Feb. 9, 2015 | By Kira

Back in October at the FlySafe 2014 Exhibition in Las Vegas, Cliff Whitney of Atlanta Hobby’s UAV Tech Team unveiled the Vortex, one of the world’s most advanced 3D printed hexacopters. At that time, Whitney announced that they would be making a special edition print of the Vortex just for the Roswell Flight Test Crew in their favorite, high-visibility color scheme: black and yellow.

Recently, Atlanta Hobby pulled through on that promise, and delivered a completely assembled version of their robust aerial camera platform to the RFTC crew, which builds, flies, crashes and repairs home-made drone aircrafts.

The Vortex was printed on a million-dollar aerospace 3D printer and comes equipped with a DJI NAZA2 flight controller, a DJI E600 propulsion system with self-tightening propellers, and a massive, six-cell 15,000 MAH LiPo battery, capable of delivering 15 minutes of flying time. In terms of features, the front end of the UAV has space for a gimbal and camera, while the back end is fitted with the battery, a USB port, and several lights for clear visibility while flying.

In terms of the construction, both Techinstein and Lucidity of the Roswell team were impressed by its robust, solid build, a result of using a highly-advanced aerospace 3D printer rather than your average desktop model. “The Vortex is [a] vindication of sorts for me and my design philosophy when it comes to multirotors,” said Lucidity. “Techinstein prefers to make the aircraft weigh as little as possible, based on the reasonable assertion that – everything else being equal – the aircraft that weighs less will fly longer. I, on the other hand, believe that aircraft construction should be substantial and robust – relying on larger motors, propellers and batteries to offset the additional weight. Clearly, the Vortex demonstrates the advantages of my approach.”

Indeed, the fully assembled aircraft weighs in at 6 lbs, 3.6 oz and the battery alone weighs 4 lbs, 5.2 oz—that’s over 10 pounds or 4.7 kilos of heavy-duty material whizzing through the air. Despite its weight, however, its flying capabilities do not disappoint. “It’s got plenty of get up and go,” said Lucidity. “You push the throttle, it goes right up. It doesn’t really feel heavy at all…it’s got plenty of juice to move when you want it to.”

The RFTC video includes an overview of the equipment and features, a peak under the hood, (which revealed the GPS and neatly laid-out wiring), a look at the compass calibration process, as well as the much-anticipated flight test. “It’s a thing of beauty and we’ll fly it with pride,” said Lucidity.

Thanks to 3D printing, the Vortex is available in a wide range of colors and each part can be individually color-customized depending on your design needs and/or preferences. However, according to Whitney, this Roswell-inspired black and yellow version may not become a full production model since the yellow printing filament required for their aerospace printer is extremely difficult to come across.

The Vortex ready-to-fly Combo UAV is available on Atlantic Hobby’s website for $3,949.99, and based on the RTFC flight test video, is a drone-lover’s dream.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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