DIY experts,

I have a specific application. I need a high endurance disposable platform to make measurements in clouds and storms. Recovery is not important. The UAV would be equipped to transfer data to ground control station in near real time. Once data is obtained, recovery will be attempted. If recovery is not possible due to storm conditions, the UAV will be abondoned. Subsequent mission would be conducted with an identically equipped UAV.

Important requirements:
1. Cruise speed ~ minimum 50 knots
2. Flight time (endurance) at cruise speed ~ 20 hours
3. Payload (with full fuel onboard) ~ 3 kg
4. Cost ~ less than $5,000 for airframe

I know requirements are challenging but each will have to be specified for this project. Thank you all for your feedback!

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Keep dreaming ;)

Do you know of anything that comes close? In the meantime I'll keep dreaming :)

Speed, payload, price but not the endurance. Thats the deal breaker. 

Can you use an airframe like the Mugin and power it with an EFI engine and large fuel tank?

Any thoughts on what damage an "abandoned" UAV can cause? 15 Kg going straight down.....

I don't want to be the person in the wrong place at the wrong time when it comes to hitting someone.

The flights are planned for hurricanes over the open ocean. I doubt anybody will be under a hurricane. The objective is to collect data, improve hurricane forecasting and save lives.

or to put it another way:

speed, payload, endurance but not the price :)

MUGIN Twinboom UAV platform

  • Wingspan 3 mete.
  • 6 litres fuel loaded.
  • 3 hours flying time.
  • The minimum flight speed of 40 km, 150 km maximum.

You are looking at 2 liters (almost 2 kgs) of fuel per hour, so if you want 20 hours.......

I would suggest the same. We actually are flying this platform with a 10 liter fuel tank (we made it bigger) and a 50 CC DLE twin cylinder engine, fuel consumption at 100 KM/Hr only 0.5 liter per hour !!! That was with perfect conditions, flying a straight line up and down.

We flew a mapping mission, lots of turns, a bit windy and the consumption went up to a liter per hour. But still quite efficient.

The mugin is cheap, available at FPVflying.com. Your problem will be to keep the total weight below the maximum take off weight. To stay up 20 hours, you need at least 15 liter (about 14Kg) of fuel.

We have been able to keep data transmission with the RFD900 up to 100 Km, using an antenna tracker and directional Yagi antenna's. If you need more range, that will be a challenge to.

If you want more info, you can PM me.

If you want to improve your fuel consumption, try a 50cc single rather than a twin.  At this scale, surface/volume effects and the resulting thermal losses will have a large impact on specific fuel consumption.

I know that people like the opposed twins for balance and smoothness, but it comes at a price!

No offence and i'm probably wrong, but this all sounds like a university assignment you want someone else to do for you.

Any links your actual project? Cheers.

No offense and yes you are wrong.

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