My first quad: stable descent only, transmitter for emergency

I’ve spent a couple months just researching in preparation for my first quadcopter project. My quadcopter is the payload of a rocket which will release it at an altitude of approximately 1 mile, where I need it to autonomously descend with enough stability for an onboard camera to detect targets on the ground before it lands. I will likely have a transmitter in case of emergencies, but it shouldn’t be used.

I spent about 6 hours today trying to find information on programming flight controllers, much of which I spent on this site reading up on Copter and Mission Planner. I was hoping someone with actual experience could tell me if what I’d like to do is possible before I invest in a Pixhawk and spend hours figuring out how to code Mission Planner. Specifically, I need to plan the following:

  1. Track the altitude of the quadcopter, identify apogee, begin spinning motors after a 500 foot fall from apogee.
  2. Stable descent.
  3. Turn motors off upon landing.

Do these look like instructions that can be provided through Mission Planner? The complete parameter list, which I’m going through, is quite long. I’m not exactly sure how they’re incorporated into Mission Planner either, and I feel like I’d be spending several hours fooling around with Mission Planner trying to figure that out. So, I’m really hoping someone here with a little experience could save me that time with a simple yes/no (and maybe a little encouragement as well- I’ve been at this for 6 hours). Thanks :slight_smile:

You’re going to launch a quad a mile up? What kind of rocket are you flying? It would have to be a pretty small quad to even fit in the largest airframe. I’ve got a Hyperloc 1600 at 106" and 5.5" diameter and there’s nothing if my fleet that would fit in it. There was a Hobby King quad that would electronically unfold, maybe that would work. As for the logistics, no reason it wouldn’t work. Not sure what the acceleration of an M or O class motor would do to the accels though. But forget about all that, what happens if it doesn’t work and it free falls? Could really hurt someone. 90% of rockets is about safe recovery…

It’s part of the NASA Student Launch competition. There’s a separate team that’s designing the rocket and an airbrake system that’s supposed to get as close to 5280 feet as possible. Our rocket has a 5.5" outer diameter, and we’re designing a cylindrical payload that will exit behind the nose cone, and the propeller arms and landing gear legs to extend afterward (I’m thinking a 500 foot drop from apogee would ensure it’s clear of the rocket). It will have a parachute as it descends for safety. So you think Mission Planner can be used to plan all of this? The plan seems simple enough that using a Pixhawk and Mission Planner feels like overkill, but I couldn’t find much on programming flight controllers.

IMHO the Y6 type of frame with folding arms and props could be a good option to meet your requirements

Here’s thinking outside the box (or tube). Mount a quad with folding props on the outside. Run a sim in Rocksim to see the trajectory effect. Have it keyed into main chute bay. What type of flight computer are you using for the rocket?

Unfortunately our Preliminary Design Report for NASA is due next Friday, we still have a ton to write, and I don’t think I could put together your outside-the-tube idea, although it definitely seems worth consideration. I don’t really know much about rocketry, but that team told me that they’re using Perfect Flight and an Altis.