This is my first post as I have recently become interested in UAV for a research project I would like to conduct.
I have received prices for the commercial small UAVs and they have very large price differences. I nearly had a heart attack when I received a quote for a GateWing X100.
Therefore, based on the US$600 start-up that has been presented on this site I might give it a go to build my own.
:Why I need a UAV?:
I need to map relatively flat areas of approximately 2 km2 to obtain an accurate (within 15cm accuracy) ortho and Digital Surface Model (DSM) to analyse in CAD software. I have ground control points to improve my models.
>Fully automatic fly system (take-off by hand, auto fly a planned survey path, land). Also to include a back to base option. The areas where I need to survey are inaccessible by foot or vehicle so retrieving a plane if it fails will not be possible. I need good reliability.
>Range up to 5 km.
>Obtain a high quality aerial image of this area (seaminglessly joined from the multiple photos and georeferenced)
>Operate at flying altitudes of 200m above ground level at ground elevations of 5000 meters above sea level (I work in the mountains)
>Be able to fly and obtain good data at winds up to 50 km/hr
>Land on coarse gravel surfaces (no grass where I am)
>Ideally to have a flight duration of 1 hour or more.
>Why such a big price difference in the commercial systems when they all seem to do the same thing? Some of the expensive ones look like they will fall to bits in no time.
>The majority of the planes specified on this site for UAV development seem to be easily breakable on landing (EOP etc.). Are there planes that can skid land on gravel without damaging writing off the body or jeopardising the internal electronics?
>I have RC car knowledge and not planes. Can I buy an ARDUPilot and set it up manually?
>Can I include telemetry to see on board battery power and even modify the flight path while airbourne?
>Based on my requirements to use a UAV, what plane would be best that is durable and can hold all the required electronics?
Apologies for the many questions, but I’m new here and very keen to learn.
Thanks in advance
You are absolutely, right!
Yes I know that very much was invested in R&D to create these drones... but why gain/profit it only in few sales? Will be much more easy to everyone budgets, if theirs investments will paid of the many sales... yes, they will selling it a lot!
My "case" is exacly the same yours. I need a flying plataform, that could taken images with great quality, in autopilot mode, following an flight plan, with manys waypoints. After, I will post-processing imagery, as orthophotos, DTM and DSM etc.
But, X100, SenseFly, Sirius and many others that I have quote, is prohibitive to me... I'm poor. I had good ideas in my brain, but have no money in my pocket... :-)
Here, in Brazil, with R$ 3.000 (about US$ 1.500) anyone can building an UAV like this, with some imported parts. With many knowledge, expertise and LOT of reading, reading and learning... Well, maybe I will trip this way!!
Well, sucess for both!
Nothing out there for under $50,000 can fly in 50 kph winds and land on gravel. You will not be able to get 5km range out of your command and control link without spending a chunk of money. Probably that alone will eat up your $600.
You have to choose to fly when the weather is right for your platform, also no where in the world would it be legal for an untrained person to fly beyond line of sight.
I would have thought with your RC car knowledge you would have realised where the money goes.
I Agree with Gary. The typical hobbiest approach to UAV is , without belittling the process, at best a hack. Building a one-off from EPP, bits of wood and glue is easy, making a rugged, idiot proof plane that none flyers, ie, surveyers, can use, one that if he breaks a wing, a camera mount, the motor mount, etc, he can call you up and get a spare that fits, etc, is a completely different ball game. Interchangeablility of parts is mandatory. Ease of use is mandatory. No fiddling with autopilots, why are my leds not flashing, which code to load, which jumper must be in or out....Autopilot and flight control software that changes daily, software configuration control that follows no auditable standards, Quality control and audit processes that are non-existent, etc.
ALL that stuff must be sorted out completely sorted and that takes a while. There is an industrialization process that takes place after the whole development phase - this is where all the production process are refined and proven, all the documentation is tested and proven, loom and wiring diagrams proven, tolerance buildups on manufactured parts tested to ensure that positive buildups do not prevent parts fitting, etc, etc, etc.
This all requires a rigor of process, a small handful of people, tooling and equipment, capital investment in these elements, capital investment in stocks and materials, etc. You have to manage obsolescence which is a killer in todays rapidly changing and developing technologies. You have to keep stocks of parts forever to ensure you can support your products delivered.
NEVER will such products compete with the $400 hobby hack, but such products are what the professionals purchase and use - they are not in the game for the fun of flying, for Orthoimage/DEM modelers and surveyers, the UAV and camera is simply another tool, as is the $80K+ 1cm accuracy GPS systems they use, from Leica, Trimble, etc.
You need to compare apples with apples and make cost judgments based on commercial realities..
Anyone with aptitude can build a $400 UAV with camera able to 'do the job'. You will never make that a commercial success without investing 500 times that, at least, in underlying processes and systems!
Having said all that, without the hobbiest , in many disciplines, we would be streets behind in development!
Good luck to all!
Take a look at my SurVoyeur Blog - the industrialization process has just been completed and the first 7 planes built, passing all the tolerance tests, etc.
Cost of processes to get to this point - $178K
Cost to manufacture 1 airframe ( All composite parts) -materials and labour, Quality processes, etc - $3.2K
Cost of a complete, guaranteed, autoland autolaunch system, with proven 2cm ground resolution and sub 4cm ground accuracy over 4sq km Ortho image model - $36K+ - and I cannot keep up with demand!
If any hobbiest can do better, I have a job for you!
Joe, thanks for the comments Joe.
Looks like you have an interesting project there. The resolution sounds very good. I prepared to sacrifice some of my resolution to reduce costs at this stage. If my first airframe works well i will look to invest in a high end commercial version.
May i ask, did your $3.2K first airframe incorporate the same autoland autolauch system you consider in your complete system?
Thanks for comments.
I never said my budget was $600. I'm prepared to spend some cash to try and create a viable system for my needs.
Yes, i plan to be able to fly the system manually with training.
I have seen a commercial mapping system for less than $10,000 that can fly in strong winds that i am considering to buy. Not sure what system you are referring to for $50,000. However, if i can build my own for less i'm up for the challenge.
Yes, it did include autolaunch/land but I think you did not get the gist of my diatribe - the 3.2K was for the AIRFRAME ONLY, ie, only the composite parts, fuse,wings,landing gear, tail, etc, No Avionics, no software, no servos ( servos for the plane alone are $190 each - metal case , all ball bearing, titanium gears - only high rel stuff!)
No wiring, no RCS RX, etc. As we say over here, only the Tupperware...
The SurVoyeur system is in small series production right now, and includes all as in the PDF Brochure at the end of the blog...
We are making NC machined aluminium molds to make the wings in future - vacuum bagging with mylars is great for small series, but no good for repeatably.
It is easy to make an inexpensive ( or 'cheap') drone - making one that can last 300 or more flights with rough landings and still do the job, and be reliable and SAFE....
There is no off the shelf system under 10k Jon that will fly in 50 kph winds. I have managed this landing method a couple of times with my wings using the same autopilot as this.
I'm not quite as against EPP wings as Joe they have their place for quick 1km sq survey flights. I can do that without needing a GCS or fancy tracking antennas its simple. But I must choose the weather in which I fly. The windier it is the more it all gets chucked around the sky and less usable images are the result. After setting up I had a throw and forget system that worked every time. I have tested the EPP I use to 100 hours flight time, in fact that particular airframe went to nearly 200 before I totalled it. I have just started flying this one again.
Yep its ugly! Those are high tech Windhoek (honest that is my beer of choice Joe) cardboard hatches ;-)
Its called a Manta from http://www.flyingwings.co.uk it has been copied all over the place but anyway its very simple and had flown 75 hours with an AttoPilot before I fitted earlier this month an APM 2.0 to test its flown three hours and is fine.
This sort of system should be replaced every 100 flying hours and that's that.
So the point, price is a a function of intended use and the users ability to understand the restrictions of their systems. All the bells and whistles won't stop people chucking it straight at a tree on launch.
Thanks for the feedback. From my reviews to date the wings seem to be more stable in higher winds. I have watched many videos of the X8 wing with autopilot and it seems very stable and excelent for video too. Just a little too big for my liking.
The 10K off the shelf system i was referring to was the LP960
Lehmann They claim 45km/hr winds.
However, it does look a little flimsy.
May i ask how much your wing cost with all the electrics and APM2.0? So far i am thinking to actually consider a wing with APM2.0 for my 1 km2 surveys. I wanted to fix a good camera to get good aerial images in the first instance. How are your orthos and DSMs in terms of accuracy? What wind speed do you consider acceptable for orthos?
Fortunately there are few trees here to wrap it around, but the large rocks dont look too friendly either.
http://infogr.am/What-is-the-Best-Flying-Wing-Commercial-UAV In case your interested, there is some interesting information in regards to the commercial options for gaining aerial photographs, pros, cons, and weaknesses as well as prices