P14231: UAV Aerial Imaging
/public/Nodes/

Project Results

Table of Contents

Procedure

All test flights followed the guidelines and procedures established in our established test plan. General preparations were conducted in the RIT Aero Design Club laboratory. The aircraft was then transported to the test site for final assembly, systems-check, and flight. After landing, the aircraft was broken down and transported back to the RIT Aero Design Club laboratory for disassembly and post-processing.

Flight Test #1 & #2: Basic Testing

Objectives:

Results:

The first flight was conducted with no payload and only essential flight components. The aircraft performed well and was easily controllable. The second flight took place with an equivalent weight payload to simulate electronics that would be later installed. The plane maintained its handling characteristics.

Remarks:

The Penguin is a remarkably stable, easy to fly aircraft even when loaded. It generates so much lift that landing in some circumstances may be difficult due to ground effect.

Flight Test #3

Objectives:

Results:

The aircraft’s flight characteristics remained favorable in manual mode. However, changing to any of the autopilot’s assisted flying or automatic modes resulted in an immediate loss of power to the electric motor. Switching from manual to automatic modes was attempted a number of times changing several variables, but each time the aircraft immediately shut down. The aircraft was landed and extracted for fault analysis.

Remarks:

Despite the motor shutting down, the aircraft’s flight control surfaces did move to stabilize the aircraft, indicating the the issue was most likely not catastrophic or a complete failure of the autopilot. Investigations immediately focused on motor shut-down rather than total loss of control in automatic modes. Research pointed towards the autopilot’s throttle failsafe as a likely culprit.

Flight Test #4

Objectives:

Results:

The autopilot’s throttle failsafe was disabled after the pilot had established control of the aircraft at approximately 75 feet in the air. Switching to any of the automatic control modes now resulted in the throttle working as expected. Initial flight maneuvers focused on tuning the autopilot’s flight control gains. After the pilot was satisfied with the aircraft’s handling qualities in assisted flight modes, the aircraft was switched to fully automatic flight. The aircraft tracked to each waypoint despite windy conditions, demonstrating successful heading changes, maintenance of altitude, and throttle management. After completing two waypoint circuits, the aircraft was landed and brought in for post-processing.

Post-processing revealed that although the flight was successful, no pictures nor logs were present. Investigations focused on potential causes.

Remarks:

An unforeseen issue with the camera was significant difficulty in activating the CHDK while the camera was installed in its payload location within the aircraft. It was suspected that the CHDK was never actually activated for this test flight. This suspicion led to minor changes in the CHDK script which made the camera play a series of tones to indicate when the script was active. Ground tests performed by fully assembling the airframe and walking it to locations on the ground after introducing the activation tone proved successful. Preparations were made for a follow-up test flight

Flight Test #5

Objectives:

Results:

The aircraft was successfully transferred to automatic control, after which it followed the planned route. After executing the same route twice, the aircraft was landed and taken in for analysis. After disassembly, examination of the camera revealed that it had successfully taken images in automatic mode in the air.

Remarks:

This test demonstrated basic system functionality and satisfaction of the fundamental customer requirement: images taken by the system automatically while airborne. An issue encountered was that not every waypoint triggered an image capture and that the telemetry was not perfectly synced with each corresponding image.

Flight Test #6

Objectives:

Results:

The aircraft was successfully transferred to automatic control, after which it followed the planned route. After completing the initial route, a second set of waypoints was created and uploaded to the aircraft in flight, including variations in altitude. The aircraft successfully followed the new route, after which it was landed and taken in for post-processing. Post-processing revealed the aircraft had taken images on both waypoint routes.

Remarks:

Post processing revealed that one waypoint failed to capture an image and that accurate telemetry was still lacking. Probable causes are pure speculation at the moment. Unfortunately, time restrictions prevent further investigation into the issues.


Home | Aircraft Design | Manual | Source Code