How are we supposed to choose "Additional Flight Controls"/"C3"/"Onboard Sensor Options" etc from the Detailed Background Guide for the Cost Calculator? I read through the background information, but it looks like most of the additional components are completely optional, with little information given about how to determine whether or not there's a need for these components.
Still, there are requirements listed under each different Airframe (A, B, etc) that specify number of antennas and other additional components like that--are we supposed to just follow those requirements, according to our catalog airframe selection?
Your first step is to develop an overall theory of operation (how will your system operate and collect information?). This theory of operation should be flexible and support being changed based on your research and the evolving design of your UAS. This baseline theory of operation will establish a framework to get started on selecting components for your design.
The design process should follow what is outlined in Figure 2. UAS design approach with major element options identified of the Detailed Background document. All of the following actions will require some research on your teams part to determine which equipment would be best suited to your intended approach (theory of operation):
1) Identify a sensor (payload) that will be used to perform the mission or task (in this case determine adverse effect and presence of European Corn Borer on the subject corn crop). Research what has been done for similar uses (remote sensing and precision agriculture) to determine which type of sensor would be of most value (think about economy and performance trade offs). Remember, if you want to see where your aircraft is flying (egocentric view; first person perspective [FPV) you will need to add a low-cost, low-power camera (e.g., X250, X500, or commercially-off-the-shelf [COTS] CCD or CMOS camera) in addition to your payload sensor (e.g., hyperspectral, multispectral, thermal, etc.). Once you've identified what components you will use, the information will need to be identified in your engineering notebook and in the "PAYLOAD" tab of the cost calculator.
2) Identify a platform that will be used to carry the identified sensor(s). You can select from the five base options (A to E) or identify your own (including commercially-off-the-shelf [COTS] unmanned or remote control [RC] aircraft). Just make sure you can identify the payload capacity, weight, size, range, speed, and endurance of whatever choice you make. The five base options include descriptions of their capabilities as bullet points (these are not requirements, they are descriptions of what each of these aircraft are capable of or what they include, if purchased). The Detailed Background document also includes some additional options in this section (Additional Air Vehicle Element Component Options) that may help improve the reliability and performance of your design. These are not mandatory, but they will help you achieve redundant control (multiplexer allows use of two control inputs), avoid lost-link (autopilot with ability to return to home), improved interoperability (microcontroller can be used to control aircraft and read sensor data), capture of telemetry (onboard sensors) to determine the state of the unmanned aircraft. This information needs to be identified in your engineering notebook and in the "UAV-DESIGN-#" tab of the cost calculator. If you will use multiple unmanned aircraft (UAVs) as part of your design, enter the information for each into the respective tabs (1 through 5; up to five permitted).
3) Identify the command, control, and communications (C3) equipment necessary to support your theory of operation. What will you use to communicate with your unmanned aircraft? How will you control it? How will you read the data coming back from your unmanned aircraft (i.e., telemetry)? You will need to identify at least one method of communicating and controlling your unmanned aircraft. However, to support safe operations two are recommended (using a multiplexer). This entails selection of at least one control device that has communications built in (Hobby-grade R/C radio) or a stand-alone device that requires a dedicated communication link (Laptop Control with a Data Transceiver Set). If you will need to process the data you need to think about where that data will be processed on (e.g., Laptop Control or dedicated PC). If you want to use a visual camera sensor to see where your unmanned aircraft is flying (not for collecting data), you will also need to select a communication device for that camera (Video/Sensor Communications; e.g., 5.8GHz Video System). Additional options are also provided to improve or extend communication (patch and directional antennae specific to frequencies; 900MHz, 2.4GHz, and 5.8GHz). This information needs to be identified in your engineering notebook and in the "C3" tab of the cost calculator.
4) Identify support equipment that will be necessary to operate, maintain, and support your UAS design. How will you power or refuel your unmanned aircraft and C3 equipment? Will you need a shelter to protect sensitive electronics from the environment (rain, wind, etc)? This information needs to be identified in your engineering notebook and in the "SUP-EQUIP" tab of the cost calculator.
5) Identify the operators (flight and support crew). Who will be necessary to operate, launch, and recover your unmanned aircraft? Will someone be required to analyze and interpret the data you capture using your sensor payload? This is where you identify those roles. This information needs to be identified in your engineering notebook and in the "PER HOUR" tab of the cost calculator.
Please keep in mind, the catalog options are merely base recommendations, they serve as a starting point for equipment and components you should consider. You are not limited to what is provided in the Detailed Background document. You can find and suggest components on your own, just provide the rationale for why you selected these items and the details such as weight, cost, and capability. Part of the challenge also includes identifying the design costs associated with creating and developing a UAS. This information needs to be identified in your engineering notebook and in the "ENG LABOR" tab of the cost calculator. For this use estimates of the costs and hours required for different engineering and construction roles.
As for whether components are required or optional, that is really up to you as the team develops its design. You will need to do some research and examine what other unmanned aircraft designers have built or how they have solved similar problems. I suggest checking out the DIY Drones website (http://diydrones.com/). Check out the Getting Started (http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/a-newbies-guide-to-uavs), Blogs (http://diydrones.com/profiles/blog/list), and Forum (http://diydrones.com/forum) sections of their website.
There is a plethera of examples here and across the internet detailing DIY and amateur built systems that should be of use to you.