We are interested in putting together a technology summer camp for HS (10-12) students where small teams actually build a working drone of some sort using existing designs/components. What low-cost designs would this group suggest? A multicopter would be really cool but I am not sure if we could come up with a truly affordable/survivable solution. Could we build a small AR.Drone sort of craft for $300? Would a rover be best to start with? Has anyone developed any sort of HS curriculum around drones? Is anyone interested in helping with this project?

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Comment by Jeb Bailey on December 7, 2011 at 11:30am

The simplest option IMO would be to go with an arduplane, although I think you might have trouble building anything for $300.  We've been developing college level classes using arduplane for basic theory, so it's very doable.

I'd be interested to help out.  Where are you located?

Comment by ct on December 7, 2011 at 12:17pm

Jeb: I am in Atlanta, GA. You are right - $300 is really pushing the limit but is great goal to shoot for from an education perspective! More $$$ is probably likely but begins to limit involvement from a K-12 school perspective. This group is so talented I am counting on some out-of-the-box thinking about how to build a low-cost drone kit for education. Ultimately it may take some sort of sponsorship/subsidy.

Comment by Alfred Riopel on December 7, 2011 at 12:25pm

Building something like the EasyStar powered glider and using inexpensive components from places like HobbyKing, $300 for a finished DIY drone might be doable. The airframe could even be cut out of FanFold blue foam and hot glued together. Your local construction supply might even donate a block of FanFold. 

Comment by Vishal on December 7, 2011 at 12:40pm

I think if you buy in quantity, the cheapest quadcopter would be around $410-430 each.  

from DIY Drones store:
APM 2.0- $199.95
deans plugs- $3
propellers- $12

Turnigy 9x radio- $39.99
Turnigy plush25 esc $12X4= $48
motors $15x4= $60
3s lipo- $30

from Home Depot
enough lexan for one quad- $15
two 24" or 30" square aluminum towel bars from Home Depot- $8 or $10
additional hardware (nuts and bolts)- $8

from Radio Shack
at least 14guage wire- $6

This way you've got a quality setup that can be expanded upon by additional sensors and such later.

Comment by Vishal on December 7, 2011 at 12:43pm

With the above items you spread the cost of shipping since that can be expensive from places like Hobbyking.

Also you would need a battery charger and some power tools to do the drilling and cutting of the lexan and aluminum towel bars.

Comment by Andrew Lynch on December 7, 2011 at 2:10pm

I would look to the FIRST Robotics teams as a good outlet to spread the workshop. 

For example, as a FRC mentor, I would be happy to lead a workshop for students in Houston.   

Comment by patrice.rance on December 7, 2011 at 2:19pm

Hi guys,

I build my Multicopter with only 150 euros.

 go to www.multiwii.com and you'll see how to do that .

Comment by mquintilian on December 7, 2011 at 2:51pm

I would go with the plane. Engineering wise planes teach a lot more(airfoil, weight .etc). I built a multicopter in grade 8 for about 200$ and getting everything to work right was a major headache because of issues with the esc.

Comment by Skydog222 on December 7, 2011 at 6:04pm


I am also in Atlanta (Marietta) and would be interested in helping you with your class.  That sounds like a great opportunity to teach a younger generation about aviation and more importantly, teach them about unmanned vehicles.  UAS are going to be a big part of the near future and having early exposure to them would certainly benefit them if they would like to get a job in this industry.  I am currently work in the UAV industry as a contractor doing everything from designing, building, and flying of airplanes and helicopters.  I would be interested in sitting down and talking about your idea and brainstorming to come up with a good plan to move forward.  I might also be able to help come up with sponsors that would be willing to donate some funding to your effort.  

Please let me know if you would be interested in my help and we can set up a time to meet.  


PS:  I also work with a number of groups at GT, are you affiliated with any of the groups on campus?

Comment by Yuan Gao on December 7, 2011 at 9:54pm

I think I may be able to help you with a quadcopter kit for $300, the ROFL kit: http://www.universalair.co.uk/content/rofl-kit normally goes for about twice that amount, but in the interest of encouraging engineering in young people, there is a chance that we can make that for less.  Whether it's possible really depends on the details, and how many you need, please let me know if you're interested, we can go from there.


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