Best flight times, electric vs nitro...etc.(plane)?


I would like to get into flying drones and i'm really excited I just don't know what to buy. Since I would like to have a FPV system and of course Ardupilot.  I'm about to purchase the already made system from Udrone but I was really hoping for some longer flight times than the standard 30-40 minutes.  How about 3+ hours? 

Is Nitro out of the question or really that much harder to use with Ardupilot? I'm thinking generally I could get better flight times.  I guess you could say i'm a stereotypical redneck engineer that lives in North Dakota in the middle of the oil boom so I don't think oil/loud engines is necessarily a problem for me..

I have read a lot of people saying they are getting longer flight times but reading on later in the post it becomes more and more apparent that they are making up stories so I would appreciate an honest opinion.

I am leaning towards an already made kit but I wouldn't mind just a plane with an FPV system to calibrate/practice with before I start using APM. Eventually I would like to add some thermal imaging/image tracking to the live video stream which I might not be able to accomplish but it sure would be fun to try and I will of course post updates about my progress.

With these future goals in mind where should I start?  What airframe/model will have a high payload capacity and 3+ hour flight time?

I know all of you veteran APM guys are busy and maybe this seems like a silly post to answer I would appreciate any help/guidance/direction/patience I can get.

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@ Michael:

What engine and propeller are you using to get 1 hour flight at your X8 ?? Could you please share link ?

I use a 11000mah 4s and is getting 1 hour as well, so your setup is much better!


Hey Michael.

My 5mm to 10mm coupler arrived today. Seems to hold the two shafts together. I ran some more tests on the 2.74cc Nitro and unfortunately its still not performing how I would have wished.

It seems to only function at high RPM.

Ordered a DIY 26cc petrol engine to convert (Found it new for $40 - So I can learn)

13.5x7 folder, have to check on the brushless motor, it is a loaner and i never checked the specs because it had adequate power and duration. Ardu says i am pulling <7 amps in high cruise at 27-30 mph so the duration with a 5800 pack makes sense with glide time and operation under 400'

Sounds very good :) Please check on the brushless motor. I'm about to buy one now and want to consider yours.

Hi,   I have been reading about the question of using a nitro engine in an X8 in an attempt to get better flight times.    

I started down this path about a year ago,     Here is the bad video of an X8 fitted with a 19cc glow engine:


I had flown the X8 electric  very successfully with flight times over an hour,  and it flew well.      I decided to try a 4 stroke  nitro engine  and made a new aluminum chaise to mount the engine and wings to.      It flew OK, but not as easily as the electric.    I needed to keep the speed up, as I think the drag was slightly to high.      The ASP engine did not seem to have excessive power for the job.

I originally wanted to mount the engine as a pusher,  however I had trouble with getting a pusher prop,  so the engine went to the front.     Then the next problem is launching it, and landing it without prop damage;   so I put fixed landing gear on it.      This added to the drag,  but was necessary as I have farm paddocks for an airstrip.       I did try, a catapult launch with the glow engine.    This was tricky to master as the engine got starved of fuel on launch.    the trick was non return valves. 


I have since abandoned the X8 Glow and made a scratch built a traditional tail plane with glow engine,  which flew for the first time yesterday:


First was a glide test:

Then a powered maiden flight:


it has 2.6m wingspan  and 30cc APS 4 stroke glow engine.     has plenty of power,  and I estimate fuel consumption to be about 500 ml per hour.     It has plenty of payload so I think it could get endurance of a few hours if required.

It is a fully made up design, and built out of carbon fibre , blue foam and aluminum.     wing design is made up , but is a mix of CUB and Telimaster,  with 3deg dihedral, and some winglets from an old funjet...!

These planes can take up a lot of time, but it is very rewarding to see them fly after so many hours in the workshop...!!! 





Hi Anton. Thanks for the video.

My 26cc petrol engine is awesome.

Originally I had a 220cm push fan on it but it was over heating and was causing vibration.

I put a 50cm wooden prop on and was testing it today. It doesn't cut out so I could keep it going all day.

Air needs to be blown over the engine otherwise you will have issues with over heating.

Fuel consumption: 26cc petrol engine

100ml per hour on idle

300ml per hour on high RMP.

Going to be working on mounting it above the wings on the 6meter glider.


That is a very impressive glider... what type is it ?

I have been looking at normal petrol engines as they are easily replaced and don't require special fuel. I plan to fly in remote countries, and obtaining nitro fuel is going to be a problem.
The normal petrol engines I have been looking at have a low power to weight ratio. I like the reliability of the 4 stroke Honda GX35, but it is heavy for the power it puts out. So maybe 2 stroke is the best compromise.

What type of 26cc engine did you get..... Is it a 2 stroke weed eater type of engine?

Its a Home Lite 26cc engine. I got it as a hedge trimmer. 2 stroke / add oil to the petrol. It is not affected by movement. The engine was on special only paid R555 including delivery ($50USD).


It's top heavy, being so high up on the glider. I'll just have to see how that affects stability.

Once its running with the air moving over the engine it seems fine. I will probably be looking to modify the engine so it starts easier. At the moment I'm starting it with a pull cord.


The glider is the Ka8b 6000. Its a wood structure with a thin plastic covering. 

Hi There,

 We have got more than 4 hours on the Raptor E1 using a 26,000mah 6 S lipo and custom made large diameter propellers on a slow spinning motor.


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