Need some help getting started

Hi all,
I am the head of software for a college UAV team attempting to make a fully autonomous drone system by the end of May. Our goals are simple, we just want to be able to accomplish a simple flight pattern.

We have settled on using ArduPilot and the cube pilot orange. So far, we have been able to read and write mavlink messages over a usb. Now, what do we do next? How do we write mavlink messages and commands for flight? What does this process look like?

Hi Andrew! Welcome to the forum.

Most of the time remote communication with the UAV’s flight controller (FC) is accomplished with telemetry radios. Take a look at this link for a starting point:

I would start with a pair of 900Mhz radios since your in the US, something like this should work fine:

Most will use ground station software such as Mission Planner or QGroundControl to connect to the UAV and issue commands.

I would not recommend using only a computer to control the aircraft. In the US, pilot control of the aircraft is better accomplished with a RC radio system. In the event autonomous control of the aircraft fails, you will need positive control of the UAV.