Kickstarter,Incredible Heavy lift Quad (HLQ)

This one looks almost certain to obtain funding as they have kept the money required low. For me any number of conventional helicopter platforms can lift this sort of load so I am not seeing the advantage in adding more spinning bits. Perhaps it could be more compact. Good luck to them though, watching with interest.

Thank you for taking a look at our project. We have been hard at work developing HLQ and hope that you will find it as exciting as we do. Please take a look at our video and/or continue reading to learn all about HLQ and how your support can help make the project a reality.

Who are we?

We are a group of mechanical engineering student working on our senior project at San Jose State university in San Jose, California. The group consists of 4 members: Nick Conover, Chris Fulmer, Carlos Guerrero, and Gabriel Tellez. We each carry a specific set of skills and are cap-stoning in 2 different disciplines: Mechatronics, and Mechanical Design.

What is HLQ?

We are designing and building a Heavy Lift Quadcopter (HLQ) which we are calling Incredible HLQ (sounds like “Hulk”). Like the super hero, HLQ will be able to lift and transport a huge amount of weight for it’s size and cost. HLQ will be capable autonomously retrieving and delivering 50 pounds of payload.

How are we doing it?

In order to accomplish the 50 pound goal, HLQ will utilize a drive train powered by two gasoline two-stroke engines of about 12.5 HP each. Lift will be achieved using four commercial RC helicopter rotor heads spinning four 435mm blades. Selection of these blades were based of actual lift testing in our test rig which is featured in the video. Control is achieved by using the variable pitch control of the rotor-heads to change the lift output and induces torque of each rotor.

Flight control will utilize DIYDrone’s Ardupilot APM2.5+ module. The Ardupilot is a open-source arduino based control board for UAV’s. It has been widely utilized for many fixed wing, helicopter and multi-rotor flight platforms and has a proven track record. Best of all, the programming is already done for us.

In addition, we will be utilizing a computer vision system for payload identification and tracking using the OpenCV library on a Roboard RB-110. The RB-110 is a complete computer on a single board. It has a 486 compatible processor running at 1GHz and is capable of running, Windows, Linux or Dos. We will be using OpenCV through it’s Python extensions to identify payloads and guide HLQ in for retrieval.

As students of San Jose State, we have a lot of resources available to us for designing and building HLQ. The Engineering department has a computer lab which has design tools such as PTC Creo, Solid Works, and Inventor. We have thus far been utilizing mostly Creo to design and analyze HLQ. We also have access to electronics labs, mechatronics labs, and product testing labs to help build and troubleshoot HLQ.

We are also just two blocks away from the San Jose TechShop which gives us access to lathes, mills, laser cutters, a water-jet machine, electronics equipment and more.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we have made contact with members of the worlds top aerospace and mechanical engineering firms right here in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are designing HLQ with reliance on their knowledge and experience.

As you can see we have all the resources necessary to complete HLQ. But there is one thing keeping us from meeting our goal: funding! That is, of course why we are here on kick-starter, and why we need your help to make HLQ a reality!

When will we complete the project?

The majority of the project will be completed by the end of May 2013, as this is the end of the semester. Some further testing and feature implementations may be completed after this point, but we fully plan on having HLQ in the air and flying autonomously by this date. As this will be a very rapid prototype build, we will be putting a majority of the Kickstarter rewards on hold until after the semester has ended, so that we can pay full focus to the project. As with all Kickstarter projects, the anticipated delivery date can be seen for each reward level in the rewards section.

How will the money be spent?

HLQ is an expensive project as far as most senior engineering projects go at SJSU. The costs go beyond what we as students can afford to support, and this is why your support is crucial to our success. Our project will utilize many off the shelf components. Your support will help us to purchase engines, belts, pulleys, gears, rotor heads, rotor blades, electronics control boards, raw materials like aluminum and carbon fiber, tooling, flight control electronics, computer vision electronics, servos, and much more. All these things add up to an estimated cost of approximately $7,500. This is our bare minimum requirement to be able to make HLQ a success. Every dollar above our goal increases the possibility of implementing all the features we want by the end of the spring semester which is at the end of may.

One of the major challenges for this project is timing. This is a very rapid prototyping process and timing is critical to completing the project on time. We have taken steps to reduce this risk by designing HLQ to utilize as many off-the-shelf components as possible, so we will not need to design some of the more intricate and complicated components such as variable pitch rotor heads or complex electronics. In addition, because we are using the Ardupilot as out flight control board, electronics and software development is greatly reduced.

The only other major challenge is in funding. This is, after all, why we are here on Kickstarter :)

Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.