Project Inspiration

A project log for EVPR: Electric Variable Pitch Rotor

An electrically actuated variable pitch rotor with a wireless interface

Peter McCloud 03/21/2017 at 03:260 Comments

Variable pitch rotors have been in the back of mind ever since starting #Goliath - A Gas Powered Quadcopter. The default control scheme was always vanes underneath the rotors, but variable pitch would be a more elegant solution.

The inspiration for this project started after coming across Solid-State Rotor: A Demonstration, an AIAA paper by Onur Bilgen and Thomas E. Alberts. The paper is behind an AIAA pay wall, but the the gist of the paper is that they built solid-state rotors using piezo-electric materials that could change the rotor shape. The electronics for the materials were embedded inside the rotor hub. Power was provided via a generator built into the hub.

This project differs from the prior work in a few ways. The actuation is provided via servo instead of piezo-electric actuators. It'd be really cool to go completely solid-state, but the actuators are pretty expensive and they'd make the rotor cost more than $1000. It's also for bigger rotors, and this project will be open source.