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ArduCopter $439.90 – $549.99

Maybe a traditional airplane is too stuffy and traditional for your gift-giving taste. Multicopters are all the rage. You can take off vertically and hover over a field to take in a sporting event or see what is going on in the neighborhood.

A great DIY project is an ArduCopter, which can be a traditional helicopter, or a tri-, quad- or hexa-copter. For a quadcopter, try either the 3DR ArduCopter Quad-C (top) or the jDrones Simplex Quad Multicopter (bottom), pictured below. These kits include the ArduPilot board, so there is no need to purchase it separately.

Four rotors not enough for you? OK, go for a hexacopter! Two fine choices are the 3DR ArduCopter Hexa-B (top) or the jDrones Simplex Hexa Multicopter (bottom), pictured below.


  • 3DR ArduCopter Quad-C: $449.99
  • jDrones Simplex Quad Multicopter: $439.90
  • 3DR ArduCopter Hexa-B: $549.99
  • jDrones Simplex Hexa Multicopter: $539.90

What They Do

The ArduCopter supports auto-level and auto-altitude control, navigation with Global Positioning System (GPS) waypoints, mission planning software, automatic takeoff and landing and more. The ‘simple flight mode’ lets you have fun flying while taking care of most of the hard stuff for you.

Why they’re Cool

Just search on YouTube for ‘ArduCopter’ and check out some of the videos. These things are amazing! They are fast, stable, and maneuverable. Many of the larger ones can lift enough payload that you can add video cameras, aGPS module or other goodies. This is a great platform combining flexibility and ease of use.

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.

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