Airplane Stabilization Project - Arduino

About: My Name is Haris Rashid and I am 15 years old. A web designer who seeks to produce luxurious designs and become a buzz in the field of game development. I also love to geek out with computers and electronics

Today I am going to build a model Airplane stabilizer. This platform can be used for on ground testing purposes. This project is made using Arduino Micro controller. I used MPU 6050 for measuring tilt in three axis. This is currently made out of corrugated cardboard, that makes the construction easy for this tutorial.

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Step 1: Materials

You willl need the following materials:

Main Parts:

  • Corrugated Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • Cutter
  • Hot Glue

Electronic Parts:

  • Arduino Uno
  • MPU 6050
  • Breadboard
  • Jumper wires
  • Battery Pack
  • Servo SG 90

Here I am using Arduino Uno as this flavour is best for prototyping. You may use Arduino Mini or Due according your needs. I am using MPU 6050 for this is the most suitable IMU that may be used in RC Airplane.

Step 2: Templates

I design the template for the model that makes it perfect to put electronics and motors on. You may use Foam board Plywood or Corrugated Plastic. Using pencil and ruler draw your template and outline the lines to cut using marker. Put the two pieces together using hot glue. Cut the template using a sharp cutter. I didn't have control horns for elevators so i made my own. There are tons of tutorials on how to make elevators and control horns.

How to make control horns

Step 3: Mounting Electronics

To mount Arduino I used bolts and screws that makes it firm. Then I used hot glue to mount servos and breadboard

Using the diagram above connect servos and IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). I use jumpers to connect everything and here I have connected a 9v battery to power up the Arduino. No external power source was needed to power up the electronics.

Step 4: Making the Push Rods

Now to make push rods I bend hard copper according to designs I got off from the internet. I have attached a link that you may also get an idea on how to make push rods.

How to make push rods for elevators

Step 5: Uploading the Program

Code is fairly simple to understand. First we turn on the communication from gyro using I2C Communication bus and then we set gyro offsets to make sure that it always gets the right data to the motors. In the loop function we map the gyro values to the servo and we perform a simple calculation in the program to make sure that the values remain in range (0 - 255)

Step 6: Final Thoughts!

Finally we have a working aircraft stabilizer. This is just a prototype, future plans are to build an airplane out of balsa wood and put the same electronics in the plane to see whether it stabilizes the airplane in air. As far as this project is concerned we can make a Transmitter with arduino and control the elevators using RF Modules

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    5 Discussions


    7 months ago

    cool this is a good starting point, i will try it out


    9 months ago

    What about the RC input


    1 year ago

    This is just a balancing system. Where is RC receiver inputs?


    3 years ago

    While I still think you would be better off with a 3 axis design for a testbed there is a flying wing plan in this months RCM&E ( that would possibly make a good testbed for your system as it stands a basic foam and balsa stiffening plates construction it is only 25" across the control surfaces but looks as if it would stand scaling up to take a heavier load if it had to.


    3 years ago

    While using combined elevators and ailerons may be necessary for a delta or flying wing design. A conventional layout with separate ailerons,elevator and rudder giving you a dedicated control surface for each axis of movement, would make development easier. Furthermore it would be better to have a proven airframe to run flight tests on as this way, you would know that it is a control system fault rather than a poor airframe design. this would also enable you to get your control system airborne on normal RC gear then switch to the auto piloting system you are testing, and more importantly switch it off and regain control manually if it fails.