I am looking to build a quad copter of some sort and use the ArduPilot Mega to control it with.  This copter will be used to fly and monitor a location for a set amount of time while transmitting live video back the the ground station.  What is the maximum flight time people have been seeing?  What is the best combination of hardware to achieve the necessary lift for the copter, camera and transmitters all while giving the best/longest flight time?  I realize several things are factors but as I am new to this I am trying to just get ideas on where to start.  Think of my budget as being around 5k USD to construct the entire project.

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Hi, from the wiki, using the "stock" kit setup

> Average flight times: 3S 2200mAh LiPo 9-10 mins, 3S 2650mAh LiPo and 300gr camera 9-10mins


thats pretty accurate from my observations, with a small keychain camera onboard.

I have modified my quad and its available for half a million USD, limitless endurance, I have called it the pole copter.


For decent video and endurance you won't be spending less than $20,000


You could always tether a system though, but again a pole is just as good.

What are you considering decent endurance? I would love to be able to get from 30 to 45 minutes per flight. Is this possible or is the weight of the batteries going to get exponentially to heavy to fly? If I could do it for 20K it may still be worth it and I can get a COA if needed. I will probably not always have perfect line of sight. We spend thousands of dollars trying to investigate safely when there are chemical spills that if I could do it unmanned it would save huge amounts of money. Also when we do have a team go down range to the spill location it would be great to be able to monitor them via video feed for safety. Airspace is typically shutdown during these incidents so getting a manned chopper in the area is impossible.

Well you will probably be best off with a wing, you can leap upto 60 minutes endurance right away. Its what you do with the product that counts, you will have to get a COA.


But right now, today with the awful happenings in Japan SAR tasks should come firmly to everyones mind.


You need to look at the Outback Challenge as well and that might help you realize that its no small task. Perhaps entering that comp first could be a task for you.




For that chemical spill, dont forget vehicles, no COA needed for them.


In my experience taking aerial photos no one tool fits many tasks. We have kites a balloon, Tri copter Quad and Octo, and several flying wings. We bring out different toys for different tasks,



I am investigating at this point two different projects. For 1 project "SAR" it would definitely be a wing. I got pricing on the Cobalt 90 from FLIR and it was around 30K but before we spend the money on the camera we want to make sure it will all work using a inexpensive camera first. For the 2nd project it will have to be able to hover to accomplish our goals. And if I can pull of 30 minutes I would be happy but I will just have to build more copters to switch out during recharges/battery swapping. COA should not be an issue for my group.
Well the Falcon 8 from Ascending Technologies can be made to hover for as long as you wish. (I think) It could also be carrying the FLIR camera.

Good luck with your investigations!
"as long as you wish"... 20minutes with camera
there are ways of making it go longer (smaller camera)

My company REFERENCE TECHNOLOGIES has a multi-copter solution that can carry a 10 pound payload and operate for 2 hours depending on flight conditions, payloads, etc. In addition to the FLIR Cobalt 90, it also has 6 hard points for deploying mission specific payloads such as; radiological, chemical and biological remote sensing units. All disclosures are done via Non-Disclosure plus a background check on your company.

Go to the info link at www.referencetek.com if you want to discuss privately.

Thank you for the kind words.  Yes, it is a hybrid.

We are already in the final stages of our COA as well as formal FAA registration of two airframes.

You are correct, agencies move very slow and it is our belief that people selling these aircraft will eventually have to have some form or official signoff as well as formal training in flight operations.  A minimum of an FAA Medical and passage of a Private Pilot ground course as well will be the minimum requirements in order to demonstrate and operate a UAS of any size and weight.  Both my brother and I are high time pilots which has helped tremendously with the FAA.  Our official press announcement for the Hybrid is in about 45 days from now.

How about checking out  lots blog? Quad 4 to 8 hour duration? Scroll down the blogs  until you find it  4 to 8 hours duration 50 lb payload  100 mile range @ 4,000 feet Have a laugh then come back to reality Good luck with your project and have a nice day! I like the Pole camera Gary!

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