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Johnson City Radio Controllers Club Forum • View topic - Building a fixed wing FPV platform

Building a fixed wing FPV platform

Discussion about aircraft used for first person video flying.

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Building a fixed wing FPV platform

Postby SteveB » Sun Mar 05, 2017 10:26 pm

There are many fixed wing FPV platforms on the market; many wing spans I have seen range from 36" up to 60". I researched several planes before selecting the Bixler II, it's not the perfect platform, its just perfect for me. I like the price-point, look, and maneuverability of this plane; using a 3S 3000 battery I can get up to 30 minute flights when Im just cursing around. I use a mobius for my recorded video, and a 600 line CCD camera for FPV. The Bixler will carry the Go-Pro with no problem, however the mobius is hard to beat for its light weight, cost, and incredible HD video (set the color to vivid for incredible saturation).

This will be an ongoing thread consisting of several post, with pictures of my latest (3rd) Bixler build. This plane will include upgraded motor mount, motor, and prop, 5.8GHz FPV system, Dragon Link long range system, and Eagle Tree Vector flight controller, in addition to how I mounted all my systems internally during the build. Figuring out just how to set my plane up took many weeks and several hours of watching you-tube videos to get ideas from others who have modified their planes. One thing I will claim to be my own idea, which later I did find on You Tube, after the fact, was testing various motors of different KV ratings and props, to see which motor/prop combo put out the most thrust while drawing the least amps. I did this by using a gram scale, mounting the motor/prop combo on the scale and running the motor at half and full throttle while recording amp draw and thrust (force pushing down on the scale). The upgraded motor mount from "smallpartscnc.com" allowed me to use a larger prop by raising the motor above the stock location.

Since this is my 3rd Bixler build, I feel I was able to produce a cleaner, better looking platform, with all wiring and FPV components installed internally except for the cameras, this doesn't mean every platform has to look clean, I just prefer mine to. On my second Bixler, I taped antenna wires, and camera leads to the outer part of the plane and it worked just fine, just didn't look as good, again just my preference. More to come on my build.
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SteveB
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Re: Building a fixed wing FPV platform

Postby SteveB » Sun Mar 05, 2017 11:18 pm

As I mentioned in my previous post, this is my 3rd Bixler 2 FPV platform, so I have had plenty of time to figure out what works best for me and what I'm wanting out of this platform. The first steps I took before rushing to build this platform was to lay out the fuselage halves and dry install my ESC, RX, and long range antenna, as well as cut away some of the internal foam to make room for my flight controller and voltage regulator. In the picture you can see where I cut a hole in the rear tail section to run my antenna lead for my Dragon Link. Since I decided to mount my Rx in the aft section of the body, and to access the flight controller, I cut 2 small access doors in one side of the fuselage. I also mounted the elevator and rudder servos at this time as well.

When cutting the access holes, instead of bushing my xacto blade straight into the foam at a 90 degree angle, while cutting all 4 sides, I angles the blade slightly inward towards the center of the door, this left me cutting a door with a slight taper inward allowing the door to fit in the hole but not pushing all the way through into the fuselage. Since I wont need to access the internal parts very often, I know this from experience, I will keep it simple and use a small piece of tape to hold the doors in place. At the front of the fuselage I pressed a couple blind threaded nuts into small pieces of hobby plywood and glued them to the inside of the nose section. Once dried I threaded the long screw into the nut, from the inside,making a hole to locate the exact spot on the outside of the nose where the screws will be inserted. These hard mounts will be used to mount my FPV camera. On my previous planes I had the FPV camera mounted to the top section to the left wing. I liked this view as I could see the entire nose of the plane, the downside was this view threw my orientation off when I would fly close to objects like trees, barns, and sometimes cows, due to the camera being left of the center line of the plane.

One last mod I made to the fuselage before I glues it together was to cut a cooling air intake hole in the top of the nose, and plug the factory made hole in the bottom of the nose. On my previous planes the cooling air hole on the bottom of the nose allowed dirt and grass to enter the body of the plane during landings. Time to glue the fuselage halves together...
Attachments
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SteveB
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Re: Building a fixed wing FPV platform

Postby TiredIronGRB » Mon Mar 06, 2017 9:39 am

Looks great Steve, what kind of range are you hoping for?
George R. Baker
Church Hill, TN

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Re: Building a fixed wing FPV platform

Postby SteveB » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:24 pm

2 miles with the new cross hair antenna for my VRx. On my last platform I hit a mile out using spyronet mushroom antennas, think my nerves gave out before my vid signal. Using 5.8Ghz video system I have seen post where people hit 3-4 miles: not looking for long range now just a little freedom to explore. More to come on my progress.
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Re: Building a fixed wing FPV platform

Postby SteveB » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:42 pm

On this new model I decided to mount my FPV camera to the centerline of the plane to where I have a more balanced view; this will help me judge distance better when flying close to objects (I dont plan on doing proximity flying with this plane). The camera is mounted to soft acrylic like material (home made mount) with small screws, the acrylic material is mounted to the hard mounts on the nose, that I mentioned in my previous post, using hex head machine screws. I routed the camera wires inernally to keep the plane looking clean. This location worked out good as the 600mW videoTx I'm using is mounted to the canopy platform and the wires run underneath into the battery/equipment bay.

Again, keeping a clean look to the plane I run my long range Dragon Link receiver antenna wire through the tail of the plane. I originally had it taped to the front of the wing, and the antenna mounted at the tip of the wing, with the leads sticking up above and below the wing, however sence this plane is a belly lander, the lower part of the antenna would drag on the ground wearing the tip of the antenna leads away. I have screws running through the vertical tail into the antenna mount to hold it securely in place. A small piece of acrylic acts like a washer and keeps the mount screws from pulling through the tail section. The Dragon Link receiver itself is mounted in the aft section of the body.
Attachments
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SteveB
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Re: Building a fixed wing FPV platform

Postby TiredIronGRB » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:40 pm

Looks great Steve, you will like the centered view much better :mrgreen:
George R. Baker
Church Hill, TN

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Re: Building a fixed wing FPV platform

Postby SteveB » Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:40 pm

Latest update on my FPV platform build post; I chose to mount my 30 AMP ESC partially exposed, on top of the planes body. This is to allow sufficient airflow across the ESC for cooling purposes, and to keep the ESC away from my video Tx and camera. My Video Tx is mounted on the canopy with the antenna supported by a carbon fiber rod glued into the back of the canopy platform. This will keep the antenna from breaking loose from the VTx main board in the event it comes in contact with objects from minor crashes (speaking from experience); I had one VTx antenna mount break loose from the main board due to a tree branch getting into my way during a low level flight. All VTx wires run underneath the canopy platform. Securing all wiring in place I used small zip-ties lightly snugged around the wires, clipped the ends of the zip-ties to about 1/4" in length, then pushed into the foam secured with a spot of CA. This keeps the wiring clean looking and in place. I mounted my Mobius HD camera on the wings front edge tilting slightly downward. The slight tilt keeps more ground scenes in the cameras eye and prevents washout from the bright sky. Due to the position of the camera mount I have had to adjust aileron trim for compensation.

First test flight: After looking over the entire plane several times, ensuring flight control movements are in the proper direction, and setting CG slightly forward the first test flight was successful. I have to add a little more weight to the nose of the plane to keep it flying stable but everything seems to be working as advertised. My VTx link is solid and clear, however I have not pushed beyond a half mile yet; I want to fly several more local flights to ensure not issues arise before pushing out further. I have not set up my Eagle Tree Vector yet so cannot comment on it at this time.
Attachments
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20170305_193028.jpg
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SteveB
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Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:42 am

Re: Building a fixed wing FPV platform

Postby TiredIronGRB » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:48 pm

I like how you mounted the ESC, good idea.
George R. Baker
Church Hill, TN

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