Reach for the Sky

Ultimate Goals

Quadcopter

First step in understanding how exactly do I build a scale flying machine that communicates not only with its remote, but with GPS and environmental sensors is doing it myself. I seriously considered purchasing a prefabricated quadcopter and decided against it for two major reasons: money and customization. To get all that I want out of the experience I will have to purchase a quadcopter somewhere in the $1,000+ region. I am a college student and cannot afford to throw that kind of money at a machine that is essentially a toy. In addition to paying a lot of money, I won't get all that I want out of the factory made machine. I want to understand the machine I will be flying, not just become accustom to it's controls. To do that, I want to build the quadcopter myself. Building the machine myself has multiple benefits I feel justify the inevitable time and frustrations this approach will bring. First, I get to learn for myself what materials work best for structure. I will have a hands on physics experiment giving me the freedom of playing with the layout of the processor/sensors in relation to the four propellers. This is all very exciting. I get to dabble in a little electrical engineering give power from the battery to the processors and propellers. Really, making my own quadcopter could teach me much more than just autopilot programming skills.

By taking a leaf out of the Wright brothers' book, I'll learn from others who have created their own versions of quadcopters while learning for myself by experimenting.

Hexacopter

Ideally, after the quadcopter I would like to upgrade to a hexacopter. Hexacopters provide more stable flight and can carry a heavier payload. This extra lifting power could really open the door for some cool autopilot experiments. Even more interesting about the hexacopter the layout will be completely different because I have only ever worked with 4 points of stabilization. Programming an autopilot for a hexacopter means I would have to regulate and manipulate 6 different rotors at once. For both the quad and hexacopter designs I think the best design for my project purposes will be symmetrical, but this also means that I will have to 'create' yaw, which really means to bank the copter when it moves (which is necessary if I want to be able to turn at all) means I will have to slow down certain rotors and speed up others

Quadcopters and hexacopters alike have alternating rotor rotation to reduce unwanted rotation creating more stable flight (fun fact: helicopters use tail rotors to counter this rotation).

Scale Model

The ulitmate goal of this project is to work my way up to working with a scale model of an airplane: models airplanes. Most of the time people fly model planes for hobby but I want to take it a step farther. Programming a quad or hexacopter will be completely different from an rc airplane because they have completely different styles to gain lift. The quadcopter would be something equivalent to the training wheels of this project, the hexacopter is the 'big kid' bike, and finally I'm a stunt rider showing off all my tricks I've learned from experience.