FPV GIMBAL LIFTER
At Heliguy we’ve been designing, building and operating cinema drones for over ten years. Like many operators, we see the incredible potential available in combining the latest FPV drones with gimbal-stabilised cinema cameras, particularly for fast and precise action sequences.
We needed a high-speed vehicle chase drone for a film and tried a number of existing solutions but they all fell short of our requirements in terms of camera stability, useable flight time and operational safety. This drove us to develop our own solution, starting with a blank page and distilling everything we’ve learnt over the years to create this aircraft.
Right from the start we wanted to build the best aircraft for our application, not necessarily the biggest one. Our design ethos was to prioritise aerodynamic and structural efficiency and do more with less. The initial goal was to lift 5kg for 10 minutes, landing with the batteries at 20% capacity and with enough performance to fly the dynamic camera moves. The basics of racing car design carry over to high performance drones - light weight, high stiffness and low polar moment of inertia. Add in the optimal mass and suspension layout for flying a gimbal and we had our recipe.
Coaxial Power Redundancy
GPS Hold / Return to Home
Dual Battery Power Redundancy
UPS for Flight Control & FPV
Before even considering performance, the main motivation for developing our own cinelifter was to raise the bar in terms of safety. Operating FPV drones is an inherently high-risk activity due to the speed and proximity of the flight paths, reliance on the judgement of the pilot to avoid collisions and the lack of redundancy options in the event of radio interference or hardware failure.
To justify taking them into a professional film set environment alongside other people, we had to do everything we could to reduce the possibility for loss of control. The approach was to identify and eliminate any single points of failure that could result in loss of the craft, both in hardware and operationally
GPS stabilised position hold/return-to-home capability is absolutely essential in the event of loss of control signal or loss of video link to FPV goggles. Lightweight and efficient design places less load on individual components, reduces failure rates and improves control recovery in the event of a power unit failure.
Pairs of coaxial power units (ESC/motor/propeller) ensure the aircraft can maintain control in the event of a power unit failure. Parallel battery pairs give power redundancy to the whole system and twin avionics regulators give uninterruptable power to the flight controller and FPV transmitter.
Nearly every drone is built by the ‘traditional’ method of sandwiching components between a pair of carbon fibre plates and using steel bolts to squeeze everything together. While easy and convenient, this approach is heavy and doesn’t use the material in the most efficient way.
Inspired by racing car construction, we’ve been developing multi-tubular spaceframes for a while now for camera cranes and arrays. We decided it was time to bite the bullet and try making an entire drone from a spaceframe, using our exclusive injection-bonding technique.
Right from the first prototype, the result was an unbelievably strong, stiff and lightweight chassis, with the added benefit of more space to place and access components. It’s been such a success that our whole approach to drone design has changed forever.
MADE IN AUSTRALIA
Designed, Manufactured, tested, flown, assembled,
in Sydney Australia
Central to the design of this aircraft is a dedicated ‘clean’ subframe suspended on 40 adjustable wire rope springs with over-and-under quick release fittings for battery and gimbal.
By tuning spring preload, spring rate and damping rates we can ensure we’re getting the best performance from the whole system. Proper suspension and mass layout has multiple benefits in a cinema drone – first and foremost it removes any high frequency vibe coming from the motors, across the entire flight profile.
Secondly the subframe has sufficient freedom of movement to damp out lower frequency bumps from snap changes of direction or wind gusts. Furthermore, using the battery to counterbalance the gimbal minimises unsprung mass on the drone, reducing the workload of the PID controller and resulting in more stable and efficient flight.
Motor pods and arms are the only part of the drone to experience continuous and consistent airflow during flight, so we sought to maximise aerodynamic efficiency with this design. The unique motor mounts are not only streamlined but extremely light, using few metal components. They sit cleanly within the footprint of the motor, using venturi ducts to provide cooling airflow across the motor bases.
We worked with our composites partner company to develop the custom carbon fibre arm tubes. The layup includes +/- off-axis layers giving high torsional stiffness and light weight. The unique teardrop profile further reduces drag.
8 motor coaxial (X8) FPV gimbal lifter. Over and under suspended hard points for payload and battery mounting.
Quick release battery tray with integrated landing gear.
Diagonal wheelbase (motor hub to hub)
Airframe mass (incl battery cage and propellers)
Max take-off weight
Endurance (to 3.6V/cell)
Power : weight
Up to 16"
Rising Sun FPV Hades 4715 330kv
16" x 5.4" x 2
12S (4 x 5-6Ah)
2 x CCBEC 2.0 with UPS circuitry
MATEK F722 running INAV 6
DJI O3 w/ TrueRC antennas
TBS Crossfire diversity
4 x configurable arm boom LEDs
Bonded tube/plate chassis and subframe
High modulus carbon fibre, SLS PA12, GR2 titanium, G304 stainless steel
40 x config half loop G316 7x7 wire rope springs, 2.5mm max diameter
Freefly Toad-in-the-hole/Tilta Ronin mount
12 x M3 threaded mounting hard points
10 minutes +
Acro, Atti, GPS poshold, cruise, RTH,
Power unit, battery, avionics power, FPV, R/C
POWER TRAIN (TYPICAL CONFIGURATION)
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