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Jul 11, 2016, 04:56 PM
AMA 697691 / FAA 13675
Thread OP
***Reserved for Links/FAQ***
Last edited by Greg Covey; Jul 12, 2016 at 07:14 AM.
Jul 11, 2016, 04:57 PM
AMA 697691 / FAA 13675
Thread OP
***Reserved for QuadPlane***

Project: Hobby King Bix3 conversion to APM QuadPlane (See images 10 and up)

My Bix3 had already been set up for APM Plane using a Pixhawk (see text and first 9 images below) so all I needed to do was to modify it to become a QuadPlane.

I decided to use some old (very old) components from my FW550 setup that was originally used to test the first RTFhawk. I had iPower 2212 1000kv motors and Next Level 20-amp ESCs that preceded the SimonK versions. On a 3s or 4s Lipo pack, the system worked great with Graupner 10x5 props and now the much less expensive copies called HQ 10x5 props.

My other FW450 quad used the same setup on APM Copter with a 4s 4AH Lipo and could easiliy lift a Tarot 2-axis gimbal and Hero3 camera. The total flying weight was 58oz so this was my goal for my Bix3 conversion.

My loaded Bix3 frame weighed 15oz and the wing 10oz. The 3s 4AH Multistar Lipo pack weighed 9oz so this left me with a 20oz play weight for the QuadPlane addition. My 4 iPower 2212 1000kv motors and Next Level 20-amp ESCs and 4 HQ 10x5 props weighed only 15oz so I had 5 oz to spare.

I decided to use a ZIPPY Flightmax 2800mAh 4S1P 30C Lipo pack to start which weighs an ounce more than my previous 3s pack so I still had 4oz to spare for extra wires. I was off to a good start!

I also chose to use the same 15mm Carbon Fibre Square Tubes from Tridge's conversion to mount the motors. They are strong, light, and inexpensive. I leveled my Bix3 using Mission Planner since it had been flown many times before using APM plane. The Bix3 wings needed an offset which was equivalent to an inexpensive hardwood shim sold at home improvement stores like Home Depot. Cutting one in half gives you the needed 15mm width for the 15mm carbon tube. Simply cut away the black stripe decal center and epoxy in place.

My 15mm x 15mm square carbon tubes were cut to length and positioned how I will glue them in place. I decided to mount my motors before gluing the square carbon tubes to the wing for ease of assembly. They can still be removed afterwards, if needed.

I cut notches on the top side and drilled holes on the inner side for the motor wires so they could be run inside the tube for a cleaner look. The mounting hardware is light 4-40 screws and nylocks.

I wired up my 20-amp ESCs to the motors after first running the motor wires through the tubes and then cutting areas to recess the ESC body. This made for a clean low-drag profile.

I tested the motor direction before mounting the ESCs using a simple receiver setup. The XT60 2:1 Adapter plugged directly into the battery pack and 3.5mm bullet connectors. The ESCs were tack glued in place using Beacon 3-in-1 glue.

The typical QuadPlane setup for a Quad-X frame on a Pixhawk is as follows:
  • Channel 5 / Front Right / CCW
  • Channel 6 / Rear Left / CCW
  • Channel 7 / Front Left / CW
  • Channel 8 / Rear Right / CW

I had a successful first hover with my Bix3 QuadPlane. I took a few shots with the camera in one hand and the transmitter in the other.

The three groups of wires (Aileron, Power, and Quad ESC control) fit nicely inside the fuselage and are easy to connect or disconnect. I used only two 12" servo cable extensions to connect the quad motor ESCs to channels 5-8. One cable connected channel 5 normally for my signal and ground. The other cable connected channels 6-8 and I soldered the grounds from the ESC wires to the first cable going to channel 5. For the power connection, I used a modified XT60 to 3.5mm bullet cable from Hobby King.

When using APM: Plane v3.6.0, it is best to re-calibrate everything! ACCs, Compass, Radio, etc. I kept the normal plane prop for forward flight off just as a precaution in my backyard. I also used my weighted stock canopy instead of my more expensive FPV pod.

The Bix3 hovered nicely so I am now going to focus on transitions.

My maiden flight of the Bix3 conversion to a QuadPlane was very successful! Take-off was from an overgrown field into an open field that we otherwise didn't have access to. We missed the initial transition from QSTabilize mode to Manual on video but it was uneventful other than being out of trim. After trimming the plane in Manual mode, I changed to FBWA mode with TRIM_AUTO enabled. The plane flew great!

To my surprise, the transition from FBWA mode back to QStabilize mode worked perfectly! I'm still using all default PIDs for Plane v3.6. I brought it back down for a landing without issue. The toughest part of the maiden flight was trimming it out in Manual mode. After the 4 minute flight, I still had 60% capacity in my 10oz 4s 2.8AH pack.

(2 min 18 sec)


I made some end caps for the 15mm carbon tubes from a small piece of flooring foam which is very light and has high compression. Alternatively, I also found some nice 15mm end caps on eBay here. Lastly, I started cutting off the excess screw length and sand the sharp edges with a Dremel tool.

In my third flight test of the Bix3 QuadPlane, I tested Hybrid RTL. In Hybrid RTL, the QuadPlane starts its return to home as a fixed wing aircraft until it is close to the return point at which time it switches to a VTOL RTL. Before testing Hybrid RTL, the video shows several flawless transitions from QStabilize mode to FBWA and back.

My settings for Hybrid RTL were as follows:
- Q_RTL_MODE = 1 (Hybrid)
- ALT_HOLD_RTL = -1 (keep same altitude)
- Q_RTL_ALT = 20 (meters)
- RTL_RADIUS = 100 (meters)
- WP_LOITER_RAD = 200 (meters)

Although the Hybrid RTL worked and brought my QuadPlane safely back to a landing, I had two issues.

Issue #1 was the "porpoising effect" that the plane had when initially returning to home. It reminded me of the Olympic swimmers in Rio doing a breast stroke.

Issue #2 (as denoted in the video) showed up when the QuadPlane was descending as a copter. About half way down to the ground, it lost the Loiter lock and started to drift like in QStabilize mode. I decided to compensate with my right stick forward to keep it from drifting while it landed by itself.

(2 min 47 sec)


more to come...
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Initial Conversion to APM: Plane: (See images 1-9)
My Bix3 build is meant for a shorter range test bed for use at a smaller local field. I used a Pixhawk (RTFhawk) in my Bix3 with my favorite Taranis radio system. In order to reduce noise and make room for the flight controller, I moved the 20-amp ESC outside like it is on my Skywalker.

The FrSky X8R receiver makes it easy to connect to the controller and 3-axis gimbal using SBUS. Inside the FPV pod is a FrSky SBUS to PWM converter. The FatShark 5.8GHz transmitter connects to the Lipo pack charge/balance connector. Everything calibrated fine and works great on the ground in both manual and FBWA modes.

The near 9oz Multistar 3s 4AH pack balanced the Bix3 perfectly. I'm not sure why HK recommends an 1800mAh~2200mAh pack. Anyway, the 4AH pack will give a much better flight time. I added some Velcro straps that just fold over to lock the FPV pod in place.

My initial flight of the Bix3 using a Pixhawk with APM:Plane v3.2.3. The on-board camera was a FatShark Pilot HD on a 3-axis gimbal. This initial flight was flown by direct eyesight so no FPV.

I trimmed it out using Manual mode and then tested FBWA mode with Auto-Trim enabled. Loiter mode was set to a radius of -60 meters for CCW circles. It flew great!

(2 min 57 sec)
Last edited by Greg Covey; Aug 23, 2016 at 06:13 PM.
Jul 11, 2016, 04:58 PM
AMA 697691 / FAA 13675
Thread OP
***Reserved for Tiltwing***

Project: CL-84 conversion to APM Tiltwing

Stock CL-84:
I finally got to fly my near stock Canadair CL-84 VTOL from Hobby King. The only modification I have done is to add a steerable nose wheel. It flew great and transitioned fairly well. I could hear the high-pitched whine of the speed controls in flight. Although I could turn to the right very well, the left turns were very shallow requiring plenty of space.

(2 min 38 sec)


Added SimonK ESCs:
As a prelude to converting my CL-84 to a fully autonomous VTOL using a Pixhawk with APM: Plane v3.6, I replaced the stock ESCs with some SimonK firmware ESCs from RC Timer. The Simonk firmware has a faster response time which greatly improves hover control for multi-rotors.
(1 min 28 sec)


(2 min 13 sec)


(1 min 14 sec)


Initial Conversion to Pixhawk using APM: Copter v3.3.3:

(1 min 25 sec)


(1 min 23 sec)


Initial Testing using APM: Plane Beta Code from Tridge:

Tiltrotor support for plane at ArduPilot.org

Project: CL-84 conversion to Pixhawk and APM Copter

My initial conversion to using a Pixhawk and APM code was to swap out my stock ESCs for RC Timer ESCs with faster SimonK firmware. The main two ESCs were 45A and the tail ESC was 30A. All three were overkill in size so little to no cooling is required. The 4s Lipo voltage makes the current draw small.

Since the new ESCs were Opto-isolated, they had no BEC. It turns out that the stock CL-84 electronics is fed from the BEC on the tail ESC, so I needed to add a 5v regulator which I planned on doing for the eventual Pixhawk controller upgrade.

My initial hover test in the backyard was quite successful. The CL-84 held position nicely and was easy to control. I'll get another video of it flying before I replace the flight controller and make it a real autonomous VTOL.

My stock tail prop broke when I was putting it back on so I replaced it with an Aero-naut 6.5x4 carbon electric prop. No drilling was needed and it works great!

Notice that I also modified my elevator to use five Dubro #119 small nylon hinges. This made the elevator much smoother and eliminated the binding I had with the stock setup.

While waiting for the APM Plane tiltrotor code to be enhanced for the CL-84 retract-style transition servo, I decided to play around with APM Copter v3.3.3 on my newly installed Pixhawk. Photos below show component placement and you can see my telemetry unit is mounted underneath the fuselage.

My current PID settings allow it to work in calm conditions but it doesn't like much wind so I will continue to investigate. It may be good enough to try an Auto-Tune at this point but first I want to check the Throttle-Mid and Vibration readings. Fun stuff!

I have my PIDs tuned better for wind now. I'll wait for the new APM Plane tiltrotor code to be ready for the CL-84.
Last edited by Greg Covey; Oct 25, 2016 at 06:26 PM.
Jul 11, 2016, 04:58 PM
AMA 697691 / FAA 13675
Thread OP
***Reserved for Tiltrotor***

Here are a couple of my FireFLY6 videos using the AvA firmware from BirdsEyeView Aerobotics.

(3 min 20 sec)


(4 min 32 sec)


I have a large field down the street from my house with a metal fence and without clear access so I cannot fly a normal plane without a take-off or landing strip. The FireFLY6 gets around this issue with its VTOL capability. We matted down an area and had some nice flights yesterday. I used Stabilize mode for take-off to clear the brush and get out of harms way quickly.

(2 min 7 sec)
Last edited by Greg Covey; Jul 17, 2016 at 11:34 AM.
Jul 11, 2016, 05:02 PM
Registered User
Maxzor's Avatar
Hello,
How does it compare to OpenAero?

Longing to receive the Pixracer - will APM quadplane&co be ported on it?
******************The future will have VTOLs****************************
Jul 11, 2016, 05:07 PM
AMA 697691 / FAA 13675
Thread OP
It's a good question. I think you'll find that the APM variants support fully autonomous vehicles including mission plans. My only knowledge of OpenAero is that it uses a KK2 flight controller, not a Pixhawk or Pixracer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxzor
Longing to receive the Pixracer - will APM quadplane&co be ported on it?
******************The future will have VTOLs****************************
Yes, the Pixracer will have full QuadPlane support.
Last edited by Greg Covey; Jul 11, 2016 at 05:26 PM.
Jul 11, 2016, 05:10 PM
Registered User
Maxzor's Avatar
This looks to me like great info, eager to dig into the project! BR
Jul 13, 2016, 06:05 PM
AMA 697691 / FAA 13675
Thread OP

Bix3 with APM Plane Upgrade for QuadPlane


My Bix3 had already been set up for APM Plane using a Pixhawk so all I needed to do was to modify it to become a QuadPlane.

I decided to use some old (very old) components from my FW550 setup that was originally used to test the first RTFhawk. I had iPower 2212 1000kv motors and Next Level 20-amp ESCs that preceded the SimonK versions. On a 3s or 4s Lipo pack, the system worked great with Graupner 10x5 props and now the much less expensive copies called HQ 10x5 props.

My other FW450 quad used the same setup on APM Copter with a 4s 4AH Lipo and could easiliy lift a Tarot 2-axis gimbal and Hero3 camera. The total flying weight was 58oz so this was my goal for my Bix3 conversion.

My loaded Bix3 frame weighed 15oz and the wing 10oz. The 3s 4AH Multistar Lipo pack weighed 9oz so this left me with a 20oz play weight for the QuadPlane addition. My 4 iPower 2212 1000kv motors and Next Level 20-amp ESCs and 4 HQ 10x5 props weighed only 15oz so I had 5 oz to spare.

I decided to use a ZIPPY Flightmax 2800mAh 4S1P 30C Lipo pack to start which weighs an ounce more than my previous 3s pack so I still had 4oz to spare for extra wires. I was off to a good start!

I decided to use the same 15mm Carbon Fibre Square Tubes from Tridge's conversion to mount the motors. The Bix3 wings needed an offset which was equivalent to an inexpensive hardwood shim sold at home improvement stores like Home Depot. Cutting one in half gives you the needed 15mm width for the 15mm carbon tube. Simply cut away the black stripe decal center and epoxy in place.
Last edited by Greg Covey; Jul 13, 2016 at 06:20 PM.
Jul 14, 2016, 03:18 AM
FPV in Hawaii
iskess's Avatar

APM: QuadPlane, Tiltrotor, and Tiltwing


How many degrees pitch will that shim give you? Nice idea. Mine was more complicated, but adjustable. I'm using 2.5 degrees right now which seems to be working well. Hard to tell.

Looking forward to your next installment.
Jul 14, 2016, 07:05 AM
AMA 697691 / FAA 13675
Thread OP
I like your adjustable mount but I suspect that your plane is larger than my Bix3 foamy. I haven't measured my pitch offset from the split shim, only eye-balled it using a balsa stick to simulate the 15mm Carbon Fibre Square Tubes...which should arrive today or tomorrow.

Fortunately, the motor alignment for copters is not critical. In fact, some offset is often helpful in preventing washout. Just look at the DJI designs.

Feel free to post your projects here or add a link to it and I'll post them up top.
Latest blog entry: Greg's Web Hangar
Jul 14, 2016, 07:52 AM
Registered User
Great thread. I am putting Ardupilot in Bix 3 and then planning to convert it into a quadplane!
Jul 14, 2016, 07:57 AM
Registered User
You have likely all seen this. http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/...ane-demo-video

I like the idea of a quad-plane that can be converted and it does not seem that it would add much weight. My only comment would be why not include the ESCs used for lifting on the removable spar sections? Maybe each side of the motors? You will have a longer run of twisted DC wires though, which will add some weight. You could run one bigger set of black and red cable out to a wing plug on the CF mounting plate on each wing and then distribute the power from this plug to both motors. That actually leaves just one plug for each spar (if you look at Jacques design he has 6 leads to connect for each wing as he has inboard ESCs.
Last edited by Marc Dornan; Jul 14, 2016 at 08:05 AM.
Jul 14, 2016, 11:23 AM
AMA 697691 / FAA 13675
Thread OP
Marc,

Thanks for the video link! I had not seen it before. I added it to the links above.

I'm not sure what project your comment about the ESC placement was directed to.

On my Bix3 conversion, my plan is to mount the four quadplane ESCs recessed under the wing so only a single XT60 connector is needed to plug in parallel after the Power Module. You can buy a whole second wing (less servos) for $18 which can be used for stock plane flying when the tiltrotor function is not needed.

Looking forward to your Bix3 build. It makes for a great inexpensive host to experiment on.
Last edited by Greg Covey; Jul 16, 2016 at 07:03 AM. Reason: tiltrotor => quadplane
Jul 14, 2016, 01:55 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Covey
Marc,

Thanks for the video link! I had not seen it before. I added it to the links above.

I'm not sure what project your comment about the ESC placement was directed to.

On my Bix3 conversion, my plan is to mount the four tiltrotor ESCs recessed under the wing so only a single XT60 connector is needed to plug in parallel after the Power Module. You can buy a whole second wing (less servos) for $18 which can be used for stock plane flying when the tiltrotor function is not needed.

Looking forward to your Bix3 build. It makes for a great inexpensive host to experiment on.
My comment was directed to Jacques's build to which I linked - confusing! He has a hybrid design that I want to try with a Bix 3 but i want my ESC's under the motors so when I remove the VTOL lift motors the ESCs weight comes off as well.

But yes, of course, a second bixler wing makes sense. On the flip side though having the lift motors detach from the wing allows the entire thing to be transported in a rigid golf case -- one of my aims.


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