Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Electrical Engineering

Second Department

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

John Spinelli


autopilot, remote control, telemetry, SAE Aero, FPV, radio, airplane design


The design and implementation of a data acquisition system for a remote controlled (RC) mothership airplane and an autopilot control system for an unpowered glider aircraft is presented. These telemetry and autopilot systems have been applied to Union College’s SAE Aero team,which designed and built an RC plane for the advanced class of the 2019 SAE Aero Design competition. The mothership telemetry system uses sensors to gather altitude, air speed and 3-axis force data,stores this data on an SD card,and sends this flight information to a ground receiver station via wireless radio communication. The capture of altitude data is a competition requirement and the other data has been used to verify design configurations,prove calculations and to help with design improvements. Currently, the autopilot system incorporates a commercially available drone flight controller that was adapted to work with a fixed wing aircraft. After testing, the telemetry system has been shown to take accurate data readings, and operates consistently at a range of 1500ft, which is more than the safe operating distance the team follows. Experimental flights with the autopilot system controlling a powered RC test plane have shown the system is capable of successfully completing autonomous flights and landings. In two tests, the autopilot has successfully landed the test plane within 30ft of a specified GPS coordinate.



Rights Statement

Copyright Not Evaluated