This project was started in November , electronics and control loops. Because I always need a cool project to learn new things, it was clear that something that can fly had to be built.
The project started as a "tricopter-only" project, but as I wanted to build smaller vehicles with more payload capacity, I decided to make some quadrotor, hexacopter and Y6 hexacopter firmwares too. My main interest is to build very small MAVs that fly as good as larger ones (or even better) and that can be controlled by wireless video link. I also experimented with autonomous flight in GPS-denied areas (video), and with GPS assisted autonomous hover (video). It would be cool to add more features to this project but I am pretty busy with my PhD research. But maybe one day I could combine my scientific interests with my hobby projects...
-- William

Contact: Shrediquette @ g m x . d e --- All content published under CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Germany

14 July 2014

HEXO+ autonomous aerial cam, kickstarter campaign

Maybe you've already heard of the HEXO+ follow-me copter. The kickstarter campaign is really successful and it will end in exactly 24 hours. Check it out here:
HEXO+ on Kickstarter

As you might already guess from the look of this hexrotor, I was involved in designing the airframe and selecting the electrical components for this project. Here are some pictures of early prototypes:

The idea was to make something pretty aerodynamic. The booms are flat plates that are arranged parallel to the airflow of the propellers (8"). They hence have very low aerodynamic drag, similar to the body of the copter which is tilted 30° with respect to the propeller plane. Unfortunately, my time for supporting the development of the HEXO+ project will be very limited in the future. But as I really like these kind of projects, I'll try to stay involved somehow.

HEXO+: Your Autonomous Aerial Camera -- Kicktraq Mini

02 July 2014

William Thielicke in the TV-Show "Die Große Show der Naturwunder"

A few weeks ago, I was invited as a guest to the "Große Show der Naturwunder" with Frank Elstner and Ranga Yogeshwar (produced by FirstEntertainment GmbH). I am giving a short demo flight with the GEMiNi and video goggles. Ranga Yogeshwar also does a short interview with me. The show will be broadcasted on the 31. Juli 2014 at 20.15h in the ARD.
It took around 4 days to produce this show, so my partner, my twin (gemini) girls an me spent a very nice week in a lovely hotel in south Germany. I really enjoyed the time over there, it is so interesting to get insights in such kind of TV productions!
I can not show pictures of the show itself or give further details, but here's an image with the host Ranga Yogeshwar (as I expected, I was impressed that he is such a clever and friendly person)  at the after-show party, and  another one of my "personal wardrobe" (this is the proof that I was there ;-D).
Ranga Yogeshwar and William Thielicke

My wardrobe ;-)

13 November 2013

Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften 2013 in Nordhausen

On the 30th of october 2013, Prof. Klaus-Peter Neitzke and me gave a talk and flight demo during the "Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften Nordhausen" (Long Night of the Sciences). The talk was titled "Fliegen am Limit und dahinter. Die Indoor-Flug-Show mit Flugrobotern", and we really had great fun during the presentations and the flight demo. I presented some of my PhD work on the aerodynamics of the flapping flight in birds, and Klaus-Peter talked about multirotors and control loops, actually the things he does with his students at the university. In the end, we had a pylon-race-deathmatch, which was pretty tough as the space was very limited. We crashed often during this race, and I was surprised how robust the GEMiNi actually is...Thanks to the Fachhochschule Nordhausen for giving us this opportunity!

Here are photographs and some more information (in german however...):

Photo: Karin Lehmann, Peter Blei
Photo: Neitzke

Photo: Neitzke
Photo: Karin Lehmann, Peter Blei

Photo: Neitzke

Photo: Neitzke

Photo: Karin Lehmann, Peter Blei

Some more photographs by Fotoservice Kötz
NNZ article
Thüringer Allgemeine article

02 October 2013

GEMiNi - first competition :)

We had a small multirotor-meeting here in Bremen last weekend, and there were also some people that were up for a FPV-competition. So the GEMiNi had its first opportunity to do what is was built for: Race!
A track was quickly built from chairs, tape and some other stuff we found. It was a lot of fun (well I could do FPV-competitions every day because I like it very much to fly "for a reason"), and the GEMiNi finished first.

See the video here:

11 July 2013

GEMiNi FPV in the park...

Photo by Kai

The GEMiNi is extremely fun to fly, it seems to be very fast and agile - better than any copter I built before. The "real" GEMiNi video is still in progress (but almost done), so here is a quick video that shows one FPV flight in a nearby park:

25 March 2013

Director's Cut: A nice place to fly - Hexacopter in Cameroon / Africa

One of my videos - the MM6 cameroon video - received more than 1000 likes on Vimeo, and about one million views in total (until march 2013). Thank you all very much!! Here I present the Director's cut, showing some additional scenes and longer sequences.

 Watch the video here.

If you don't know the original video, I recommend to watch it first, and then decide if you would like to see the extended Director's cut:


20 March 2013

08 March 2013

Wind tunnel test data

This morning, I did some wind tunnel tests with the GEMiNi chassis. The GEMiNi was designed for FPV air races at high flight velocities, therefore the aerodynamic properties are important (well, it was also designed to look good of course...). I measured the aerodynamic forces generated by the frame (excluding the influence of the propeller's downwash) at a flight velocity of 12 m/s (= 43 km/h, maybe half the top speed) in a wind tunnel using a 2-axes force balance.

Angles of attack between 0 (hovering flight) and 90 degrees (vertical climb) were tested. The angle of attack is defined as the angle between the oncoming flow and the propeller disk. Both the lift coefficient (perpendicular to the oncoming flow) and the drag coefficient (parallel to the oncoming flow) were determined for each angle of attack (n = 3). The coefficients are based on the planform area of the copter.

Four different setups were tested:
  • "canopy-tilt-" refers to the hexrotor without canopy and without the inclination of the rotors. This setup is very much comparable to a conventional, standard hexrotor like e.g. the MM6.
  • "canopy+tilt-" includes the canopy, but no rotor inclination.
  • "canopy-tilt+" is without canopy, but with rotor inclination.
  • "canopy+tilt+" is finally the GEMiNi as I am currently flying it.
The results reveal that the inclination of the rotors has a large positive effect on the overall performance. In combination with the effect of the canopy, the rotor inclination reduces the negative lift by 17 % to 70 % at angles of attack relevant to fast forward flight (10° to 45°). Negative lift pushes the copter down in forward flight and must be compensated by additional thrust. This would reduce the maximum flight velocity and requires additional energy.

Lift coefficient vs. angle of attack. Large lift coefficients at angles of attack between 10 and 45° result in lower thrust requirements to keep the copter in the air. The application of a canopy and rotor inclination enhances the performance.

Additionally (and more importantly), the drag of the copter is reduced by 14 % to 40 %. Aerodynamic drag slows the copter down, so any reduction is clearly beneficial.

Drag coefficient vs. angle of attack. The drag of the copter is reduced quite dramatically by using the canopy and rotor inclination. Top-speeds will be much higher compared to the conventional setup.

To conclude: The analyses have shown, that the canopy and the rotor inclination both improve the aerodynamic properties of a hexrotor substantially. Higher top speeds, respectively a larger endurance during cruising flight will be possible. The additional weight of the canopy is negligible and will hardly influence these conclusions.

P.s.: It is constantly raining here in Bremen, and I am going snowboarding tomorrow, so the outdoor flights are a bit delayed...

05 March 2013

Done. Looking forward to first outdoor flights...

What I really dislike in small copters is that they have the same amount of cables as larger ones, but almost no space...
The very first flights were done yesterday night. I used the default parameters from the BOLT S|2, and it seems to fly very nicely. There is a bit too much power, I prefer when my copters hover at about 50% throttle (like the BOLTs). This one hovers at 33% throttle. However, the GEMïNï is built for speed, and too much power will certainly not harm. It will also be possible to carry the GoPro HD Hero I think. The GEMïNï looks amazing in hovering flight...: Due to the tilted rotors, the tail hangs a bit lower than the rest (see my 3D animation), which gives it a crazy look :-D .  

Here are some images I shot this morning:

22 February 2013

More propeller tests

Recently, I discovered some small counter-rotating propellers that I didn't know before. I ordered some and did some tests. The red 4x4.5" props look really good, nice thin airfoils and a good precision. During the tests, they made the least amount of noise, and are currently my preferred ones. The performance of the 4x2.5" props is even better, but they have a pretty terrible sound and seem to be less balanced. Both propellers outperform the AirAce propellers, but this is not really a surprise because the AirAce have a smaller diameter and more blades. What is also interesting is the weight of the propellers. A propeller with a lower weight potentially has a lower moment of inertia which is beneficial for the control loops:
  • AirAce: 2.1 g
  • 4x2.5": 1.5 g
  • 4x4.5": 1.3 g
So this is an advantage for the 4x4.5" propellers, especially because the weight of this propeller is more concentrated to the center, which should further lower the momentof inertia.

The difference in endurance is quite dramatic, up to additional 2.5 minutes (+20 %) are possible when using the 4x2.5" instead of the AirAce.

Test setup

Left to right: 'AirAce', '4x4.5', '4x2.5'

Static thrust vs power input (@ 12 V)
Endurance vs take-off weight

20 February 2013

GEMiNi, frame + canopy

Here are two images of the current status. Green is the favorite colour of my girlfriend ;-) . There will soon be an additional one in purple I fear...

09 February 2013

GEMïNï progress...

I just realized, that I haven't yet posted an image of the PCB that I am using since half a year in the BOLT S|2 and soon in the GEMiNi. It is really small and weighs around 1 gram. It contains the minimum number of parts possible + 3 LEDs:
Thermoforming the canopy also worked pretty well once I found the correct temperature. I tried Vivak (PET-G) and black Polystyrol:

The chassis should be finished very soon, I am really looking forward to putting everything together...!

09 January 2013

GEMïNï motors arrived

Yesterday the motors arrived from hobbyking (Turnigy C1822-2100KV). As usual with small motors, the shafts were all way too short to attach a propeller. Three-bladed props do not really work nicely with the provided prop-saver... Hence the original shafts had to be removed. It was pretty hard to exchange all motor shafts, as they have a very tight fit with the bell, and they are additionally glued with cyano. Some "nail polisher remover" and some heat helped a lot to remove them. The quality of the motors is really good.

I did some tests and compared them with the Robby Roxxy 1815-25 that I use in a similar copter (the BOLT). Both motors have the same size and the same weight, Surprisingly, the turnigy motors have the exact same performance as the much more expensive Roxxy motors. The increased KV number leads to an increase in the peak RPM and thrust.
The endurance with these motors will be around 8 minutes (the aerodynamic efficiency of the GEMiNi will be higher than that of the BOLT, because coaxial motors have somewhat higher losses - a factor of 0.75 to 0.8 is a good approximation).

The only thing that is really different between the motors is the price per motor:
9 € Turnigy (incl. taxes...)
27 € Roxxy