Sunday, December 13, 2009

Autopilot installation

Over the past few days we have been configuring and installing the brains of our UAV, a.k.a our autopilot. We decided to use an "off the shelf" autopilot called Attopilot V 1.8 which navigates by using a GPS sensor and pre-loaded 3 dimensional waypoints (longitude, latitude, and altitude). The Attopilot manipulates 4 control surfaces (rudder, elevator, ailerons, and throttle) to both stabilize and control the plane along its set course.

This is the cluster of wires coming out of the Attopilot. These wires connect to the remote control radio receiver (Rx), control surfaces, and sensors.

The XYZ thermopiles detect long wave infared light anywhere from 5.5 to 15 microns in length and log this data at 5 hz (5 times per second). The thermopiles are used to detect a heat gradient between the land and sky in order to stabilize the aircraft in yaw, pitch, and roll.

Picture of the XY thermopile.

Pitot Tube
The pitot tube determines the plane's relative airspeed by calculating the pressure differential between an externally and internally mounted tube. As the plane's speed changes the pressure from the external pitot tube should change while the internally placed tube's pressure should remain constant.

1/8'' diameter brass pitot tube. Tucker used a mini pipe cutter to trim the length of the Pitot tube.

Power Sensor
The power sensor falls in line between the electronic speed controller (ESC) and the Lithium Polymer batter (Lipo). The sensor measures and records the voltage and amount of miliamp hours consumed by the Lipo. The milliamp hours can then be divided by kilometers traveled to create a "mileage" of sorts in order to assess flight efficiency.

Global Positioning System (GPS)
The GPS use a number of satellites to triangulate the planes position.

GPS is the square sensor mounted on the nose of the fuselage.

Easy Star fuselage modified with Easy Glider wing. In our final setup we will attach our Pentax camera beneath the wing.

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