e-volo VC200 Makes Maiden Flight. Flying Cars Incoming

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The e-volo VC200 has made it’s maiden unmanned flight. Does the craft above look a bit familiar? We first reported on the e-volo team back in 2011. Things have been going great for the team since then. They’ve created an 18 motor (Octadecacopter?) prototype dubbed the VC200. The group has taken a smart approach to building their craft. Rather than try to keep everything in-house, they’ve created a network by partnering with a number of companies who are experts in their fields. A sailplane company laid up the carbon fiber composite frame for the EC200. Junkers Profly, a German aviation company, developed a ballistic parachute system in case something goes wrong in flight.

From the outside, the VC200 looks like a grown up version of the Quadcopters we’ve seen here on Hackaday. Even the control system used for the test flight looks like a modified Radio Control Transmitter. The motors are outrunner brushless motors. Props are carbon fiber. We’re hoping the control system is a bit more evolved (and redundant) than the systems used in R/C quads though. Just like in smaller scale models, batteries are still the limiting factor. The VC200 will only fly for about 20 minutes on a charge. However, e-volo says that new technology should allow it to extend that time to around an hour. Not very much for a cross country flight, but plenty to pioneer a new type of aircraft. Where do we sign for the beta program?

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X-Winder: Carbon Fiber Wrapping

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One of our readers just sent us a tip about this interesting kickstarter project. [Turner Hunt] is bringing carbon fiber manufacture into the hands of makers — at considerable cost savings!

So how does it work? The machine wraps the filament around the workpiece, not unlike a CNC lathe in reverse. Actually it’s kind of a new breed of 3D printer! As the machine feeds the filament, it dips it through a bath of epoxy resin before being wrapped around the workpiece. A finishing step wraps heat shrink tape around the finished project using a heat gun, which then provides a glossy surface finish very similar to commercial carbon fiber products.

By purchasing carbon fiber filament and epoxy resin and using this machine, you can create structural carbon fiber tubes for about 80% less than they would cost commercially. The system comes with its own software that controls the machine via g-code, and you can also specify different wrapping patterns for different applications. While tube-shapes work best, you can also wrap other shapes including flat bars, wing skins, turbine blades and more — anything that is wrappable and under 6″ in total diameter. Is anyone else thinking about custom wrapped quadcopter frames?

[Thanks Alannah!]

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