Make a UAV for research and photography

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Picture of Make a UAV for research and photography
You, yes you, can build and fly a personal UAV. Read this and see how!

If you like this instructable, consider voting for me in the RC contest.

I remember riding in the car when I was little, watching the shadow of our car float over the ground beyond the guard rail. I would imagine that the shadow was from a plane and would think about what it would be like to see the journey from the air. What if I had a little plane that I could fly from the car and explore the areas just behind the trees. What if I could launch a plane on a hike, and see the far peak on the other side of the glacier, or take a video of myself and friends waving from the top of a mountain?
These days, I live near the ocean and wonder what it would be like to capture video of sailboat races, darting in and out of the masts like the seagull scene in "Finding Nemo." What about a video of whales from the air? To see what the seagulls see as they float over the water, under massive bridges and over tiny islands...

Then I found FPV UAVs and the dream became a reality.

This instructable will walk through your my first FPV UAV, teach you how to get started, how to make one, how to fly one, and introduce modifications you can make as you dive deeper into the sport.

*NOTICE: I do not use this plane for any purposes other than photography and research (i.e. search and rescue concepts, aero design, measurements and mapping, etc...)
I do not support the nefarious use of these planes for spying or militaristic intent. I believe that as more UAVs fill the sky, it is important to show their potential as tools for science and recreation. As I build and fly, I often get comments like "what evil will you strap to it?", "who are you spying on?" To those people, I hope that you stop watching fox news and start watching Planet Earth. The world is full of places to explore, it gets even better from the air!
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wazza11 months ago
Thanks for your good infos. Could have been more extensive though.

Anyway you propose to buy a 110$ plane for learning and after moving to a 75$ ?
And how about the vital point of "Return to home" function ?

Good point for the parachute and the launcher. Two great ideas.

More details would be welcome!

wazza wazza11 months ago
And also how about the 2 cameras? One for FPV and the other like gopro for shooting and filming ?
In this case, are you servo remote the gopro start or just mounting it with filming all the time?
McMagical Engineer (author)  wazza11 months ago
Wazza, Thanks for the support!
The main differences between the foam plane for $110 and the $70 TD1.5 is the functionality and what comes with it. The firebird comes with motors and remote etc... But it is meant to be a trainer, a stepping stone to bigger UAV's. The TD1.5 is made of fiberglass and balsa, and alas, only the frame costs $70. The motor, esc, radio, etc... all add up to more and there are a huge variety of upgrades to choose from that could cost very little, or thousands. My rig is set up to carry a parachute, large battery and an HD camera along with the FPV gear. I will soon post more pages with flight data and photography! I also have replied to resistanceisfutileiflessthan1ohm concerning the amount of description in my instructable. Please feel free to follow the link there for the factory build instructions. My goal was for this instructable to be useful for other models as well, each will be slightly different. Hope this helps!
seriously cool, one of the best things i've ever seen on here. a bit more detail could be helpful in the description of how it was built. what is it's range and flight time?
Thank you for your support! I finally found that there is a set of instructions to build this model on hobbykings "international" version (they ship from several warehouses with different order pages depending on country). These provide more detail for those who wish to view it. At the bottom of the order page here: You will find a tab labeled "files"
The pdf contains instructions.
I however, did not want to include instructions. I saw the plane as a blank frame and built it how I saw fit. I hope that others who build from this project design will post their own unique features, hacks and mods. I hope this helps!
PS, I will add a second section with flight data and photography soon,
McMagical Engineer (author) 11 months ago
The Bear, The web company is putting a warning label on the goggles because they are able to be used with high strength radio equipment. I would highly recommend reading up on all legal matters before getting into this hobby, however, fpv flight with these goggles only requires an amateur ham license if used with long range UHF equipment (ultra high frequency). A standard radio, as shown in this instructable (2.4GHz), is used for general RC flight. Flying this plane with this setup and FPV goggles is ok under current law. Do not fly your plane further than you can see and/or hear. IF the goggles cut out, you should be able to return and land your plane under normal RC flight operation (as stated when practicing with the firebird.) Thank you for your concern!
wow! I really like the build of this, nice job bro
suryamohan1 month ago

sir ,

i was amazed by ur uav ideas and birds plzz i beg ur pardon to give me brie list on things needed to build my x5 uav drone and and it would be a a help if i get the brief detail on the connections

suryamohan1 month ago

sir ,

i was amazed by ur uav ideas and birds plzz i beg ur pardon to give me brie list on things needed to build my x5 uav drone and and it would be a a help if i get the brief detail on the connections

llinschied3 months ago
Hi saw your project here. Thanks for sharing. How do you like your 9x radio system?
rniedra6 months ago

Something like UAV Factory Penguin B ???

rniedra6 months ago

UAV Fasctory Penguin B something like that ???

zfrye06 months ago
This guy now has a contract with the NSA
nmoss38 months ago
put a small zip tie loosely on the rubber band, it will make it work better
cadder9 months ago
where are your first two videos ?
twashmon9 months ago
this thing is seriously awesome, kind of want one, but seems like alot of trouble and a pretty good chunk of monies.
oashraf10 months ago
Would you please make a DIY Video I will be Very Grateful :D 
bman201110 months ago
have to ask,
How to you hook up the parachute on this model?
romablue10 months ago
Do you have a flight video this sounds awesome, I wanna build this and take it the Grand Canyon
walrusking1311 months ago
Didn't need the comment about fox
McMagical Engineer (author)  walrusking1311 months ago
I am sorry that you dislike my commentary. I do not mean to make any political statement or argument here. My view: The true value of any technology will only be realized when it is taken for granted by the general public. Just the same, a technology will generally become the tool it is labeled to be. The news (sorry for naming only one major source) says drones are weapons. I hope to show that people can use the same technology as a tool for research, photography and recreation, maybe someday even parcel delivery and transportation.
I hope this clarifies my intent.
snoop91111 months ago
I'd love to get started, but with so many options out there its a bit confusing!  The ones that seem have the most traffic are:

1) APM
a) APM 1.X based on ATMega1280
b)APM 2.x is an ATMEGA2560 and ATMEGA32U-2 (for USB) based platform
c) ArduPilot Mega (APM) 2.6 running Arducopter 3.0.1 firmware . AIOP All In One Pro Flight Controller V2 running MegaPirateNG (MP NewGen) and MultiWii firmware for UAV capabilities d) APM 3.x : future ARM based Arducopter version

2) dsPIC Based Platforms
a) AutoPilot UDB5 UAV Development board with IMU, running MatrixPilot firmware AUAV3 running MatrixPilot firmware
b) Gluonpilot2 (dsPIC33) with Xbee running GluonPilot firmware

3) STM32F1 ARM Cortex M3 Based Platforms:
a) MultiPilot32 hardware with ArduIMU+V3 Shield, running Arducopter32 firmware (i.e. 32 bit version Arducopter 2.x)
b) Naze32 running MultiWII firmware

4) STM32F4 ARM Cortex M4 Based Platforms
a) PX4 running PX4 firmware, and also Arducopter32/APM2.6 via ATMega emulation VR-Brain (MP32F4 v4) running Arducopter32 firmware, and possibly in the future PX4 firmware
b) OpenPilot running OpenPilot GPS/GCS software AeroQuad32/Baloo running LibMaple firmware
c) Quadrino hardware running MultiWII firmware

5) AutoQuad6

Why do some software packages (OpenPilot, Gluonpilot2, PX4) not run on platforms of similar hardware? These incidentally don't run software from other platforms either.. why?!

Would most Radios work with any platform? PPM-Sum, Fry-Sky on a Futaba, Graupner MX-16?

Are multirotor frames perhaps easier to learn? (Hoverthings FLIP FPV, QAV500, APM 3DR Y6, Parrot's AR Drone 2, etc)

Any thoughts on ready-built uavs? AlwaysInnovating's mecam, banggoods', YS-X4, HoverFlyTech, MaplePilot, FlyCam Black32, indigogo's skydrone / ufusion ahrs, etc, etc,

Edgar11 months ago
Great, voted, and Blogged, and if you follow the link, you'll see how to control these, at a Global level, with SparqEE!
FuzzyBearGeek11 months ago
You must wake up everyday and say "Hell yeah! I'm Me!"
studleylee11 months ago
Buying one tomorrow!!!!
critopadolf11 months ago
This is really cool! im looking forward to building one myself. i would like to see some flight recordings and pictures and more detail involving the code that went into the arduino and the Fat shark goggles. Also, i cant decide which goggles to get, any recommendations? im deciding between the attitude sd, the dominators, or the boscam GS920 goggles.
wjpsw11 months ago
This is such a passionate yet very informative article. I hope it can talk more people into FPV including the ones that watch FOX news more than Planet Earth. Keep the good work coming, I really enjoy it. Thanks.

BTW: where is your RC contest you mentioned at the beginning? I want to support you there as well.
This is a matter of personal taste more than anything, but if I was able to make a UAV of my own I would much rather have designed and built the shell myself because it could be made to my own specific needs and there would not need to be a compromise, eg. maneuverability or stability.
Also, does yours use elevons or is there a lack of pitch control?

Nice instructable. I voted for it in the RC Contest.
McMagical Engineer (author) 11 months ago
Thanks to all of the people who have checked this out and supported it! I never thought it would take off like this (no pun intended). I will update this soon with more camera information and flight photography!
profpat11 months ago
nice! very informative!
C__411 months ago
Awesome build... In gonna go make one so I can look at the herons nest near my house
mszymczak11 months ago
This is such a fantastic project. I also enjoyed the write-up. Congrats on the build.
i have voted for it
shotgunshane11 months ago
If only this was entered in the diy drones contest... PRIZES!
thebear111 months ago
hi good work well layout only one thing you did not put in i went to the web site and look at the plane you told about  below is a statement from that web page

*Notice: The use and operation of this product in the USA and other countries requires an amateur/ham radio license, and some countries may forbid its use entirely. It is the responsibility of the purchaser to ensure that the use of this product meets the requirements imposed by your government’s rules and regulations for RF devices. Do not purchase this product if you are unsure of the government requirements or are not able to comply with them.  ReadyMadeRC cannot be held responsible for your actions if you purchase and/or use this product in violation of your government's regulations.

something you may add to this fine instructable  for others who have look at this
have fun