The semester is over, we have all graduated, and an update to our generous backers is well over due! I do apologize for not getting something together sooner. The last couple of months have been particularly hectic, and all our efforts have been focused on manufacturing HLQ. Now that school is over we have the time to make the detailed update that you all deserve.
Before getting into the details, however, I'll give you the quick version:
- Nearly all engineering tasks are completed including design and analysis tasks.
- All major components and most minor components have been purchased and/or fabricated.
- A test assembly to 75% has been completed and all parts fit as expected (so far)
- Flights tests were scheduled for the week before finals. However, an outside manufacturer failed to make parts to specification making flight impossible for now.
- Final assembly and flight testing is now scheduled for later this summer (By August 21st.)
We have been extremely fortunate in that, besides the generous funding, we made numerous contacts through Kickstarter which has culminated to make HLQ a possibility. One major example is that the General Manager from TechShop San Jose contacted us with an offer for sponsorship at the shop. He gave us all memberships and several free classes so that we could make the rapid prototyping of HLQ largely a success. In the course of basically 2 months, we were able to purchase materials/parts and fabricate almost all of our over 600 individual components!
Another contact was made with Schnell Aerospace. They generously offered to provide a very detailed theory based elemental analysis on our blades. Their results very closely correlated with our testing. Our testing, however, only went up to about 2,200 RPM out of the ~3,000 that our blades are rated for. Because of Schnell's help, we were able to determine that the blades are capable of (at least in theory) a total of about 180 pounds of lift!
That is good news, because it turns out that our frame design has come in a bit overweight. We originally planned for 50 pounds of airframe, and 50 pounds of payload. But, our design came in closer to about 62 pounds (not including fuel). We have high hopes that the additional lift the theory predicts will make up for the overweight frame.
We also experienced some major difficulties through the last few months. We spent countless hours in the shop, often from 9 am to midnight away from our families and friends. We also had to cope with the completely unexpected passing of Craig Stauffer who was the San Jose State Engineering Department shop tech in charge of manufacturing a large number of parts for all the senior engineering teams at San Jose State. Not only was he a talented machinist, he truly held the student's best interests in mind. He was a good friend to the team and to the project, and will be missed dearly.
As far as completing the project is concerned, however, the most detrimental challenge we faced (and are still dealing with) is also the cause of our delay in flight testing. HLQ is driven primarily by high power, high torque belts. These belts were selected based on the high RPM, Power and cyclical torque loadings that are expected to be transmitted through them. While the belts are off the shelf components, custom pulleys had to be designed and manufactured to address the issue of weight. Only steel pulleys are available commercially which would have been prohibitive when considering weight restriction.
So, we designed the pulley and sent them out to a company that specializes in gear and pulley manufacturing. With complete specifications and tooth profile information, the pulleys were made and received. Upon inspection, we quickly realized that the pulleys were made to the wrong tooth profile. Contacting the manufacturer, we found that they could not make the profiles that we called out in our drawings. We contemplated running the belts anyways, but quickly decided against it because we were all certain that the belts would likely fail almost immediately.
So, that bring us to where we are now. We are currently considering what direction to take in manufacturing these pulleys ourselves. We have several options (CNC them, design and make a tooth profile cutters, etc) and we are now in the process of determining the best route to take.
As for all the rewards we owe our backers, don't worry. Because of our TechShop sponsorship, we have enough money to still fulfill all our rewards AND work through the pulley issue, even though we will be buying all new raw material for manufacturing. The rewards, will, however, likely be slightly delayed so that we can still work on getting HLQ airborne and accomplishing it's specified tasks. Once that is complete, t-shirt design surveys will be sent out, reports will be printed and bound, and all focus will be on getting to you, our backers, what we owe you.
Lastly, we have been sending semi-regular updates through the Incredible HLQ Facebook Page, so if you haven't already liked us there, please head on over so you can get pictures and short updates on our progress. Also, I realize there are no photos in this post and many of you probably want to see what we've been doing. We do have lots of pictures to show off, so I will be creating a image gallery on the Incredible HLQ Website.
And that's all I have for today. We will continue working on HLQ through the next couple of months, although at a somewhat slow, more sustainable pace. The next time you hear from me, I hope it is with a video of our first successful test flight, and with information for our bakers who will be attending the viewing party on dates and location possibilities.
Thanks again for all the support you have shown us!
Sorry folks. I forgot to include the full rendering in the last update, so here it is! This will be pretty darn close to what the final HLQ will look like.
We've been able to make some modification that significantly reduced our dry weight of HLQ improving our chances of making our 50 pound payload goal. We've also engineered some innovative ways of attaching the arm tubes to the central body and rotor head end caps by utilizing thermal shrink fittings. This reduces the stress concentrations associated with through hole bolts allowing an additional increase in safety factor.
I also wanted to let you know that writer Elbert Chu did a Popular Science Online article on Incredible HLQ. I invite anyone who hasn't done so already to take a look at and read the article which gives a good idea of our motivation for building HLQ.
Thanks again to everyone for making this project happen!
WOW! What an incredible funding campaign! Thank you to every single person who helped push our campaign to be so incredibly successful! We have a number of updates for you all, as well as couple stretch goals for the remaining 5 or 6 days of our campaign.
Work has been progressing steadily on the design phase of HLQ and we have very nearly finalized our design. We are pending some optimizations to ensure that we have reduced the mass of HLQ as much as possible while still maintaining the material and structural integrity of it's various components. We are close enough, however, that we can release this rendering of our current, and likely final drivetrain design. Below is an exploded view of the drivetrain which details how power is transferred from the engines to the rotor heads and blades.
In the spirit of remaining as "off-the-shelf" as possible, we decided to go with a belted drive system. The large pulleys on the top connect to the engines using toothed belts. This doubles as a dampening system which reduces the cyclical loading of the engine which can cause accelerated wear and premature failure of the drive gears. Based on the results of FEA analysis, the gears and drive shafts will be hollowed out a bit to reduce weight, as will the largest of the pulleys.
We are to the point where we are starting to source and purchase parts and you can expect to see some major fabrication and assembly going on over the next month and a half or so. We will do our best to provide updates and videos of the entire process.
We also have an update for our T-Shirt backers! We have a few design for you to ponder. These 4 design will be among the possible choices that you will get to vote for to be printed and shipped. We laid out the designs on several backgrounds to give you an idea of how they might look on dark, medium, and light shirts. We are open to comments on these designs. We'd also like to invite anyone with a shirt idea to please share them in the comments. We'd even accept (gratefully) actual designs to incorporate into the options.
T-Shirt Design One: "The Logo"
T-Shirt Design 2: "King Kong Quad Swat"
Note: The fronts of the shirts are all the same as above.Note 2: We have also added window lights to all the building, not just the one.
T-Shirt Design 3: "The Test Rig"
T-Shirt Design 4: "The Blue Prints"
Lastly, because we've not only managed to make our goal, but to provide some padding room in our funding, we'd like to announce a few stretch goals for our project.
Our first stretch goal is at $12,000. At this level we will be able to purchase a dedicated ruggedized laptop that will act as our ground station. It will be tough enough to handle what we throw at it and allow us to keep our own laptops safe from the risks of working in the field.
Our second goal at the $15,000 level is a custom built transport case for HLQ. We will likely be moving HLQ pretty often (especially during testing), so we'd like to have a safe way to pack it up for transportation.
Our third goal is a vacation after all this is done. At $22000 we will be able to take a nice long vacation with our significant others and blow off some steam! We're thinking Cabo... (We're only joking about this one.... mostly...)
And our last stretch goal, (we're really joking about this one!), at $122,000 we will purchase a brand new custom 2013 Ford e-350 Extended Body Van with a Sportsmobile's 4WD System to get HLQ from 'A' to 'B'. We will opt for the 6.0L diesel engine and also add a vegetable oil kit to keep mileage up and fuel costs down. We will also retrofit it with a custom landing-pad on top for easy deployment of HLQ. Okay, okay... As awesome as this thing is, WE ARE JOKING. Please don't give us that much money; we wouldn't know what to do with it. (Well, we'd buy the van, but still....)
Well, that's all the updating we have. I want to thank everyone again for making this campaign so awesome. We absolutely appreciate every dollar you have all pledged, but we are also particularly impressed at how enthusiastic everyone has been about HLQ. We'd love to be able to make the first couple of stretch goals, so if you haven't done so already, let your Facebook, twitter, and all your other social networks know how excited you are about HLQ!
--Incredible HLQ Engineering Team
P.S. Here's the Incredible HLQ Facebook Page, in case you haven't already "liked" us.
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A big thank you from us! We absolutely appreciate every dollar we can get to help make this happen.Estimated delivery:
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Your name or company name and a website link of your choice (with our approval) will be listed on the sponsors section of our website.Estimated delivery:
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You will receive all the previous levels plus a digital download of all our project videos including simulations, testing videos, flight videos etc. as well as exclusive videos never published publicly in DVD ISO format, so that you can burn a copy and watch it in your own DVD player.Estimated delivery:
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You will receive all the previous levels plus a physical DVD copy of all our project videos including simulations, testing videos, flight videos etc. The DVD will include a traditional DVD case with cover art and special sponsor recognitions.Estimated delivery:Add $7 USD to ship outside the US
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You get a t-shirt! We will be creating several t-shirt designs and allowing supporters to vote for their favorites. The best 2 designs will be printed and shipped to you based on your design and size preference. These shirts will also be EXCLUSIVELY for Kickstarter backers. We will not make them available for purchase anywhere else.Estimated delivery:Ships within the US only
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Whoops! We forgot to make the t-shirt reward available internationally. Use this reward level for internationally shipped t-shirts! From the original reward: You get a t-shirt! We will be creating several t-shirt designs and allowing supporters to vote for their favorites. The best 2 designs will be printed and shipped to you based on your design and size preference. These shirts will also be EXCLUSIVELY for Kickstarter backers. We will not make them available for purchase anywhere else.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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You will receive the $10, $30 and $40 levels. That's recognition on our website, a DVD of all our videos, and a T-Shirt!Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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We will test and compile lift and torque data on a set of 5 helicopter main rotor blades for the first 20 contributors at this level.For every 10 additional contributors, we will add a set of blades to be tested. All contributors at this level will be able to recommend and vote for the blades that will be tested. The report will be delivered digitally in PDF format.Estimated delivery:
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You will receive all of the above plus a bound hard copy of the final report, drawings of all parts and assemblies, bill of materials, and complete source code; Basically, every piece of information you would need to build your own HLQ.Estimated delivery:Add $20 USD to ship outside the US
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1 backer Limited (9 left of 10)
You will receive an exclusive invite to a HLQ demonstration viewing party. We will demonstrate HLQ's capabilities and want you to see it! The viewing location and date is yet to be determined, but will be around the end of May or beginning of June, and in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.Estimated delivery:
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You are a super sponsor! You will receive the t-shirt, DVD, and an invite to the demonstration viewing party. At this reward level you or your company will also be featured as a sponsor on our website. A logo of your choice (and as approved by us) will be prominently displayed and linked at the top of the sponsors page of the HLQ website and at the end of every video or presentation the project produces once the project is funded.Estimated delivery:
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You are a super-duper-sponsor! You will receive the t-shirt, DVD, and an invite to the demonstration viewing party. At this reward level you or your company will also be featured as a sponsor on our website. A logo of your choice (and as approved by us) will be prominently displayed and linked on the FRONT PAGE of the HLQ website and at the BEGINNING of every video or presentation the project produces once the project is funded.Estimated delivery:
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Once the project is completed and all features developed, you will be the proud owner of your very own Heavy Lift Quadcopter prototype! We will show you how to maintain and operate it as well as provide you with support. Please remember, the prototype will still be a development model. While we have and will be putting our greatest effort into designing HLQ with overview from experienced professionals, we cannot warrant against design or manufacturing defects. We also will need to test and demo HLQ. If it were to have a failure, there is a possibility that it could be catastrophic, and irreparable. You will still receive HLQ in this event, but as-is, and if you still want it. Rest assured, however, that it is also in our best interest to keep HLQ always operating safely, and we will do our best to keep it so. You will also receive the t-shirt, DVD, documentation package, and an invite to the demonstration viewing party.Estimated delivery:Ships within the US only
- (31 days)