Introducing the FireFLY6 from BirdsEyeView. The world’s first VTOL RC aircraft kit capable of autonomous flight.
The FireFLY6 is a VTOL aircraft. A VTOL aircraft (vertical take-off and landing), is a type of aircraft (like a plane) that can take off vertically, then fly horizontally. The advantages of VTOL planes is that they can take off in small spaces just like a quadcopter, but also fly longer and faster like a plane.
I really like the FireFLY6 because it’s the first VTOL RC Aircraft Kit I’ve seen that most RC enthusiasts wouldn’t be discouraged or intimidated by. From what I see, it looks pretty easy to assemble and setup and it can carry two GoPro Hero3 cameras and fpv equipment with no problem. I can’t imagine how cool it would be to fly FPV with something like this. You could be flying like a plane, then go into multirotor mode and go explore small/indoor areas, then fly away in plane mode!
How It Works
The FireFLY6 is technically a Y6 configuration. The two motors in the back of the plane are only for hovering and remain off during forward flight. The other four motors in the front of the plane also allow it to hover, with the exception that in forward flight mode, the motors rotate 90 degrees to produce forward thrust.
One of the things that make the FireFLY6 so easy to setup is the Aerobotics Bridge, a special computer which switches between forward and hovering flight. The Aerobotics Bridge takes two flight controllers of your choice and makes them work happily together. It requires one controller for multirotors (like a DJI NAZA) and one optional controller for fixed wing stabilization (like the 3DR Pixhawk).
Because the FireFLY6 is a plane, it has a relatively high flight time from 20 to over 30 minutes depending on your setup. In hover mode it gets 7 minutes of flight time. It is possible to get even more flight time, but you will have to use more expensive electronics, like Tmotors and N-fet ESCs for better efficiency. That being said, the power pack that they sell is designed to be good for heavy lifting, and was not intended for maximum efficiency.
So why is the flight time so small? Well, the big factor is because the FireFLY6 has a flying weight of over 6 lbs (or 2.7 kg) which is vary heavy for a plane this size. From what I understand, it has 5 servos on board, 1 for rotating the motors, 2 for retractable landing gear and 2 for the wing control surfaces. In order to tilt the motors reliably into forward flight, a massive metal gear servo is attached to a metal chain drive system (like on a bike) to rotate the motors as fast as possible.
One thing they could do in the future is design a higher end model made with carbon fiber components. They might also be able to use just four motors instead of six. Two of them could be in the back (how they are right now) and two of them in the front. using carbon fiber should bring the weight down enough to the point where only 4 motors are needed, which would greatly improve the efficiency overall.
How To Buy
The FireFLY6 VTOL rc aircraft kit will be sold for $499, as a kit without motors or ESCs. You can also get the bundle which includes the aircraft kit and PowerPACK (a set of 6 motors, ESCs and props) for $854.98. The release date is set for july of this year.
Things Not Included
If you buy the VTOL RC aircraft kit bundle, here are all of the things you’ll need to get it flying:
- Two 3900mAh 3S (25C or higher) lipo batteries
- BEC – 10A recommended
- FrSky Taranis or any transmitter and receiver with more then 7 channels
- Multirotor flight controller (DJI NAZA tested and confirmed)
Here’s their introduction video.
It’s definitely a cool sight, seeing something in the shape of a plane hovering in mid air like a helicopter, then shooting off into the distance. Since the plane can use the DJI NAZA as one of the flight controllers, it might be possible to put a h3-3d gimbal on it.
If you’ve read this far, you probably have something interesting to say. Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this crazy plane!