I want to build a fixed wing drone with the longest possible endurance possible. I'm thinking electric pusher(for aerial video) with solar panels and alternator(s) to charge the batteries. I have very little experience in building fixed wings but have extensive experience with multi and single rotors. And also with aerial video/photography. It can be over 55lbs, since im willing to get FAA experimental licencing for it. Im also planing on using an airport hangar so it should be large enough to be seen by small aircraft such as cessnas. The wingspan should also be around 30-40ft. And if we have to go to a gas motor, it would have to be an aviation motor being able to use AA or Jet-A fuel.
The drone will be hangared at a public airport, Smithfield(KSMD), with a main runway of 3126x100ft(5/23) and a second runway of 2922x60ft(13/31). The airport has 100LL and Jet-A fuels. Operation hours are sunset-sundown so the UAS does not need to be able to take-off/land in the dark. SMD airnav site http://www.airnav.com/airport/KSMD. The drone will also be registered as an Experiment UAS under FAA regulations. It will also be flying over Fort Wayne, IN and other neighboring large cities often to it needs to be as safe as possible and be able to fly at 50 miles+, it should also have an endurance of 10 hours+. We have a very large budget but would prefer to stay at $5000 or less if possible.
Very tall order Matt, the engine alone will use up your budget. Many people will want to help you spend whatever money you have until its gone.
How heavy is the payload?
Your right, so i should clariy myself. We would prefer to stay under $5000 for the airframe.
When its finished, the drone MUST weigh over 65 lbs, since were going for federal licensing to fly the drone over populated areas and in an airport. But were planing on staying under 90 lbs, preferably between 70-80 lbs.
You are not going to get a 30 foot wingspan airframe for 5000.
The 65+ lbs requirement does not make sense. If you want endurance you'll have to make the airframe as efficient and light as possible.
Those are maximum and minimum requirements.
The span HAS to be less than 30ft but can be as short as we want. But remember it will be flying in airport airspace so it will have a transponder and MUST be easily seen from manned aircraft.
You might be better off with lighter-than-air craft for your application.
Would a lighter-than-air craft be more cost effective? The drone must carry around 25 lbs of equipment, and only needs to stay airborn for 14 hours or so(thats the longest day here). It is also quite hard to get helium around here.
Who knows without doing a feasibility study? The airframe might meet your cost target and you could opt for hydrogen to reduce material cost, if you can manage the risk.
Just tell us more about the payload and the task the aircraft needs to carry out. Otherwise you'll not get very good advice.