Opinion Rescue

Outback Challenge wrap up from Latitude 38S UAV Team.

Latitude 38S UAV Team

Well, the dust has settled on the competition now and we made it home after a very long drive from Kingaroy.

Well done to UND and Robota, a great effort from both teams to get as far as they did.

Unbelievably, they were the only two teams that flew in the S&R competition this year; Joe was nearly rescued, so close but not quite.

We have been analysing our FDR data and are working on the reasons we didn’t do as well as we had hoped.

We did 3 scrutineering flights and had to abort each of them for different reasons. So we ended up not being able to continue on to the S&R flight.

Our first flight showed some control issues relating to an external antenna we had to place on the wings, so we landed and adjusted what needed to be adjusted.

The second flight was going well until, under autopilot, the GCS laptop started playing up. The mouse was jumping all over the screen and clicking on things that were not being selected. I had no choice but to bring the plane back and get Paul to land it.

That was the end of Monday.

We did a full system test that night at the motel, and it showed that the USB numeric keypad connected to the laptop was causing the problem – it went straight into the bin. Problem solved.

On Tuesday morning we arrived at 6am as requested for the announcement of flight times. After being told we weren’t flying until after lunch, we went back to the motel

Latitude 38S UAVs Penguin airframe

and did another full system test, just to make sure everything was working, and it was.

So after lunch we took to the air, about 200m out we had some RC control range issues with the 36MHz RC. The plane was in and out of RC failsafe so we decided to bring it down, the only problem was Paul didn’t have full control of it.

After pulling the throttle back and reducing altitude, Paul did an excellent job of  belly landing it in the field. A few minor aluminium things bent, but overall no serious damage was sustained. It could have been a lot worse.

So that was it, our 2010 campaign was over. For us it was very very disappointing. We really wanted to show what the Penguin is capable of, but I guess that will have to wait until next year.

We replaced the bent wing joiner tubes and nose wheel and brought the plane in for a static display on the Wednesday (pics below). Im glad we did because it got a lot if interest and we spoke to many fascinating people.Many people were full of praise for our efforts, and everybody had lots of questions.

The amount of people there with PhDs was amazing.

At the award ceremony on Wednesday afternoon it was announced that our documentary had won the Documentary Challenge prize ($5K) so that took away some of the disappointment.

We scored well in the D2 document and the PowerPoint presentation too, so I knew we were on the right track, but I was there to fly on AP, like we had done so many times before, I guess this year it was just not to be.

The event was very well run again this year (the third I have attended). Even with the more stringent rules, and the lower than expected result we obtained, it was fun to be there and be a part of it all.

Dennis and his event organisers crew had everybody under control, and Mark’s scrutineer team did a firm but fair job of checking every aspect of the UAVs. As competitors we knew what was going on and when it was happening, and any questions were answered quickly and concisely.

All the event managers, organisers, and scrutineers involved with the competition bent over backwards to give the competitors everything they needed. If we needed more time, or facilities, they found some way to make it happen.

The culture among the competitors was one of  fun and friendliness, but there was still a competition to be had.

Once the Challenge was over we all got together for a beer and discovered that even though we came from different continents, the experiences we had leading up to the event were the same. We swapped stories of flight practice, AP tuning, near misses and the like….it’s all good fun.

So we will definitely be back next year, and I would encourage anyone interested in UAVs to enter, or even just come along and see how the competition is run. There is a lot to be learned just by being there and talking to people and seeing how they do what they do.

I’d also like to mention that we couldn’t have built up the system that we had without the generous support of our sponsors. Next year we’ll show just how good this gear really is !!

Lincast International – Digital video transmission equipment

APA Group – Corporate sponsor

UAV Factory – Penguin B airframes

Trio Datacom – Data transmission equipment

UNAV.LLC – 3500FW Autopilot

Millswood Engineering – avionics

Immersion RC and New Generation Hobbies

Also I’d like to extend a word of thanks to the event sponsors….

INSITU, CASA, Australian Defence Magazine, AUVSA, BOEING, and CAE.

And the event organisers

Queensland Gov’t, Aviation Development Australia, ARCAA, CSIRO, and QUT

Hopefully they all come back next year and we have another awesome UAV challenge in 2011, just like we did this year.


Roland (& Paul) Latitude 38S UAV Team

Ground Station Setup

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