Long Endurance

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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      • The transponder will work everywhere.

        A 7 meter wingspan plane is a whole order of magnitude more difficult to operate than 2 or 3 meter plane. Your argument about visibility is not a good one. If you have a transponder the other pilots know where you are. Only the pilots of very slow planes will have time to react once you're plane is in visual range.

        You should be more worried about the the damage your 65+ lbs plane will do when it crashes into something. The accident rate of unmanned aircraft is much much higher than for manned aircraft.

        • Im worried about everything going wrong with this project. 

          • Start small and work your way up, Matt.  Nothing wrong with running an APM in a foamie for a while, moving on to a gas-powered Telemaster or similar, before you progress to your ultimate goal.

            Along the way you'll learn a whole heap of stuff including, perhaps, that a monster fixed-wing UAV isn't what you really want.  There are so many ways to skin the UAV cat that starting complex with limited knowledge will only be a recipe for wasting a lot of money and endangering the life and property of others in the process...

  • Not sure why I am chipping in however I have just read the book on the development of the Predator.  The guy that originally designed the aircraft that became the Predator was a model plane enthusiast in free flight and gliders and learned the best way to make a powered glider with long endurance:

    http://www.airspacemag.com/flight-today/the-man-who-invented-the-pr...

    General Atomics bought the company he founded when it went bust and the rest is history.  The ultra-long endurance and loiter capability of the Predator made it a unique platform.

    The point is Matt it has been done in almost exactly the way you have described.  A highly efficient composite airframe with a small motor and big fuel tanks. 

    • It has, but just not in the private sector yet. Thats what im trying to do. And thanks for your input. 

      • Moglos did a 7 hour 300km flight with nothing more than a Cyclops-E and panasonic batteries.  I can't imagine any civil application requiring much more than that.

        http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/anatomy-of-a-301-km-flight

        Why not just see what he did and scale it up a bit?

        • You don't see why you can't just scale up a foam toy to the equivalent of millions of dollars in R&D, more millions in testing, and more millions in FAA certification.  Ok.

        • I dont see why not either

  • Start here:

    https://www.edx.org/course/introduction-aerospace-engineering-mitx-...

    Then here:

    https://www.edx.org/course/introduction-aerodynamics-mitx-16-101x#....

    I don't remember if it was 16.100  or 16.101, but you will learn about range, weight, lift, etc. You need to know these things if you are going to be designing aircraft. 

    • I know those things

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