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For the Do It Yourself (DIY) Folks

For some people, the fun is just as much about learning and building as it is flying and spying. If that sounds like your loveable geek, then check out the info on the DIY Drones website.

ArduPilot $199.99

You might like to start with the APM 2.5 ArduPilot Mega 2.5 Fully Assembled System. This kit is the heart of a DIY Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle (UAV).

The ArduPilot alone doesn’t get you flying. You’ll also need a Radio Control (RC) remote with five or six channels, an RC receiver for on board the drone, a mini USB cable and something that flies to add the ArduPilot to. This guide and the DIY Drones website provides some recommendations on models that work well.

What it Does

Turns any fixed, rotary wing or multi-rotor model into a fully autonomous aerial drone. This Arduino compatible controller can navigate via GPS waypoints, log data, and comes with mission planner software for your ground station and firmware for the board.

Why it’s Cool

Whether you want to cruise or hover, you can build your dream drone based on proven technology. It’s open source, and there’s a significant community for support.

Andrew Terranova

Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and an electronics and robotics hobbyist. He is an active member of the Let’s Make Robots community, and handles public relations for the site.
Andrew has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children’s Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Learning Center in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.


  1. The Parrot AR.Drone is a fantastically capable platform, but I wouldn’t call it a complete package. Until they include a remote control or make it compatible with standard RC controllers out of the box, it will remain an iPhone accessory to me.

    Kudos for ease of repair and spare part availability.

  2. Fair point! You do need to supply the smartphone or tablet to control the AR.Drone. Parrot has a compatibility tab on their support page, which tells you exactly which devices it will work with.

  3. I don’t see the HoverFly kit listed !!! Those are awesome kits !

    1. Yes, that’s a good one to add to the list. Thanks for mentioning it. Hoverfly makes some very nice flight systems, boards and accessories. I almost included the Parallax Elev-8 quadcopter (http://www.robotshop.com/parallax-elev-8-quadcopter-uav.html), which uses a Hoverfly control board.
      Interested readers can find out more at http://www.hoverflytech.com.

  4. Michael Margolis says:

    I really like that tricopter build. Although the component table needs a correction for the speed controller cost – 3 of those will be $23.40 (the table shows $9.40). its still a lot of tricopter for the money. This will go onto my list of new years projects, thanks for posting this.

    1. Whoops! Good catch, Michael. I’ll see if we can get the cost table updated. I’m hoping to make this one in the new year too. Let me know how yours goes!

  5. Bruce says:

    Walkera has a new model called the Infra X, which is slightly bigger than the ladybug. It has sensors that allow it to avoid walls and the ground. Around $100.00, hard to find, but the videos look awesome.

    1. Nice find. That does look really cool. Did I mention that the market for small quadcopters is evolving at an incredible pace? You should definitely shop around and see what is out there before you buy. Be sure to check for independent reviews so you can be reasonably sure you are getting a quality product.

Aerial Drone Gift Guide