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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I could, but helium cannot be stored at the airport. 

You realize that people spend that much money on highly advanced 5lb toy drones, right?  Your $5,000 might get you through the design phase.  Forget actual materials and construction.  This project has some serious disconnects with reality!

Fuel weighs something.  You're talking about carrying probably 60 or more pounds of payload, JUST IN FUEL.  And that will require fuel tanks, big ones.  So now you're also looking at a liquid payload that is big enough to slosh around, altering flight dynamics.  A 1090ES ADS-B transponder alone is another 7lbs and $5,000-$6,000 with a WAAS GPS source.

FAA 14 CFR Part 91, Section 91.205

(b) Visual-flight rules (day). For VFR flight during the day, the following instruments and equipment are required:

(1) Airspeed indicator.

(2) Altimeter.

(3) Magnetic direction indicator.

(4) Tachometer for each engine.

(5) Oil pressure gauge for each engine using pressure system.

(6) Temperature gauge for each liquid-cooled engine.

(7) Oil temperature gauge for each air-cooled engine.

(8) Manifold pressure gauge for each altitude engine.

(9) Fuel gauge indicating the quantity of fuel in each tank.

(10) Landing gear position indicator, if the aircraft has a retractable landing gear.

I understand, but im still hoping to get the AIRFRAME done for $5k, then we can spend much more on everything else that goes inside(Transponder, fuel tanks, electronics, autopilot, fuel,ect.)

That's all for manned aircraft, matt.  For an autonomous aircraft much of that stuff comes for free in the autopilot.  The payload that Martin speaks of means the sensor/camera package of whatever it is you actually want to send aloft to do the job that can't be done on the ground.

If you were to get an expert builder of which there are many on DIYD, some real craftsmen to build it. The cost in hours alone will exceed $5000.

You say you have flown multirotors so you must have a handle on costs.

I'd expect to see a $5k cheque to just design said airframe concept, let alone have a prototype built.  I think you need to add at least a zero to your expectations for your first airframe at least and probably apply another factor greater than one also.


I just sent you a friend request so I could send you a pm. I have a composite airframe with a 14ft wingspan using a military surplus drone engine.

I have a couple motors and im finishing up my molds for the fuse now. I have foam cut wings with integrated fuel cells that should give me 10 to 12 hours worth of loiter time.

Maybe we could pool our resources on the electronics if I lay up another frame.....

Its taken me a couple years to get this far but with my cnc hot wire, router and mill, and the molds nearly done, I don't see why I couldn't knock out a couple extra pieces of everything. Had planned to make spares of everything anyway.

Im sure ill hit the 55lbs mark and I believe I have figured out how to meet most if not all of the FAA requirements.

I had originally planned on using two motors with this airframe but after researching the specs on my motors and finding 9out they will easily swing a 3 foot prop..... I think one will meet my requirements. But there is room for another on the airframe and I could spare two of them if it turns out to be underpowered for you application.

Get in touch if your interested.


If that is what you think this UAV requires, you're not even close to prepared to build something.  That required instrumentation for daytime VFR flight of a manned certified aircraft.  It has nothing at all to do with a UAV, and certainly isn't "payload".

Am I the only one who thinks this is weird?

"...I'm thinking electric pusher(for aerial video) with solar panels and alternator(s) to charge the batteries..."

If you have alternators, you need something to power them and you seem to imply you will be carrying internal combustion engines (quite a few of them). If you do, why bother with the alternators, electric motor and solar panels at all? All they will do is add a truckload of weight, cost and complexity.

Congrats!  You're the 943rd user here to combine unreasonable and random requirements into a "do my homework for me" post that demonstrates a clear lack of basic knowledge across multiple fields!

Wheew... Those are going to be some genuinely tough requirements to meet... Do you have a spare ~$50,000 laying around?...

In all seriousness... You may be better off with a task this large, taking it up with your local state university's Aeronautical Engineering program... Sometimes if you meet the right person, present a challenging enough task, it could turn into a senior project for the Engineering Students... ESPECIALLY if you make a donation to the university that has "some number followed by atleast three zeros"...

As a commercial pilot myself, looking at your list I just don't see it possible to complete the raw engineering and construction for anything less than atleast a $50k commitment... And that's not even counting the flight testing and certification from the FAA side!

Could I ask what you are trying to use it for? Perhaps the brains here could help you come up with an alternative to keep your costs lower...

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