APM: Plane for Whale Shark Research

Dear Friends
I’m a whale shark researcher and i’m trying to assess the size of a newly discover population of whale shark along the coast of Pintuyan, a small town in the Philippines. From our preliminary survey this aggregation is the largest in South East Asia and and it is fundamental to gain more information to be able to increse the protection of these endangered animals.

I’m using a Phantom to study the behavior of the animals in relation to the tourism, and the footage are very useful.
However, the main study aim to quantify the presence of the shark in a stretch of 12 km coastline.

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The whale shark spend the morning in the shallow water (less then 10m) over a narrow plateau of coral reef (less than 150 meter wide).

All i need is an aircraft that can follow a trasect made of few waypoint recording a video track on board (possibly with gps data) that can fly for 25 km (return trip to the base camp).

I’m the president of a small non-profit Organization called Physalus and our budget is quite small, but i’m happy to BYO and study.

Any suggestion and advice to the specific model is more than welcome.
Will it be the 3DR suitable for the study?
What is the flight distance of the 3DR ARF APM:Plane?

Doc Ale

Great looking project are you after pilots :wink:

I am using a super sky surfer for a radio collar study and am very happy with it. I easily get 40 minutes flight time out of it stock and it is very able to lift a load. Its just a big bixler really so very easy to set up. I had grand ideas of making a design that would fit my goals but in the end the SSS works.

Flying by the sea salt and moisture will be your enemy so I would not expect to get too many flights out of your system.


The standard 3DR aircraft is not big enough for your task. You will also need to learn to fly properly and set up you aircraft nicely. I have seen several research airframes that look like dogs dinners and because of the bodge setups fly horribly. Perhaps find a local RC club and somebody that might help out if you don’t fly fixed wing RC already.

Hey Gary,
The SSS looks great, with lots of load capacity, my only problem is that i need a waypoint navigation so that it can follow line transect, and fly out of sight.
Do you know if i can instal an autopilot system like the APM 2.6 to control the mission?
Any advice?
Thanks a million for the reply!
Doc Ale

Yes, very easily the 2.6 will do everything you need. Don’t install it and go straight to survey. You should rather mke a system and test it for 20 or 30 hours and get used to it all.

I will!
Thanks for the Advice.
If i can, would you suggest a list of material i will need, ie battery, APM, GPS, so i can try to make a total budget and see if we can afford it now.
no hurry.
Thanks a million!
What animal are you tracking?
Do you you the Plane to spot the animals?