Throughout my project, I plan to use the E-Lab’s current DJI drones along with home built drones to study the efficiency, speed, maneuverability, and ease of use of drones. I will use what I learn to create a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) drone that will be used for search and rescue, utilizing videography, infrared technology, and Radio Direction Finding (RDF) technology.
Introduction & Goals:
I started working on the drone project my sophomore year, with Juan teaching me how to fly the Inspire. That year, we focused on taking videos and pictures, and we only worked on building the racing drone for a short period at the end of the year. One day, when Juan was filming, the wind blew the drone away and we lost it for about 2 or 3 days until somebody that found it put up a post and we called them. When we got it back, we thought about what would happen if we were to lose the drone again, so I started studying RDF technology, building my own antenna and using a transmitter and receiver we bought online to be able to triangulate the position of the drone if we were to lose it again. That is how I got into using RDF technology, and where I got the idea to use it for Search and Rescue. Juan and I then transitioned into working on building the racing drone, which is also what I worked on the second semester of my junior year with Ilan. We had some troubles with getting parts to work, and things were breaking so easily because of the poor, Chinese made quality, that we moved onto using DJI products to build a sturdier drone, the project I started at the end of this year. Next year, my longterm goal is to build a VTOL drone that can interchange between infrared imaging, visual spectrum imaging, and RDF technology, possible combining them all, to create a slightly autonomous search and rescue drone. My smaller, more incremental goals are to first put all of the parts we have onto the heavy duty quadcopter frame, and testing the RDF technology with that setup. Then, I would begin developing the VTOL aircraft, utilizing two different flight controllers to control the quadcopter and level flight modes. My next goal would be to create a solid aircraft to ground video connection to transmit high-definition real time imaging. My last goal would to be to integrate all the technology I had developed into one, professionally functioning drone. EQ
Implementation & Challenges:
I have done most of the research, planning, and drawing models of the VTOL aircraft, along with doing extensive research on RDF and thermal imaging solutions for drones. That said, I still have some research to do on using two different flight controllers to control a VTOL aircraft, but most of my work will be prototyping and physical testing of the drones. To reach my goals, I plan to start by doing most of the testing on the heavy duty quadcopter frame rather than jumping straight into VTOL, then gradually developing a good VTOL frame to put all of the drone components on. The most challenging part will be developing the actual frame of the VTOL, since the design I have created is a good concept, but seems hard to implement since it contains servos, linear actuators, and other parts that will be difficult to get to work smoothly and efficiently.
Impact and Legacy:
To me, this project will help me gain a better understanding of the growing applications of drones in aerospace engineering, a field that I am very interested in. I will learn how the basic laws of flight affect both quadcopters and forward flight drones, and how to efficiently create a flight platform that can do multiple jobs at once. I believe that my project is important and unique in my field because nobody else is combining drones and RDF technology to automatically triangulate the position of lost people or objects. This project will act as a way for me to do research in a field I am very interested in, help me get a foot into this field with a project nobody else is doing, and, if everything works out, maybe even help people. I think that if this project and prototyping goes well, in college or with HPA I can develop a drone that I can make available to private investors, or work with other companies to produce these drones to help people around the world.
This forum is all about VTOL aircraft and the different frames and propulsion systems. It will be beneficial to my research in developing the VTOL aspect of my project.
DJI is one of the world’s leaders in drone technology, and the available products, support, and ideas that come from their website and forums are used by myself and my team members often.
This handbook is all about aspect ratio, wingspan, fuselage length, and other important information about glider and winged airplanes. This will help in learning about how the VTOL aircraft will act when in forward flight mode, and help me create my frame design.
FAA Ground School Handbook
On my computer, I have a digital copy of the FAA handbook that includes all the things I need to know about flight, planes, propellers, and anything else that could help me with the design of my VTOL aircraft.
DJI Naza M V2 flight controller
3DR Pixhawk flight controller
DJI motor, propeller, and ESC package
Power distribution board
RC transmitter & receiver
Radio receiver & transmitter
Camera (Visible light spectrum, infrared)
Misc (screws, zip ties, etc.)
Double sided tape