Greg's VTOL Projects


VTOL is an abbreviation for Vertical Take-Off and Landing. VTOL describes fixed-wing aircraft that can lift off vertically. This classification includes only a very few aircraft like helicopters, autogyros, jump jets, and tiltrotors. Helium-filled balloons and airships are not normally considered VTOL. The following project was dedicated to our passion for making a functional VTOL design for the hobbyist using conventional components available at multiple vendors.

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is the first aircraft designed from the ground up to meet the needs of all four U.S. armed services. The tiltrotor aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter. Once airborne, its engine nacelles can be rotated to convert the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight. 

APM QuadPlanes: (circa 2016-2017) 

A new type of VTOL vehical was designed by the ArduPilot developers that could hover like a quadcopter and flying like a conventional plane. The so-called QuadPlane had the advantages of flying more efficiently for longer distances without the need for a runway. In this manner, it made a great survey vehical without complicated tilt-rotor or tilt-wing mechanisms.

Here are some of my QuadPlane conversions from conventional plane designs as posted on the APM Forums.

QuadPlane Conversion of Hobby King Bix3 Trainer

QuadPlane Conversion of Volantex Ranger EX

I also have a combination thread on RC Groups here. (APM: QuadPlane, Tiltrotor, and Tiltwing)


Volantex Ranger EX QuadPlane Hover Test 1 from Gregory Covey on Vimeo.


Bix3 QuadPlane Autonomous Mission 2 from Gregory Covey on Vimeo.


FireFLY6 VTOL Wing: (circa 2015-2017) 

The FireFLY6 is a VTOL wing designed by BirdsEyeView Aerobotics. It uses a Y6 power system configuration, hence the name, FireFLY6. Although it can use many different controllers, it was recently redesigned for Advanced Vtol Automation or AvA. Using a single Pixhawk controller for both hover and forward flight modes, this design is fully autonomous and can be programmed for missions using the on-board GPS system.


My FireFLY6 uses an RTFhawk controller and M8N GPS module that receives both U.S. and Russian satellites. The RDF900 telemetry link operates up to 25 miles. The R/C system is a 2.4GHz. FrSky Taranis transmitter and 16-channel X8R receiver. The customized Mission Planner (right image below) shows a GPS lock in my backyard for hover testing.

FireFLY6 Mapping Survey 2 from Gregory Covey on Vimeo.


Canadair CL-84: (circa 2015)  

The Canadair CL-84 "Dynavert", designated by the Canadian Forces as the CX-131, was a VTOL turbine tiltwing monoplane designed and manufactured by Canadair between 1964 and 1972. Unique Models in China has designed an R/C version of the CL-84 sold through Hobby King.

The left image above shows the 4s 2200mAh battery location before the steering mod and the other images are after adding the steering arm and servo. The easy steering mod allows the nosewheel to turn for taxi before vertical take-off or for normal Roll Off Ground (ROG) take-offs. 


CL-84 Flight Test with Simonk ESCs from Gregory Covey on Vimeo.



Great Planes VFO: (circa 2009)  

The Great Planes VFO (Vertical Flying Object, aka POGO) is a different kind of airplane that takes off vertically from the ground and then flies forward like an airplane. Although meant to be an indoor flyer, it can also be flown outdoors on very calm days.

 The foam with carbon fiber bracing kit itself is inexpensive but it requires the following support items:

    ElectriFly Rimfire Brushless 300 Motor (GPMG4505)
    ElectriFly Silver Series 12A ESC (GPMM1810)
    ElectriFly BP Series 11.1V, 300mAh LiPo Pack (GPMP0701)
    Futaba S3114 Micro High-Torque Servos (4) 
    APC 9x4.7 Slo-Flyer Propeller (APCQ5010)

The VFO uses several mixes to synchronize all four control surfaces so a programmable transmitter is required. Elevon mixing is used on the "wings" to obtain normal flight and the second rudder surface is mixed from an AUX channel to match the rudder control. The final two mixes are used to allow the aileron channel to additionally swing the two rudder surfaces. In this manner, all four control surfaces follow the same aileron direction for rolls. Although three P-mixes are needed to accomplish this setup, it is still possible to leave out the last aileron-to-rudder mix so that only 3 of the 4 control surfaces follow the aileron stick. This reduction allows lower-end transmitters to be used on the VFO with minimal ill effect on rolls.

Although the VFO is meant to be a hover trainer, it is not meant to be a general flying trainer. That being said, if you have intermediate flying skills, the VFO is a great way to learn to hover and coordinate rudder turns. Both intermediate and advanced pilots will have a great deal of fun with the VFO as it can perform many unusual stunts and maneuvers. It is a unique design that utilizes economical LiPo packs and components.


Project VTOL: (circa 2007) 

It Back in 2007, I decided to try an experiment using a foam plane (Multiplex Magister) and give it rotating wings and stabilization using gyros. I already knew the plane flew great so I experimented with stabilization techniques before the days of dedicated flight controllers in R/C. You can read more about it in my 7th issue of AMP'D called, "Project VTOL - Part 1".

Project VTOL



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