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July 25, 2016

Getting to Know the QuadRKT

The “QuadRocket™” is a radical evolution of the basic QuadSparrow design using its excess lifting capability to carry a 1/2A-size solid rocket motor. This boosts the QuadRocket to speeds beyond 130 mph. A typical flight profile looks something like this:

QuadRKT-Launch-Profile

The rocket is placed on a conventional model rocket launch pad, guided by the launch rail via a small launch lug attached to the airframe. The rocket engine igniter and plug are inserted in the same manner as a typical model rocket. Wires are clipped to the igniter ends which lead to the launch controller a safe distance away. Upon ignition, the QuadRocket accelerates off the Launchpad to a height of about 200 ft in a few seconds. At that point, the QuadRocket is on a ballistic trajectory and may be flown back to the launch site like a conventional quadcopter.

The aircraft needs no parachute for descent and the onboard controller makes flight simple and easy. This makes the QuadRocket the only model rocket on the market with the ability to sustain flight after burnout and return to the launch site. The tough polycarbonate shell design of the QuadSparrow (on which the QuadRocket is based) also makes it one of the most resilient model rockets available. Typical phenolic-tube rockets degrade after just four or five flights. Our tests of the polycarbonate QuadRockets, however, have survived more than a dozen flights including uncontrolled crashes or “lawn darting” as it is known in the model rocket community. And yet they remain flightworthy! Simply load a new motor and charged battery and you’re ready to fly again.

Interested? Please support us and go to our Kickstarter campaign: QuadRKT Kickstarter

Visit our Facebook page: QuadRocket

Twitter: @quadrkt

July 19, 2016

Getting to Know the QuadSPW

The “QuadSparrow” is a small-scale demonstrator intended to allow pilots to build familiarity with the concept of “Missile Mode Flight.” It operates on the same principles as the larger aircraft but at a size and weight that absolutely does not require registration, poses little or no safety risk, and therefore can be flown indoors easily. Although it flies at a mass of just 22 grams and fits in the palm of your hand, it is ideally suited for both roles: conventional hovering flight in small areas like living rooms and garages or pitching forward into missile mode flight in large open spaces such as gymnasiums and yards.

The airframe is made of lightweight, durable polycarbonate – the same material used to build bullet-resistant windows in larger thicknesses. Polycarbonate is able to stop bullets in a unique way: rather than crack or shatter like conventional ceramic plate armor, polycarbonate bends and stretches to absorb the bullet’s energy. Coupled with its smooth surface finish, this makes it ideal for an aircraft structure. It can withstand bounces and crashes that brittle carbon fiber airframes cannot. The polycarbonate simply absorbs the energy and bounces back.

QuadRocket Color Flight Line

Polycarbonate was essential in making the QuadSparrow shape as well. The entire airframe is vacu-formed which allowed us to rapidly evolve the design. More than ten different designs were iterated through to reach the final design now available. It features a protective shell around the electronics, a fixed battery plug mount beneath a removable (and therefore interchangeable) nose cone which ensures the aircraft is stable in forward flight, and low drag, molded wings with integrated engine pods. All together the QuadSparrow represents the lowest-drag, highest performance quadrotor at its scale and offers unmatched maneuvering capabilities.

QuadHawks A and AF with QuadRocket Flight Line - 15 Aircraft

As a precursor to the larger QuadHawk aircraft, the QuadSparrow offers the unique experience of Missile Mode flight at a lower cost and risk. It allows pilots to practice in the comfort of their home or yard until they feel proficient enough to try a larger, faster aircraft. The QuadSparrow is being prepared for high rate production and should be ready for delivery this year!

Interested? Please support us and go to our Kickstarter campaign: QuadRKT Kickstarter

Visit our Facebook page: QuadRocket

Twitter: @quadrkt

July 19, 2016

Getting to Know the QuadHWK

The “QuadHawk™” is a new remote-control aircraft with the unique capability of both hovering like a helicopter and high speed “dash” flight. It represents the next evolution of the “quadcopter” philosophy unlocking significant upgrades in flight efficiency, controllability, and top end speed. This starts with a change in basic design philosophy to prioritizing drag reduction. As a result, all the electronics and structure are molded into aerodynamic shells. Current quadrotors simply power through this drag. That increases your motor, speed controller, and battery weight. It reduces flight time, maximum takeoff weight, and the amount of gear you can carry onboard. Completely streamlining the design of a conventional quadcopter fundamentally increases your flight performance!

 

XQ-139AC Features (3)

If top end speed is your goal, you should think twice about how a conventional quadrotor works. Current quadcopters have pushed to more powerful motors and bigger batteries to enable faster speeds but most of that power is wasted on lift instead of speed. This is the “brute force” approach. It can certainly work, but we live by the motto, “Work smarter, not harder.” And that brought us to the capability of “Missile Mode Flight.” Essentially this means pitching your quadrotor over into horizontal flight. Doing so points all four motors forward allowing you to use nearly all the onboard power to generate thrust and thrust is speed.

A conventional quadrotor would not be able to sustain this as it is not generating enough lift to keep it in the air. The QuadHawk, however, uses wings to generate lift. So when it pitches over, lift is provided by the airframe, not the batteries. What’s more, by pitching over, the QuadHawk presents its low-drag airframe into the wind where conventional quadcopters are bulky flat plates catching the air and slowing it down.

QuadHWK-Vector-Comparison

The QuadHawk’s controls are augmented beyond a typical quadrotor’s by a set of servo actuators which move control surfaces. These are used for providing extra control power in a hover as well as to add control at high speeds. As a quadrotor flies faster and faster, the net thrust decreases and as a result, they begin to lose control power. But because the QuadHawk generates lift with wings, small control surfaces can be used to adjust that lift differentially to maintain control. These control surfaces actually get more responsive the faster you go. By combining a quadrotor’s variable thrust and torque with aerodynamic control surfaces, you get boosted control at all flight speeds.

We have built the QuadHawk around the highest quality, top performing, and expandable control boards on the market intended for first person video (FPV) racing. But we are not limiting you to a single control board. Inside the aircraft is a mounting plate that can accommodate any control board you want with ample internal volume to expand your capabilities with things like a camera, video downlink, GPS, etc…

QuadHawks A and AF in Missile Mode

These reasons make the QuadHawk design ideal for racing. We are currently testing a “boosted” version of the QuadHawk that meets or exceeds the onboard power and thrust-to-weight of today’s FPV racers. We call it the QuadFalcon. If you want an edge on the racing competition; if you want to be faster and more agile using the same onboard power; don’t just brute force the problem; work smarter, not harder. Missile mode is the answer. Support our Kickstarter where you can order your own QuadHawk or QuadFalcon racer: QuadRKT – The future of drone racing

Visit our Facebook page: QuadRocket

Twitter: @quadrkt

February 20, 2016

What is Missile Mode Flight?

“Missile Mode Flight” is just what it sounds like – forward flight in a configuration like that of a conventional missile. This is not a revolutionary concept – missiles have flown under these conditions for decades. What is new, however, is the concept of a missile that can change its flight mode. Something that can hover like a helicopter and also fly forward like a missile. Missiles and fixed-wing aircraft in general are limited to this single mode of horizontal flight. Slowing the aircraft down to zero airspeed would mean stalling the wing causing it to stop producing lift and result in the aircraft falling out of control.

Common Missiles
If you needed an aircraft that could hover in place (perhaps for Search-And-Rescue), you instead used a helicopter. Helicopters do a fine job of hovering, but are severely limited in top speed by several factors. The faster a helicopter flies forward, the higher its advancing blade’s tip speed is. Eventually the tip of the rotor blade will reach the speed of sound, Mach 1, causing tremendous drag and therefore fuel burn, pressure forces on the blade structure, and noise. Because helicopter blades spin very fast, the tip of the rotor blade can reach Mach 1 well before the helicopter itself reaches such a speed.

Helicopter Rotor Disk
In fact, the fastest conventional helicopter, The Westland Lynx, can only reach a speed of 201 mph. That’s blazing fast for a car but fixed-wing airplanes have flown faster than that since the 1940’s. A comparable airplane that also uses turbine engines for onboard power, the Piaggio Avanti, has a top speed of 458 mph – more than double that of the fastest conventional helicopter. Even the Eurocopter X3 – the fastest “compound” helicopter (a design that uses propellers to generate extra thrust and speed) has a top speed of just 293 mph. If you want a vehicle that hovers, you would begrudgingly accept a low top speed.

Comparison Chart of Maximum Speed and Onboard Power
Helicopters have to use the majority of their onboard power just to stay in the air – the spinning rotors generate all the lift needed to hover. This requires much more onboard power than a fixed-wing airplane of the same weight. If that power could be used to hover, and then to generate only thrust in forward flight, much higher speeds could be reached. This is the driving theory behind aircraft like the V-22 Osprey and F-35B Lightning II. But these aircraft also need heavy and expensive mechanisms.

V-22 and F-35B
An aircraft that could take-off and hover in a “nose-up” configuration and then pitch over into “missile-mode” would be faster and more efficient than both helicopters and fixed-wing airplanes. This is the new capability the XQ-139 design brings the US Government, Private Companies, and now the consumers and hobbyists. The design requires no complicated mechanisms to transition between hover mode and “missile mode” flight and back again. The wings do not need to be sized for take-off and landing so they are smaller and simpler than a comparable fixed-wing airplane’s wings. That means less weight and less drag which result in longer flight times and higher top speeds.

XQ-139AC Features

Interested? Please support us and go to our Kickstarter campaign: QuadRKT Kickstarter

Visit our Facebook page: QuadRocket

Twitter: @quadrkt