The autopilot has a limited error checking function, running on the secondary PPM encoder processor, which is designed to:
Detect complete loss of RC signal (if the RC receiver is able to generate a predictable signal-loss behaviour) and initiate a defined auto-mode response, such as returning to home. (Only some RC equipment is capable of this.)
The autopilot error checking cannot:
Detect if one more individual RC channel has failed or become disconnected
Detect if you’re flying too far away or are about to hit the ground
Detect autopilot hardware failures, such as low-power brownouts or in-air reboots
Detect if the autopilot software is not operating correctly
Detect other problems with the aircraft, such as motor failures.
Otherwise stop you from making setup or flight mistakes
Setting up Non-Normal Flight Modes
There are five completely different non-normal flight modes. In the order prioritised by the autopilot, these modes are:
From most important to least important;
RC and C2 Link (equal priority)
The autopilot is fitted with a voltage and current sensor. Therefore, the autopilot is able to monitor the battery voltages and calculate the percentage of the battery capacity used. This enables the autopilot to activate the battery failsafe routine.
The battery non-normal is triggered when the flight battery voltage drops below a predefined critical voltage or the battery capacity used exceeds the warning capacity.
When the non-normal is triggered, the autopilot sends a message to Neuron GCS via the telemetry link. Neuron GCS will then display the advisory “Low Battery” on the PFD. An audio advisory will also be given. It will trigger the autopilot to go RTL flight mode.
Your RC transmitter outputs a PWM signal that is captured by your receiver and relayed to the autopilot. Each channel on your transmitter has a PWM range usually between 1100 – 1900 with 1500 being its neutral position. When you start your radio calibration on Neuron GCS, all your values will be at 1500. By moving your sticks, knobs and switches you will set your PWM range for each channel. The autopilot monitors your throttle channel and if notices a drop lower than FS_THR_VALUE (Default is 950) it will trigger the non-normal mode.
RC transmitters usually have a default range for each channel that goes from -100% to 100%, however most transmitters will allow you to extend this to -150% and 150% respectively. In the default setup, bringing your throttle to -100% will translate to a value close to 1100 and bringing it to -150% will translate to a value closer to 900. What we want to achieve is to let your receiver know that the throttle can go as low as -150% but keep the autopilot control range between -100% and 100%. Meaning that when flying, our throttle values will range between 1100 – 1900.
If we lose RC communication, the receiver if set up properly, will drop to the lowest known throttle value of ~900. This value falls below the FS_THR_VALUE and will trigger the autopilot to go into a non-normal mode if the throttle failsafe parameter (FS_THR_ENABLE) is enabled.
The aircraft will switch to RTL mode and then land at the launch position.
When flying in NAV mode, the autopilot is triggered into the non-normal mode if it loses the command and control (C2) link. In the event that the autopilot stops receiving MAVlink (telemetry protocol) heartbeat messages for more than 10 sec, the GCS non-normal (FS_GCS_ENABLE, 0=Disabled, 1=Enabled) will trigger the autopilot to change the flight mode to RTLNote: This non-normal will not trigger in UNAS/FBW A mode.
The aircraft uses a GNSS satellite receiver to locate the aircraft laterally. In the event that the GNSS system fails or insufficient satellites are in view, the autopilot will send a message to Neuron GCS. Neuron GCS will then display the warning “GPS Lost” on the PFD. If the aircraft is in NAV mode, the aircraft will attempt to navigate using its inertial sensors.
A GeoFence is an imaginary boundary that can be set up to enclose a flight area. Picture a GeoFence as a fence around a property, but with one difference – it also has a floor and a ceiling! The concept is simple – while the aircraft remains completely within the GeoFence, all is well, and the mission will proceed as normal. Should however – for ANY reason – the aircraft ‘touch’ the GeoFence, the aircraft will automatically switch to NAV mode, and fly back to the GeoFence Return Point. Once at the return point the aircraft will loiter at that point awaiting the next command. This loiter is indefinite, until the next command is received.
Refer to the appropriate Neuron GCS manual for information regarding the configuration and use of a Geofence.
The Flowchart of the failsafes are included below. No one procedure overrides the other, and will take action on the most recent event.
It is now necessary to set up the UNAS/FBW-A/NAV switches functionality for the system. This utilises the following THREE switches on the transmitter. Switch on the transmitter.
Flight Mode Descriptions
Regular RC control, no stabilization. All RC inputs are passed through to the outputs.
UNAS (towards user)
No dependency. Operation preference is NAV OFF
This is the most popular mode for assisted flying in fixed wing, and is the best mode for inexperienced flyers. In this mode the aircraft will hold the roll and pitch specified by the control sticks. If the aileron stick is held hard right then the aircraft will hold its pitch level and will bank right by the maximum bank angle. It is not possible to roll the plane past the maximum bank angle, and it is not possible to pitch the plane beyond the maximum pitch angles. Note that holding level pitch does not mean the aircraft will hold altitude. How much altitude the aircraft gains or loses at a particular pitch depends on its airspeed, which is primarily controlled by throttle. To gain altitude the throttle should be raised, and to lose altitude the throttle should be lowered.
FBW (middle selection or away from user)
GNSS coupled to autopilot to command flight path laterally and vertically according to active flight plan.
FBW (AWAY from user) (Switch cannot be in the middle position.)
Return To Launch (Selected from GCS)
RTL (Selected from GCS)
When RTL mode is selected, the aircraft will return to the home location. The vehicle will climb to a specified height if operating below, otherwise it will maintain current height. Once arrived at the home position the vehicle will circle around the Home position indefinitely. .
Insert the carbon wing spar into the main body of the aircraft. Push one onto the carbon tube until the tube presses against the end inside the wing. Push the wing back into the fuselage, keying the connectors and locking pins. Ensure a tight fit.
Gripping the already installed wing, locate the remaining wing onto the carbon rod and push until the connectors lock.
Use a 2.5mm Hex driver to tighten the bolt ontop of the wing onto the wing spar.
Place rudder on bottom pin hinge. Alight top of rudder with top pin hinge and insert pin. Attach rudder pushrod to control horn.
Connect the MPX 6 pin connector inside the vertical tail to the horizontal tail.
Place the horizontal tail on top of the vertical tail and alight plastic lugs. Push horizontal tail aft until plastic plates are flush.
Using a 2.5mm Hex head key drive, insert the bolt holding the horizontal stabiliser to the vertical stabiliser.
Check all control horns (located on all control surfaces) are connected to pushrods securely. Use fuel tubing if necessary.
Attach batteries together by aligning them against the hook and loop Velcro on each battery. Insert into the aircraft (without connecting the XT60 or balance lead connectors) onto the Velcro pad.
Ensure pitot tube is clear of obstructions and clean, and install pitot tube cover.
ONLY USE PITOT COVER SUPPLIED WITH THE FLIGHT KIT. THE USE OF ADHESIVE TAPE MAY CAUSE INACCURATE READINGS.
If powering the video system, ensure the video antenna is installed. This is installed by default and located in the lower access hatch.
Centre of Gravity
The V-TOL GosHawk™ is a very light aircraft. The installation of equipment may significantly alter the tested C of G limits of the aircraft. Therefore all proposed fixed installations must be approved by V-TOL Aerospace Pty Ltd.
It is important to balance the aircraft so that the CG is very close to the correct location for the airframe. An incorrect CG will make the aircraft unstable during flight and could create hazardous conditions. The centre of gravity of the V-TOL GosHawk™ aircraft is located on the servo cable slot.
To Measure the C.O.G., hold the aircraft up using a fingertip at the centre of gravity (CG) location on each wing, checking to ensure that the aircraft maintains a level position. Next hold the aircraft up by the prop shaft and one finger on the centreline of the fuselage opposite the motor and ensure that the aircraft balances in a level position. If the aircraft does not balance correctly, shift the location of the batteries or add ballast weights to move the CG to the correct location.
Power Pack Charging
4 Series – 3 Parallel x 2
14.8 V Nominal
600 grams x 2
108 x 36 x 65mm x 2
20A Constant 40A Burst (10Sec)
YOU MUST READ THESE SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS, CAUTION AND WARNING BEFORE USING OR CHARGING BATTERIES.
LITHIUM BATTERIES ARE VOLATILE. FAILURE TO READ AND FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS MAY RESULT IN FIRE, PERSONAL INJURY AND DAMAGE TO PROPERTY IF CHARGED OR USED IMPROPERLY
INFORMATION IN THIS DATA SHEET IS COMPILED USING THE OEM GUIDELINES
USE LITHIUM POLYMER SPECIFIC CHARGERS ONLY. DO NOT USE A NICKEL CADMIUM OR NICKEL METAL HYDRIDE CHARGER – FAILURE TO DO SO MAY CAUSE A FIRE, WHICH MAY RESULT IN PERSONAL INJURY AND PROPERTY DAMAGE.
NEVER CHARGE BATTERIES UNATTENDED. WHEN CHARGING LIPO BATTERIES YOU SHOULD ALWAYS REMAIN IN CONSTANT OBSERVATION TO MONITOR THE CHARGING PROCESS AND REACT TO POTENTIAL PROBLEMS THAT MAY OCCUR
SOME LIPO CHARGERS ON THE MARKET MAY HAVE TECHNICAL DEFICIENCIES THAT MAY CAUSE THEM TO CHARGE LIPO BATTERIES INCORRECTLY. IT IS SOLELY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE USER TO ASSURE THAT THE CHARGER USED WORKS PROPERLY.
IF AT ANY TIME YOU WITNESS A BATTERY STARTING TO BALLOON OR SWELL UP, DISCONTINUE THE CHARGING PROCESS IMMEDIATELY. DISCONNECT THE BATTERY AND PLACE IT IN A SAFE OBSERVATION AREA FOR APPROXIMATELY 15 MINUTES. CONTINUING TO CHARGE A BATTERY THAT HAS BEGUN TO SWELL WILL RESULT IN A FIRE.
BATTERY OBSERVATION SHOULD OCCUR IN A SAFE AREA OUTSIDE OF ANY BUILDING OR VEHICLE AND AWAY FROM ANY COMBUSTIBLE MATERIAL.
SHORTS CAN CAUSE FIRES! IF YOU ACCIDENTALLY SHORT THE WIRES THE BATTERY MUST BE PLACED IN A SAFE AREA FOR OBSERVATION FOR APPROXIMATELY 15 MINUTES. ADDITIONALLY, BE MINDFUL OF THE BURN DANGER THAT MAY OCCUR DUE TO A SHORT ACROSS JEWELLERY (SUCH AS RINGS ON YOUR FINGERS).
CHEMICAL REACTIONS ARE NOT INSTANTANEOUS; A BATTERY THAT HAS BEEN SHORTED MAY NOT IGNITE FOR 10 MINUTES.
ALL CRASH BATTERIES, EVEN IF NOT DEFORMED, SHOULD BE PLACED IN A SAFE AREA FOR OBSERVATION FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES.
IF FOR ANY REASON YOU NEED TO CUT THE TERMINAL WIRES, CUT EACH WIRE SEPARATELY, ENSURING THE WIRES DO NOT BECOME SHORTED ACROSS THE CUTTING TOOL
NEVER STORE OR CHARGE A BATTERY PACK INSIDE YOUR CAR IF THE INTERNAL TEMPERATURE WILL EXCEED 40 DEGREES CELSIUS.
The charge rate should not exceed 0.5C (0.5 x the capacity of the battery, unless otherwise noted*). Higher setting may cause problems which can result in shortened battery life or fire.
For example: Charge a 10,000mAh battery at or below 5 Amps. Charge a 21,000mAh battery at or below 10.5Amps.
Li-Ion packs with balancing connectors must be used with balancers for safer charging.
To charge at greater than 0.5C (no more than 1C): You must use an approved charger in conjunction with a Balancer. Charging higher than 1C will reduce the cycle life.
To charge two packs in series: The packs need to first be charged individually and balancer used to ensure packs are matched. Only matched packs may be charged in series.( If all the voltages are within 0.01V of each other) Please note that this requires a “Y” cable be made to electrically attach the packs together in series and that the battery on the negative most side of this cable (the lead that goes to the negative terminal of the charger)
Storage and Transport
Store batteries at room temperature between 8 and 25 degrees °C for best results.
If storing longer than one week; batteries must be stored at 3.8V/cell (60% charged).
Do not expose battery packs to direct sunlight (heat) for extended periods.
When transporting or temporarily storing in a vehicle, temperature range should be greater than 8 degrees °C but no more than 40 degrees °C.
Storing LiIon batteries at temperatures greater than 40 degrees °C for extended periods of time (more than 2 hours) may cause damage to battery and possible fire.
Only charge a LiPo battery with a good quality Lithium Polymer charger. A poor quality charger can be dangerous. Balancers are also recommended.
Set voltage and current correctly (failure to do so can cause fire).
Please check pack voltage after the first charge.
For example; a 4 Cell battery should measure 16.8V (16.6 to 16.84).
Do not discharge a battery to a level below 2.5V per cell under load. Discharging below 2.5V per cell can deteriorate battery performance. Be sure to set your ESC for the proper cut off voltage.
Use caution to avoid puncture of the battery. Puncturing a LiPo battery may cause a fire.
Before flight: 8 to 40 degrees °C
Charge: 8 to 40 degrees °C
Discharge: 8 to 40 degrees °C
Always allow a battery to cool down to ambient temperature before re-charging.
During discharge and handling of batteries, do not exceed 40 degrees.
Batteries that lose 20% of their capacity must be removed from service and disposed of properly.
Discharge the battery to 0V/Cell, making sure output wires are insulated and then wrap battery in a bag for disposal.
Battery Emergency Procedures
In the event of a battery swelling, conduct the following:
Cease charging immediately
Completely Discharge Battery to 0.0V/Cell
Using wire cutters, cut terminals off battery
Submerge batteries in a solution of salt and water for 1 hour
Empty water following applicable waste management procedures
Dispose of batteries following applicable waste management procedures.
In the event of a battery fire, conduct the following:
If safe, isolate power to battery
Segregate battery from flammable surrounds, preferably in bucket of sand or LiPo bag.
Control fire using fire extinguisher
Dispose of batteries following applicable waste management procedures.
Aircraft (with all on-board equipment in place and functioning properly)
Aircraft battery pack (charged)
GCS Laptop (charged)
Antenna, and power cables
Peripheral interface equipment (mouse)
Avionics Block Diagram
The autopilot system can be divided into either airborne components or ground station components. The airborne components are referred to as the avionics. The avionics consist of the autopilot, GPS, RC receiver, and digital modem. Figure 5 shows avionics block diagram.
The Fixed Wing airframe is the casing that holds all of the system components. It is powered by four electric motors. The electric motors are powered by a Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery.
The aircraft has the following characteristics:
Maximum Take-Off Weight
Cruise Speed at Sea Level
Rate of Climb at Sea Level
2 X LiIon 4S 10500mAh
Aerodrive SK3 700KV
Max Engine Power
Output Shaft Diameter
APC Pty Ltd
* With 15% reserve, subject to battery being maintained correctly, weather, and mission parameters.
The standard V-TOL GosHawk™ is recommended for day VFR and IFR operations. An optional package is available to allow night operations once CASA approval is obtained. This package consists of additional lights and equipment.
An autopilot is in reality a dedicated microprocessor that executes a pre-set program.
Understanding that the autopilot simply follows a pre-set program necessarily means that the onus is on the operator to understand how the program works. This manual describes how to prepare the aircraft for flight.
This guide is not intended for the inexperienced, and assumes a basic level of familiarity with both the equipment and the principles and requirements for autonomous flight.
This guide has been designed to provide step-by-step instruction for equipment and ground operations specific to the Fixed Wing platform.
The first priority of anyone involved with unmanned aircraft is:
Accidents can – and do – happen! It is the duty of everyone associated with unmanned aircraft to be mindful of the risks to persons, property and the aircraft, and to take all necessary actions to minimise those risks. Unmanned aircraft contain hazardous components, charged batteries, and spinning propellers, all of which represent a risk, not only to the pilot, but also to people in near proximity!
Throughout this document the following symbols have been used:
This symbol identifies a point of note. The information presented is considered important and something that the reader should be aware of.
This symbol identifies a warning.Take note of the information presented as if it is n not observed and the procedure or action is not carried out as directed there is a real possibility of possible harm or damage to persons and/or property. This symbol usually accompanies a description on how to do something.
This symbol identifies a hazard or critical factor.This symbol is used when there is a real and possible risk to persons and/or property.
Pay particular attention to the warnings contained in this manual. These warnings relate to real and present hazards, and include suggestions on ways to mitigate these hazards to an acceptable level.
Safety Warnings When Handling Powered Aircraft
The following must be observed in order to maintain the safety of personnel, equipment and property:
When powered, always assume that the aircraft is ARMED. Consider safety of personnel and surrounding environment when dealing with a powered aircraft.
Disconnect the ESC(s) from motor(s) and power cable(s) when working/maintaining aircraft for extended periods. This is to avoid damage to equipment and mitigate harm to personnel.
Avoid soft rebooting of the autopilot while the flight battery is attached. In some situations, the timer outputs can become corrupted, causing the motors to unexpectedly start.
Avoid connecting the Autopilot’s USB interface while the aircraft is powered.
NEURON GCS incorporates an ARM and SAFE mode. When the aircraft is connected to NEURON, these modes can be set using the ARM and DISARM buttons located at the top right-side of the software’s MFD-style interface. These buttons are illustrated below.
Enables/Arms throttle control on UAV.
Will be greyed out if: UAV is NOT connected; orUAV is already ARMED
Disarms throttle control on UAV.
Will be greyed out if: UAV is NOT connected; orUAV is already DISARMED
As noted in the table illustrated above, both buttons will be greyed-out if the aircraft is not connected to Neuron GCS:
When connected, the [DISARM] button will remain grey-out if the aircraft is already disarmed; at this state, the [ARM] button will be coloured, and ready to arm motor(s).
Else, the [ARM] button will remain grey-out if the aircraft is already armed; in this state, the [DISARM] button will be coloured, and ready to disarm motor(s).
WHEN ARMED IN SEMI-AUTONOMOUS (NAV) CONTROL, THE MOTOR MAY START AT ANY TIME.
WHEN ARMED, THE MOTOR MAY ALSO START, SHOULD THE THROTTLE CONTROL ON THE RC TRANSMITTER BE MOVED – EITHER ON PURPOSE OR ACCIDENTALLY!
Never pick up the aircraft and the radio controller at the same time. It is very easy to bump the throttle and inadvertently cause the motor to start spinning.
Never fly with a battery that has a low state of charge. This may lead to a crash.
WHEN THE WORD ‘ARMED’ APPEARS IN THE PFD; OR IF THERE IS NO WORD IS DISPLAYED – THE AIRCRAFT MOTOR(S) IS/ARE IN ARMED STATE.
‘SAFE’ will be displayed in the PFD to indicate that the aircraft is in a disarmed state, and safe to handle without risk of motor spin-up.
This record of revisions contains all changes made to the V-TOL Pty. Ltd. Goshawk Flight Manual. Changes to this manual are listed in the following table. Ensure all Goshawk Flight Manual copies at all locations are updated, with superseded pages removed and replaced as required and old pages taken out of usage as applicable.