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I am a professional test pilot

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I am a professional test pilot

Postby curt » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:44 pm

Hah, I'm trying to get better at attention grabbing titles. :-)

This is partly true though ... for my day job I work at the U of MN AEM UAV lab. Part of my job duties is to act as chief test pilot for our various lab projects. Ironically, this means doing less and less as we automate our systems and flight testing process more and more. In fact, the main job of a professional [UAS] test pilot is to *never* do anything exciting. :-)

One of our projects involves doing survey work with the MN dept. of agriculture and DNR looking for an invasive (devastatingly invasive) plant species called oriental bittersweet. The hope is that if we can detect and map out infested areas using 'drones', then we can help the ground crews work more efficiently as they go into an area to treat it. And also we can evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment in subsequent years. For our use-case we want to gather as much detail as possible ... this means flying the highest quality camera/lens we can get at the lowest altitude possible (primarily limited by terrain/obstacles, and how fast we can snap pictures.) Anyway, I wrote up a totally boring blog post comparing the imagery we get from a commercial DJI Phantom, compared to the imagery we get from our in-house system (An X-UAV Talon, Sony a6000 mirrorless camera, 30mm prime lens, and in-house developed autopilot/flight control system and ground station.)

Prepare to be totally bored if you go visit this link, nothing exciting here, please move along folks!

http://gallinazo.flightgear.org/uas/dji ... ony-a6000/

Image
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Re: I am a professional pilot

Postby Knüppelrührer » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:56 pm

Good that this is the hangar talk forum, so no problem with offtopic from flightgear.

I just love my A6000!
Regardless how many videos with "unboxing", "new review", "gear you really need", "APS-C is dead" etc. YouTube is showing to seduce people to buy the newest stuff ...

With sigma 30/2.8?

Don't crash it!
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Re: I am a professional pilot

Postby curt » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:13 pm

Knüppelrührer wrote in Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:56 pm:Good that this is the hangar talk forum, so no problem with offtopic from flightgear.

I just love my A6000!
Regardless how many videos with "unboxing", "new review", "gear you really need", "APS-C is dead" etc. YouTube is showing to seduce people to buy the newest stuff ...

With sigma 30/2.8?

Don't crash it!


I don't have the camera here in front of me, but I think yes, a very good chance that we purchased the Sigma lens ( Sigma 30 / 2.8 ) for this project. We also have a 20mm sony prime lens but decided a narrower field of view (more pixel detail for a given altitude) would work better for our current projects.

"don't crash!" I know, I am totally listening to your advice on this one! :-) So far <fingers crossed> <knock on wood> we have flown safely through a few dozen flights. The risk is always there. We end up having to throw the airplane in the air and trust that all our engineering and safety checks work correctly the entire time. The bigger part of my job is to make sure everything works, everything is maintained well, everything is operated safely, etc. For the piloting part I just flip a switch and throw the airplane. From a developer standpoint (the coding part) bugs and code crashes are simply not an option. I've stressed out a lot of nights when things have gone wrong in the code. I've run our flight code for 9-days straight (using FlightGear as the simulator) just to make sure nothing strange pops up, no memory leaks, no glitches, etc.

At the risk of revealing my true identity (what I look like and what I sound like) here is a video of me launching our in-house developed survey aircraft with custom in-house developed flight controller ... which (oh by the way) inherited a *lot* of concepts and code from flightgear when it was first developed:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5cgUv8jaos

I really like the Sony a6000 too, so much I bought one for my own personal use. My oldest daughter has now taken it on two trips abroad, I have taken it to Oshkosh twice, and it takes such nice pictures (both of airplanes and ancient greek and roman architecture.)
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Re: I am a professional test pilot

Postby Knüppelrührer » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:29 pm

and it takes such nice pictures (both of airplanes and ancient greek and roman architecture.)


Indeed. Both in-camera jpgs and with post-production in capture one.

My portfolio sent via pm ;-)
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Re: I am a professional test pilot

Postby Alant » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:28 pm

I can top that. ;)

I was an instructor for the Empire Test Pilots School. (ETPS), teaching aircraft handling.

This is a slight exaggeration (of course).

Back in the 1970´s ETPS came to our simulator where we demonstrated the effects of various aerodynamic derivatives and cg positions etc., The course instructor and I spent a few days setting up an aircraft (usually the Lightning jet fighter) and then tuned the derivatives to give a range of handling characteristics - ranging from much too stable to the exact opposite. He would then bring that year´s class, 3 at a time, to experience all of this. The class was shown how to rate the aircraft handling using the Cooper Harper scale, and how to compensate for the handling problems.

From time the instructor was unable to come, so I took over from him for the day !

Alan

PS It was not uncommon for this demonstration to make even these pilots air sick.
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Re: I am a professional test pilot

Postby curt » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:05 pm

That is very cool Alant! In my dept we have a 15 year old ATC flight sim (single seat, cessna 172, running flightgear out-the-window graphics and instrument panel by the way.) One professor brings his class through to just show them the basics ... like what a phugoid looks like, what happens to the airplane when you reduce power, etc. Surprising how many AEM students haven't really had any experiences that give them intuition about how airplanes fly.
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Re: I am a professional test pilot

Postby Figaro » Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:04 pm

curt wrote in Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:44 pm:Hah, I'm trying to get better at attention grabbing titles. :-)


Well, Curt, you nailed it! Suckered me in thinking you were a test pilot for airplanes or something - but honestly what you're doing is even more interesting than if that were the case.

I know agricultural drones are increasingly being used in Australia, and in particular in my state of Queensland (especially in the sugar growing regions).
Queensland University of Technology have been working on a similar project to your own but targeted towards our coastlines. They're targetting Bitou bush (Chrysanthemoides monilifera).

-S
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Re: I am a professional test pilot

Postby Michat » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:19 pm

Good evening FG'ers.

Having visited CO's tube weeks ago. Watching the improvements of the project, new aircraft and now finally automatics perfect landings. (no more AGLballoons) I knew that you Curtis should to grab for some better attention. I'm sorry that I can't comment on tube, and I was about to catch the attention posting about your last development at here as I use to do in FGMumble. If there are two vlogs among my favorites is yours, and the other is the Mr. Phill Cobbin's one of OpenEagles.

Your last reins track following mapping is so amazing, that I couldn't resist to share with all my friends in fgmumble. Epic pictures, epic composition.

For several months I was thinking a lot in your projects.
I've discovered a new application for your tech that I think can provide direct benefits. It is a discovery of a new market niche that if you want we can discuss privately.

Thanks and congratulation for your work.
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Re: I am a professional test pilot

Postby curt » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:51 pm

Hi Michat, feel free to send me a PM (or find my university email) if you'd like to discuss any of these things away from the noise of the forum here.

Best regards,
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Re: I am a professional test pilot

Postby Michat » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:29 pm

@curt I wonder if we could have a talk in mumble. Recently I've received an Imac from my bro, beeing newbie on mac, the experience was annoying, very very slow response, no 2nd monitor conection compatible, lack of Fkeys, gnu live cd was faster an running ok. So i decided to install it after create partitions for linux on mac. Resulting after reboot, mac keyboard is not detected, for that I cannot choose os on efi, is booting linux straight,no grub, no sudo, no privileges. Now I'm typing with virtual keyboard so posting will be so hard for me than to have a 5 minutes conversation in mumble. explain my idea to you, letting me to get out of this arm pain.
tx
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