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NOOB UAV project for school!

Hello to all, I am currently a student in college and over heard a proffeser of mine having issues of fly away with DJI products while she is on expedition. So I suggested fixed wing, now she wants me try out a prototype. I am little familiar with standard plane uses, and have been playing with an old apm board. But I it can be so much more.
This is a direction I am leading in.
Eclipson 3d UAV airframe
Matek F722 wing
Ill need a camera to face forward and down.
and nothing else really special. taranis x9d and r9m and 2.4 ghz video.
I also need to be able to track telemtry from a laptop.

This is the interesting part. I need to be able to get about 10-15 mile range and 45min of flight time.
but has to work in -60F. The expedition is to nothern alaska in early spring. To track how far ice flows are off of the coast. I am working with venom power for battery advice and ideas.

I have a budget of about $1500 with the hopes of 2 aircraft, control and ground station.

Any advice.?

My advice is don’t try to fly when it’s -60F. Keep in mind the temperature limits of the gear you are using. I know off the top of my head that the Taranis X9d is rated to -10C/14F. I’m fairly certain it would function below that but that’s what the spec sheet says. Battery life will be your next biggest concern. I’ve been flying this week in temps around 20F and my battery performance has been half of what it is in the summer. 10 to 15 mile range with 45 minute battery life will likely break your budget just in batteries. If you do plan on going through with that I would use a RFD900x with PPM passthrough as control and telemetry to your laptop. Another thing is the 3D printed frame. I don’t know what you plan on printing in, but extreme cold temps tend to make things brittle. 2.4 Ghz video at 10 to 15 miles will be hard to do on your budget as well. Might be better off with an independent camera and reviewing footage later. Also consider human factors, flying this week in temps in the teens was not fun in full winter gear. Lastly consider the law, I’m not entirely sure if standard FAA UAS rules apply over the ocean or in Alaska but you’d need a BVLOS waiver here in the continental US to get out to 10 miles.

I know batteries are the biggest issue. In my class we’re working on battery sleeves made from battery bags, and 5v warming pads. I’m still waiting to find out about the FAA stuff. For the airframe I’m gonna print with petg and hope for the best. I will be testing we have a freezer on campus that goes to -100. Yeah and functionality as a human lol. We will be in a tent that’s not far off from room temp. Launch and recovery will be outside though. I’m worried about flight control and range for electronics. And communication with ground control.

I definitely agree if you want this to work you will need some sort of heating element for batteries and probably the flight controller. The RFD900x is a great radio and is specced to -40F. It can be used for both handheld control piggybacking off the Taranis, and as telemetry. Range is pretty good I’ve only tested mine out to around 4 miles but it is rated for much further distances. It’s also good that you have a freezer to use for testing.It’s supposed to get down to -20F here next week and we might be trying to do similar tests with our equipment. If we do I’ll let you know what we find out.

The Matek F722-Wing will not run Ardupilot. Choose F405 or F765.

As long as your time is free your budget is fine. I am not sure I would go with a 3D printed plane like you have chosen. That frame will be very tight and limited with payload.

Choose an XUAV Talon or Mini Talon. Probably a Talon. Another option is a MTD (My Twin Dream). You have lots of payload and space for battery insulation (which may be suffice without heaters) and they are proven designs for work like you are doing. You will probably want two planes if you are serious. Still within budget I reckon.

There are forums on RCgroups with all the advice you need. No guesswork with getting motors and props. I agree the RFD900X is a good choice with a backup of a short range, cheap FrSky receiver just for landing in emergency if the RFD has issues.

It occurs to me you may want to use a Flight Controller with a heated IMU. Cube or the new Holybro Durandal come to mind but the later is very new.

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