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!

Step 1: Eyes in the Sky

FPV is going to cost you money. I hate to say it, but its true. The part you want to shell out a little dough for is your telemetry equipment. I went ahead and got a set of Fat Shark goggles with a camera. I really like the package I got from ReadyMadeRC.com

The goggles, camera, transmitter and receiver, plus shipping all came to my door in less than 3 days at a cost just under $300.00
I got the:
Fat Shark Predator V2 Video Glasses w/Transmitter and Camera

There are cheaper kits. There are more expensive kits. I chose this one but can always upgrade later!

Why should I spend $300:
-You can fly, drive, sail, any model with this camera. It can be moved and placed whenever you want. You can even strap it to a dog and see what he does.
-The goggles allow for hookups with other video equipment and camera upgrades
-Fat Shark has figured out a nice system, they fit well and even have extra lenses for those who wear glasses. 


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?
Best user name ever.
Thank you for your support! I finally found that there is a set of instructions to build this model on hobbykings &quot;international&quot; 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: http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__22175__Target_Drone_v1_5_Fiberglass_FPV_Airplane_1520mm_ARF_.html You will find a tab labeled &quot;files&quot; <br>The pdf contains instructions. <br>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! <br>~M~ <br>PS, I will add a second section with flight data and photography soon,
Thanks for your good infos. Could have been more extensive though. <br> <br>Anyway you propose to buy a 110$ plane for learning and after moving to a 75$ ? <br>And how about the vital point of &quot;Return to home&quot; function ? <br> <br>Good point for the parachute and the launcher. Two great ideas. <br> <br>More details would be welcome! <br> <br>Best
And also how about the 2 cameras? One for FPV and the other like gopro for shooting and filming ? <br>In this case, are you servo remote the gopro start or just mounting it with filming all the time?
Wazza, Thanks for the support! <br>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! <br>~M~
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!
<p>can you program it to fly itself?</p><p> I'm a noob at programming so I can't!</p>
<p>Any updates on this instructable? It looks like you got quite a few new hits from the mailer I got from instructables.</p><p>Interested in knowing how your parachute experiment worked. Seems like a vertical launch tube with a spring driven piston and pin retention (pulled by a servo to trigger) could be more efficient and avoid some of the timing issues with stopping the prop. Also seem like you should insert a leader to move the shroud lines away from snags.</p><p>Was interested to see how your launch ramp worked out. It looks like you were aiming for a boosted launch, but it seems like without rollers or bearings you might bind up using regular sliders for those extruded rails. Maybe even two slides made from delrin would be enough to keep the shuttle from binding and survive smacking a stopping block multiple times.</p>
<p>If properly filtered, can the camera show infared images?</p>
<p>Most CMOS cameras do support infrared filters, but I have no idea what you'd be using it for...</p><p>Also, I'm not sure it would transmit to the goggles, but you could try and tell me if it works!</p>
<p>For beginners, (me, although I have worked with drones before) I wish this was a bit more in depth and detailed. This is a very cool project, but for someone like me I'd need &quot;Pick up the drill, drill 3 holes to the left of the wings, between the _____ and the ____.&quot;</p>
<p>Hi, I think it would be wise to belong to the B.M.F.A (British Model Flying Association), as providing you fly this vehicle responsibly you will be covered by their insurance policy.</p><p>You will receive a booklet with lots of info on Do's and Don't s, and some very useful info.</p><p>Martin.</p>
<p>Four things you should do before flying any RC aircraft (UAVs/Drones/Etc, included):</p><p>1 Seek out local RC pilots who will help you learn how to fly. You will cause yourself considerable grief and expense if you try to do it alone.</p><p>2 Join the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) at modelaircraft.org and follow their safety code for model aircraft, especially follow the rules about FPV piloting (Use a spotter, don't fly out of visual sight range, don't be a safety hazard or nuisance to others)</p><p>3 In the USA, register yourself as an RC/UAV pilot with the FAA for just $5 at <a href="https://registermyuas.faa.gov/" rel="nofollow">https://registermyuas.faa.gov/ </a> (nowhere else--the others are expensive spam/scam sites)</p><p>4 Stay away from other aircraft of any scale and restricted areas like airports and landing approaches, or government facilities.</p><p>The hobby industry and the AMA have worked hard to preserve the safety of the public, the reputation of radio control hobbyists, and most importantly, the freedom of RCers from onerous government regulation. We don't want our hobby screwed up by a few irresponsible flyers and bad publicity--believe me, it very nearly happened this past year.</p><p>Sorry for the preachiness, but we can't do enough to get this important message out.</p>
<p>Absolutely right on! Agoid grief, disappointment and fines. Follow these suggestions and join the thousands of us who safely pursue the modeling aircraft and photography hobbies! Good post: Thanks!</p>
<p>Nice idea but not the best choice of vehicle. Pusher prop makes desirable hand launching precarious. No need for landing gear... Just adds unneeded weight. (I have this very model and its marginal for this application.) A Radian plane and and Mobius camera would be much better. As for the parachute and catapult? Forget it! And, learn to fly first with an experienced helper. And join the AMA. Mostly, though, be very careful where you fly. Avoidable accidents endanger the model aircraft hobby as incidents are always exagerated by the media. DOZ</p>
<p>Nice work McMag, keep posting and building. If you post flight videos, use them to highlight build modifications, maybe update this instructable with your mods/discoveries :) </p><p>Yours in UAV/FPV - me!</p>
<p>UAV? (Upstairs at Vinnie's?). FPV? (Fat Protective Vet?). Not a clue what these acronyms stand for. Guessed at RC.</p>
UAV= Unmanned Aireal Vehicle<br>FPV= First Person View<br>RC= Radio Controlled<br><br>hope this helped ;-)
<p>Excellent tutorial for all-round confidence and getting down to basics - but where is the sketch for the Arduino? </p>
I'm Claudio from Croatia city of RIJEKA on the nordwest coast of Adriatiyc see. I'bild drone glider 2.7m wingspan and electronics, camera and electronics, GPS, electromotor and they fly nice, long range the visibility, and high altitude,my RC is 1km range,but i'm upgreadig output stage whit 2S 1309 tranzistore and by litium batery over 20Amp,It's really nice hoby! Sorry for my bad English. <br>C.
<p>when I try to download the pdf I only get first page</p>
<p>Did a good job with this instructable, Looks great, like others follow up would be nice. </p><p>Also my option about Fox News is seems to give both sides of<br>most if not all topics. So to just say Fox News, bad :( </p><p>Would vote for you on the build though. More information and<br>pictures that you have been able to get. Two cameras seems like a good idea as<br>well.</p>
<p>Cut the political commentary no matter how slight. All views matter.</p>
<p>Very good post, I would like to receive more information about how to build one.</p><p>Could you please as do decirm To receive complete information?</p><p>Thank you</p><p>Muy buen post, me gustaria recibir mas informacion de como contruir uno.</p><p>Podrias decirm por favor como hacer para recivir la informacion completa?</p><p>Gracias</p>
Didn't need the comment about fox
Walrusking, <br>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. <br>I hope this clarifies my intent. <br>~M~
<p>fox comment welcomed.</p>
just want to day something<br>please put this in the drones contests I think this has a really good chance
<p>Interesting that you get an adverse <br>reaction to drones - I suspect this is more common in the US than in the UK:<br> here I have had only positive remarks about my drone and genuine <br>interest. I have seen a video where a drone pilot was <br>attacked by a woman who, without bothering to inquire or ascertain the <br>facts, accused him of spying on her and then proceeded to beat him up. <br>Being the gentleman he was he did not retaliate.</p>
<p>&gt;&gt; Interesting that you get an adverse reaction to drones</p><p>From experience I can say that this has a lot to do with the looks of the plane. A grey military styled FPV platform will get more negative reactions compared to the same model covered in rainbow-colored monokote. One &quot;looks&quot; scary, the other &quot;looks&quot; like a toy.<br><br>Obligatory youtube video from my son's channel.</p><p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7v7LUZS9zI</p>
That's unfortunately more true than you would probably like. I'm not getting into the political parts of guns in the United States but if it's a black gun with any sort of scope, it's immediately an &quot;assault weapon&quot;. Which is a term that doesn't actually exist. Anyway, yes you are exactly right about that looking like a military craft and therefore capable of launching nuclear weapons. Have a good day!
Yes! The Fox News hit was awesome. So happy that you added that.
<p>&gt;&gt; Anyway you propose to buy a 110$ plane for learning and after moving to a 75$ ?</p><p>The first plane is a trainer; a plane designed for the tribulations of a new pilot learning to fly. It has a low stall speed, large dihedral for self-righting, and is made of EPO foam. The last point, the material, is important because the plane can be hot-glued back together many times after crashes and hard landings.</p><p>&gt;&gt; And how about the vital point of &quot;Return to home&quot; function ?</p><p>If you are following the FAA rules (less than 400 feet elevation and line-of-sight) and you respect your radio's low signal warning then it is possible to fly FPV without this _expensive_ functionality. </p>
<p>Freaking HobbyKing is insane they want $100+ for shipping, thats insane... </p><p>Since I had LIPO batteries I gotta imagine it has to go surface </p>
<p>Join a club first and find out if what you are looking for is a reality. Best of luck!</p>
<p>This is one of the best drone projects on instructables!</p>
<p>Does anyone know where to buy the Target Drone v1.5, as I can't find it on HobbyKing or Ebay :\ I really am looking for this particular rig or any other one that looks like this as it really suits the UAV look in my opinion.</p>
If it fall underwater will it be destroyed
<p>Hi! Fantastic Instructable! I am looking at building this, and I was wondering what your average flight speed was in this? How long do your batteries last? </p>
Crikey, that's amazing!
<p>How do you determine the propeller size?</p>
Looks cool
<p>Could you post a video of it in flight? and please post more instructables on drones :) </p>
<p>Hello, I want to build this and I have all the pats sorted out i just dont know what size propeller i need, I will be using this exact same body and ( <a href="http://buzzhobbies.com.au/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=108" rel="nofollow">http://buzzhobbies.com.au/index.php?route=product/...</a> )</p><p>and this motor </p><p>( <a href="http://buzzhobbies.com.au/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=108" rel="nofollow">http://buzzhobbies.com.au/index.php?route=product/...</a> )</p><p>Thanks</p><p>Henry</p>

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