Welcome to the new 2013 UAARG blog! Last Tuesday, we had our first meeting of the new year, in which we discussed work that went on over the holiday break and looked ahead at the final months of work before competition in May.

We reached one of our major goals over the holiday season: completing the Competition Paper for the Unmanned Systems Canada Unmanned Air Vehicle Student Competition, the first of our two major competitions this year. This paper is meant to be a document that outlines the design process of the aircraft and describes its major components and systems, from physical construction and flight to communications and imaging. The paper is also judged toward our final score in the competition, so finishing it was a very large milestone, as well as a large relief, for the team.

The second major goal reached over the holidays was the completion of the range testing for the communications systems of the aircraft. Several different wireless links are required for both controlled and autonomous flight, as well as transmission of images from the aircraft. The entire system was taken outdoors under conditions similar to those at competition, and the range and capacity of each of the wireless links were tested. Though there are still some problems with communications, the majority of the systems are performing as expected.

Some photos from the outdoor range testing, including a graph of successful signal transmission

There is still, however, quite a list of items to be completed in the weeks ahead, one of which is flight testing of foam model airplanes so that R/C pilots can be trained for competition. This is a priority at present because of the lack of flight training that the pilots have received so far (flight simulators are fun but no substitute), and we’re going to find an indoor flying field appropriate for this purpose next. We are also working towards having a functional, testable version of the ground station imaging system in a few weeks’ time.

A few shots of the foam airplanes under construction for pilot training

To stay on track in the meantime, we have set several internal deadlines for the completion and testing of major systems before competition. We are also piloting the idea of short presentations by one of the subgroups (airframe, autopilot, imaging, etc.) at the beginning of each meeting; these are meant to familiarize members with all aspects of the plane and its systems, as well as update on progress in subgroups. Stay tuned for updates on the blog as we gear up for the competition season!