Solar Powered UAV Project - RC Groups
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Nov 15, 2006, 02:27 PM
Aircraft Designer Guy
AJWoods's Avatar

Solar Powered UAV Project

A classmate and I designed and built a solar powered airplane for our senior project. We're using a Pixie-20p ESC and a Berg 4L (Both have performed exceptionally well). There's a thread about the project in the UAV forum which covers most of the details:

The most frequent question that comes up is why we're using a brushed motor, but for the low power levels that we're operating at (8 watts @ 750rpm) high-precision brushed motors are more efficient. We are using a Maxon RE25 18volt carbon brushed motor with a 4.4:1 ceramic planetary gear head, the tested motor efficiency is around 79%.

Questions and comments are welcome,

Last edited by AJWoods; Nov 15, 2006 at 02:37 PM.
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Nov 15, 2006, 04:59 PM
No warning points today!!
flyingace451's Avatar
Flight time?
Nov 15, 2006, 07:15 PM
Aircraft Designer Guy
AJWoods's Avatar
Right now we're still collecting test data (one of the requirements for the design class), so we've been making a series of short 10-15 minute flights to determine the airplane's performance at different times of day. There's no onboard power supply other than the solar cells (there is a receiver pack for safety), so flight duration is dependant on the minimum solar inclination angle needed to sustain flight. Last thursday we were able to fly until 3:15pm, which translates to a sun angle of about 16 degrees and a possible flight duration of 6hrs (In november in MA). In june this would allow us to fly for over 11 hrs , and this number would get larger if we took the plane up to Maine or Canada.
Latest blog entry: Star Wars Dogfight
Nov 16, 2006, 10:40 AM
The dog ate my clearance
brokenspar's Avatar
Very nice!! What airfoil are you using? Are the solar cells recessed into the wing panel, or do they protrude? What is the efficiency of your cells?...Pete
Nov 16, 2006, 01:32 PM
Aircraft Designer Guy
AJWoods's Avatar

The airfoil we're using is an NG01. Itís a F1c style airfoil that has a more generous speed range than most used for FF duration.

The solar panel consists of 18 Sunpower A-300 solar cells, and the manufacturerís spec claims efficiencies up to 21.5% The cells are encapsulated between sheets of optically clear Kapton, and the resulting panel is about 1/32" thick. The encapsulation material helps distribute loads evenly over the cell so it is possible to bend them around gentle curves without breaking. As a result we were able to mount the panels directly to the upper surface of the wing, requiring no airfoil modifications. Extra encapsulation material was left around the cells to make give the panel a uniform leading edge, and the resulting lip serves as a tabulator strip.

Last edited by AJWoods; Nov 16, 2006 at 01:42 PM.
Nov 29, 2006, 03:23 PM
Registered User
68Strat's Avatar
wow where do you guys fly this? I would love to see it... Im not far off.
Nov 29, 2006, 03:49 PM
Aircraft Designer Guy
AJWoods's Avatar
We ususally fly at CRRC's glider field in Sudbury. We're writing our final report right now, so we probably won't fly again until after christmas.

Latest blog entry: Star Wars Dogfight
Jan 04, 2007, 10:33 PM
Registered User
MIT KID, I pm'd you a request for the supplier info for your A300 cells, maybe you didn't see it. Pretty please?
Feb 05, 2007, 01:07 PM
lowbudgetflyboy's Avatar
any copies of the plans?
Feb 05, 2007, 07:38 PM
lowbudgetflyboy's Avatar
and how much did this cost to make
as much info as possible i have a woodshop project next semester on something either solar or batterie powered and might like to build something similar.
Jul 26, 2008, 03:10 AM
Registered Crasher
Bilox's Avatar
WOW Looks Great!!
What is the output per cell (Volts, Current or Watts)?
I wanted to try something myself and I was looking at the Power film Solar gear but I'm not sure if they are efficient enough to get a plane off the ground.
If itís ok I have a few questions....
How much power does you plane use to maintain flight?
Did you use any specific formulas to calculate how many solar cells you needed?



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