I've been tossing around the
idea of building a working prototype of a controllable flying disc for
a few years, and this page is the repository for information as I come
to it. I'm currently leaning toward control with synthetic jets (as
described in the literature by Potts and Crowther). I'm sure people
have built similar things, but I haven't been able to find references
maintain the same basic shape and look of a normal disc; where
"normal disc" is a 175g Ultimate disc. This is in contrast to the
approach taken by Yates and Brown (see below) where they attached a
gimballed control surface to the disc and had a tail hanging off the
back which didn't rotate. I'd like the control to be as internal to
the disc as possible.
Design with sufficient ruggedness that the disc could survive
quite a few 'crashes' and rough catches in a typical playing
session. My concern here is that much of the prior work is either
munitions-based (where metrics for success include destruction on
impact) or UAV-based, where the craft is potentially much larger or
externally powered and can be recovered in a controlled manner.
Regardless of the potential uses, my goal is to build a toy which is
fun to play with and demonstrates some technical proficiency :)
Cheap Off the Shelf (COTS) radio control components typically
have crystal-based receivers with fragile crystals that don't take
too well to repeated impacts. This isn't that big of a deal and
could be mitigated with good packaging or alternate receiver
I need to gather good data for the power consumption of various
actuators. I'm pretty sure today's battery technology should make
this a relatively simple problem to solve.
I'm not sure what sort of disc loadings the standard 175g discs
can be saddled with and still perform reasonably. Obviously, the
distribution of mass is also important. Qualitative observations
about these things are fairly easy to determine with some lead and a
few discs, but mathematical insights into modeling this area of disc
performance are available and should be explored.
Molded plastic discs work really for normal discs because they're quite
durable and cheap, but it might make sense to explore other materials to
keep the total vehicle weight down and make it easier to work with. It
wouldn't be too difficult or expensive to build a hollow molded disc from
modern composites (carbon, fiberglass, and kevlar), although there are
ethical and legal problems with splashing a
common disc design.
Project paper by Devon Yates (Fifth Year, Mechanical Eng) with
advisor Ben Brown, Robotics at CMU. "Design and Prototype of a Remote
Control Frisbee". I have a copy of this, but don't have permission
yet from them to make it available. Originally found reference here.
G.D. Stilley et al., AIAA Paper No. 72-982, Adaptation of
the Frisbee Flight Principle to Delivery of Special Ordnance, 1972,
MACE SCHUURMANS. Flight of the Frisbee - Throwing a
Frisbee can be fun if you know how to do it. One of the problems is
that the flying disc cannot decide if it is an aerofoil or a
gyroscope. New Scientist vol 127 issue 1727 - 28 July 90.
New Scientist has an easily accessible archive of print
material, but as I write this it only goes back to 1987