I am really trying to find the right price range to cover my material costs for each airframe, and make it worth while to build more than one. For my personal airframe I have already invested a lot in designing and building tooling, and performing exhaustive aero, stability and structural analysis. So the design is ready, I just thought that other DIY Drone enthusiasts would also like a great flying and durable airframe.
I estimate, based on my own DIY Drone, that the electronics that most of us have in these planes is near $1000, possibly more if you have a ground control station with telemetry and such. Why put all of that in a cheap plane like an EasyStar or some equivalent airframe? So, in the spirit of TCIII's original post on this topic, I pose the following question: What would people pay for a professional quality airframe? $500? $1000? Keep in mind that carbon and Kevlar these days is not cheap, but the final product -if designed correctly- is stronger, lighter and more crash tolerant than EPP foam airplanes. Also, these airframes will not be outsourced, instead they will be built here in California, and the build time for a bare airframe is roughly 60 hours. However, the build time will decrease if more airframes are built.
Great question! I have posted a spreadsheet on Google Docs which outlines what I have installed in my drone, as well as the support equipment like FTDI cables, PicKit II, etc.
This is just a reference, and I have used it to track my personal investment, and I think that you will be surprised to find out how much you have invested in your personal drone. Even little things like taxes and shipping really add up.
Very nice analysis! You've gone very high end on your equipment ($520 RC, $100 motor, $118 ESC, $62 servos, etc) so I can see why you'd want to protect it.
I tend to go low end on my equipment---interestingly about 1/10th the cost of your gear ($50 RC, $10 motor, $18 ESC, $6 servo etc) . I think of my UAVs as being semi-disposable. I test a lot of beta code, so bad things happen. When that's the case, and a UAV goes down in the Bay (happens a lot, sadly), I don't worry too much about it.
Since I do so much testing, I've always got about 10 UAVs ready to go. Cheap equipment means that's not crazy expensive, but I agree if I simply wanted to use one UAV to get a job done, I'd go for higher-end gear, too.
10 UAVs ready to go at any time?! What electronics are you using and where are you purchasing them? I would be happy to reduce my costs in any way possible.
That said, if you are buying "cheap" electronics, are you also monitoring the health of your system, and doing post crash analysis to be sure that it was an AP issue and not a simple servo failure? I have had problems in the past with faulty "cheap" equipment, and I have always been satisfied with "higher quality" servos, for example.
Regardless of my experience, I am very interested in what you have and what your experience has been. I am always open to new ideas.
I get everything in bulk from HobbyKing. Every now and then I get a bum servo or funky motor, but it's pretty rare and at a few bucks each no big deal. Even with APM on-board, no UAV costs more than about $300. I don't have cameras on most of them.
I'm very happy with the Skyfun (which comes with a decent brushless motor and servos installed for $63) as a UAV platform. Never had a problem with either servos or motors.
There's no point in investing more in equipment for development platforms. They're designed to be low-cost experimental vehicles, and they do a great job at that.
I agree with you on the "disposable" view of these "UAV's". I will look at HobbyKing again and consider buying some of their equipement.
As for the XBees, I have isolated mine and I am using mil-spec twisted pair wiring and I have no problems. I have used shielded wire in the past, but there seems to be no need for the extra weight at the moment. I have my XBee and my video TX sitting beside the AP and servos not far from that, all without any interference. Oh and to clarify the spreadsheet, I am currently using a PCM 72MHz radio, but I have also used a 2.4GHz without problems as long as I select different frequencies on either side of the 2.4GHz bandwidth, i.e. 2410 MHz and 2510 MHz. Even without selecting this, the spread spectrum radio should handle this automatically. For my purposes, I also used a spectrum analyzer that I have at work and ran through a few frequencies in my area, at a few different times of the day, and I have not found a whole lot of interference.
Yes I would like a 1/1 Raven. Paul I noticed on your spreadsheet video and rc frequency 2.4GHz and Xbee 900 Mhz. No interference problems? I have read of people incorporating 1.2GHZ video to avoid any problems. For now, I'll utilize Chris' methodology until I can get into the groove of things. I was trying to put together the 'perfect' system and forgot about just getting started in a direction.
Thanks for your comments
i would be interested in CF/GF/Kevlar wing/ elevator /rudder for the Nitroplanes .com RQ-11 model to replace the current balsa/film assemblies