Let me start by introducing myself as this is my first ever post on this wonderful forum. My name is Corey and I live in the wonderful country Australia. I work for a telecom here in Australia so I am familiar (somewhat) with electronics, soldering and basic electrical principles. I also moderate a few technical based forums and run a few websites for fun! But that's enough about me...

The reason I titled the post 'I am sorry' is because I know how frustrating it can be to have people asking the same question that has been answered 1000's of times because they lack the initiave to search the forums before posting their questions. I how ever did search the forums for information to help me achieve my goals but I in the end I was left more confused the when I started. There is so much information and people looking to achieve different outcomes although I imagine what I wish to achieve is a fairly common request. So lets begin and sorry once again..

My objective:
I am interested in using a 'drone' to survey small areas, my budget is $1200. I would like live FPV of the video displayed on a PC and the camera being able to rotate, mainly up and down. (I think the term might be Gimbal, Possibly...? )

The range from the receiver will not be to large but I am not sure what a 'reasonable' distance is.

Flight time is as long as possible obviously but as far as I can tell I can expect 10-15 minutes.

I am not sure of the pro and cons of Quad Vs Hex in relation to copters, I assume Hex is better?

I am not sure whether to buy a Ready to Fly drone or purchase the supplies individualy, I am sure if I build it myself the knowledge will help me in the future and will allow me to upgrade/repair if needed.

I welcome any comments or questions just no flame please :)

Resources I have investigated.


This is a RTF drone I have seen but does not incorporate a camera. http://www.dji-innovations.com/products/phantom/overview/

I have also searched http://www.hobbyking.com but I just ended up confused.

And then there is a local retailed in Australia http://www.baskindustries.com/aerospace/ - Once again no camera though.

http://diydrones.com/forum/topics/planned-quadrocopter-uav - A very old post that appears to show how to build a cheap drone.

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Of course with Australia having defined regs BLOS is illegal without correct permissions so you would not want to be doing that until you had the papers.

BLOS stands for Beyond Line Of Sight I am guessing? If so thanks for the heads up I have looked at the CASA information and I realised that there are many restrictions on private recreational UAV flying.

Thanks again for your help/advice. I am starting to build a general idea of what is required to enter the drone scene :)

@shaun   You can get aGoPro Camera Gimbal from here for $69 and the adapter brackets to fit the frame you mentioned here for $10. The Gimbal supports both pitch and roll, which the APM2 handles perfectly. I had one of these and I loved it, but since the Jdrones Gimbal for $39 fits the Arducopter so well (and for a sweet price) I'm going to start using it instead. But for the frame you recommended the one I linked to cannot be beat!

That's true I did see that so he should not have too much trouble trying to figure out what he wants to do.  I put an x468 flame gear gimbal on mine that can handle a little more than a gopro such as the standard "handycams" from Sony or in my case a Canon Vixia.  All though X468 is not that robust of a gimbal.  I would not put anymore than a handycam on it.

Thanks for the additional links :)

Corey you can take a look also jDrones RTF kits. We have several models available including first born ArduCopter kits

If you buy a kit from jDrones, cameramount etc can be installed too on your frame according your needs. 

$1200 ain't going to buy you much to setup a business to survey small areas in Australia.

Gatewing X100.  $70,000 

UAV Operator Certificate.  $8,000

Insurance.  $15,000

Thanks for your input, but my surveying is non commercial. Purely recreational :)

Hi Corey,

I tried to contact you via email but I'm not sure if it got through to you.
This post was done some time ago and I only just found it but no doubt you are still interested and maybe even have a system now? If you are still looking for a system or need help with anything then please give us a call and we'll help you out. You can find all of our contact details at http://www.baskindustries.com/aerospace/support/

Sorry mate but you will be hard pressed to build anything that will do what you need for $1,200? I am somewhat new to this myself but I have done considerable research on this initially thinking I could put something together for less a $1,000. Boy was I wrong! For this price range you will also be hard pressed to build anything that will fly for more than 10 min tops, and more like 5-10 mins using a gimble and at best a GoPro camera. The sad fact is that no matter what you build if you need accurate vibration free filming will cost min $2,000 and up. Video quality is entirely contingent on the type of gimble used for isolating the camera from the copter.For any professional filming a Hex is the only real option. 

My current project for under $1,500 is a from 3DRobotics, Hexa-B kit and APM 2.5 controller. I splurged on the transmitter since I am currently working on 3 different projects, its a Spektrum DX8 using AR8000 receiver. I plan on using a GoPro Hero3 camera as soon as I can find a landing gear and gimble for the Hexa-B kit.

The other serious contender is a DJI F550 Hex frame using a Naza-M contoller with GPS. Also using the Spektrum DX8 and AR8000 receiver. This luckily has the AeroXcraft Landing Gear for the F550 and a GoPro 3 camera and 2 axis gimble.

Both kits are similar except that the ArduCopter is considerably cheaper if you are looking for way-point navigation and true UAV capabilities for less than 1,500. I think you need to be very careful not to expect the budget products to deliver the same capabilities as the professional systems. As long as you keep this in mind you will not be disappointed. I have been researching these systems for almost year now and it is amazing what is finally becoming affordable. If you have the talent and patience you should be able to put together something extremely useful for semi-professional AP and AV systems.


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