UAV project for surveillance: need some advice

Hi guys my first post here.Me and a friend of mine is working on designing a low cost mid range drone for agricultural and law enforment use here in Jamaica.The range we are hoping to achieve is 100km radius with a max altitude of 12,000 feet and a cruise altitude of about 9000 feet. Maximum speed should be about 100kph with a cruise speed of about 70kph and a stall speed of 25kph. The craft should be able to carry up to 8 pounds of payload including a gimbal btc 88r camera and 10x 50mm smoke grenades(for the marking of objectives for ground units during search and rescue). The system should also be able to transmit video signal along its entire flight radius to a semi mobile baseThe specs we came up for this is the following:23 ft wingspan9ft fuselage length25 pounds empty weight, 42 pounds fullAn 8 hp engine running in at about 5 pounds in weightI have a mockup drawing(done in paint and working to implement in cad) will post that at a later date.We are planning to build a 1/3 scale model for testing starting July. The test model will have everything except the gimbal camera and should have a range radius of about 10km. We are planning to use a version of arduino for this but will use a more sophisticated autopilot for the full design.What do you guys think?

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  • BTW could the two persons interested in providing technical advice please contact me?

  • Sorry for my absence I have been busy on some other stuffs so I was not able to update you guys. We have made several modifications to our design and is now looking to build a model that has a maximum range of 25km and a flight duration of upwards of 3 hours. My designer is still working on the model and we will share it as soon as possible.

    I am now accelerating development because of the arrival of a "competition".. that is in quotes for a certain reason.

  • Horace: All good points you make and certainly, if your goals include improving the knowledge and skill base for the local community and building capacity in this area, then developing your own solution is a reasonable approach to take. I would suggest though that hiring in some key people to enable knowledge transfer would be a sound approach - while your local scientific and engineering community may have a sound base upon which to learn, it's always a lot less painful when you're being taught by (or can observe) an expert, rather than following the trial and error approach.

  • Moderator

    I build and flew something similar to you need...

  • Given this project scope you'd be far better going for an existing commerical UAV solution and adapting to your operational needs (which almost all suppliers would work with you to do). Your requirements meet (most of) the capabilities of the Aerosonde. I'm not sure what pricing on a new Mk4.7 is (older versions were around 25-35k US).

    Having worked in UAV development I can say that you want to avoid, at all costs, the task of developing your own application specific craft (at this scope). While off-the-shelf technology has come a long way in the past 20 years, developing a fully functional, robust and reliable system is still not something you can do without a lot of in-house expertise and experience in this field. Hobby-scale systems and experience just wont cut if for what you want to do.

  • Flaps on the leading edge???  Wings don't work that way.  (Unless you want to land really, really fast)  The ailerons would be a lot more efficient further outboard.

    An 8HP engine weighing only 5-pounds?  (Electric or gas?)  Leaves only 20-pounds for the air frame, propeller and fuel (gas or battery).  An air frame that can carry your payload and withstand the aerodynamic pressures at 100 kph (knots - kph, or kilometers - kmph?) is going to weigh more than 25 pounds.  A 100 km range is going to need a lot of fuel.  Batteries (or gas) sufficient for 100 km alone will weigh more than 25 pounds.

    And transmitting a video signal 100 km is going to require a satellite or cellphone link.

    12,000 ft ceiling?  You do realize that the air is pretty thin at 12,000 ft.?  A fixed-pitch prop that works efficiently at low altitudes will barely produce thrust at 12,000 ft.

    And transmitting a video signal 100 km is going to require a satellite or cellphone link.

    I suspect that you need to rethink your design specifications.

  • Hello Horace,

    Sounds like an interesting project.  Some quick numbers:

    Your stall speed expectations might be a little optimistic for the type of airframe you have drawn.  By my calcs, with a 7m/23ft wingspan, you'll need and AR of around 9 or less to get your C_L at stall to be anything realistic.  At 9 the C_L is 1.26 at at 25km/h sea level stall. Possible, but you'll have to work your aerofoil sections well to get it without compromising top speed.  That's a MAC of around 0..8m, by the way.

    My gut feel is that you might struggle to get such a large wing area down to the weight you need (25lb empty) and still make it robust enough for mainstream use.  Certainly a challenge for you.

    Also I calculate a 100km operational radius with 2hr loiter and reserves will be about 7-8L of fuel, depending on your engine and other assumptions.

    Anyway, it's an interesting project.  Good luck with it and I'd be happy to do some more modelling for you if the project gets legs.

  • @sgt ric

    What price tag do you believe we would be looking at with such a system? I am really just drafting the prelim plans, the university will take up a lot of the dev work afterwards which = somewhat free labor :).

    That's really how things work here in Jamaica, you have to get the idea off the ground before anyone will show interest.. And it's not like we are lax in innovative mind, it's just that the innovative minds are lazy at getting to it.
  • Moderator
    What you are calling for is neither low-cost, nor mid-range.

    This would make the military proud!
  • Well the system itself would mostly be operated by JDF pilots and flown under either the army's, the police's or The Jamaica agricultural society's banner. The pre runner to the current group. Was able to secure a meeting with the head of the airwing here and he was deeply interested however the original design presented did not meet his standards as it used a jet engine and could not sufficiently carry out agricultural based missions. That group collapsed since the meeting( I guess they were so stuck on that idea they didn't c fit to continue after the chief asked for changes).

    I had the drone idea a year before they presented and I hit on the plan soon after the meeting, I managed to get info on what the chief wanted to be changed and incorporated that into my thinking. We are now working on getting another meeting in January and hope to present every detail from cost to how much man will be needed to operate it effectively.

    I am guessing a dev cost of about 3.5 million, that's if the majority of the parts came from the USA or outside Jamaica. However the airframe and everything except the autopilot, engine and camera will be indigenously developed, R and D etc will be mostly Jamaican supported by bits of info from external consultants. This will reduce the cost to a bit over a million or even less than a million.

    I am aiming for a 100k USD price tag for each individual unit, anything far above that would be an issue because of the economic situation.

    Main pitch will be its cost effectiveness when compared to helicopters which are the most commonly used surveillance platform. The aftermath of hurricane sandy was one event that showed the weaknesses and limitations of the choppers we have.
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