Flying ArduCopter with a single hand

Hi there new friends!

Let me begin by outlining my situation. Since birth I'm the lucky owner of a condition called hemiparesis. It means I am half paralyzed on my left side.

However I still want to be able to fly my ArduCopter. I know it can be done, I'm just here to ask all of you to think with me what's the best way.

I have a few ideas myself, but I'm missing some of the puzzle pieces to make this truly awesome.

The config so far:

ArduCoper is equipped with GPS, 3dr telemetry kit and APM 2.5. I have done a successful test flight (just a quick up and down) with a borrowed Spektrum 6-ch receiver and DX8 controller. So I have access to receivers and controllers as well.

1. Using a joystick

I came across a post on the internet saying in the Mission Planner you can use a joystick as input for the quad over telemetry. This is cool and easy I'm sure, but requires a laptop to be with you at all times. 

Then I stumbled upon the USB to PPM converter listed at Flytron. However it still seems you need a computer in between to control the quad. How can we make it less bulky and handheld?

2. Using a Wii nunchuck

From the same maker I discovered a way to do it via a Wii nunchuck. Very promising, however it needs the trainer port of the controller. I'm a bit reluctant to buy a €200 controller just for the training port, especially if I already have a telemetry kit that I feel could be up to the task...

3. Using the iPhly

It's a cradle built for the iPhone/Pod that allows you to control your quad via a 2.4Ghz TX module. Although I bought one already, the kit with TX module was nowhere to be found so I only have the cradle. And if I look for a replacement module I get dizzy of the choices. I don't know which one to choose!

I like the idea of a joystick because it is the closest to a full controller in terms of feeling and buttons (if you buy a good one). However I already bought the iPhly and maybe we can make this working already with the telemetry kit I bought?

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  • Hi, Coen.

    Just a short notice of what I found. These guys sell some custom "stuff":

    They actually have only one guy (the helmet man on the photo) who builds that stuff by hand so I guess it won't be cheap and not done in 2 business days. But my knowledge is over one year old (when I visited them), maybe they stocked up that department... their shop and productrange has seen great extension since then....

    Greets Kraut Rob

  • Thanks people, I will first try a FrSky FF-1 TX/RX set to control the quad by iPhone/iPod through the iPhly and if that doesn't work I'll start looking into the many other great suggestions people have made. This seems however the most low-cost option for me right now (the quad was expensive enough for me for now :P). 

  • theres things like this




    I have been working on a joystick interface shield for an UNO that also outputs ppm to a tx module or trainer port

    im just having eagle problems designing the pcb right for the parts used



  • Have a look at the Jeti radio from Esprit RC. They have a rotary control (which you could use for throttle) as standard...

    If you fly a quad in simple mode you don't need to worry about yaw. You could use a slider for yaw if you need a camera to point in a particular direction but you would probably be flying in Loiter mode by then and will be able to move your hand from the stick to the slider.
    Jeti Transmitter Stick End with Rotary Control Knob
    Anything and Everything for electric flight, your electric superstore, Helicopter store
  • Developer

    I would recommend a 3 Axis Joystick  - Pitch = Fore & Aft, Roll = Lateral, Yaw = Rotate with a slider for Throttle = Vertical.  Actually Arthur Benemann and I were discussing this option this morning and how to integrate it with a tablet.

  • Hi!

    I am using the "spacenavigator" ( for flying around in google earth. It will give you all the freedom and axis in one hand. I really like that little thing. The downside for you is, that you will need a pc in the middle and the dataradio will only transmit your "rc signals" at 2 Hz rate or so. So very laggy compared to "normal" 50Hz RC. Perhaps the devs could help you on that. Perhaps 3dconnexion has some driver for embedded cpu (like arduino, stm etc) so it could be interfaced with the Trainerport of your RC. Or they will help you. That would be the best solution for you.

    Keep it up !

    Cheers Kraut Rob

  • Hi,

    A joystick work the same way as stick, potentiometer, so I think you can modifiy an existing joystick by unsoldering circuit and plug joystick's pot instead of an existing controller stick pot by using an external wire (ethernet cable ?).

    This way you don't need a laptop, simple tx and joystick will be enought.

    I have never made this modification myself but I pretty sure that could work.
  • You mentioned using a spektrum 6ch

    an orange tx module will work in the iPhy and will bind to existing sprektrum rx's you have

    you need to get the one that is compatible with the 9x radio for it to work 

  • Developer
    We do have two modes that are called Toy A and Toy M. I'm not going to say they are working on the current code as i have not tested them, i'll get an answer for that.
    They do, however, allow you to fly with one stick. They work by adding in some yaw control depending on the angle of your stick. M mode was explained as more like driving a car. I'm not sure about thrrotle control. But you could add that with a custom pedal. Anyway, the converstaion was about getting something written up explaining the modes and how they work. Something, i'm doing really badly ;-)
  • Coen,

    what about using a classic tx, but with only one stick?
    Curtis Younglood flies 3d helis with this setup, it's actually his invention. The throttle could be a foot pedal or located at the back of the tx as a linear poti.
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