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Aircraft Review : AeroG UV-4 UAV by Thranda A coming major revolution to aviation are UAV's (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and Drones. Lets us first separate the distinction between UAV's and Drones although with larger Drones the area does cross over between the two types of aircraft. UAV's are ground based piloted aircraft, mostly military at this point with the excellent General Atomics' "Predator B" being the current hollywood favorite casting actor in vogue. Drones are what what you buy in your local toy store although mostly it is in bigger electronic stores that are now the most visible distributors of this current in fashion fun tool. The rules are clear in that UAV's can be over the horizon in operation, were as Drones have very specific rules in that the aircraft has to be less than 55gb, within your line of sight and restricted to 400ft AGL, and a load of restrictions in where you can and not fly. The line is blurred above that of the basic rules of the use of heavier Drones. You do need then to become an actual pilot, sit an exam and prove you are totally capable of flying of which is in a sense is a commercial drone. A pilot certificate can also be issued under 14 CFR part 61 regulations (US). The rules are still tight, but you can use the Drone for many uses and for activities that involve people below in say sporting events and photography over cities. I have followed the antics of fast food suppliers and Amazon in their desire to deliver pizza and parcels to your door, antics is the word and yet I may be ultimately proven wrong. But if you fly you would be familiar with the effects of variable wind patterns and lot of obstructions at low level flying that would mostly certainly render your Hawaiian pizzas to the pavement or simply dropping out of the air into your back garden, in other words a great idea but not realistic in the real complicated world. Although there is the benefit if it actual works of a Hawaiian and beef pizza colliding together above you and thus creating the perfect recipe before landing on your tomatoes to add in that extra Italian flavour. But this UV-4 UAV is a very interesting and more practical machine. It has been created by the Bergen Community College in Bergen County, New Jersey USA. First it has electrical propulsion and not the usual heavy aero engines. However the biggest advantage as we will see is the sheer ease of the way it does fly and the absolute control and specific way you can allow the aircraft to travel from point to point. It could change the complete way we move around our planet in the future and have really great specific roles in the way it is utilised... In other words the UV-4 is the future. One of the great things about X-Plane and the way it is designed with its "Blade Element Theory" flight physics algorithm, is that you can replicate this machine and simulate it's capablities. Thranda have done that here and you now have a unique chance to see and control and aircraft a new and unique way to fly. UV-4 Basically the UV-4 is a streamlined box with four rotary fan nacelles with two small fans at the front (lifting), and the two bigger propulsion fans at the rear. The trick to the aircraft is not in it's shape or even the lifting fans as both technologies have been around for decades. But in the way the electronics control the dynamics of flight and speeds of the lifting bodies. This aircraft has a small central compartment with an opening door at the rear to deliver cargo, but at this size it is too small yet for commercial operations, it will be the same vehicle at a scale a little larger that would then make this flying machine viable. The only visible worry is that the aircraft is very reminiscent of the Skynet controlled drones from the James Cameron "Terminator" films, so we will have a need to stay in control of the vehicle or the computers will take it over and wipe us all out with it... Thranda UV-4 There is a full side tab menu to control and use the UV-4 and we will go though each tab one by one from top to bottom. The first set covers the views you can have. Panel The very top tab is the "Panel". This is a standard X-Plane 2d panel that is set up to look like your a flying the UAV from a remote situation. It is produced here in full with the top and bottom halves of the panel joined together to see the full layout. The main screen can be zoomed and the side smaller display is attached to the gimbal camera on the front of the aircraft that be independently moved with your left/right, up/down viewing keys. In the main screen display is a HUD style instrument display that can be turned off if required. Top right is a timer, and top left are fire switches (personally any fire in any lifting fan would mean you would suddenly crash anyway). with a Centre of Gravity display right frame. Gear up and down on the left and fan power and throttle controls are on the right. Lower left are the radio/navigation panels and on the lower right is the Autopilot controls and lighting switches at the bottom. Centre left lower panel is the Artificial Horizon, altitude, speed strips and rose compass and centre right is the basic navigation display. The engine display shows five different aspects of the aircraft's situation. (left to right) Engine power output, Fuel, Stats, Hyd (hydraulics) and Fail (Failures). Gimbal with HUD Second tab shows you the view from the front mounted gimbal camera with the HUD graphics overlaid. Gimbal Camera Third tab is the gimbal camera again but with just the image and no flying data. You can move the camera with your left/right, up/down viewing keys. Night-Vision Fourth tab is the night vision mode. This is really just the standard X-Plane Night-Vision goggle effect, but it is put to good use here and looks very attack war like. Great for widespread bombing of Christmas presents out of the back door. The next set of tabs cover the flying features Artfi-Stabil To see the Artfi-Stablise in action we need to fly the UV-4 Starting up the UV-4 is just very simple. If the power is switched on you just simply advance the throttles and those huge fans start to turn and power up, and this UAV sounds like a huge mega-death vacuum cleaner on speed. More throttle and the fans allow the aircraft to defy gravity. This is where the computer power comes in. The system has a built in Artfiical-Stabilisation that keeps the aircraft correct and level with you just adjusting for wind direction, and no wind means it will just go straight up! Hover Next tab is the hover which does two jobs in line with the Artfi-Stabil in keeping the aircraft in the correct hover position, and if you press the button while flying it will slow the aircraft down and go into hover (stop) mode. It is very easy to balance the aircraft on the throttle... and there is no fighting the yaw like you do with a helicopter tail rotor. Gentle turn of the yaw and the aircraft will do a complete 360º turn on the same spot, totally brilliant Although from the ground you are glad this UAV has nothing more than a box to carry than guns, it is very threatening and Terminator like as turns towards you... So run away now! Then you have a set of general purpose tabs. Next tab is for the "Gear" to stow or lower the landing gear. Then you have four buttons that cover: Mute (no sound), Pause (pauses the sim) Auto-Pilot (that switches on the auto-pilot) and the button to open and close the cargo door. Flying the UV-4 Stow the gear and switch out of the "hover" mode and with a slight push of the stick forward you can move into the direction you want to. You still have to balance the throttle to maintain your correct altitude, but otherwise you will move forward like a slow helicopter. So is this UAV like a helicopter to fly? Well yes and no to the more of the yes. As you still have to balance the throttle to a helicopter's collective to maintain the right angle and height for the correct flight path but here without keeping the pressure of keeping the tail rotor in check. Otherwise you just turn and yaw like you usually do for turns. There are no notes on how fast or high the UV-4 will actually go, but I think the same as a small helicopter would be in the same range. One area that is tricky and that is just simply getting back down? Reduce the throttle and even right down to the low stop and you will still stay up there? You have to dive down and lose altitude slowly and then lose all your speed, going into "hover" mode doesn't work either as it does stop you from going forward, but the descent is jerky extremely slow downwards. Just being allowed to reduce altitude via the throttle like in a helicopter would make it easier. I eyeballed the clubhouse (terminal) and you could see how good a war platform these machines could be, but then it was time too rumble the office before hitting the "Hover" mode to land. You have to hit the "hover" mode at just the right time, so it clicks in smoothly, and if you hit it too early then you will be hovering in the wrong place. Then manoeuvring to the right spot is not hard of course but it is not very neat in your flying. But this UAV is thankfully nothing but easy to manoeuvre and then land for any failed helicopter pilot. A few notes on this version. There is no fuel or battery charge noted and refueling or recharging will mean restarting the simulator. So it is easy to simply run out of charge while flying. Also the twin 2d screen makes it hard to see and adjust the lower panel at the same time, certainly when setting up the auto-pilot or navigating. There is no manual either? so the "how To Use" is awkward. Liveries There are four liveries with the default being the Bergen Community College livery and three camouflage liveries. Summary The UV-4 is a totally fascinating machine and brings the Terminator style future within reality. But it is the ease of the way it flies that changes the game in the point to point delivery that is really interesting here and sets these aircraft up for certain automated flying. And you can easily see them flying daily through the air over your towns or cities Blade Runner style or facing Terminator skynet armageddon. Thankfully with these UAV's they are too big just to deliver pizza even if their delivery message would be interesting in: "Your pizza is here... I'll be back!" With Thranda's version there is of course limitations within X-Plane that doesn't allow you to do certain things and it does show here, but that doesn't mean that Austin Meyer can't add them in as well. As this is certainly the future in flying. Personally I would have liked a virtual 3d cockpit version rather than the awkward 2d version, but obviously you don't have a cockpit in a drone. But you do need all the flying tools on one level and accessible to get the best effect from flying the aircraft from behind a screen, so does X-Plane need this new 3d style facility as certainly more drones will be coming to the simulator, but for now the developers are stuck with the effects and the limitations of old plane-maker technology. A manual here would have been seen as a real bonus as well. But I will leave you on this review with a thought. And that is would simulator users be the best for flying UAV's as well as normal pilots? after all we fly from behind a screen and have a natural feel for disconnected flying. Don't expect the U.S Airforce or the RAF to come knocking any day to do raids in foreign war zones though, but you may get a call for flying loads over distances within your own countries boundaries... it is a thought. ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! AeroG UV-4 UAV by Thranda is Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : UV-4 V/STOL UAV Price is US$22.00 Plugin-based logic, enabling unique capabilities "Auto-hover" mode. Applying the brakes in flight makes the UAV settle into a stable hover. Auto-throttle, which keeps descent rates safe at low altitudes. Rear nacelles feature nimble connection to input controls, allowing for intuitive and extremely maneuverable, yet docile handling. Helicopter-like feel in terms of cyclic input 2d cockpit, emulating a UAV remote booth Gimballed camera hanging from the nose of the plane. The gimbal moves according to the camera view. Side menu with features like camera snap points, HUD mode, night vision, cargo bay, artificial stability on/off, auto-hover on/off, pause, mute, etc. Cargo bay with retractable ramp ______________________________________________________________________ Installation The download package is 48.20mb and is 75.30mb when installed as a single folder in your X-Plane "Helicopter" Folder. This aircraft can be used in both X-Plane10 and X-Plane11, however all the X-Plane11 features at this point in time are not shown. Documents: None Requirements : X-Plane 10 Fully updated or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux - 64bit Operating System required 512Mb VRAM Video Card Minimum. 1GB+ VRAM Recommended ______________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 24th January 2017 Copyright©2017: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.45 / Checked install in X-Plane11b6 Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini : Headshake by SimCoders Plugins: : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 Scenery or Aircraft - KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 2.01 by Drankum (Please note extra objects including the "office" have been added to this scenery) (X-Plane.org) - Free