[ Concept 60 hovering ]

autopilot: Do it yourself UAV

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[ Left side of the Concept 60 with canopy ] We're currently using a Concept 60 for most of our flight tests. It has plenty of payload capacity to carry the IMU and iPAQ. On the left you can see it flying with the canopy on, covering all the electronics.

[ Left side of the Concept 60 without canopy ] Here it is without the canopy. If you zoom in, you can see Aaron Kahn flying it under manual control.

[ Hacking on the Concept 60 ] Aaron and I hack on the onboard software while at the flying field. Somedays we spend most of our time doing this rather than flying; otherdays it just all comes together and things work great.

[ First flight with 802.11 ] Here is an image from the first flight with the 802.11 onboard and using the Rev 2.1 board "in the loop" for servo control. Even though the flights were completely manual under Dennis' control, it was a resounding success and helped validate the selection of the iPAQ + 802.11 and the design of the realtime board.

[ Early flight with tether ] This is a very early test flight, with the IMU still on a tether to the laptop on the ground. We nearly ate the tether cable several times and spent far too long dealing with the tangle that developed in the 20 m tether. This flight also used the digital outputs on the accelerometer, which produced massive errors once the engine was started.

Joe Easley filmed the second day of autonomous flight tests and has made QuickTime movies of a few of them. They will work with the latest version of mplayer under Linux, or you can try the massive mpegs.

[ Front view of the LMH-110 with X-10 camera ] Our first generation prototype was built with a Lite Machines 110. It is underpowered and very squirly in flight, but fun to fly. We never did any autonomous flights with it; instead it served as a test bed for the servo controller and a trainer to learn to operate these machines.

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