Aviation consists of two major groups. Aircraft enthusiasts and helicopter enthusiasts. The two groups rarely get along, each praising the merits of the profession they have chosen. Somewhere in between are gyroplanes. People who love vehicles that mix the best (or worst) of airplanes and helicopters. Aeronautical master [Peter Sripol] dipped his toes into the world of gyroplanes, but not without difficulty.
Autogyros are propelled by a propeller, like an airplane. They also have a tail section that functions like a fixed-wing aircraft. This is where the similarities end. Lift for autogyros comes in the form of a rotating set of blades, much like a helicopter. Gyroplane rotors are not powered during flight. They use autorotation. The blades are free-wheeling, driven by the air as the craft moves forward.[Peter] recently got his hands on a full-size gyroplane. So it made sense to build a model to help learn to fly. It’s not [Peter’s] first test with autogyro models. He has built a few in the past, with limited success. This time he started from scratch and ran into even more problems! [Peter] found that most gyroplane designs use gyroscopes to aid the pilot. These devices will not be available on its full-scale ultralight, so [Peter] wanted to build a craft that flew without electronic assistance. His early designs resulted in crashes right after takeoff. [Peter] scaled the design, as larger models are always more stable in the air. He also found that the aerodynamics did not fit the models exactly, so some design changes were needed. Extending the tail eventually gave him a stable craft, but he still had issues. Changes to the rotor head and blade design proved to be the real keys to making the model work. The details are all available in this 49-page thread (and counting!) on R/C groups.
The good thing about this model is that you don’t have to build it. Most of the frame is constructed from aluminum towel rails and parts that you can get at the local hardware store. The blades are 3D printed with aluminum spars. [Peter] promised to upload the design files by the end of May.
Interested in autogyros? We’ve covered models and scale builds right here at Hackaday.