Whole Slew of Newbie Questions

Hello guys, I've been wanting to get into UAVs and RC planes for a while now, but only now have the money to afford this type of project.

I've done research, and I understand the bare-bone basics of RC planes and how they work, but I still don't fully understand how the Channel\Radio system works.

Secondly, I don't understand how the camera hardware is installed into the RC plane. Where does it hook up to, and how does it get power?

Also, are GPS's mandatory in UAVs? What benefit do they provide?

Next, I'm confused as to choosing a copter/plane. How long of a flight time do you guys get with your UAVs? Which would be cheaper, fixed wing or copter? And if I choose to go fixed-wing, what could I do to get a longer flight-time? In addition, what models of planes would be the best for long, stable flight, the small foam planes like the bixler, or the big fiberglass "drones" with the massive wingspan?

Lastly, how does live camera feed work?

Thank you guys so much for the help, I appreciate it!

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Replies

  • Hi, why don't you have a look on some UAV websites? They can provide you with lots of information. If you google this, there are plenty. I am signed up with SUAS Global and it's great because you receive monthly newsletters and are kept up to date on all of the rules and regulations.

  • First, I have to agree with Doug's sentiment that you should visit a local RC club.  Years ago, that was exactly my first step.  The hobby is cheaper and easier to get into now, and information is much more freely available courtesy of the Internet.  But I still believe that the best thing for a completely new person to do is find a good club to start out with.

    I will try to add a little bit of specific information in response to your questions, as well.  The radio systems have changed significantly in the past 10 years or so.  72MHz and 50MHz (HAM band) radios were narrow band, on a specific frequency, and usually used PPM (pulse position modulation).  There were a few options for digital modulation as well.  Now, 2.4GHz radios are very popular.  Various manufacturers have their own flavors of spread spectrum implementations, and each makes use of the available spectrum differently.  Some make claims about why their flavor is better than others, but don't seem to go into much technical detail.  Generally, it's not something you need to worry about, although the potential for interference is frequently downplayed more than I believe it should be.

    Doug covered the basics of camera question.  I will add that there are many ways to install and power a camera.  To do so correctly requires at least a basic understanding of electronics, and there is no one right answer - but there are certainly a lot of wrong ones!

    GPS provides position, velocity, and time references.  GPS is not necessary for stability augmentation or remotely piloted vehicles in general.  It IS very helpful for precision navigation, which is rather impossible using inexpensive inertial sensors alone (current technology).

    Copter vs. airplane has an infinite number of variations.  Endurance is a function of efficiency, and it's generally easier to get long flight times with fixed-wing aircraft.  The first step toward long flight times is to pick an airframe with a high lift to drag ratio and as little weight as necessary to support your desired payload.  Stability is a mostly separate issue.  I don't have any specific recommendations for particular styles or sizes of airframes because there are so many variations.

    But most of that doesn't matter for your first craft.  Pick an inexpensive model that is cheap and easy to repair, and go learn to fly.  If you don't want to spend more money than is necessary, find a club that will help you.

  • You are correct, that is a lot of questions.

    How are your building skills, tools, experience, and workshop space?

    If most of the above is low to none, you might be up to speed quicker with mostly RTF (ready to fly) items.

    You will pay more, but you will have far less $$ and time wrapped up in process rather than product.

    I will answer the camera feed question only this pass. Powering the camera is assumed.

    The feed from the camera goes to a transmitter on the aircraft (again assuming power). The transmitter is connected to an antenna. The RF signal from the antenna is picked up by another antenna on the ground that is connected to a receiver. The ground receiver is connected to a PC or monitor or other video device.

    Some of that stuff above may be integrated into one or more devices on either end. There are several variations.

    Keep reading and find a local RC club to hang out with. You will learn much from them in 2 hours visiting their flying field.

    -=Doug

     

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