I’ve been helping AraceUAS for quite a while with ArduPilot on their range of vehicles, so I was delighted when Alex offered to send me their new GriffinPro to test. I’ve had it for a few weeks now, and it really is a fantastic plane. It offers the best “out of the box” experience that I’ve seen with any quadplane. The attention to detail that Arace have put into this aircraft is great to see.
The GriffinPro is a tilt-vectored quadplane, with 4 motors, the front two tilting for forward flight and the rear two fixed for VTOL flight. You can get it either setup as a mapping platform with a downward facing camera, or with a gimballed payload, such as a NextVision Nighthawk2 or similar. I got mine with an ADTI Surveyor 24S downward facing mapping camera.
It is built around a CubeOrange running ArduPilot plane 4.3, with dual DroneCAN DLVR airspeed sensors and dual DroneCAN GPS.
There are a few things that make this plane stand out and really shows the attention to detail.
The most noticible when you first open the box is the extremely easy field assembly. The wings clip on solidly, as does the tail. It goes back in the box just as easily. It is nice being able to get the plane ready so quickly.
Here is the box as I first opened it, with Cavalier for scale
The little round black object in the bottom left corner is a anenometer, so you can get a wind speed reading before takeoff to ensure you are within the allowable wind range. Max wind for takeoff is 25 knots, which is a lot of wind. I have flown it in over 15 knots with no trouble. I haven’t seen a vendor including an anemometer with an aircraft before, and I think it is a great idea.
Another feature I haven’t seen before is having a pair of articulated antennas on the side of the fuselage:
these antennas move up on a hinge so they clear the ground on landing and lower in flight, giving really good RF performance. It is a nice idea to avoid antennas being jammed into a compact fuselage and ensuring they have good line of sight to the GCS from any angle while flying.
The GCS that came with my GriffinPro was a MX16
For those who aren’t familiar with the MX16, I’ve done a screen recording of flying the GriffinPro with the MX16:
The video quality from the forward facing camera is very good, and nice for situational awareness. In the above video I’m doing a short mapping mission at the Spring Valley flying site in Canberra.
Here is the resulting map from Pix4D:
The GriffinPro has a removable camera pod so you can load different payloads. Here is the ADTI camera in the pod on my aircraft:
Nicely Tuned and Pre-Configured
The aircraft came very nicely tuned and pre-configured. A nice touch is Arace asks what battery you plan to use and pre-setup the battery bay padding so the CoG is right for your battery, then they add a label to confirm the setup. In my case I am using a 32Ah 6S Tattu battery.
You can also see the USB-C port on the right side of that photo for easy access to log files.
I’m really delighted with my GriffinPro!