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.

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You know what... You may be better off building a blimp... You just said it needs to have great endurance (10+ hours) and only needs to fly about 50 miles... So it doesn't need to be fast, just controllable and stable...

Blimps have been tried and failed many times.  They have a high wind profile that makes it nearly impossible to control.  What he needs is to move the decimal point in his cost estimate over to the right one.

or two...

Either way, if he wants a fixed-wing application, it's going to be $$$$... Electric multicopter / conventional helicopter may be better but there is NO WAY he will ever get the endurance...

I am really curious what it's going to be used for...

Alright, you guys have convinced me. Lets move the limit for the airframe $10,000

 

First, you don't need a combustion engine to use alternators. And because the original concept was going to use an electric motor, alternators, batteries, and solar panels to fly.

The blimp was impossible because helium is hard to get and there is no hydrogen on the airport.

The drone will be used as an air video platform. Maybe I could sell the video to the news people so they can watch the traffic and local sports and activities.

For the capability you  are seeking, that would be about the minimum price for a fully developed production airframe.  You're looking at developing an airframe from scratch, effectively, which in the real world will be $50k-$5m depending on how you do your accounting and how much you're prepared to compromise on features and capability.

Remember there isn't an off-the-shelf airframe that can already meet your requirements at your intended price point, so you're basically asking the industry to break new ground.  That doesn't come for free or even cheaply...

Hydrogen comes in cylinders and can be sourced relatively cheaply from industrial gas suppliers.  You're not going to find it on tap although if you suffer from some digestive disorders you might be able to inflate with your mouth...

I don't know man... I'm VERY skeptical that you'll be able to complete this project for anything less than $50,000...

Forget Hydrogen, you aren't going to find it at an airport. Ontop of that, if you are looking at an aircraft that is going to be as large as you say, then can you imagine what the FAA will say when you tell them that you're planning to carry Hydrogen onboard a UAV over populated areas?! They will laugh you right out of the office (if I had to guess)...

Honestly I think your best bet is to find an old Glider airframe and start with that... Try to find an electric motor large enough to meet the power demand to keep it in the air at a very pedestrian pace... To power the electric motor, I'd plan on purchasing (easily) $10,000 in LiPo batteries and figuring out how to wire all of them together...

Bigger question though... Is this drone for a hobby or a commercially funded project??... If it's a hobby I'll tell you you probably have about a 1% chance of ever getting off the ground and even less of a chance at staying under $50,000 total cost...

I'm still in for 5k. Airframe only. No hardware. You pay shipping and crating. What it costs me, it costs you.
I have surplus military drone motors available at cost for this airframe only.
C

Hi Matt,

There are some great aerostructures you could purchase.  Look for composite gliders that follow design criteria of Mark Drella (MIT Professor). You can integrate Alta Devices solar cells with a maximum power point tracker to achieve greater than 25% conversion efficiency. 

Ron

You can already find it at Munich and Stuttgart Airports....


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