New Member Requesting Help - How To - UAV for Weather Monitoring

Hi everyone. I'm new here and I need some help, if you can and want. I would appreciate any help and your time.

I'm trying to build a UAV with the capability of RC and GPS navigation, temperature, pressure and wind velocity sensing, and if possible to use it as a node in a wireless sensor network. These are the questions I need to be answered, if possible.

  • Which UAV is better for this project? Rotary or plane?
  • Which software to use?
  • Which sensors?
  • How to implement it?
  • What to buy?

I have been searching over the couple of months around the Internet and haven't found a good start guide. Here I see lot of experience users that can hopefully help me with guidance.

So far I have found here these things which I think that might be useful to me:

  • These are the two sensors: Absolute Pressure and Temperature Sensor - BMP085 and  Airspeed Kit with MPXV7002DP.
  • For the GPS: Full ArduPilot Mega kit (soldered), since it says I can add more sensors and it's "ready to fly" but not sure how.
  • I don't understand much about the wireless communications but I got this antenna:  3DR RadioTelemetry Kit-915Mhz.
  • Still not sure which UAV, plane or rotary, would be a better fit for this but these are the two I found more complete in the page:  ArduCopter Quad v1.0 Fully Assembled and the Arduplane - Almost Ready to Fly.
  • I noticed that there are software for the two UAV types: ArduPlane Mega.
Also, I read the "Getting Started" from Chris Anderson. Still, need some direction of how to implemente all those or if it's much easier than I think and maybe is just a buy this UAV, put this sensors here, get this software and now it's point and click in the map, wait for data, print it and there you have the information. I know it probably isn't like that but hopefully you get what I tried to say.
So... any help would be appreciated, even if it is not possible or if I'm a total noob with no idea. That's cool. I just want to learn. Thanks! 

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Hi,  welcome,  A couple of things that occur to me are; the ardupilot comes with a pressure sensor, normally used to help with altitude control but could be used for weather I think.  Another thing to really consider is the learning curve, most of us spend at least a little time learning to fly RC first because it will be necessary/useful at times.  And there will probably be crashes along the way.  As far as rotary vs fixed, my usual answer is that rotary is better for smaller spaces or tasks requiring hovering and planes are better for large open ares.  I am pretty sure there have been some discussions on your topic in the past.  Try the search function box above or sometimes what works better is to go to google and type "website:diydrones weather" or something like that.  Hope this helps.

   Some of your questions have no answers, some are matters of opinion, and the rest are certainly not easy to answer for the most part.

   If you're not comfortable with microcontroller/embedded programming you're probably not going to get very far with your project, as there really aren't any off the shelf solutions that I know of.

   You might check out http://www.aerosonde.com/  The Aerosonde UAV is used for weather monitoring and has flown into a few hurricanes before.

   OTOH just throwing some sensors on an aircraft for datalogging or even telemetry really isn't that difficult.  With a little work you can probably get them running over your telemetry link.  Then you should have your sensor data along with the time and GPS coordinates.  If that's what you're looking for it shouldn't be all that tough.

   The APM2.0 already has barometric pressure and I think temp onboard.  Getting windspeed is going to be tough considering you're using a moving vehicle that is also throwing a lot of air around.  Humidity shouldn't be terribly difficult though.

Chris31, this is one of the best places to learn ever!  Especially if you like science and engineering.  Things change fast here so it might take some time to get up to speed and then it can be a challenge to stay caught up, at least for old guys like me.  I encourage you to spend time reading posts from the last year or so.  It sounds like you might be at the right place. 

I believe the pressure data is in the logs.

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