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Newbie - questions before starting APM wing for research

#1
Hi,

I last helped build an RC plane >30 years ago and also did a few free flight balsa/tissue jobs plus some control line planes.

Fast Forward a few decades:

I am interested in doing some ecological work and am looking to start cheap while I learn. I can design and build a foam wing plane but will have to learn about batteries and brushless motors which are new to me.

So plan something like:
1) Design/build wing out of cheap foam.
2) install motor, batteries, RX, servos etc.
3) test glide it a bit to check balance/trim
4) test fly under power (learn to fly again!!!)
5) install APM, test, test, test

I am looking at an APM 2.8 flight controller which I think should handle a single motor wing OK - as opposed to starting with the more expensive Pixhawk system. I am trying to read up on the relationship between the RX/TX and the APM.

On the 'keep it cheap' (at least to start with) I will buy a second hand TX (probably on eBay) so I would be interested in knowing peoples ideas on an affordable system that will work with the APM.

Any ideas, pointers to articles and advice on makes/models of kit to look for gratefully received.

Cheers,
Steve