View Full Version : Autopilot for Gyros ?
12-05-2007, 10:40 AM
Is there anyone out there besides me that would like to have a reasonably affordable autopilot for their gyroplane? I'm interested in doing real X-country trips in my machines, so I have been looking for a simple way to do it using the rudder to hold a heading and interfacing it with a GPS too. The GPS will automatically make course corrections as wind direction changes in route to stay on the set course line.
I think it can be done fairly easily with parts from a small boat autopilot since they use a fluxgate compass to sense direction to make course corrections when needed. All the boats and aircraft I have owned had autopilots. Typical aircraft autopilots use a gyroscope to detect course deviation and move the ailerons to keep the wings level or raise one wing or the other, making a shallow turn to stay on the pre-set course.
The home-made system I have in mind would operate the rudder on the gyro because a gyro is more stable in roll, if trimmed, than a fixed wing aircraft.
Once the gyro is trimmed for straight and level flight, the autopilot can be engaged and set for the course line you wish. Then just sit there enjoying the view with your hands and feet free to relax, take pictures, call your girl friend, talk on the radio, whatever !!
Of course, the connection of the servo to the rudder controls would be done with push and pull springs that can be easily over-powered by the pilot in case the servo goes berserk or freezes up, etc.
Boys and girls, what are your thoughts on this please?
12-05-2007, 11:08 AM
Great idea it would work, as a former employee for Lancair/Columbia and now Cessna; I worked on the rudder/elevators for the Lancair 400 and I installed the autopilot .
The small boat autopilot would be alot cheaper than the one in the aviation field.
I have been working with an Engineer buddie at Club Crafter on it but its a wait and see for now.
12-05-2007, 11:59 AM
Sorry Ron...I wouldn't and don't have a need for an autopilot!!!
12-05-2007, 12:07 PM
nope not me...if i wanted minimal participation flight I would fly a fixed wing. Judging by your avatar they have removed your bandages. I think the surgery is a great improvement.
12-05-2007, 01:37 PM
Just hold your hand against your leg, that should be suitable autopilot. :)
12-05-2007, 01:55 PM
Larry Neal has told me that he often flies along with his hands in his pockets for up to 10 minutes just to show how stable the Butterfly Gyro flies. Since I want to fly a Gyro for fun, having an auto pilot doesn't really seem necessary. My whole goal with having a Gyro is to go out and bore some holes in the sky and go sight seeing to where ever the terrain takes me.
If I do decide to go on a long distance trip I believe my Gyro will be stable enough for me that I will not get fatigued from trying to keep it on course. So having an auto pilot seems like complexity and cost that really aren't needed. Just my thoughts as I have not yet flown my Butterfly yet. It is still in the build process. But I really can't see a need for an Auto Pilot.
12-05-2007, 02:06 PM
Auto-hover Coast Guard helicopter pilots may be an exception, but in general in any rotorcraft, if the cyclic is not in your hands, your life is.
12-05-2007, 04:29 PM
We had an auto-pilot, auto hover system in the Puma military helicopter but I never saw a pilot who moved his hand more than about half an inch from the cyclic.
Some even said it was more stressful and draining in autohover because every slight movement of the heli or controls made them twitch and want to grab the controls.
Most prefered to hover manually and only used auto system if the weather was outside human peformance limits, ie. white out etc.
12-05-2007, 04:44 PM
CH-47D's had a great one (plus very good artificial stability) - they were the first US Army helicopter where the pilots were actually allowed to be hands-off the cyclic in flight.
Was on a flight back from an airshow one day with a bored CW4 - he decided to see if he could leave the cyclic alone the entire flight. On a 1.5 hour IFR flight he never touched the cyclic at all until on final approach after pulling collective on takeoff (he positioned the cyclic where he thought it needed to be when pulling pitch & then put his hands in his lap) - all turns were made using the heading bug with heading hold selected, he didn't even use altitude hold. Just made power adjustments when reaching altitude & again when starting down...
12-05-2007, 05:29 PM
Wen i went to the east coast last year, i sat on me ass for 2 days [1500 miles], then turned round a coupla days later and flew back.
Never once pondered an autopilot.
If i was getn bored, id drop down to a few feet off the ground, this helped with the bordm and gave me sumthn to think bout.
300 odd miles of sandhills did get abit teadious on the way back, but it was worth every second.
12-06-2007, 07:57 AM
Here is a link to the unit I would like to use for the parts to make it. I used one like it 20 years ago on my 26 foot sloop and it work great. They are even better now. The price is less now too.
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