A 6.0 Richter scale earthquake had changed the shape of Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak of South East Asia. It is still consider unsafe to climb to the top to evaluate the degree of damage or changes up there at this moment. Our team had given the task to use UAV to map the affected area, which is about 1450 Ha. The interest things is : It is the peak area where altitude stood at 4000 meter.
Few months earlier, just a few days after the earthquake, we actually successfully map a small area call Laban Rata at the altitude of 3300 meter. Using the Skywalker, however proof that it has just enough power to climb for the mission altitude and then fly about 10 KM. We start our mission from a very nice mountain golf club which is 1700 meter above sea level.
To map the peak area, our plane has to climb for 2600 meter to reach mission altitude. Total distance travel is 27 KM for the first mission. There are 4 missions for the whole area.
For this mission, I am using the new conservation drones base on My Twin Dream air frame. I would like to share the set up of the plane and some data for those who may want to fly at high altitude. Please visit conservationdrones for more of our work.
Blessed with relatively low winds condition, the plane has been rock solid throughout the flight. Take off is effortless, just simple hand launch, no running was required. It has more than enough power to pull off from my hand and start climbing immediately after the launch. I am a little worry earlier if it has enough power for hand launch consider the take off point is 1700 meter above sea level. But it proof me wrong.
The take off point to mission area is only about 4 KM. If we go direct, the gradient will be about 64 degree and this is definitely not viable for our plane, so instead we fly a zigzag pattern and set up the gradient or climbing angle at about 24 degree. It take about 10 KM for us to reach the mission altitude, which is 2600 meter above take off point or 4300 meter above sea level. It is beneficial to set up a moderate climbing angle so the auto pilot will not call for full throttle, in my case, about 40 amps. Using 24 degree gradient, I only need 18 to 20 amps for the climb. Although it may take a little longer, but I’m sure it is much more efficient then full throttle climb up.
One interesting fact I found out from MTD during the flight is that it use similar power, about 8 amps for cruising, either 300 meter above sea level or in this case, 4300 meter above sea level. I was thinking with thinner air up there, it should use more power.
I attach my flight log here for those who may interested to have a look at the flight or you may extract my parameter from it. Mission start at 28 %. I let the autopilot to fully stabilise with the ambient temperature. You may notice the landing is very fast. This is because there is only one direction for us to make the approach, and unfortunately, it is downwind at that moment. But no problem, we use a net to catch it and I have a good pilot.
Although the flight is successful but the mapping mission is fail. A lot of cloud hover in our mission area but nevertheless we still have some very nice images.
Air frame : My Twin Dream
Flight controller : HK Pilot 2.7
Firmware : APM 3.3
GPS : M8N
Telemetry : RFD 900 Ground / Air
Motor : SunnySky 2814 – 900 kv x 2
Battery : LPB 4S 10000 mah
Propeller : APC 9×6 E and APC 9×6 EP ( counter rotation )
ESC : Hobbywing Platinum 40 A x 2
BEC : CC 10 Amp
Radio : Futaba T 8 J
Sensor : Canon S 100 GPS CHDK
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