Today, if you want to fly somewhere, you’ll need to go to an airport with sprawling runways to accommodate the way that planes take off and land. Helicopters can of course land vertically, but suffer from much more limited range, so why not something that can take off vertically, then fly horizontally like a plane? While certainly possible, doing this well is no small feat, as the U.S. military has found with its V-22 Osprey craft.
Despite the enormity of this undertaking, YouTuber Tom Stanton decided to take on this challenge himself with a VTOL craft that features his own control scheme. It takes off with the two motors in a vertical bicopter configuration, with control provided by varying the angle of each motor, along with using the control surfaces to provide some steering when moving in relation to the wind. The craft can then transition to airplane mode, rotating each of the motors to a horizontal orientation.
Stanton would have used a KK2 flight controller board that can be set up for this kind of transition, but he’s found these seem to be more and more rare. Instead, he’s using a FrSky L9R receiver that is able to output SBUS and individual servo signals at the same time. Received data is pushed to a flight controller capable of controlling drones as well as fixed-wing aircraft, which then outputs signals to an ATmega32U4-based “Arduino” board. This outputs signals for the motor tilt servos and the motor speeds, while the wing and tail can be controlled directly. This means that if something were to happen to the custom hardware, the plane should theoretically still be able to be brought in for a landing.
While Stanton was able to pull this project off, he’s quick to note that it’s not for the inexperienced builder. Be sure to check out his video below to see how it was done, and code is available here if you think you’re up for the task!