Description: This UAV, which uses an off-the-shelf autopilot, is the reference platform against which we benchmark the more innovative (and cheaper) custom UAVs that are our main focus at DIY Drones.
The video system listed below, which streams realtime video via a 2.4 GhZ wireless link, provides a real-time eye-in-the sky overhead view of the path, although a FlyCamOne2 is a cheaper and lighter video solution if you don't mind waiting till you land to download the video. Alternately, this is a reasonable platform for Geomapping (very high resolution aerial photography that you can use with Google Earth) with a commercial digital point-and-shoot camera shooting in continuous mode, accompanied by a GPS logger.
The Mini Telemaster is relatively small and has a pretty high wing-loading, so the onboard camera equipment it can carry is limited, both in size and weight (it's ideally suited for the tiny FlyCamOne). The advantage is that you can hand launch it almost anywhere, so no runway is required. But a more serious imaging system requires the shift to a larger plane, such as the full-size Electro Telemaster.
Features: Up to 32 pre-set GPS waypoints. Integrated inertial stabilization. Tried and true system, which offers reliability in exchange for limited flexibility.
- Airframe: Mini-Telemaster (47" wingspan, $77)
- Autopilot: U-NAV Picopilot NA (gyro and gps based device, $650)
- Video: Range Video Aerial Video System 2 (wireless camera, rx and tx, $365), or FlyCamOne2 (tiny video camera/recorder, $99)
- For Geomapping, use an alternate setup: Pentax Optio A30, which is the smallest high-res camera I've found that allows for an IR shutter trigger, plus a Prism R/C-controlled IR trigger (both are around $200). Add a GPS logger ($70) to import imagery into Pict'Earth software for Google Maps integration.