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1) What is the easiest controlled flying device to build/fly (including control algorithms for stability, etc). A quadrocopter or airship? Speed is not a factor, but I want to fly outdoors at low altitudes (50-100m?), so wind will be a factor.
2) Any recommendations for radio? I'm hoping for 1km LOS range.
3) How much would it cost approximately? What level of skill is required? I am going into third year electrical engineering, and I would say I know quite a bit more than most people at this stage. I have also been programming for ~5 years now, and am doing some internship now in a developer position, so I'm guessing programming won't be the hard part.
i am currently working a UAV so do have some experience in the electrical side of flying robots.if it was me i would choose a plane for your first flying robot as in my opinion it is a more stable platform and offers a better platform for your first venture into flying robots.you can make it as complex or as simple as you want to. you could have a basic path programmed and have that initiated by a switch on a RC transmitter or you could have a system that incorporates GPS, gyros altimeters, telementary, human control etc. the options for a flying robot are endless.there are many different means of transmitting data. there are systems out there that can transmit tens of miles, but for something that flies around the neighbor hood you will be able to use a RC transmitter it is just up to you on the range that your happy with. the spektrum radios can be plugged into the computer and then data sent through that radio.before you go on there are a number of decisions to make. what kind of flying robot do want? how much work do you want to do ( are you happy to design your own processing, do you want to)? what would you find more enjoyable ( i find planes more enjoyable than quadrocopter as i love planes, have always and i also fly rc planes) what do you like more, what do you have the greater passion for.goodluck, and happy to help with any questionsJoker94
a quadrocopter is far more complicated to get working than everyone thinks.the point everyone misses is that while developing every mistake involves a crash.many crashes involve broken parts.broken parts involve more money and time.
i would be glad to help with motors, props, etc.
I think so far the longest range radio system goes for 14 miles and runs about a thousand dollars, check on the RC groups forum for that. But getting video data that far is another story
That is very surprising, as I thought planes would be more difficult to build (mechanically), and that's one reason why I planned to start with a quadrocopter.
Shouldn't be too bad as long as the expensive parts don't break? Broken frame should be pretty cheap/easy to fix.
Guess I can just use a XBee Pro, and even have enough bandwidth for a video stream.
a fixed wing aircraft can be built so it is aerodynamically stable.any sort of rotary wing aircraft (eg. a quadrocopter) will always be aerodynamically unstable.so with a rotary wing aircraft you will need to stabalise the airframe electronically. this is a very complex area. i sugest you do some reaserch on IMUs and kalman filters.
the broken bits will be your propellers 90% of the time. (they are the high speed parts that will break/deform if they touch anything while moving.)bent motor shafts will be the boggest potentially expensive regular occurrence.
XBees are completely unsuitable for transmitting video.work out your desired picture resolution, multiply by the colour resolution and the number of frames per second.compare this to the the XBee data rate.it still looks posible on paper if you don't mind very low resolution and low frame rate but remember XBees are half duplex so if you cram the airwaves with returning video data the latency of data to your aircraft will be very bad.also, how do you intend to digitise the video data without a powerful onboard processor?
speaking of latency,XBees are not a good choice if you plan to send control data to the aircraft. although the data throughput looks good the latency is too bad to reliably control unstable airframes.if you wanted direct radio control of a quadrocopter for example the XBee would be a bad choice.if on the other hand the quadrocopter could controll it's own orientation and you just feed it direction information, or if you only wanted to control a aerodynamically stable airframe like a glider the XBee would be fine.
anyway,you have a lot of research to do before you start.have a look at http://diydrones.com/ .read *everything* there. most of the problems you will face have already been solved.
the biggest factor in a "flying robot" will be time so be prepared to spend the time on the project.i am also happy to help with any of the RC problems you have