DIY Drone Summer Camp

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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  • This is an amazing idea! I happen in the 10 to 12 grade age and would love to participate.

     Basic Summer Camp Offer may contain the following step by step topics for a start..

    • Introduction of the involved flying concepts with demos
    • Basic electricity, battery and power
    • Soldering technics hands-on
    • Electric power distribution (distribution technics and power distribution board)
    • Controling a motor power with ESC (control signal concept and hands-on exercise)
    • ESC 5volts available power for the receiver
    • Controling a motor power remotaly with a signal (Transmitter and receiver concept. Notion of channel)
    • Remotaly controling individual motor power off multi-motor set-up. (Hands-on exercises with 2 motors)
    • Frame concept and assembly 
    • Mounting the motors
    • Installing the power distribution board and wiring
    • Security essentials
    • Wiring the signal distribution
    • Testing assembly (1- without propellers,  2- with propellers)
    • Arduino and better Signal control with APM (demo)
    • How does APM affect air vehicule control 
    • Powering the APM with 5volts ESC outpout
    • APM software interface and control variables
    • First airborn flight
    • First APM variables adjustment and test


    Yes, .. this idea of summer camp his a good idea because:

    It adresses actual technology forseable trend.

    Looking at all comments, there is no doubts that wathever the concepts (plane or copter), necessary harware and software is available out there.

    K12 students are perfecaly capable of understanding the concept and assemble the pieces and get extremely motivated.

    This is to start the discussion on the content and the objectif that would be aimed.

    All comments are more than welcom.




  • Im here in atlanta and interested in helping if you would like. I have an ar drone i can lend for the program if needed.
  • Gerry, nice ideas with the Wii controller in the mix. 

    I think you would still need to add about another $100 to the price since it doesn't include materials for frame, plugs, wire, other hardware, propellers, etc.

  • Thanks to everyone for all of the ideas.

    Questions: What do you think is the simplest highly stable multicopter design out there?

    What Autopilot software could be most easily adapted to an Android phone using it as the brains/IMU with the new Android interface board? I have a secondary reason for wanting to involve mobile phones in the project.

  • I agree with Gerry + you will need goggles and safety nets for test area

  • Hobby King USA Warehouse:

    $30 Hobby King 6ch Rx/Tx

    4x 1000kv HK 2210N BLDC=$40

    4x 20A ESC=$40

    DIYDrones Store:

    Arduino Pro Mini=$20

    FTDI Cable=$20

    Target/Walmart(cheaper on ebay if you go generic)

    Wii Motion Plus=$20

    Wii Nunchuk=$20

    MultiWiiCopter Code=Free

    Total Cost ~$170(Some numbers being rounded up should take care of S&H)

  • Oh, I thought they were a lot younger.  They could handle some APM at that age.  I still think you should go with planes as they are much less failure prone or very simple FP helicopters.  I just worry that you might not have a working machine at the end of a week, which is always a bit problematic when your dealing with young people.  If they can already do mindstorms then maybe they are ready for the big time.  I would love to get involved in these type of projects like I used to with FIRST.   

  • Yep, we're in the process of producing a Control course for undergrad Engineers using those quadcopters, I'm sure we can work something out for smart kids Grades 10-12

  • @Skydog222 I will be in touch - thanks

    @Yuan Gao Thanks for the offer - will be in touch

    @Squalish Grades 10-12 (sophmore-junior)

    @David M Eno - We already do Legos - part of the idea is to move beyond what has been done and explore what these kids are capable of - typically advanced students. Building is also a key activity.

    @All Thanks for the ideas - please keep them coming! BTW, I am not just looking for a cheap solution but also interested in thoughts on curriculum for a week long camp and links to any resources we might adapt for this age.

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