Building a Bespoke FPV Platform - How To

by JamesWhomsley | July 31, 2015 | (10 Ratings) Posted in How To

Video

 

 

Introduction

You could just buy a plane for your FPV gear. You could build a kit or scratch build a pre-existing design to adapt like the FT Versa. Or you could design something absolutely specific for your needs - a bespoke FPV platform. 

An FT Blunt Nose Versa Wing, perfectly fine, but why not design something unique for your purpose instead of modifying an existing design?

 

Maybe you want long flight times. Maybe you want it to fold up to be stored away and transported easily. All of these design criteria can be included in your finished design if you want them to. That is the beauty of being able to scratch build something. You can come up with an idea in your head and see it all the way to when it's a small silhouette soaring up above you. 

A design that I came up with, which is featured in the video.


How To Design and Build Your Idea

Firstly, start with those criteria that you wanted to have your aircraft meet. I find it useful to sketch out a very rough drawing on paper. It doesn't matter how good or bad you are at drawing, it's just so that you can get an impression of your ideas down. You really don't want to start doing any detailed drawings until you've established what goes where. 

 

If your criteria is speed, you may want to go for shorter, thiner wings, with smaller overall dimensions. 

Wings are a bit more inclined towards being highly versatile when it comes to speed. Just look at Josh Bixler's 108mph Versa Wing in the FT Speed Challenge. Link Here!


If your criteria is long flight times, bear in mind that you'll need to carry a larger weight. You probably will need to think carefully about where to put them. A really clever design could put them in the wings! Think about clever designs like this from history. The schneider trophy winning float plane, the Supermarine S.6B, was designed to have the fuel in the floats, giving a low centre of gravity and allowing for a thinner more streamlined fuselage. The same designer, R.J. Mitchell designed the Supermarine Spitfire. 

Take insperation from history and design things cleverly with out of the box thinking!

 

My design from the video's criteria meant building something similar to a glider, with long thin wings for high efficiency, and lot's of lift to carry many 2200mah batteries. If you look at some of the infamous Burt Rutan's designs of record breaking endurance aircraft, you'll see a lot of them look similar to gliders in this way. 

Looking at other people's designs, including full scale, and wondering why they are like the way they are is a useful exercise in helping come up with your own designs. 

 

Sometimes it's best to go for simplicity. Building a 'normal' looking plane, with one fuselarge, a single wing, and a tail, can be the most desirable thing. This plane is designed so that the wings split into three sections. Aside from from obvious storage and transport advantages that this brings, it also allows for a certain degree of modularity. If you have a bad landing or crash, you can repair the part that is damaged more easily. You can also swap out parts and mix and match wings and fuselages. You could build a whole system of plane pieces rather than just one airframe, meaning you can choose what kind of plane you want for the day. How cool would that be! 

Simplicity can be good for storage, transportation and ease of building/reparing, as is the case with this build. 


Conclusion

Scratch building is awesome. To see something that was once just an idea, a concept in your head, then be made in front of you by you with your hands is a pretty special thing. With modern techniques and building materials popularised by the Flite Test community, amazing things are possible. All you have to do is check out some of the increadible creations demonstrated at this year's Flite Fest (link here). 

Go out there and make amazing things.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

The Spec of my new FPV plane (for those interested)


Airframe

- 200cm wingspan

- 124cm fuselage length 

- Foam Board covered with tape method of construction (Experimental Airlines Style)

Electronics

-NTM 28-26 1200kv motor

-2x 2200mah 3s Turnigy batteries

-25A Turnigy ESC

Camera and FPV

-GoPro Hero (2014)

-Fatshark Predator V2 Goggles and RTF transmitter and receiver kit

 

COMMENTS

scottie on August 4, 2015
Nice article James ;-)
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JamesWhomsley on August 5, 2015
Thanks Scottie :)
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Gary Taylor on August 5, 2015
Looks a bit like a U-2 spy plane.
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JamesWhomsley on August 5, 2015
haha yeah it does a bit. Never realised until now.
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Crash and Burn RC on August 6, 2015
Love the plane but i must say, I would prefer the FPV Warbird. On that note, I just finished designing my own FPV warbird Twin, inspired by yours! The wingspan is much shorter though, so i can fit it in a suitcase.
Salutations, Colin
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JamesWhomsley on August 7, 2015
Yeah man, the FPV Warbird is for a different purpose really. Don't worry, I'm still going to use that one too! Cool! Do a forum post with it and hit me up with a link! :) I really wanna see it.
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mavrik12 on August 6, 2015
Two questions what size prop you running what what kind of flight times you getting with the X2 2200?
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JamesWhomsley on August 7, 2015
7x4 and about 35-40 minutes is you just cruise around.
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Mr.Fish on August 10, 2015
Great article and I love the plane. This has inspired me to make a fpv platform of my own.
Just a quick question, how do you join the wing sections together since they are separate?
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JamesWhomsley on August 10, 2015
Thanks, that's great to hear! I used an idea that Josh used on his plane in this video. Skip to 9:50 in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ed629A8CmKU
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Mr.Fish on August 10, 2015
Thanks for that. Do you just use the one spar to lock the wings? And if so, does it provide enough torsional strength?
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JamesWhomsley on August 11, 2015
No problem. Yeah just one. I decided to put in some alignment BBQ skewers to the foam for the torsion problem :)
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kali on September 3, 2015
didnt really show me how TO do anything but great vid ,
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fiveaces on September 21, 2015
I know it betrays the purpose of this article but... Any specifics/dimensions on the design/build?
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