Sheffield Project Hex Society

Project Hex is a student-led team at the University of Sheffield dedicated to advancing UAV technology and research. Over 40 talented individuals from a world-class University come together each academic year to form a passionate and committed team. We design, build, and fly autonomous aircraft to compete in national and international competitions. For the last 5 years we have been entering the IMechE UAS challenge, producing some fantastic aircraft and systems in the process.

Project Hex provides students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to challenging engineering problems beyond the level that is expected from their degree alone, giving them real world practical engineering experience that will accelerate their careers, as well as enhance their CVs.

However, at our core, we are a group of passionate students who love to work within a team on awesome projects to produce incredible results!

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Members typically study
Aerospace
Computing/Technology
Electronic/Electrical
Mechanical/Manufacturing
The facts
Project Hex aims to be one of the first UK teams to enter the AUVSI SUAS Challenge in the USA.
Project Hex has assisted team members in successfully securing placements at major companies in fields including Aerospace and Robotics.
Hex has 4 UAVs that we use for testing and demonstration purposes and a dozen more privately owned by our members.
With 26kg of thrust Big Brian could easily lift 2-4 adult chihuahuas and still maintain a 2:1 thrust to weight ratio.
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Recent Projects

Vulcan V2

Following our prototype, V1SP, we moved on to V2FP - Vulcan V2! Over the last 2 years, we've dug our teeth deep, and pushed hard. Multiple late nights, hours of work, as well as pulling off an all-nighter to get V2FP over the line.

Unfortunately, late April our Vulcan Aircraft suffered an unforeseeable mechanical failure resulting in the destruction of the airframe at our test site. As this took place during the final stages of our flight testing campaign, just a month and a half before the SUAS Competition in America, we unfortunately had to withdraw this year's entry.

Whilst this was a heart-breaking loss for the team we remain as motivated as ever to rebuild and bounce back stronger. The team has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience over the past two years, cementing ourselves as leaders in student-led drone projects, having built and flown the largest VTOL UAV ever built at the University of Sheffield.

We've since performed a thorough investigation of the cause of the incident and have already implemented improvements for Vulcan V3 which is slated to fly at Robonation SUAS 2024.

Vulcan Project

Vulcan is Project Hex’s enterprising two-year project to design, build and fly competitive aircraft for the international AUVSI SUAS Competition in America.

The project requires interdisciplinary expertise from Aerodynamics all the way to Computer Science, Marketing and Finance. Success will be driven by the core teams, Aerostructures, Avionics & Control, and Electronics and Operations.

Vulcan provides an exciting opportunity for students to take part in a project much larger than they normally would on their course, as well as enabling work with materials and components that would be outside the budget of most individuals.

Vulcan itself will be a beast of an aircraft, featuring a predicted 3m wingspan, composite airframe, offaxis capable gimbal stabilised camera, companion computers and much much more. Follow our social media for future updates on Vulcan!

Take a look at our video here.

Big Brian

Big Brian, an over 10kg MTOW quadcopter with 26kgs of lift, showcases what Project Hex can achieve under exceptional circumstances.

The resilience and teamwork displayed throughout a global pandemic demonstrates the core values of Hex; passion, commitment and innovation. The team was able to design, manufacture and test this heavylift quadcopter.

Using CAD and CAM methods the team delivered an impressive final product that performed spectacularly on its successful maiden flight. The comparison of concept to the final product is striking.

Further small iterations in the design and software have already been identified by the team and will be implemented before the next flight. Brian will play an important role in our Vulcan Programme as an avionics testbed for evaluating the avionics, vision systems and path planning algorithms before their integration onto Vulcan.

Talon Coversion

Talon will be Hex’s first ever VTOL Fixed wing Hybrid aircraft and will give us the required experience and understanding of the dynamics of transitioning from Vertical to forward flight.

Talon will also allow us to test new parameters and algorithms without risking the loss of Vulcan.

The project is a great opportunity to give some hands-on UAV experience to those team members who have not been fortunate enough to build their own drones in the past.

Events, trips & socials

Royce Institute Visit

During December 2023, we were provided the opportunity to visit the Royce Discovery Centre, and got to experience and tour around the facility, learning about the variety of processes involved in 3D printing metal components, from processing of metal powder, production of the final result and refining of the results alongside its applications.

Outreach Events 

Project Hex have exhibited at outreach events such as the Girls in STEM event at the University of Sheffield and the GUTS (Get up to Speed) Event with over 3700 attendees.

Inspiring the next generation of engineers, as well as parents and teachers, to improve engagement and diversity within STEM.

A passionate team of members attended, providing an interactive activity and showcasing our ever growing fleet of aircraft, featuring a 1:1 prototype of Vulcan, a 3.2m wingspan VTOL.

They were both amazing events to attend and give back to the community.

Burgers & Bowling

Throwback to our post intro month celebrations!

At Project Hex we’re more than a team who are passionate about UAVs (no really, there is more to us, I promise!). In true family style we held a burgers and bowling night at Lane 7!

The team brought their A bowling game and the burgers with dirty fries at the food outlet Fat Hippo were insanely good! Not only that but the free retro arcade games; Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Space invaders were a surprise bonus. The staff were super accommodating and we’ll definitely be back soon!

Checkout our Chief Engineer’s top notch bowling skills in the video, produced by our own Mo Ahmed!

 

1-to-1 Prototype

The moment we've all been waiting for, the team is incredibly proud to present the first full-scale Vulcan prototype!

The Aerostructures team has been working tirelessly over the past half a year taking the aircraft from a basic aerodynamics model into detailed CAD and finally bringing it to life in the real world. The manufacturing team worked overtime to assemble the aircraft over the course of just a week and a half in order for it to be ready for display during the Girls in STEM and GUTS events.

We are incredibly thankful to Carbon Fibre Tubes for their generous support of our team. They have sponsored Project Hex with the colossal 42mm diameter, 2.5-meter long Carbon rods for our tail boom as well as all the internal wing spars and much more. The tail booms need to be incredibly rigid as any flutter or vibrations could induce dangerous oscillations in the aircraft, which in extreme cases could even lead to a crash. Carbon Fibre Tubes LTD is one of few UK suppliers that stock two and a half meter long rods, without them we would have struggled to find a suitable solution for this crucial structural element and major compromises would have to have been made to our design.

Finally, huge congratulations to all members of the Aerostructures team and its subteams. Josh Gilmour, Shrey Chauhan, Rupesh Bhusal, Tom Cracknell and Jack Griffin have gone above and beyond the call of duty in leading their respective teams, and it really shows in the passion and commitment their team members have put into the project as a result of this.

Test Flight Day

An incredible day for the team, a key milestone celebrating the maiden flight of Big Brian and a well deserved team social!

A highly anticipated day that was well deserved, after long hours on Fusion 360, months of hard work in the workshop and pages upon pages of risks assessments.

With special thanks to our Director of Operations, Bryony Smith, who made the first test flight day in nearly a year and a half possible by some incredible networking. 

Big Brian soared to the skies under the control of Chief Engineer, Balazs Rigo, with Director of Electronics, Toby Ward's 5 Inch Mini Quadcopter close behind providing some beautiful aerial FPV chase footage. Brian performed very well completing multiple waypoint missions and RTL tests with no issues.

Our Engineers have already identified multiple improvements which will be integrated before the next flight.

The team then enjoyed a post flight debrief at the local pub signifying Hex finally returning to socials after nearly a year and a half of Covid restrictions!

Many thanks to everyone that came along, especially Josh, Toby and Jack for providing much needed transport, and of course Bryony for locating and securing us access to the flying site without which this day wouldn't have been possible in the first place.

We can't wait for the next flight day and hope to see even more of you there! Check out the video here.

Team
How to Join

If you would like to find out more, please email us at projecthex@sheffield.ac.uk or check out our website.

Or take a look at us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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