Saturday, July 7, 2007

Blicopter - a new UAV that you can buy today

If you have about 65.000$ on hand way don't you go to Ebay and buy yourself a Blicopter, but hurry only 1 day and 16 hours left. John Christopher of Zeppelintours, once again made a great find with this a couple of days ago.The Blicopter is a new Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, combining the technologies of a blimp and a helicopter. After reading what was written in the eBay auction, we looked into their Homepage It is manufactured by the HEI Group in Coral Springs, Florida, we contacted the guys and this is what J.Quintana of HEI wrote back:
The Blicopter tech can be installed on 30’ to 60’ long envelopes and can operate as Lighter-than-air or Heavy-than-air airship.
We made many test on a 40’ and 30’ long, and perform more than 20 flight hours in the 30’ version over extreme flight conditions.
On the 30’ long, the lifting capacity available is over 12kg. without batteries. For a regular flight of 1 hour batteries, the net capacity is around 1 Kg on LTA mode.

Using the rotary wing on the back (helicopter), is easy switch from LTA to HTA (or vice versa) in flight. On board computers makes the necessary adjustments on blade collective pitch and RPM (for efficiency purpose) to keep a constant safe altitude.

Helium loss, atmospheric pressure changes, altitude, temperature, and other factors change the lifting capacity dynamically. That is a big problem for conventional medium size blimps, (the problem will worst if the blimp use gas engines). The Blicopter compensate automatically, without user help, the lift capacity and flight altitude.

Wings are been used extensively on conventional blimps. Ailerons and rudders are the unique mechanisms to control the altitude and heading when wind crosses the airfoil surface. If no wind is present, is necessary move the blimp to get some airflow on these surfaces to produce the necessary forces to control the blimp. Wind produce tremendous lateral forces on blimp sides and the control surfaces need be enormous to get some useful control force. In many cases the proportion lift capacity vs surface area is not enough to produce a good maneuverable blimp in the mid size scale.
Doing a downsize scale from a Goodyear size blimp doesn’t work well.
Doing an upsize scale from a Blicopter mid size blimp doesn’t work well also.

The Blicopter doesn’t use this type of static heavy weight surfaces; in contrast, use a configurable rotary wing to produce the necessary aerodynamic force.
Two implementations of this rotary wing has been tested on Blicopter, the classic blades rotating over a perpendicular axis (Helicopter) and the blades rotating in a parallel axis. We made extensive testing on the first option, and we are working on the second option. Our tests on cycloidal rotating blades (parallel configuration) show that is the best option if we solve some problems on efficiency and vibration.

Another important advantage on Blicopter technology is the telemetry system. Its possible operates the blimp by instruments on ground. Complete autonomous flight has been tested but not release to public before complete 200 hours of test flights. A semi-autonomous flight has been release in our 30’ to 50’ versions.

The Blicopter has an Ethernet wired network with IP protocol on board to make upgrades and install additional features easily. The console on ground can be easily duplicable to provide redundancy on pilot and control system. The console runs on a Windows XP /Vista configuration with an Ethernet and USB port.

Many additional features are included on this design. We will inform you about more features after solve the patent process.

Sounds quite interesting to me and even though they have just about 20 hours of flight testing, we will keep an eye on the project. The Blicopter website says that they are gonna update it on July 10th 2007, so we will check back to see what is new. What do you think about this project leave your comments or send us an email. And check back for updates on Blicopter soon.


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I would like to have the chance of buy one of them, have one can be one of the most exciting experiences in my life !