What is an amateur UAV?

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft that has the capability of autonomous flight, without a pilot in control. Amateur UAVs are non-military and non-commercial. They typically fly under “recreational” exceptions to FAA regulations on UAVs, so long as the pilots/programmers keep them within tight limits on altitude and distance. Usually the UAV is controlled manually by Radio Control (RC) at take-off and landing, and switched into GPS-guided autonomous mode only at a safe altitude. (Confused by all the acronyms and unfamiliar terms in UAVs? A glossary is here.)

What do I need to make one?

---1) An RC plane, muticopter (quadcopter/hexacopter/tricopter, etc) or helicopter. You can buy them ready to fly, including autopilot, here. If you want to build your own, these instructions are a good starting point.
---2) An autopilot, such as Pixhawk (see below)
---3) Optional: a useful “payload”, such as a digital camera or video transmission equipment

What does DIY Drones have to offer?

The DIY Drones community has created the world's first "universal autopilots", ArduPilot Mega (APM) and its next-generation big brother, Pixhawk. They combines sophisticated IMU-based autopilot electronics with free autopilot software that can turn any RC vehicle into a fully-autonomous UAV.

A full setup consists of:

  • Pixhawk autopilot: The electronics, including twin processors, gyros, accelerometers, pressure sensors, GPS and more (shown at right). Available from 3D Robotics.
  • Mission Planner software Desktop software that lets you manage APM and plan missions, along with being a powerful ground station during flights and helping you analyze mission logs afterwards.
  • Autopilot software (automatically loaded by the Planners):

You can buy Ready-to-Fly UAVs (both planes and multicopters) from 3D Robotics:



Last but not least is flight safety. The RCAPA guidelines are an excellent set of checklists and do's and don'ts, so please refer to them.

Also, here's the FAA's official word on what's legal and what's not.

Views: 1348075

Comment by HASAN on February 12, 2012 at 11:32am

Is there any ARDUPLANE INSTRUCTION as PDF copy?...please let me know......waitng for your kind answer...

Comment by John Church on February 12, 2012 at 12:06pm


Sorry- no, there is no PDF or other single-file format Arduplane instructions. The WiKi is the current source of instruction, as maintaining a single published document could become a nightmare :)

You may, of course, create a single document with all the things you find most important for those interested!

Comment by Bradley J Carr on February 15, 2012 at 2:30pm

Hello everybody.  I am new to the world of Arduplane.  If I buy the complete package to fit on my Cub Airplane, how hard is it to get set?  I really don't know how to program.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on February 15, 2012 at 2:37pm

Bradley: No programming needed! Please see the instructions here

Comment by Onur Daşkıran on February 15, 2012 at 2:46pm

I want to use APM2 board in several a/c as a datalogger. What kind of changes do i have to do in software? Also how am I supposed to power the board if i don't want any connection to aircrafts I will be using.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on February 15, 2012 at 2:50pm

Onur: No changes needed. ArduPlane/ArduCopter datalog by default. As for power, just provide them with regulated 5v (normal output from an ESC).

Comment by Onur Daşkıran on February 15, 2012 at 3:02pm

So I will have a battery and a voltage regulator, remove the JP1 jumper  then connect battery to pins that says (+ - S) on the input bus, or keep the JP1 jumper, connect battery to pins that says (S 5V -) on the output bus. Is that right? Sorry for these simple questions but I don't want to harm the board.

Comment by Bradley J Carr on February 16, 2012 at 7:23am

Chris, Just to get started I thought about taking one of my RC trucks and using the Arduplane to control it on the ground just to get used to it and then transfer it over to a Airplane.  Just so I can see things working before I let it rip. Would the Ardupilot Mega kit be a good starter for this?

Comment by Jiri Pistek on February 17, 2012 at 1:45am
This plane was dedicated to FPV
It has not been flown yet. A friend of mine made the moulds and I am supposed to test it.

Comment by Hector Rosas on February 27, 2012 at 2:16am

Hi mi name is Hector and i have a few questions about ArduPilot. What is it for? i've read its applications but i still dont get it, does it mean that i can "transform" any car/helicopter or any vehicle and turn it into a UV? can i buy a regular helicopter and "h a c k" it and turn it into a UAV? im sorry if this questions sounds kinda silly but i need to understand it.. Thanks! 


You need to be a member of DIY Drones to add comments!

Join DIY Drones

© 2017   Created by Chris Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service