, 08:49 PM
Nothing but high quality
Dadude's Avatar
Chime....Nice post Eric. Can't wait for my maiden tomorrow. The Gopro will definitely be tagging along..

Jan 07, 2012, 03:11 AM
Suspended Account
He's the one on the right, twylight.
Jan 07, 2012, 03:38 AM
Registered User
How's the COG? I applaud the idea of a pod, but with my bix, I've found I've really had to shift the weight to under/behind the wing with components due to it being nose heavy. Seeing the weight distribution in your split airframe, I'm worried this may be an issue.

Great job however, love the neatness of the solution.
Jan 07, 2012, 01:49 PM
Nothing but high quality
Dadude's Avatar
Because Eric designed the battery bay to slot in far back, the CG is spot on with a 2200mah pack. Also, we did have to take out the washers from the front of the plane to get it to balance, that was a bit of a pain .

We flew all three planes today and it went great! It was pretty breezy, but the guardian handled the wind perfectly. RTH worked flawlessly on all models after only a few tweaks to the systems! These planes are absolutely awesome. Eric should be uploading some pictures later.

Jan 07, 2012, 03:35 PM
octane81's Avatar
Can you share the EagleTree settings , im about to install the same system with Guarding aswell..
Jan 07, 2012, 05:52 PM
Registered User
I also am apart of the build and testing of this pod within the bixler. To say the least after having "flown" radio control for several years letting go of the sticks at 400 feet a quarter of a mile away was quite uncomfortable. However the rth brought all of our planes back directly overhead while maintaining it's course in winds ranging from 10-15mph and possibly more! After two trials of the rth I brought it in to change out the battery. It took roughly two minutes to disconnect the pod and another two after hooking in a new one.

The simplicity involved to go from the ground to the air is awesome. Four connections (2 pairs of deans, 1 molex connector and male-female for rssi), a screw to secure the pod in the front. Turn on your radio and connect the jumper deans and the plane is ready. The wings slide into their grooves, connect the aileron servos and rubber bands. I am very happy with how these turned out and will fly this again in a week.
Jan 07, 2012, 08:03 PM
Purdue Engineering
Rocketman1092's Avatar
Some pictures from this morning! Sorry there weren't more in-flight shots. By the time we thought to pull out the camera, the wind was picking up.
Jan 07, 2012, 09:00 PM
Alex USA
usa.alex's Avatar
Hey guys - I'm jealous !

I'm working on FPV plane based on BH Sky Surfer.

How do you combine both sides of fuselage to have an access to what's inside ?
Do you glue it ?

Great job ! Way it should be !

Originally Posted by Rocketman1092
Some pictures from this morning! Sorry there weren't more in-flight shots. By the time we thought to pull out the camera, the wind was picking up.
Jan 07, 2012, 09:01 PM
Alex USA
usa.alex's Avatar
BTW - What prop do you use when fully loaded ?
Jan 07, 2012, 09:39 PM
Registered User
Great job, happy to be proved wrong with the COG. No doubt you've considered the negatives as well as the positives of running your video gear off the main flight battery?

Damn impressive build. Nice to have some pdf plans so other members can cut and glue a similiar pod (myself included)
Jan 07, 2012, 09:41 PM
Technoweenie's Avatar
Originally Posted by smarm
damn impressive build. Nice to have some pdf plans so other members can cut and glue a similiar pod (myself included)
+1 !!!
Jan 07, 2012, 11:03 PM
Purdue Engineering
Rocketman1092's Avatar
usa.alex: The fuselage halves are glued together with Foam Tac contact cement. It's not intended to be taken apart, but most of the important electronics are on the pod anyways. We did cut some small hatches for receiver access, which are held on with clear packing tape. Propeller is the EMP 6x3 found here: Provides a bit more thrust than the APC 6x4 at slightly less current.

smarm & Technoweenie: Thanks for the complements! Regarding the single battery, I used to be a firm believer in a seperate pack for the video gear. Decided to try running everything from one pack with a Sander-style filter to cut weight and complexity, and it seems to be working fine so far.
I'm contemplating the idea of doing a run of laser-cut pod kits, if there's enough interest. I could provide drawings as an alternative, though cutting by hand could be very tedious. I'll be sure to keep the thread updated with whatever I decide to do.

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