agile like a helicopter - efficient like a plane - unique like a ufo
The dream of flying has be around since the beginning of mankind. Crazy constructions followed mad ideas and a countless number of
crashes followed many flight attempts. Small computers, so called microcontrollers, make concepts for new flying objects possible today, which
have not been buildable by using mechanics only. Over the course of the last years the power of microcontrollers rised, whereas the prices falled. This makes
it possible to develop and build a concepts for new flying objects easily. I did just that with my concept, the roflCopter.
About the project
The roflCopter is a project, which illustrates the new kinds of design that can be built, when classic aerodynamics are used together with modern hard- and software. Exacly this is needed in my project, because a human pilot would react to slow to control the roflCopter. A microcontroller transforms the control intention of the pilot to the control actions and hardware movements. It is a kind of “translator” between the pilot and the flying object.
The idea to build the roflCopter came to me back in september 2015.
I started to make the first drafts and build a first prototype. After that, in april 2016, the prototype was finished but was unable to fly due to various reasons.
It generated enough lift to fly, but the rotor blade mounts were too unstable, the electric components not arranged semmetrically and the whole structure was not aerodynamic enough.
In september 2016 I started building a second prototype based on the insights I got building the first version. This time I didn't started by building the copter but by designing the whole prototype using CAD. By doing that I could manage to fit the design to the technical components
and therefore get a design which is as compact and aerodynamically working as it could be. Apart from that I checked which components I used in the first version worked well and which ones I need to replace by other, better working components.
How it works
The functionallity of the roflCopter is like the one of a helicopter, but without using a cabin, landing gear, tail rotor and everything else, which makes a helicopter a helicopter. Basically the roflCopter is a single flying main rotor. That means that not only the rotor blades are spinning, but instead the whole flying object spinns in the air.
To spin, the roflCopter has got two brushless motors with two four balde propellers installed at the end of a carbon fiber stick. Lift is not controled by spinning faster or slower, but instead the rotor blades can be tilted to different angles. Therefore the roflCopter controlles lift in the same way, a helicopter does: by using collective pitch.
But by simply tilting the rotor blades, the copter can not be controlled to fly forward, backward, left or right. For doing that the roflCopter has got two control flaps which are installed at each rotor blade tip like ailerons on a plane wing. These flaps can be pulled down for a specific
amount of time to give one rotor blade more lift than the other one. By doing this, the whole flying object can be tilted and controlled in the way, a helicopter is controlled: via cyclic pitch.
Apart from the fact, that the special mode of operation of the roflCopter is not realised in conventional aircrafts, it makes use of some of the techniques used in these. For example the concepts of the collective and the cyclic pitch. Furthermore the roflCopter can
detect its orientation to the pilot to know its flight direction. All the movements in flight are finally controlled by special software and algorithms.