December 11, 2014

After receiving the Quad Kit in mid-November, Taymour Mowafak and Sam De Raimondo from TeamAircraft and Ali Shelton from TeamBeacon, completed assembly of the quadcopter. Two team members who assembled the quadcopter provided their first hand experiences with it:

Taymour explains, “The issue I experienced in getting it to fly is getting familiar with the program. It took me 3 days to set up the different flight modes which helped make the take off easier. I used to altitude hold mode to fly it the first time and it went well. Now, I am trying to get familiar with the other modes like loiter, RTL, stabilize, and auto. The incident I encountered was in the first flight. One of the ESC's controlling the propellers malfunctioned, causing it to stop and the motor not to rotate. This caused the quad to lose balance and fall. It broke one propeller. I took apart the entire drone that night to see what went wrong and examined all the parts. I then realized that the ESC was overheated, which caused the malfunction in the first place.”

Ali elaborates, “In assembling the quadcopter, we first mounted the electronic equipment between two mounting plates. Then we constructed the upper portion of the drone consisting of the pixhawk flight control system among other accessory electronic components. However in mounting this final upper portion, we ran into a major issue: the connection of the mounting plate did not align with the housing of the main electronics. In order to connect the pieces together, we improvised by drilling the holes until they were sufficiently large enough. After several hours spent figuring out how to work the pixhawk system on board, we resolved to re-check the hardware construction. Disassembling the entire drone, we discovered the incorrect connection of several wires and correctly reassembled the drone, managing to run the pixhawk system now with more success.”

In addition to subgroup work time, the entire team meets on a weekly basis every Thursday morning to discuss short and long term goals.  All three teams have looked into specific technologies for integration into the search and communications system. For example, we have considered GPS geocaching chips, multifunctional cameras with signaling capabilities, and possibly even using a smartphone as a starting point for a transmitting and imaging system. We are currently considering the development of an iOS app that can incite a snapshot when it receives a certain radio signal. Our next few goals are to have successful drone flights and maneuverability, establish base station communications with the drone’s transmitter, and to mount a compatible camera onto the drone. The team is striving in the coming months to build a drone that exhibits the proposed search and communication features as accurately as possible and demonstrates what the drone will do in the most direct way possible.