Project ICARUS 3.0: Solar Anti-Poaching UAS

Internet Connected Aerial Renewable Unmanned System
Fully 3D printed

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Update 9/20/15 https:


This is my video for the 2015 Hackaday Prize Semifinals. We are excited to be part of the contest and are honored to have made it this far. We think anti-poaching and the preservation of species is an important cause that can change the world. Thank you for all of your support and we hope to see you in the finals!!

Thank you Hackaday for the great blog write up!

Update 7/12/15 Icarus 3.0 Video

Update 7/6/15

Icarus 3.0 is a fully 3D printed airframe that is the longest flying plane under 5kg. It has rapid payload and power switc

Project Icarus is a solar UAV that is challenging endurance records for airframes under 5kg. The airframe is a proven long range plane that is capable of multiple mission payload and power setups. Icarus 3.0 in its full form is a solar uav and is capable of other hybrid power systems such as hydrogen. For the 2015 Hackaday Prize, we will complete the third version of the project and will place the plane in service in wildlife refuges around the world.

Here is my semifinal video for the entry into the 2015 Hackaday Prize. Thank you for skulling and following my project!!

Bench Test Part 1

Bench Test Part 2

First Flight Tests

There is a lot of catching up to get this listed so others can replicate what we are doing. We will be trying to add to and update this daily. Thank you for looking out for the project and if you would like to help in any way please feel free to give me a shout.


Icarus 3.0

A. Long Range >200 km

B. Long Endurance >180 minutes

C. Payload >6 kg

D. Custom Image Recognition Software

E. Fire and Forget autonomous mission from launch to recovery

F. TCP/IP Cloud Control for observation or control from anywhere in the world

G. Simultaneous Mission Capable

F. Fully 3D printed airframe

Ground Control Station

A. Single or Multiple Users

B. Cloud Capable

C. Permanent Station and Man Portable Solutions

D. Automatic Antenna Tracking

E. Satellite Communications

F. RTK GPS Centimeter Accurate Solution

G. Onboard HIL Simulation Training Support

H. Swarm Control

  • 2 × Odroid U3 Unbuntu Linux based embedded processor
  • 2 × Piksi RTK GPS centimeter accurate RTK GPS
  • 2 × AUAV X-2 Autopilot
  • 2 × IUbiquiti Long Range WIFI Satellite Modem Communications
  • 2 × Machine Vision USB Camera Multispectral MacIhine Vision for ID Software

View all 9 components

  • LOKI's Role In The Story of ICARUS

    tlankford0109/17/2015 at 22:56 0 comments

    At first glance you would think that a Norse God would have nothing to do with a Greek Legend, and usually you would be right. However, LOKI is a part of and an individual project born of Project ICARUS. I have made LOKI own project page on Hackaday, but it is actually become a prime testing platform for new technologies that go on ICARUS the plane afterwards.

    LOKI itself was a pentesting package that is small enough to go on a sub-KG UAS. It became fun to design and 3D print different models of multirotors to carry LOKI. LOKI evolved to be a complete system of multi-spectral vision, radio hacking, and a multirotor carrier. In encourage visitors to the project and judges to follow the links to LOKI and see the pictures and evolution of LOKI as a project. In fact, my Odroid Server was a base for the ground systems for ICARUS. I have not added to the community mesh network project for a while, but it is actually a key to the 15km range communications of ICARUS. Even the 3D Printed Security Camera project is an excercise in improving my ability towards industrial design.

    I would like the scope of the project judged in entirety. To make ICARUS possible, we have had to create a power management system to handle the hybrid power sources of Solar Panels from Alta Devices and custom li-ion batteries. We have created a server based complete payload management system. We are in the process of finalizing a custom ground control system. We have designed multi-platform, multi-role robotic platforms that are capable of being manufactured in a home lab or critical forward operating position. Some of the systems have already or within a month or two of operating in varied systems from SAR, Anti-poaching, wildfire intelligence, linear infrastructure inspection, and varied defense and intelligence gathering roles. ICARUS has been a large and intensive project that has relied on systems to be individually solved and created. Each of these blocks are integral to the whole.

    Thank you for taking the time to look at my project. I will next be adding a project log on Thermal Imaging, Machine Learning Image Recognition, Target Identification and Tracking.

  • IRIS-V: Infrared Robotic Intelligent Stabilized Vision

    tlankford0109/09/2015 at 02:51 0 comments

    Hello all,

    We have been hard at work in the lab and we are ready to share some of the gimbal work that we are adding. Right now we are mounting to some of our custom designed multirotors for testing. The camera gimbal will be a product. The plane is a one off for now but we will be working on more of those as we get closer to a complete system.

    We are using multiple vision systems in our effort to create an anti-poaching system. We have been working with machine vision and i will add a project log when we have it implemented with this new camera. We are using an experimental camera core. It is a 640 x 480 line resolution thermal imaging camera with a 160 degree field of view. The FOV and clarity of the image are unprecedented in a thermal imaging system. We have modeled the thermal only camera as we are still waiting on our 20x zoom 4k camera to come in. The total setup will look like the second render and be mounted in 3 axis and 2 axis setups.

    I have some images of the setup being tested on our LOKI 4G project. Please feel free to look at that project as it is a prime test bed for our anti-poaching and robotic systems.

    Thank you again and I will be updating this project page with a video of it all working together by the 29th for our effort to make the top ten in the 2015 Hackaday Prize. We appreciate everyones support in this effort.



  • Brushless Gimbal with Optically Clear Dome and other 3D printed goodies

    tlankford0103/01/2015 at 22:49 0 comments

    This is the brushless gimbal designed for the LOKI sensor system. We are able to integrate most board cameras up to 150 grams inside this gimbal. With a 90 gram camera, The two axis gimbal is only 170 grams. It stays perfectly stable no matter how extreme the tilt and roll axis are affected by wind or other forces. The gimbal with everything is less than 3.5 inches in diameter. It works well withing an inexpensive and easily replaceable 4 inch clear dome. We are able to use high end camera modules for thermal, multispectral, and visible light images and video. All camera modules are digitally connected and the plane of course communicates through a long range mesh network or GSM module. This provides a live encrypted link.

    The next few images are for the prototype of the Universal Launch Key Plate. I am calling it a coffin key because of the shape. The great thing about the shape is that it locks the plane on the launcher. It will easily slide out of the launcher with forward momentum. The best part of the key is that it will support the plane laterally so as not to have to have additional support for the wings. This lets the launcher and carriage be more compact and easier to break down and transport. Also there are not lateral supports to get in the way of a t-tail or v-tail.

  • Updates and more coming soon

    tlankford0101/24/2015 at 17:37 0 comments

    We have added LOKI to our projects. It is a project in of itself, but it is testing systems that will be used for the solar powered UAS. We are going to be scheduling this project for completion in the next month. We will be testing it throughout the year and posting data. Thank you for keeping up with my projects. They may seem like different projects but are in the end part of a larger system.

  • Poaching: A problem seeking a solution

    tlankford0108/22/2014 at 03:20 1 comment

    I would like to take a moment to highlight the inspiration for my project. I wanted to focus this year on promoting drones as a tool for social and environmental good. Poaching is an issue that presented itself as the most urgent. We are at extreme risk of driving Rhino’s and Elephants into extinction in this decade. There are fewer than 5000 Black Rhino’s left in the wild. They are being poached at rate of over 1,000 per year. Elephants are losing their lives for their ivory at over 30,000 per year. It is a problem seeking an immediate solution. 

    We hope that we can be part of that answer with our anti-poaching cloud swarm UAV system. Thank you for taking the time to look at our project and we will be posting everything needed so that others can get involved or so that you can build your own UAV to join in the cause of helping the environment and our fellow species. If you like and support our project please vote for it in the Hackaday Prize.

  • Basic Power Layout in the Cyclops-C

    tlankford0108/20/2014 at 21:01 0 comments

  • Proposed Hardware Architecture

    tlankford0108/13/2014 at 03:17 0 comments

    Hey guys, this is a proposed hardware architecture for the UAS. It is preliminary and more to show what we can do for documentation and how we might layout our systems. This is just the command and control system. There are some things to figure out like camera connections, controller layout, etc. I think we will have to diagram our software architecture as well but I do not think we can do that yet until we have a better idea of what we are using in the system. Our critical design review is due April 30th so I think we can also do this with pictures from the plane and may not have to have CAD drawings if we do not get that far. What I mean by that is that we can take a picture without the wires and photoshop in the connections for labeling. I will now try to explain connections and what each piece of hardware is and does.

    A. Odroid U3

    The Odroid U3 is a quad core 1.7 Ghz microcontroller. It is very fast has a lot of processing chops for our system. This controller was proposed by Jono to use with Andrew Tridgewell’s on board image recognition software. It should also be able to control other systems like metal detection and RFID. Maybe not for this competition but eventually we would actually like to have the autopilot software loaded on the Odroid or a BeagleBoneBlack and we will not have to worry about having a separate APM or Pixhawk. The Odroid will probably in the second fuselage and will be connected to the AP (D) through USB and we have an I/O shield for the Odroid for connections to the additional embedded sensor payloads.

    B. XtremeOSD

    The XtremeOSD (formally the ExtremeOSD) has not even hit the market. It should be available for sale to the general public in the next couple of months. It has been under development for over two years and is well worth the wait. We are the first people outside of the development team to work with this board. We could possibly be the first with a production hobby class full color OSD in the world! The XOSD is connected to the GPS (G) in this picture but in reality the GPS will probably be connected to the AP (D). The GPS (G) and telemetry have to be shared with the XOSD (B), the AP (D), Teleflypro (H) and of course the Bluetooth (F) and radio downlink (C).

    B1. This is a controller for more convenient placement of controls if the OSD is buried in the plane.

    C. 1 watt OpenLRS Tx

    The OpenLRS Tx is hacked to be a transceiver which is not a standard OpenLRS branch of firmware. This will give us a bidirectional communications with the plane. The receiver is providing PPM input to the Channel Wizard (E) and servo instructions are transferred from there. (See radio control function through Channel Wizard) The telemetry and mission control will be transferred back and forth from the UART of the tranciever and the AP (D). In this picture I connected the UART pins of the XOSD (B) and the OpenLRS (C). Actually the UART from the OpenLRS (C) will connect to the AP (D) and then the UART from XOSD (B) will then got to the Teleflypro (H) instead of from the AP (D) to the TeleflyPro (H)

    D. AUAV3 or AUAV X-1

    The autopilot or AP pictured is the AUAV3. This is from our sponsors, Nick Arsov and Philip Kocmoud, of Arsov RC Technology. They are also about to have their production AUAV X-1 underway. The AUAV3 is very capable autopilot that runs MatrixPilot. The MatrixPilot is underdevelopment and has a lot of exciting capabilities. However, the most of our peripherals have been developed and are stable with a Pixhawk based AP running APM firmware. While we have the board we are going to experiment and will probably use it in our Drone Prize Cycolps, we will probably have to stick with the APM based AP for the Wildlife Challenge plane. The XOSD, and the telemetry hack are all based in APM so it will speed development in our short timeline for this contest. That is where the AUAV X-1 comes in. We are waiting on the shipment of two of these boards from Arsov RC Technology in the next week or so. This is their vision of the...

    Read more »

  • More Diagrams and Design Layouts

    tlankford0108/13/2014 at 02:16 0 comments

  • Design and Drawings

    tlankford0108/09/2014 at 00:23 1 comment

    This log will contain different drawings and layouts.  Some of them raw some of them more complete

  • Links to Software, Hardware and Anything in Between

    tlankford0108/08/2014 at 04:56 0 comments

    We are using lots of different components.  Some are open source and some are not.  We are also fortunate to be working with some things that only a hand full of people in the world have.  We will try to post reference links from all the posts on here.  We of course want to thank all open source community for making the things we are wanting to work on available for us all.  We hope that we make valid contributions.

    Open RFID Hardware:

    Open Source Autopilot: Pixhawk and APM Planner 2.0

    Airframe: Cyclops-E

    Airframe: RVJET


    FPV Equipment:

    Long Range Radio:

    Embedded Linux Computer: Odroid U3

    Emebedded Linux Computer: Raspberry Pi

    Open Machine Vision:

View all 14 project logs

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EngineerAllen wrote 02/17/2017 at 00:28 point

im sure ive seen this before by some protection organisation

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Ricci wrote 09/06/2016 at 13:17 point

hi Toby Icarus 3.0 is really great, when will you upload the rest of the 3d files for the plane on thingiverse..?

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icetrout1 wrote 08/30/2015 at 23:58 point

add a .17 cal to it & you'll have something to help save the rhinos & elephants...  only good poacher is a dead poacher...  : X

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zenpistolero wrote 03/02/2015 at 09:19 point

The camera is good, and if you get within visual range, it's great. Firearms can also be heard from well beyond visible range. 

I do not know how much the shotspotter technology weighs, but it would be an incredibly powerful sensor to add to this platform. It uses multiple microphones to triangulate the location of a firearm discharge. This is a commercial app. Perhaps a rudimentary open source version could be created with microphones, a basic algorithm to detect short duration loud noises and some trig functions to give you a direction to the source. If multiple drones share their microphone data, then extremely precise coordinates could be relayed to the park rangers who will be moving to intercept. 

If only one drone is within range to hear a shot, then microphones at the wingtips and nose can give a line of bearing and, based on the strength of the sound, a rough maximum and minimum distance to target. If only one drone picks up the discharge, other units can be launched or redirected to the area to help with refining location data and adding more eyes to the sky in order to achieve visual tracking. 

Visual range works two ways, however, and I sincerely hope your final models will be a light blue color and not glossy. When I helped design information systems for military aircraft, multiple wires following different paths through the fuselage was the norm in the event the craft came under fire. You might want to think about some level of redundancy for the comms and control wiring. 

Just contributing my .02 - hope it helps!

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tlankford01 wrote 03/02/2015 at 09:43 point

This is great information.  These craft are all under 5kg and have very limited room in terms of redundancy.  That being said there are efforts to double autopilots and other systems.  They Hydra system can offer two to as many as four independent  power sources that can shut each off automatically if there were to be a situation of power loss on any node.  I am intrigued with the idea of sound triangulation of weapons discharge.  I have actually been aware of that technology but have not revisited the idea since we have worked on swarm models.  I have had secondary microphones on cameras but have not thought of too many ways to use them.  They have seemed useless with the multirotors from a surveillance standpoint.  I am very interested in the sonic triangulation aspect.  Thank you for the input and for visiting my project.   I would also like to add that I have thought of coloring for the drone.  At the moment for testing we like to make the drone as visible as possible.   I agree that coloration is the most straight forward approach to camouflage.  I have considered light intensity as well.  I believe that if you had  LED's on the bottom of the plane and  photo cells on the top of the plane, that you could adjust the brightness of the lights to match the brightness of the sky.   I think that would cause the plane to virtually disappear.

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zenpistolero wrote 03/03/2015 at 08:18 point

If you want to do a threat analysis for the aircraft, draw a silhouette and mark in red any location where a bullet strike could render the craft non-op. Then decide based on cost (costs come in many flavors: money, weight, complexity, range) if you can modify the design to increase its survivability.  If it is "cheap" to fix, great. If it's expensive, don't worry about it too much. Military aircraft in a combat zone are advised as to the lowest altitude they can fly and be confident that enemy machine guns can't reach them. I've seen the video and wouldn't want to have to try to shoot it down with an AK-47. Just stay above the range of a shotgun and you should be fine.  Talk to a goose hunter to find out how high a shotgun can reach with the latest 3 1/2" Magnum shotshells, and then tell your autopilot to normally stay above that altitude. 

For audio, I recommend  that you get permission from a shooting range to do research at their facility. If there is a Rod & Gun Club associated with the range, you will likely get volunteers willing to bring in firearms for help with the acoustic research. You will likely find eager assistance from the members of the club if they know you are conducting research to help fight poaching. For the initial data test set capture, the drone need only be mounted on a pole with the motor running at a normal throttle setting for in-flight operation. Have people fire off certain caliber weapons that match the most common weapons used by poachers (which could include some of the Weatherby and other belted magnums down to the ubiquotous 7.62x39 round used in the Kalashnikov) then you could see if a firearm's acoustic signature could be discerned from the mic input and at what distance.  I expect that you can attenuate the frequencies taken up by the motor noise. Hopefully there won't be overlap with the frequencies of the supersonic rifle rounds. If you can find someone who's hobbies include doing FFT for SETI, perhaps the math for identifying the firearm acoustic signature is similar. I know statistics pretty well, but real math is not my specialty.  If engine noise masks the frequencies, then this is a dead end, but from an intelligence standpoint, it's worth an afternoon of data collection and turning it over to some math wizard to play with. The trig to take the collected time and magnitude information and convert from relative into absolute coordinates would be the exact same as  locating the epicenter of an earthquake. 

I know a little about active luminance control for visible stealth and can't say any of it. I know it's a difficult technology and simply recommend a baby blue paint job for the best balance of day and night camouflage. Just remember the original name for the F-117 project was "Have Blue"  I wish you guys success in this endeavor. 

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tlankford01 wrote 03/11/2015 at 08:28 point

Thank you again for very interesting information and analysis.  I have my own shooting range out to 1700 meters here at my site.  I will definitely incorporate this testing.  I am currently trying to decide to reenter this project in the hackaday as we are getting ready to achieve 12 hour flight and publish our success in the next few months.  We are also prepping this as one of our product offerings by Q1 2016.

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simon.hedstrom wrote 10/05/2014 at 12:19 point
Any more updates?

/Simon (RVJET designer)

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tlankford01 wrote 08/09/2014 at 02:42 point
Getting Updates and more info up as we can. We have some exciting stuff coming up though

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Proud grand wrote 01/28/2018 at 08:32 point

I could not find the files on Thingyverse. Have you a link? Thank you and this is an excellent project. 

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PointyOintment wrote 06/08/2014 at 01:39 point
Interesting project, and your GCS looks very nice.
The RVJET was on Flite Test last year. It looks like a pretty nice plane.

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tlankford01 wrote 06/11/2014 at 20:08 point
Thank you, it is a great plane and more info coming soon. I finally received my first pixhawk autopilot

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