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A gas powered quadcopter capable of autonomously picking up and delivering a payload of 50 pounds.
A gas powered quadcopter capable of autonomously picking up and delivering a payload of 50 pounds.
211 backers pledged $11,538 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates


Quick Update: In System Engine Test Was Successful


Hi Folks,

I wanted to get a quick update out for those who aren't following us on Facebook or are not subscribed to our YouTube channel. This past weekend, we were able to successfully complete an in-system engine test. After some problems with engine timing in the previous 2 weeks, we were finally able to diagnose and correct the problem, and the video below shows the results. I just wanted to get the video posted here so you can all see the progress.

 Thanks for checking it out, and stay tuned for more updates!


Great News!


I know, it has been a long time since our last update. But today, I come with great news! You may have noticed that activity has been picking up on our Facebook page with more frequent posts. Well, the reason for the renewed motivation in the project is because we have partnered with United Equipment Corp (UEC) to finish HLQ and deliver it to their customer, the USDA, as a test platform for crop health monitoring and management. That's right, we have our very first customer for HLQ! 

As you can imagine, we are extremely excited about this, but the challenge still lies ahead. The USDA, requires an accelerated build and deliver schedule. Infact, they are expecting, and we have committed to delivery in about 6 to 8 weeks. We have worked out a schedule and believe that this can be accomplished, and will be working hard during our off-work hours and weekends to meet this challenge. Although I think most of you will agree that this is a huge opportunity for us, some of you may be wondering about your rewards. 

Obviously, we must focus on the completion of HLQ, at least for the next 8 weeks or so, but once this is done we will be able to focus completely on rewards and getting those out to you. One unfortunate consequence of the USDA delivery schedule, however, is that we will not be able to hold the launch party event. This really only affects about 5 of our backers, but we want you to know that we absolutely appreciate your generosity and support. 

With this appreciation in mind, and since we cannot hold up our end of the deal on this, we would like to invite those whose rewards included the launch party to our flight testing sessions to be held in late August or early September instead. This will hopefully still provide the opportunity to see HLQ fly. For those of you who are not or cannot be in the San Francisco Bay area during that time, we feel that it is only fair that we offer you a full refund or a refund to a lower reward level at your discretion. We hope that you understand and are not too disappointed. Please contact us if you would like to have a refund. The good news is that all other rewards are not affected.

In the interest of full disclosure, it is also important that I note that another consequence of this deal is that we have had to de-scope some aspects of HLQ. Specifically, the USDA does not have a need for autonomous retrieval of payloads at this time, so we will not finish development of the Computer Vision Integration or the payload end effector for that delivery. However, as we proceed with the USDA requirements, UEC is also interested in working with us to manufacture, market, and sell additional HLQ units. This includes the development of accessories, and improved iterations; a HLQ 2.0 if you will. While that partnership is still in a conceptual stage, we will move forward with the USDA delivery and we hope that you will stick around to see the final result.

Thanks again for being our backer, and we hope we can make you proud to be so in the very near future!

Nick Conover
Team Lead
Incredible HLQ

Last chance for T-Shirt Survey

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Rewards, Project Status, and More

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End of Semester Update


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!
--Nick Conover