Development of a Low-Cost, Low-Weight Flight Control System for an Electrically Powered Model Helicopter

Carstens, Nicol (2005-03)

Thesis (MScEng (Electrical and Electronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


This project started a new research area in rotary-wing °ight control in the Computer and Control group at the University of Stellenbosch. Initial attempts to build a quad-rotor vehicle exposed di±culties which motivated changing to a standard model helicopter as a test vehicle. A JR Voyager E electrically powered model helicopter was instrumented with low-cost, low-weight sensors and a data communication RF link. The total cost of the sensor, communication and microcontroller hardware used is approximately US$ 1000 and the added onboard hardware weighs less than 0:4 kg. The sensors used to control the helicopter include a non-di®erential u-Blox GPS receiver, Analog Devices ADXRS150 rate gyroscopes, Analog Devices ADXL202 accelerometers, a Polaroid ultrasonic range sensor and a Honeywell HMC2003 magnetometer. Successful yaw, height and longitudinal position control was demonstrated. Signi¯cant further work is proposed, based on the literature study performed and the insights and achievements of the ¯rst rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicle project in the group.

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