A solar glider.....





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April 2013.....

A solar powered glider.....

Impossible??.....well maybe, there are lots of doubters. I tend to agree with the doubters but it could just be possible with the newest technology in solar panels. It's worth a try!! Personally, I don't know a lot about electronics but I have friends....and I can easily build the airframe.....

SO HERE GOES!!.....follow along with me.




Here are the panels that we intend to use....they are state-of-the-art and may produce enough power for a very light flying model.....four of these panels will give us 8 volts @ 2 amps hooked up in series.....six panels will give us 12 volts @ 2amps. Is that enough to fly something?


     The airframe is completed  and weighs only 11 oz. as shown. It is a seriously modified Airtronics Olympic. film covering will bring the weight up to something like 1lb. The wing will take up to eight of the solar panels but hopefully it will fly on less. The panels will sit on the top of the wing and easily bend to the shape of the airfoil. There may be a better choice for the airframe but this is simple and is reported to be a very efficient glider.

Now to find a super lightweight motor, battery for the receiver and electronics.

We also need to balance the thing on the C/G without adding weight.....I may have to extend the nose to get the existing weight forward.....

Weight estimates:


    Motor, prop & ESC               1.1oz.

450mah Litheum battery        1.2

 receiver                                  0.3

 2 servos                                  0.6

 6 solar panels                          9.6

 Airframe                               15.0

   Total auw                             27.2oz.






The six panels are wired in series to give us 12 volts at 2 amps.



The panels are mounted on the wing.....they went on very nicely with four small screws each, they bent very easily to the wing shape and line up perfectly. The weight of the center wing section has gone from 6.3oz. to 17oz. It's getting HEAVY!!




Electronic components are installed and working.....Hitec HS55 servos can be seen on the left. carbon pushrods run all the way back to the tailfeathers. The receiver is Airtronics 2.4 four-channel. A 450mah litheum battery supplies power to the receiver. A UBEC reduces the voltage to 5 volts for the receiver. Test results showed the Axi 2204 motor to be the most efficient for the weight of those we tried.




June 2013.....

Here it is finished and ready to fly???? The all-up weight turned out to be 30oz......somewhat more than I had hoped for. I don't know where this extra weight crept in.....I thought I was being really careful. Now to see if it works!!


First Flight.....
The first flight was just a light hand-toss.....the glider flew at full throttle for about one hundred yards and appeared to be in full flight for at least a short period of time. Click here
to see the video clip. It looks like the thing will fly by itself and barely maintain height.....we need to get more height to better test it's flight. Maybe bungee launch or tow it up with a tug???

A second attempt.....
was a disaster.....We had decided that some altitude was necessary to properly test the thing....we tried to tow it up with a powered foamy as the tug. The rudder-only glider appeared to have no lateral stability behind the tug.....it rolled over and crashed. Now that it is repaired we have to find another way to get some free altitude. Maybe a larger battery that will run the motor fast enough to get some altitude and then cut it off by remote switching and cut in the solar panels???.....worth a try!!


A third attempt.....
Now its Fall of the year and sunny days are disappearing.....not a good situation for a solar airplane. Nevertheless, a small lipo battery was installed in the plane.....just big enough to fly the thing. It flew well on battery alone. Now we will hook up the solar panels to continually charge the battery while in flight. Hopefully the charging of the battery will keep up with the battery draw from the motor.....Now just for another sunny day.


more to come.....