Tri-rotor helicopter with full autopilot

Quadcopters stand aside, here’s a three-rotor helicopter we think you’re going to love. The body is made out of plywood and carbon fiber rods, keeping it light enough to be easily lifted by just 3 motors while making sure the force doesn’t tear the aircraft apart. Three gyroscopes, two accelerometers, three magnetometers, and a GPS module are all used in conjunction for an autopilot system. There’s a lot of great pictures and videos but our favorite, embedded after the break, shows the tricopter writing messages in the sky using light and camera exposure tricks similar to this ground-based trike.

[Thanks Hernandi]

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    I love it.

  2. Bill says:

    Her name is Major Marcy, named after a real person with significance (either in the Navy or Nasa, can’t remember) and has been around for a while.

    The owner keeps better postings on DIYDrones. Here’s much better pictures of it in action.

    http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/la-vs-silicon-valley

  3. jim says:

    Now to have it track people and keep annoying them.

  4. Beautiful!

  5. Woaw this is an outstanding project…. Instead of seing octocopters and all that (bigger and bigger) we actually see one which is smaller…

    And even through everyone in hear properly hear this a lot, I can’t FUCKING wait to get my own UAV in the air, hopefully this summer.. Each time I see a post about one in here, I’m getting “ticks” from all the excitement! oO

  6. Matt says:

    I’m a little confused on the physics of how this can be stable. With 3 rotors, you necessarily have at least 2 rotating in the same direction at any given time. Wouldn’t there then be a net angular momentum all the time, causing it to rotate?

  7. Bill says:

    @Matt,

    I think at least one of the motors can pivot, which I bet could counter the rotating force and/or let it rotate in place if commanded.

  8. Dino says:

    This is pretty awesome. Great use of multiple sensors for navigation. Nice!

  9. Ilektron says:

    No offense, but this is UGLY. There are much prettier tricopters out there. I guess it wouldn’t belong if it didn’t have wires hanging out!

  10. The tricopters can use any mixture of clockwise and counterclockwise rotors. The “tail” has a servo that can twist it to control rotation about the vertical axis. The Arducopter project can handle any mixture of 3 to 6 rotors, and uses the circuit board from Wii Multi-plus (less than $10 for Chinese clones), for the Gyros, and an optional Wii Nunchuck circuit board to control a camera gimbal, to keep a camera level when the copter tilts and banks.

    This video shows how responsive the cheap Wii gyros are in a tricopter:

  11. More details on the TriWiiCopter design:

    http://radio-commande.com/international/triwiicopter-design/

    I plan to build my frame from PVC electric conduit, in a T configuration like this:

    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1363614

    Just for kicks — using an FPV tricopter to shoot fireworks at hydrogen balloons (double-click video for fullscreen):

  12. This video shows PVC T-copter frames, and a flying T-copter where you can see how the tilted tail motor compensates rotation:

  13. oh man this is just great!!!

  14. Dan says:

    wow the dynamics coding for this thing is insane O.o

  15. Here is a summary of advanced quadcopter dynamics:

    http://decibel.ni.com/content/blogs/quadrotor/2009/12/11/control-simulation-part-2-the-lqr-controller

    And here is a very sexy FPV T-copter and ground station build in progress:

  16. woutervddn says:

    These kind of projects are awesome. I really really love this one because of the fact that is has only three motors. Strange to see many people choose an UAV heli instead of an UAV plane though..
    I’m still trying to figur how I’m going to land my UAV plane, any ideas for that? Laser guidance seems the best way to go..

  17. hammy says:

    How is he compensating for torque without having one of the rotors larger or having the other two running at lower RPM?

    You usually do these in moment couples, otherwise you have to fuck around with a tailroter etc

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