Or how to become a drone developer without mortgaging your house.

Here is how to make a small, indoor/outdoor quadcopter that you can
fly with either:
* an android phone or tablet
* a legitimate remote
* via your own processing (http://processing.org) sketches on a PC
  (or Android device)

There are lots of optional steps in this project - for example, you
can skip building the quadcopter, and buy one instead - you will still
be to use the Arduino based radio to control it from your
phone/laptop/tablet.  However if you go this route you will miss the
satisfaction of combining the ancient chinese arts of bamboo lashing
and cheap mass manufactured electronic toys...

However you go about it, this is a reasonably cheap project, the most
expensive part other than my laptop and tablet is an Arduino DUE and a
cheaper device could be used if desired.

The ability to write your own code to fly the copter make this more of
a drone than many remote control projects, but you will need to
develop your own code to actually decide what throttle, rudder,
aileron and elevator commands to send it when - a work in progress
based upon a 'Ground station' camera tracking the copter from
underneath is included, but it doesn't fly it yet!

As a simpler exercise for the reader, you can also look into adding
forward/backward/left/right FLIP buttons to the android remote.

Taster video 1: Drone controlled by tablet:

Taster video 2: Onboard footage from flipping (and crashing)

This work was inspired by the 18$ quadcopter thread on rcgroups
(http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1710948) - take a
look at rcgroups for plenty more inspiration.

It also makes use of plenty of other people's work, but most
immediately the processing-serial-android library
(https://github.com/inventit/processing-android-serial/) and the
hubsan X4 and A7105 code from the deviation project

Step 1: Approach, materials and safety.

This project leaves all the hardwork of copter flight control, radio
receivers, Electronic Speed Controllers, IMU's and so on to a single
part from a commercial RC copter, the Hubsan X4.  This, and other
parts are all availble as spares, itemised below, however these
little hubsan copters are fun toys in their own rate, and are probably
worth the relatively cheap (~£35) asking price just to get the practice
flying, and they come complete with one battery, spare propellers,
charger & remote.  You should still order spares to build your own

This assembly approach means you get to the stage of flying, and
coding flying routines much quicker than most and is argubly
cheaper as well.  It also means you have to know less about the
fascinating arena of remote control aircraft in general and
quadcopters in particular - so you can and should rectify this by
taking a look at some of the great Instructables on the subject!

The same thing can be done with other brands' parts - in particular
anything that Deviation supports would probably be an easy enough port
to Arduino.  In general, everything here can be done much better -
plenty of room for the reader ;)

A word about safety- big quadcopters are very dangerous.  If you've
got the stomach for zombie movies then you'll find plenty of evidence
for this on the web.  Anything under the control of a collection of
home brew electronics can go haywire.  Flying is tricky for everything
that isn't born to it (let me tell you about the birds and the
bees...) - that includes you and your code - you will crash your

Fortunately these little copters are unlikely to give you anything
worse than a paper cut, but still please do keep the safety and sanity
of yourself and yours in mind when flying - kids, pets and
unenthusiastic partners all deserve to relax without a careening
copter in the face every few minutes.

Also - soldering irons are hot, batteries can explode, kebab skewers
and couches should be kept separate at all times and your neighbours
might punch you if you fly a camera into their backyard.  Which is
both fair and reasonable - if you like people watching find a street
corner cafe and develop a taste for strong espresso and croissants -
sometimes the traditional forms are the best!

* Laptop with Processing and Arduino environments - the instructions are
   Linux specific, but should all work on other platforms with the minimum
   of faffing. 
* Android device that supports USB host mode.  Tested on Motorola Xoom.
* Soldering iron and related gubbins - solder, helping hands etc.
* Scissors

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