Looking into using ardupilot

Hello, I am making this in collaboration with the Aerospace club at HSMSE in NYC (unofficial but we are working on it :P). We are looking into creating an extremely high efficiency solar powered aircraft (similar to RCTESTFLIGHT’s creations) but launched to high altitude by weather balloon and designed to last for theoretical infinite flight by using wind and thermals. What electronics would we require to get an autonomous UAV to do these things? We are planning on using SPL with the iridium network for telemetry, but we are unsure on what electronics we would require alongside that. Also, are there any places that sell all the electronics we would require, for us to get a feel for it so we can design our own? Thanks for the help!

great project!

Do you have any experience with autonomous RC aircraft?
Apart from the normal considerations for a UAV, extra things to consider for this project:

  • low temperatures (likely down to -60 degrees C) can have a major impact on sensors
  • low air pressure can mean you can’t remove heat fast enough on electric motors, so can easily overheat
  • the EAS/TAS ratio will be low at high altitude, so your ground speed and thus g forces can be very high, so you need to design carefully to ensure the aircraft is strong enough
  • you will need a good aerodynamic model for planning
  • you will need to think about insulation and heating of critical components, eg. using a flight controller with builtin heater
  • power consumption will likely matter a lot. So underclocking for example may be worthwhile, or adding support for sleep states on the MCU

There are a bunch of related projects going on at the moment in the ArduPilot community. I suggest you join discord at https://ardupilot.org/discord and have a chat sometime.
Cheers, Tridge

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