Hello, this is my first instructable, so don't expect this to be too perfect. If you liked it, give me some feedback! Oh and Vote for me in the "make it fly" contest!
I've always had a great interest in Drones, Uavs, and just about anything that flies. Being a college engineering student, I finally decided Im tired of just learning concepts of how these things work, with no hands-on fun. I wanted to build something like that of my own and test my design to see what I'm capable of.
The real motivation to build what I called "The Go Drone" was seeing some aerial photography from RC aircraft on the internet. It looked good enough that I set my sights on building my own, and giving it a "Genuine" Go Pro look to it. So, I did just that, and designed a plane around my Go Pro Session.
Version 1 is the plane you see in the thumbnail. It was designed almost exactly the same as version 2 that this instructable covers. Version 1 was just scaled up, and had different motor placement. Version 1 had a 64 inch wingspan which I decided was a bit too big for the areas I have to fly. For version 2, I wanted to make more compact, and stronger as well.
If you want to check out version 1 crashing a few times in a cheesy 50 second trailer, watch this video:
Step 1: This Plane Is Made From Repurposed Items!
I love using stuff I already have to make a project. Especially if its used in a way a normal person wouldn't think to use it!
You probably already have some of these things in your house!
Here's the main items that made the magic happen:
aluminum tubing (for landing gear)
Fiberglass fishing rod (the red stick in the pic)
Fiberglass and carbon arrow shafts
Elmer's black foam board (the tail piece is just foam board from version 1)
small screws in different sizes
super glue, hot glue, epoxy
A piece of plastic from a portable speaker --- you probably don't have this. (Will further explain in next step)
If you're a first time RC plane builder, chances are you'll have to buy electronics, which includes a motor, esc and radio system with servos. If you're lucky you may have a crashed plane you can salvage electronics from.
The tools required are minimal and obvious enough that I don't feel the need to explain. Just make sure you've got plenty of sharp utility blades, dull blades make terrible cuts on foam.
Step 2: The Skeleton
So what made this build super easy for me was this white piece of plastic I took out of a portable speaker. If you plan to build this plane, I don't expect you to find exactly this part anywhere.
However, I suggest you get creative like I did! Go in the recycling bin, and find any cool shaped plastic that isn't super heavy, and use that as your skeleton. Use an oil container, windex bottle, gatorade bottle.... use your imagination!
Once you have a nice sturdy piece of plastic, epoxy your fiberglass fishing pole rod in place, making it as square and straight as possible. I used a plastic specific epoxy, and I couldn't be happier with the strength of the bond.
I put the landing gear on early to see how it would look. I thought it was starting to look great already, but I had to unscrew the gear to put the foam board on later.
Once you build your skeleton, you basically just add foam board and make it look like a plane, but thats the time consuming part of the build. Keep reading, I'll show you what I did.
Step 3: Foam Up That Fuselage!
It took me a few tries to get this the way I wanted it. If you want your plane to look like this, try tracing an airfoil out onto the foam, and folding it up perpendicular to the main piece of plastic. I think this gives it a real cool aerodynamic look.
sand up the plastic with heavy grit sandpaper, and dab some super glue in there. On my plane, this technique worked way better than I expected it to and the bond was very tough.
Step 4: Now, Just Wing It
Literally, just wing it. It should be fine!
I did a few calculations of wing loading and surface area, and looked at different airfoil aerodynamics, but I ended up just using the rest of my foam board up to make a nice 2-piece wing.
If unsure on wing size, Go bigger. Bigger will get a heavier plane off the ground, and will give you slower take off speeds. Also, a thicker wing will give you more lift. Don't make it super skinny unless you plan to be going fast with low lift.
The full wing is 43 inches, with a wing chord of 7 inches.
To make the wing I cut the remaining foam I had at 20 inches by 9.5 inches. I then sliced and beveled one side of the foam to allow it to fold as seen in the picture.
Carbon arrow shafts make great wing spars, and weigh next to nothing.
I got a thicker piece of fiberglass tubing (also from the fishing rod) that I put in the fuselage. This piece allows the 2 carbon wing spars to slide right in and create one nice solid piece together.
I used staples, gorilla tape and glue to hold the wing together. Use the tape sparingly, it is heavy and the weight adds up quick.
Step 5: Tails Always Wins
Making the tail was the easiest part of this build, especially since I was able to salvage mine from version 1.
I wanted a large horizontal stabilizer, since I noticed a bit of flutter when flying with version 1; which had an undersized tail.
I left the vertical stabilizer alone, which seemed to be the size I wanted for this plane.
Making the control surfaces was the only tricky part.
You basically cut halfway through the foam, and cut it again on the same spot, but on an angle.
This allows the foam to bend freely but still stay attached as one piece.
For the control horns I used paint stirrers cut down to about an inch long.
I also cut little slots into the tail to friction fit the servos in snuggly.
I then used paper clips as control rods, which are ugly, but do the job very well.
For the tail wheel, I used a bicycle spoke, plastic spacer, and an arrow knock to keep the k'nex wheel in place.
Step 6: Electronics!
Throw in your choice of an esc, motor, receiver, and servos. Im not a huge fan of wiring, but it was super straight forward. Plug in the servos to the corresponding channels on your receiver and it should work. Just don't be stupid and over power your receiver like I did, which will cause it to spew smoke. If your receiver doesn't work, check for any broken wiring before wiring it wrong.
Once I got everything working, I tried to make the wiring a little better, and neater.
I didn't like how the wires were just hanging out from the back of the plane, so I fished a cut VGA cable through the fiberglass pole, and wired some servo extensions through that. It took a little while, but makes the plane look a lot neater, and less prone to getting caught on something with the wires hanging out. Also more aerodynamic too, but at the cost of more weight.
Step 7: Motor Mountin'
For the motor mount I debated if I should make a cool aerodynamic shape, or make a right angle bracket out of aluminum. I compromised and made a tapered right angle bracket.
After testing the planes performance, It was very clear I needed to move the center of gravity forward.
The way I did this was bout the motor further forward, by putting on top of a piece of plastic I got from a leaf blower air filter housing. Even now the COG still needs adjusting, as well as prop angling.
That, however, it the beauty of aluminum. It is malleable enough to bend, which can make minor adjustments of the motor placement super simple. I plan to put a smaller propeller ( I have a 10 x 4.5 in the pics) for clearance purposes soon.
~UPDATE: After experimentation I will probably mount the motor on the nose for center of gravity purposes, I explain this in the last step. You can easily get the design pictured to work, but it would take different electronics than what I have.
Step 8: Mandatory Go Pro Mount!
We can't call this plane anything remotely close the the words "Go Pro" if it doesn't accept a Go Pro.
Throw a sticky mount on there, because after all, this whole project is designed around the purposes of carrying a Go Pro!
Some Go Pro stickers will be on her soon too!
You can actually get them for free from go pro:
Step 9: Finishing Touches
The plane is complete and ready to fly! It does however need a few minor adjustments to get it flying more stable with the Go Pro.
It flies, but the center of gravity is still too far back and makes it hard to control. I am planning to mount the motor up front now to get the center of gravity where I want it. (For those that don't know, the COG should be about 1/3 of the wing chord from the leading edge of the wing.) When you build this plane, I would suggest you make it an effort to keep the tail light, by limiting how much glue, tape, etc. you use to keep it together.
As of now I just broke my last propeller, so it will be a few days before any more experimentation. Any improvements on the aircraft will be updated accordingly in this instructable.
Im also going to dress it up soon with cosmetic fanciness like I did with version 1, but it probably won't be as glossy though, I wasn't a fan of that look.
UPDATE: Motor is mounted on the front and now the plane flies like it should! I can promise you'll see flight footage within the next few weeks on my youtube channel!
Feel free to comment any design suggestions. There will probably be a more advanced version 3 coming in the future!
Anyways, thanks for reading and taking the time to look at my first instructable, I really appreciate it! ;)
Don't forget to vote for me in the "Make It Fly" contest too!