Friday, May 28, 2021

Among U.S.

Collaborating with a contact in California to build a platform for the recreational flight market. It qualifies as a free-flight Part 103 Ultralight in the US, and as a ground-effect vehicle (GEV) in the UK. I'd consider decamping to the US, which Elon Musk himself claimed was the only place to pursue ventures such as these. The design draws on experience gleaned from the three years effort and provides a compact and efficient layout of motors that can be addressed as a virtual quadcopter (as illustrated) so as to simplify it further.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

How the East will eclipse the West...

... so long as you include California.

This is a machine developed in the Philippines and marketed from within Australia by a firm supplying patio-lights, amongst other electrical products. Reason being, these things are going to be Walmart staples one day.

Over there, you borrow a field, mow a service track and lay a little concrete and you're in business. Here in the UK, you've a risk assessment do, insurance to arrange, endless CAA exemptions to pursue, licences and training to complete, a commercial website to upload by way of endorsement and an Experimental Program to draft... at the end of which you've no choice but to pursue the sort of certification that applies to every existing type of aircraft in the UK.

No different in Europe, where as a qualified training captain I realised EASA's guidance for eVTOLs is the operating manual for airlines, with parts redacted as appropriate over a Belgian pastry and cappuccino until it's home-time at noon.

In New York, cars almost replaced carts in the space of a year. When the automobile arrived here from Germany, what did we do with it? Draft a regulation that required motorists to follow a man with a flag at walking pace, so as not to frighten the horses or small children.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Have Drone, Will Travel

Designed for deployment by a single operator, the drone's three parts in the shape of the lower quad, upper quad and accommodation box are eminently portable, whether by roof-rack or assembled on the trailer. Here the lower quad is stripped of skids and motors (as it rains often in the UK) and enroute for its connections to be soldered.

Airbus ship wings for its A380 jet from near here to Toulouse for final assembly. Gotta' hand it to them, their white elephants are always going to be bigger than mine.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

James the Jaunty Engine

The vertical take-off and landing locomotives were finally resting after their hard day in the workshop. James the red engine had been fitted with shiny new 6S 22.2v pannier tanks. "Now I can climb the very steepest gradients!" he boasted, "Even vertical ones!" The other engines in the shed pretended not to hear. Nobody likes a smart-ass, do they?

Rear view of lower quad, skids removed for maintenance. Speed controllers (ESCs) are underslung, electricals and avionics are fitted to the underside and the batteries and motors are right way up for the safest (and in the case of the former, lie outside of the driver's safety cell).

There's a BATTERY FIRE, SEVERE DAMAGE OR SEPARATION memory drill somewhere.

I just can't remember where.

Power Struggle

The skids are off for the next stage of wiring the lower quad, and this the view from the topside. The batteries are going right there, a pair of panniers redolent of the small locomotives beloved of Thomas the Tank Engine.

They'll connect to the power distribution board, what we'd have called the Battery Bus were we flying an airliner instead. That PDB is going to be attached centrally as seen here in order to balance resistance across all four motors, except that it will be fixed to the underside so as to leave the centre-deck available to support accommodation.

Nice to use the old wiring loom, this being the one that travelled with us on the model that appeared at the competition in Mountainview. You'll note though the batteries are not wired in either parallel or series, firstly because I've been on the receiving end of two inadvertent short-circuits on par with a firework display.

But what we shall try in the first instance ~ as the existing loom suits ~ is to run the motors at a lower voltage, but flat out. It may be sufficient in itself to raise the weight of the lower quad and a portion of the payload, which in itself will unburden the other drone so that it can better pursue the task of steering the air vehicle by differential thrust.

Next task, a visit the owner of Alien Power Systems. He has braised connections for me in the past, when not running his restaurant. Braising a wiring loom might make a nice change from doing the same to steak.

Monday, May 24, 2021


Always felt you were less safe flying the likes of Ryanair and there it is in black and white. I've contracted as a captain in Libya, where from time to time I'd to divert so as to ensure the safety of passengers amongst a potentially hostile militia.

And here's a flight being offered the sanctuary of Europe's most notorious dictatorship when a landing at the original destination is by far simplest and safest. Bear in mind the crew were not reportedly threatened with shooting down, but advised to divert due a (fictional) bomb on board.

The accompaniment of a fighter jet incidentally is fairly standard, as its any state's on-call solution to requiring an airframe fast enough to intercept an airliner (though in the case of Concorde, few could). Happens on a regular basis unknown to the press or you and I, and not an indication that you're about to be shot down.

Fact is, with any number of the newer generation of airlines, you're going to the supermarket for factory-harvested chlorinated cuts of chicken shipped from the Far East in refrigerated containers, rather than to the butcher and his Bresse.

You pays your money ~ or with your life as a journalist ~ and you takes your choice.

There'll be much hand-wringing in the bloated EU and febrile UK, but as both Russia and China know, we couldn't punch our way out of a wet paper bag and nor is the US likely to intervene.

And who could blame them? God helps those who help themselves.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

A Sideways Look

Hold off for the moment from patent matters with more practical tasks in hand, like how to build a narrow airframe to suit a passenger broader in the beam?

After kicking both airframe and ideas around in the workshop ~ and after plumbing the depths of developmental despair recently ~ there's something of a breakthrough.

I've reduced the height of the 'box' by a quarter and added it to the clearance for the propellers on the lower quad, by raising the skids by the same height.

The optimal way then to support the passenger upon this 'mother of all chairlifts' is to turn him, her or whomever the mannekin chooses to be along the gender spectrum...

... sideways.

Passengers like drones are not directionally biased, whilst any number of helicopters have been flown in this way in support of shooting video in the best case, and people in the worst.

Airframe's a closed book now as am finally satisfied this is as solid and compact an outline as can be conceived within the practical constraints.

This is all best done in phases and the next task is to fit the avionics required to allow the lower quad to be wired for lift.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Patent Pen (Ding!)

Read today (although it was published April 22nd) news of the UK Patent Office's forthcoming 'transformation' designed to project it into a digital age. I've been among its principal customers for over four decades, during which I've filed literally hundreds of specifications. These have been like spermatozoa, with only occasional issue.

Here's a half-dozen I can remember filing along the way, in some cases years before they would see the light of day, although sadly at the hands of others. Recall an advert  for Arthur Andersen (since ironically sunk by scandal) saying if you do nothing about it, then someone else will):

(1) dual-clutch gear-box (anticipated in France, 1939)
(2) networked door-bell (billion-dollar Ring, anyone?)
(3) wearable aeroplane (Jetman, but before the jet)
(4) photos on TV instead of paper (Kodak, as maybe)
(5) leaning tricycle scooter (Piaggio, or BMW?)
(6) 4-way propulsion for dirigible (Piasecki, sans helis)

Regards aeroplane and leanable scooter, the cognoscenti declared "the geometry is all wrong" but turns out it wasn't. By and large, patent any idea and you'll be met with (i) it won't work, else (ii) there's no market or especially (iii) complete indifference. After all most of us get up wondering how we'll pay the bills and not how we'll get to Mars.

But I was one of less than half-a-dozen who participated in the UK IPO's recent push to reform itself, conducted by one of the 'big six' consultancies and they might ~ just might ~ have been acting upon one of my suggestions that they consolidate all of an individuals IP in the one place. Could be my best invention yet? Besides, they paid me £40 in supermarket vouchers for my trouble, which is more than my patents have ever produced.

I still file specifications in an age when even 'unicorns' don't feel a need to, and that's because they date back four hundred years and I don't date back much less myself.

More on how I plan to license what I've learned of eVTOL tomorrow, and henceforth.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Works Hop

Clear the workshop in preparation for the 'final push'. It's the Holy of Holies, a place in which menstruating women are not allowed. In the corner on the table I note after the film is developed a strange spectre... the ghost of Drones Past.

Asked my 9-year old if he wished to assist in the clean-up, but he prefers less visceral work like wandering around Minecraft, where he's lost his horse. Emerged from a hard days virtual mining to find it wandered off, a Black Beauty with white forelocks.

I ask him to light a Minecraft fire that we can sit around during a rendered sunset.

"Life ain't always easy, son," I say. "Saw you'd broken and saddled that beast too."

"But listen, and listen to me good. Hard times ahead, boy, and there's gonna be a lot worse in life than losing  your Minecraft pony.... varmint deserves eatin' by a shoal a' piranhas."

"But eat your virtual beans and get some rest. Ridin' out to mine-country at daybreak".

Friday, May 14, 2021

Cab Driver

From hereon in I'm designing for myself viz. given a pair of identical quadcopters and a cabin, how would I arrange the three in such a way as to not give a fuck whether you like it or not?

And something that's been bugging me is that given the extended accommodation box to with a footprint of 15" long by 10" at half-scale ~ such that I'll be wholly contained for safety reasons ~ how can I still rotate the upper quad and yet keep it as narrow as that underneath? Reason for so doing being that it provides for an unobstructed view?

And then, an ergonomic insight enables by angled tube-connectors instead of square.

This is great, because it would appeal to the likes of JCB, who make heavy plant in the Midlands that they ship worthwhile... and yet finance weird and wonderful projects like the world's fastest diesel vehicle (400 m.p.h.).

(Not as odd as to sounds in terms of eVTOL either ~ one of the most advanced types in the USA having been developed by a manufacturer of electrical semi-trailers).

There'll be a JCB-yellow wash for this re-jig of the prototype, therefore. And best thing is that there's a local supplier of adjustable tube connectors nearby in Burnley, whose trade counter I shall be visiting come Monday of next week.

And you saw it here first.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Web Sight

Update the website, long overdue:

Includes an edited version on my take on the eVTOL market as it stands, viz.

What electrification does for flight is to diversify the means of getting airborne, more than has ever been possible, in the way that nature fills every possible niche in the air.

Previously the most consistent attempt to apply multiple motors to flying machines in ways that are seen increasingly today was that of a Canadian working in California, in the shape of Paul Moller. He is largely overlooked by the current generation of entrepreneurs for the simple reason that his ideas were ahead of his time, and the electrical equipment available to experimenters today did not exist in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the way the Wright brothers pioneered flight only once the internal combustion engine had become viable, electrical VTOL only became possible when able to supplant that form of power in turn. Altogether simpler to distribute around airframes, the single (or twin) engines familiar to conventional aeroplanes and helicopters are being supplanted by any number of electrical motors driving fans or propellers ~ as few as eight though anywhere between eighteen and three dozen in the ‘flying taxis’ attracting current venture capital.

An analogy is computing, in which a single ‘calculating machine’ available to government and commercial offices would gradually be replaced by a computer on every site, then a PC on every desk and finally a smartphone in every pocket: a multiplication of means. In terms of the overall market for electrical aircraft there is likely to be a wider diversity of ‘phenotypes’ than those that evolved in the hydrocarbon economy, because of the ease with which lightweight and powerful motors can be distributed throughout both airframes and the global economy generally.

The costliest implementation of a means of VTOL for conventional types for instance was that to develop the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and not the least of the reasons which have led to the costliest overrun in aviation history is the previous complexity of vertical lift. In contrast, the great majority of ventures into electrical aviation take this ability as a given.

As a consequence, whilst the bulk of investment capital is aimed the soonest returns from multiple-occupancy eVTOLs and cargo drones, the ecosystem of electrical flight is rather broader altogether. This itself reflects the evolution of pre-existing technologies like the motor-car, which in the UK for example sprang from singular prototypes to a diversity of manufacturers numbering over two thousand… which would nonetheless be reduced to around a half-dozen as internal-combustion engines evolved toward their senescence.

This widening of development means that single-occupant or personal eVTOL has a place, although you might argue that single-seat rotorcraft almost literally never took off, while that the most numerous of helicopters is a two-seater in the shape of the Robinson R22. Nonetheless the R22 was premised on the basis that two seats would be considered the ideal from a practical and sociable point of view, not least because of the sizeable training market available to a type with seats for a student and instructor.

Previously the overriding issue against the success of single-seat types however was the fact they were practically as expensive to purchase, maintain and operate as larger types. This is wholly less likely to be the case with multicopters that already bestride a range of applications from aerial photographic types through industrial and agricultural drones and cargo-copters. The latter already raise payloads in excess of that required to transport an individual, and thus the ability to do so is a logical progression that fills a niche between uninhabited variants and multiple-occupancy types. It is well worth considering after all that in most economies charabancs and buses long preceded private-owned automobiles.

Our view therefore is that personal eVTOLs are a natural development of the environment already enjoyed by millions of drones in use worldwide. At the same time there has always been a vibrant kit-build market for aircraft from the beginnings of aviation ~ or what else could the Wright Flyer be considered? The key to continuing this tradition with electrical aircraft depends on manufacture and distribution as much as it does with aerodynamics.

From the outset ~ and of necessity ~ the TELEDRONE has therefore been designed for flat-pack assembly and modular means of operation which reduce the cost of ownership. It is also worth noting that birds were hopping or gliding long before they could fly… and it is no coincidence that eVTOLs have invariably been tested at low-level and over water.

Beside the market for individuals wanting access to their own personal ‘helicopter’ there is therefore an impetus for the replacement of traditional means such as boats, helicopters or hovercraft in a variety of roles, in ways that drones have largely supplanted rotorcraft. It is as ever a question as ever of walking before you can run, or of climbing ladders one rung at a time.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021


Need to leverage the extensive media I've accumulated in development, and as it's not worth re-inventing the wheel here's the Instagram account that will in due course be linked from the website:

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Mayday (Mayday Mayday?)

Been forwarded this recently on Instagram and figure it's a fairly recent manifestation, although with eVTOL and videos it's often hard to tell. The first recorded attempt to stand and effectively 'surf' a powered platform or airboard of this kind is attributed to a Canadian guy (and a lake, inevitably) and going back several years now.

But they do keep popping up, not least in Florida with Dragon's Airboard (which has the addition of ski-poles to hold onto). Either way you're pivoting the airframe around a fulcrum to tilt the array of propellers in the required direction, whether that fulcrum is a moveable part of the airframe itself or simply your ankles, which are equally able to flex.

It's tempting to follow suit, because the advantage these powered platforms have over drones is that the motors need not be constantly accelerated and decelerated by the flight controller that otherwise steers the craft, such that the batteries last for that much longer. Beside this, they are commendably compact in view of their flatness.

Tempting as it is however, I shall defer from the pursuit of an underslung outline of the kind because they could be classed as a dangerous (albeit exhilarating) sport. We looked yesterday at the broad division of eVTOL types and at the personal end of the scale like this they fall into two categories viz. weight-shifted and computer-controlled.

Ultimately they could be considered separate niches altogether, the one being a form of recreation per se and the other a more prosaic means of traveling from A to B. The reasons I prefer the latter in the longer term are multifarious:

Firstly, it's been done and there's nothing much extra that I could bring to the table.

Secondly, what intellectual property we've filed relates to a combination of drones pitched at different levels around an accommodation booth that may yet extend to the height of a telephone box (and hence the moniker).

Thirdly, digital control of vehicles cannot be uninvented and it seems a shame not to tale advantage of it along with every other form of transport.

Fourthly, I want a vehicle anyone can use from the get-go,

Fifthly, I'd like to be able to provide kit-builds that lend themselves to flat-packs, and the drone appearing in my last post is ideally adapted to these means.

Sixth, although there's eight propellers on the TELEDRONE too they are packaged in a modular design that allows the airframe to be readily disassembled for transport.

To prove this last point that photo of the 'DRONE in the last post took place in a studio, and to get there the upper quad occupied the roof-rack, the lower quad the flatbed of the trailer and the accommodation booth itself the trunk of the car.

Accordingly ~ and these projects are a long haul that require the dedication and re-dedication of an almost monastic pursuit ~ from hereon in expect the aforesaid design to be the goal of endless improvement and an ongoing program of 'proof-of-concept'.