Design and development of a Meso-Scale Cyclocopter Conference Paper uri icon


  • 2016, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. All rights reserved. This paper describes the design, development and flight testing of a meso-scale cyclocopter. Weighing only 29 grams, the present vehicle is the smallest cycloidal rotor based aircraft ever built. Unlike the previous cyclocopters, the current prototype utilizes a novel light weight (3 grams) cycloidal rotor design with cantilevered blades having semi-elliptical planform shape and no exposed rotor shaft. To minimize bending deflections the blades use a unique, lightweight (0.15 grams each) but high strength-to-weight ratio unidirectional carbon-fiber based structural design and are fabricated using a specialized manufacturing process. The blade kinematics was chosen through systematic performance measurements conducted using a custom-built miniature three-component force balance. Based on experimental parametric studies, symmetric blade kinematics with a pitch amplitude of 45 provided the highest thrust and power loading (thrust/power) and was used in the final rotor design. The airframe is fabricated using a combination of carbon-fiber and state-of-the-art 3D printing techniques. The attitude control strategy utilizes a combination of rpm-control of the two cycloidal-rotors/tail-rotor and thrust vectoring of the cycloidal rotors. The control strategy is implemented on a custom-built 1.3 gram autopilot, which uses a closed-loop proportional-derivative controller for hover stability. The vehicle has been systematically flight tested by tuning the feedback gains and has demonstrated marginal stability in hover.

published proceedings

  • AIAA Infotech @ Aerospace Conference

author list (cited authors)

  • Runco, C. C., Coleman, D. A., & Benedict, M.

complete list of authors

  • Runco, CC||Coleman, DA||Benedict, M

publication date

  • January 2016