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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Thanks for your suggestions on equipment, as this is the sort of information I am looking for.

It's a shame you didn't include any links, I am still very grateful for the information so thanks mate!

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 :)

Thanks for the additional links :)

My bad here are some links for most of the stuff.  Unfortunately this site looks out of stock on alot of the items.  They seem to replenish pretty quick though.

The frame:

DJI Hexa Frame


Motor Propeller Spindle mount

Engine Speed Controllers

ENGINE Speed control programer card

6 Channel RC Reciever

RC Transmitter Mode 2

Arduflyer 3DR APM2.5 Clone with telemetry radios and GPS

5000 mAH 3S 30C LIPO Battery

This is everything minus the camera gimbal and propellers to make a flying hexacopter.  I vectored you to an autopilot that is a clone of the 3DR product.  There is a whole discussion on this site about it.  It works the same as 3DR's APM 2.5.  Its open source so anything that you need to do at your level is out there.  There are alot things that you will want to research and get a good understanding on, such as the battery nomenclature.  The RC receiver and transmitter i posted is compatible with Spektrum products and I think possibly JR.  They use a scheme called DSM2/DSMX for the modulation.

Just to comment on the GoPro aspect.

I've used a GoPro on many of my projects, and I chose it specifically because of it's high-quality image AND it's small form factor. It's extremely light, and is designed exactly for situations like this. They have plenty of mounts that make it easy to attach to a drone, and you can even get them to work with OSD's for FPV flying.

Unless you have need for some extraordinary quality that only a DSLR can get you, then a GoPro will do the trick for a ton less money needing to be put into the actual drone.

Here's a quad frame that works exceptionally well with GoPro's


Haha you bloody legend, thanks for the links mate I really appreciate it.

No worries.  One of the things that I did not mention but is extremely important is a battery monitoring circuit, ie your "fuel gage."  There are ones on this site that you can get that plug into the APM 2.5 Flight Controller.  I do not use one tied into my autopilot.  I have a Spektrum DX8 RC transmitter that has a battery monitoring down link module that sends data to the Handheld controller on a completely separate system.  The controllers on Hobby King do not possess this ability.  So you will need the Autopilot APM 2.5 board to relay this information through the MAVlink to the OSD card or to a laptop computer through the provided radios with the GCS setup.  You can setup your LED's to blink if your battery is running low and have a buzzer.  The buzzer works great if the copter is only 5 feet away from you, and the lights are good to a point.  I always want to know what my battery is doing.  You can sort of time it however, battery life varies to conditions on how hard the motors are running.  The motors will work harder on hot days or days where you are fighting winds.  You don't want to be in is a situation where you can't safely land your copter because your battery is running low before you can bring it to a safe recovery site.  

What brand of props are the new ones?

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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