Drones have come a long way in a fairly short time, commercially speaking. In less than 20 years, these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have gone from being used by the CIA to attack the Taliban in Afghanistan, to soon being used by Amazon to deliver a wide range of packages to homes.

UAVs have also come a long way technologically during the past two decades, especially when it comes to their unmanned aerial system, or UAS. This system includes the vehicle’s ground control station, power and communications capabilities, and support equipment.

Sky Power GmbH specializes in manufacturing two-stroke and Wankel gas engines for the UAS. The latter type is an internal-combustion engine that uses an eccentric rotary design to convert pressure into rotating motion. All parts rotate in one direction, as opposed to the common reciprocating piston engine, which has pistons instantly and rapidly changing direction 180 degrees.

Based in Bad Homburg, Germany, Sky Power makes all of its engines at a facility there and at a plant in Altenstadt, Germany. The engines can be used in different configurations, according to customer needs. These include as a direct propulsion unit, a range extender in a hybrid configuration, or a power unit and generator.

In 2018, Sky Power decided to refine the assembly process of its two-stroke SP-210 series engine to improve the quality of solder joints in the ignition system and other electronics. Soldering is regularly performed in the electronics workshop at each plant.

“Today’s applications [require] flying computer systems, so the electronics must therefore function reliably, says Karl Schudt, CEO of Sky Power. “Our engines and the associated control systems are subjected to different, and in some cases, extreme temperature conditions and high rates of acceleration. Therefore, the solder joint is given special attention.”

Schudt points out that some customers’ propulsion systems need long cables, while others require systems with short cables. As a result, the manufacturer decided to purchase a complete soldering system that can be used for a variety of tasks.

The soldering system that Sky Power selected is the i-CON 1 with integrated fume extraction from Ersa GmbH. Electronically controlled, the i-CON 1 features an ergonomic and powerful 150-watt i-TOOL soldering iron, on which different tips can be easily mounted. For Sky Power, this capability is particularly important, as it allows the company to quickly react to meet future customer requirements.

The soldering iron is also equipped with a motion sensor, which switches the system to an energy-saving and tip-sparing standby mode when not in use. Intuitive one-touch control and a large multifunctional display ensure easy operation. Equally important, the user is notified by a visual signal when the soldering process is properly performed.

Sky Power’s SP-210 features a generator mounted on the rear output shaft and twin spark plugs. It can be equipped with either a carburetor or a fuel injection system. The electronics of the engine’s ignition system can be installed on an additional carrier that sits on top of the cylinders.

In 1921, Ersa founder Ernst Sachs patented the first electrical soldering iron. The company has since developed several soldering innovations, including microprocessor-controlled stations in 1987, nondestructive flip-chip inspection systems in 2003 and the i-CON nano hybrid tool in 2009.

For more information on soldering systems, call 920-893-1779 or visit www.kurtzersa.com.