Guest blog: Vortech update 4

The Vortech team bust out some high-tech solutions – plywood and bricks – as testing day looms.

The first problem we tackled last week was the fact we don’t trust GPS to work at our testing site. The performance evaluation is being done at essentially ground level, under a tent, right next to a really large electric motor (which will have an impact on our GPS). For all we know it will still work, but we can’t leave it to chance – so we’ve been developing a camera-based solution for localisation. We are still very confident that GPS will be the way forward for actual industrial applications, where shots are being taken from high in the air away from any obstructions.

We’ve also got our altitude hold working – this video shows our Minimum Viable Product quad, which as we explained last week is the test bed for all our electronics. It’s looking really stable, which is very encouraging. We’re still considering mounting it on a gimbal, but with any luck our primary craft will be so stable it won’t be necessary… investigations continue.

We’re also putting in place arrangements for testing the finished products. In the first instance, this will be an entire motor and prop assembly, so we’ve manufactured a testing rig out of plywood to hold the assembly and measure the output thrust and torque. The test rig is shown below.

If at first you don't succeed, ply ply again

If at first you don’t succeed, ply ply again

This week though, the primary excitement has been getting our carbon fibre parts back from the waterjet cutters, and starting to build the body of our primary platform. There’s been a great deal of time on the lathe as well, machining down aluminium shafts to form some of our driveshafts and bearing holders. One of these aluminium parts is below, as is the body of the UAV – the bricks are only there while the glue sets, but we’re definitely hopeful it will be able to lift them when the whole thing is finished…

The Flintstones UAV... possibly.

The Flintstones UAV… possibly.

Finally for this week, we have had to bid farewell to Simon, one of our team members. He’s put a huge amount of work in, and the design we’re building now shows a great deal of his inspiration (and perspiration…). All the best with the PhD at Cambridge, and we look forward to you continuing to offer advice from far afield!

The downside to building a UAV - all that filing.

The downside to building a UAV – all that filing.

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About Callaghan Innovation

Business. Technology. Success.
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