(I applied for membership to the arducopter dev list but figured it was worth posting here anyways)
I'm a student in Electrical Engineering student at university, and I'd like to work with ArduCopter in developing a new Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) specifically for open-source quadrotor use.
My research would be quadrotor/multirotor stability and control charateristics for traditional ESCs, versus a high-speed serial ESC (such as the brushless controller for the Mikrokopter project, or the Open-BLDC project). The Mikrokopter ESC is unsuitable because the code is closed source, and I'd need to work with the code as part of the research. Open-BLDC is completely open source, but is too large and expensive for the target application we're looking at.
The project would be first designing and fabricating several of these high-speed serial (I2C or SPI) controlled ESCs. Ideally I'd like to base them off of an Arduino (ATmega328), and provide a method of easily uploading the bootloader and reprogramming it. This will, i think, be of good value to the DIYDrones community as a whole, since all of the board designs and code will be open source (unlike the Mikrokopter project).
High-Speed in this case refers to response rate, which is important for stability and control of the quadrotor/multirotor (system). Not to be confused with high-speed motors, this is just describing the communication between the AP and ESC.
Once I have enough of these made, I would build (ideally) two identical quadrotors/multirotors, with the same APs (ardupilot mega) and sensors. These would be flown outdoors in still air and wind, as well as tested in our wind tunnels in a formal stability and controls analysis, which is most of the academic research.
I'm submitting my research proposal documents very soon, and I need to budget buying (hopefully) two ArduCopter frames, and two full sets of electronics (one without ESCs). I know the arducopter is still in it's beta stages, but is there any way I can get:
1) a cost estimate (ballpark) for the hardware components
2) either a cost estimate or (better) specifications for what kind of motors/props/ESCs and battery to use
Thanks so much, and I'm a huge fan of what you guys are doing (hope to lend my support)
Senior, Computer and Electrical Engineering
North Carolina State University