Help with platform choice for flying over fires

Hi All
I am in the process of finding the best multirotor platform for a fire research project we will be doing next year. The plan is to have multiple drones in the air above a controlled fire measuring a number of air turbulence and environmental variables. I have the sensor side sorted but need help choosing a good platform to mount them too. I have a reasonable amount of experience flying fixed wing aircraft with Pixhawk and MP and would like to go with a setup involving Pixhawk and MP. I am aware that swarming is not quite there yet with MP but am happy to fly with more than one ground station and just have the drones flying autonomously backwards and forwards on predetermined routes.
What I want is a quad that can fly for 30mins and that can handle strong winds and turbulence. It does not need fancy cameras etc and the sensors are very lite so does not need to be huge heavy lift drone. Happy to build it up from kit if I have to but would rather get turn key solution. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Nothing against MP which is the gold standard of full functionality. But if you want to do multi-vehicle I’d ask you to take a look at QGroundControl which supports multi-vehicle natively. I’d suggest daily builds since a lot of focus on multi-vehicle bug fixing has gone into 3.1 daily builds which will go to Stable release soon. Also much work will be put into new specific multi-vehicle feature work in our next 3.2 version. Would be great to have you along for 3.2 to comment on new functionality.

I would ask, why a quad? Quads are basically a proof-of-concept thing that if you strap enough horsepower to a cement block you can make it fly. If you want something that can fly for 30 minutes to an hour and handle the conditions over a fire with greater reliability, I would suggest a helicopter with a combustion engine - - and forget about electric powered aircraft. Check with Robert Lefebvre - I think he probably has a turn-key solution pretty much ready to go.

I am happy to give QGC a go as I have read that it is setup for multi-vehicle. I am using it now with our new UAV platform and it seems to work well though I am yet to fly with it. What I am really keen on is a platform we can buy so I don’t have to go down the route of making these. I have made a lot of fixed wing aircraft and while it is fun I am kind of over the making of them and would rather just buy a turn key (although they never are) solution. There must be something out there that will do this - even a kit that the majority of the hard work has been done would be good. Anybody got a go to platform?

Hi. I’m shopping for a similar application, and I also have experience with planes and MP. What did you end up choosing?

To start the discussion…
So far, the only Ardupilot-based option I’m considering is a 3DR Solo.
A colleague says great things about the Autel X-star.
And DJI Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 are popular choices.

All opinions welcome!

I would not choose a quad for a critical mission as flying in high turbulence or strong winds , simply because in these conditions motors and esc can be very solicited and prone to failure.
With a quad it is impossible to recover while with a hex or octo yes.

Thanks for that recommendation. Does anyone have a recommended hex/octo? Ideally, I’d want an inexpensive, high-quality “turn-key” product that also runs Ardupilot. But of course any of these criteria are negotiable… I’m seeking recommendations. (Or “stay-away-from” warnings!)