All Blog Posts (13,756)

3D Robotics
Why aren't we using UAVs instead of news helicopters?

The tragic death of four people in a collision of two news helicopers in Phoenix has prompted much discussion about whether following stolen cars and other TV-ratings fodder is worth the risk. What isn't debated is whether people want to watch that sort of thing, because the answer is so clearly yes. So why not give people what they want without risking human lives, and encourage TV news… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 30, 2007 at 11:58pm — 2 Comments

3D Robotics
Things you could make an autopilot out of...

We've already done Lego, an iPaq cellphone and some random chips we had lying around. What other commonly found objects could you make an autopilot, or some component of one, out of?…


Added by Chris Anderson on July 30, 2007 at 2:08pm — No Comments

3D Robotics
The electric revolution in R/C planes hits full-size aviation

It's been amazing to watch how computer technologies have revolutionized the R/C aircraft world. The combination of high-efficiency brushless electric motors (first developed for DVD drives), lithium-ion batteries (developed for laptops) and spread-spectrum digital radio (popularized with WiFi) have created a class of small, quiet electric planes that are every bit their old noisy gas-powered predecessors. AMA membership is…


Added by Chris Anderson on July 27, 2007 at 2:45pm — No Comments

3D Robotics
Google investing in aerial photography

This is significant.

(BTW, I'll be speaking and demoing our UAVs at Google on Aug 4th during the SciFoo event. There's a reason we call our UAVs "GeoCrawlers")


Google has acquired ImageAmerica, a company that builds high-resolution cameras and uses them to take aerial photographs.

The search engine giant announced the move…


Added by Chris Anderson on July 27, 2007 at 10:23am — No Comments

Wow thats a small GPS!

I decided for the sake of weight, I'd replace my Garmin Etrex Vista GPS on my plane (strapped piggback) with a dedicated chip version So I ordered one from Mouser seems to have everything I ever need inabout 10 versions so its always a little daunting for me. This time I picked up a $28 GPS on a chip. If anyone cares its spec sheet is at

Long story short -- read the specs first cause I forgot to get an antenna.… Continue

Added by paul hubner on July 26, 2007 at 9:13pm — 2 Comments

3D Robotics
The problem with mobilizing software volunteers

Here at DIY Drones, I've been working with other amateurs to create open technology platforms to make it easier for more people to build their own UAVs (for aerial imagery, high-res Google Maps mashups, contests and other flying robot fun).

The good news is that there are a lot of programmers out there happy to donate their time and talent to helping these project along. The bad news is that each of them has their own favorite programming language, and it's up to the organizer (ie,…


Added by Chris Anderson on July 24, 2007 at 7:47pm — 2 Comments

3D Robotics
Testing three pan-tilt gimbals

In my quest for the perfect pan-tilt gimbal assembly for a small UAV, I've made one out of Lego and have some clumsy ones out of aluminum. Most commercial pan-tilt assemblies are made for much larger cameras than the ones we fly, or they're incredibly expensive turrets meant for military and commercial UAVs. But I've hunted around and found three that appear to be within our size, weight and price range. How do…


Added by Chris Anderson on July 23, 2007 at 2:44pm — 1 Comment

3D Robotics
How to control Lego Mindstorms from a R/C receiver

In my instructions on how to build a Lego Autopilot, I've neglected to show how you turn the thing on and off remotely. The answer is a servo strapped to a Mindstorms touch sensor inside the front of the plane. This video is pretty self-explanatory.… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 21, 2007 at 10:03pm — No Comments

FAA regulations

I just read washington Posts comments on UAVs and recently the intern ruling by the FAA ( ) It seems we hobbyist have it somewhat easy, all we need to do is fly below 400 feet, have a spotter, and basically be safe. Yet how strange is it that as soon as we move to the commercial/professional world we need to get a waiver from the FAA? I've seen the applications to get one but how… Continue

Added by Ed Ashton on July 21, 2007 at 1:15pm — 4 Comments

My FPV plane turns UAV

Hi All,

I'm working on a UAV (have been for a few months on and off) that will

bring my plane back home. You see I fly a foam plane (an EasyGlider)

that I have modified with an electric motor atop and a video camera and

downlink so I can see what the plane sees and fly "First Person".

I had a rather "adrenaline inducing" experience when my video downlink

was lost (my fault - I flew behind my receive antennas coverage). Well,

I also realized that I… Continue

Added by paul hubner on July 20, 2007 at 5:50pm — 1 Comment

3D Robotics
Pict'Earth invents the french fry UAV!

Last week I had a great chat with the guys running the US operations of Pict'Earth. The company was originally started by a team in France who created their own UAV and real-time Google Earth integration. To get a sense of how cool that is, check out this video:

That was based on a custom UAV that cost around $10,000. The US team is targeting cheaper applications. First, the… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 16, 2007 at 10:03am — No Comments

3D Robotics
Building a real Predator UAV


Here's a semi-scale Predator. Pretty cool, but it's an ARF so I can't do too much bragging. I just modded an inexpensive ($80) Nitro Models kit with a AXI 2208 brushless motor and added some proper landing gear and

an airscoop to cool the motor in the back. (BTW, Nitro sells two Predators. Get

this one, not the similar…


Added by Chris Anderson on July 16, 2007 at 12:27am — 22 Comments

3D Robotics
UAV use surging in Iraq, led by micros

From Army Times:

WASHINGTON — The use of unmanned aircraft in Iraq has surged by nearly one-third since the buildup of U.S. forces began early this year, and drones are now racking up more than 14,000 hours a month in the battlefield skies.

The increase in unmanned aircraft — from high-altitude Global Hawks to short-range…


Added by Chris Anderson on July 10, 2007 at 5:07am — No Comments

3D Robotics
Progress on the Basic Stamp autopilot

There's nothing like a big project for a crash course in a new technology. After choosing the Basic Stamp platform for the embedded processor version of the autopilot, I've now learned the hard way about the complexities and limitations of embedded processors. They're not insurmountable, but they're important to…


Added by Chris Anderson on July 9, 2007 at 1:15am — 2 Comments

3D Robotics
Lego GPS code working!

Great news on the Lego UAV front. Ralph Hempel, who has been helping me on adding GPS waypoints and navigation to my Mindstorms Autopilot, has cracked the tricky bluetooth integration code problem. Just the review the challenge, it appeared that the easiest way to connect the Mindstorms NXT CPU with a GPS

receiver is via its bluetooth interface. But the native NXT bluetooth stack and

API is very limited, and we couldn't find a good way…


Added by Chris Anderson on July 5, 2007 at 9:33am — No Comments

Interesting site

Hello everyone, I have just found this site and looked at a few of the pages. I have wanted to get into the small uav type aircraft so this site is just what I have been looking for. I have just purchased a Hobbico NexStar but have not yet made the first flight, except on the simulator. This is the gas powered version and is slightly larger the the ElectriStar being used here. I have looked at the huge open bay where the RC system is and I know there is a lot of room to install more stuff.…


Added by Frank Cates on June 29, 2007 at 4:53pm — No Comments

3D Robotics
Attempt at a 100,000 ft UAV flight

From the MAKE blog:

Here is a link to pictures of an attempt by a group of Calpoly engineers to have a UAV glider bring back pictures from 100,000 feet. After some sleepless nights and an overwhelming amount of work on hardware and software we launched a glider in California Valley. The…

Added by Chris Anderson on June 26, 2007 at 3:45am — 1 Comment

3D Robotics
Update 6/17

Flew the Lego Autopilot UAV and the cellphone autopilot UAV (sans cellphone) on Sunday to test some new stabilization calibration. Again, if the definition of a successful test is useful data and no crashing, this was a success, but it was a little tense at times. Lessons from these flights:

1) The Lego autopilot suffered a mechanical malfunction. One of the gear linkages came off in midair, freezing the autopilot in the "on" position. This meant that I had to fight a hard-left rudder… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 18, 2007 at 10:49pm — No Comments

3D Robotics
UAV Resources

Other UAV communities:
* List here

Commerical UAVs:

* Boomerang UAV (with AttoPilot) ($15,500 foam wing)

* Procerus Kestrel ($10k foam flying wing)

*… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 16, 2007 at 8:30am — 2 Comments

3D Robotics
GeoCrawler 4 (Predator airframe and AttoPilot autopilot)

Description: This UAV is not functionally very different from GeoCrawler 4, with its off-the-shelf Picopilot GPS-guided autopilot, but it's so much cooler! If you're going to build a UAV, why not make it look like a UAV?… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 16, 2007 at 7:30am — 12 Comments

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