3689502805?profile=originalTaking Autism To The Sky - We're looking for your support on KickStarter as kids with autism get a new perspective of the world - from the air - by building/flying a hexarotor and producing a video of their journey. 

 We've seen/participated in lots of discussion on DIY Drones about the non-military, social and environmental uses of the technology that we all are interested in.  I've been one of those heavily engaged in that discussion.  To that end, I'm excited to announce my KickStarter project that gives a group of kids on the autism spectrum a chance to build a hexarotor, learn to fly it and capture footage of both the process and the flight.  Go check it out.


The team will be comprised of a small group of kids on the autism spectrum and a few adults including me.  The kids will build a hexarotor from a kit that includes GPS, high definition video, and flight planning software. After building the hexarotor and learning to fly it, they will plan a mission, fly it, and then produce a video both of their time building and learning to fly as well as the flight itself.  The video will be provided to their school district to put on their web site demonstrating the team's skills.  We can post it here too!  We've got a well thought out budget and a game plan.


I wanted to thank a handful of DIY Drone members (listed below) who were kind enough to offer some of their flight footage for use in the KickStarter video.  I did use clips from a few of you guys.  Thanks for the help!

  1. David Anders
  2. Stephen Dade
  3. Kevin Bouchard
  4. RCrecon.be
  5. u4eake
  6. John Arne Birkeland
  7. Gerard Toonstra


Check out the project on KickStarter here.  Thanks in advance for any support you're able to offer; a Tweet, a link posted on social media, or a donation to help fund the project!





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  • A local radio show on National Public Radio was doing a show on drone use int he US and the government's perspective on how to use that technology to stop terrorism.  Lots of good discussion on privacy issues, limits of government, etc.  After listening to a lot of gloom and doom comments, I called in to offer another perspective - the remote control hobbyist's view as well as remind the listeners that there are numerous peaceful, social, and environmental uses of drones including my KickStarter project.  I will post that shortly.

  • Thanks for the comments/suggestions Kevin.  Good stuff.  As an aside, this study just released at Washington University in St. Louis, MO is another reason why this technology is a great option for people with disabilities like autism.  33% unemployment after high school.  Ouch!  They need employment opportunities.  In the US, we've seen different disabilities like down syndrome make real inroads for employment over the last 20-30 years.  I'm curious how many DIY Drone members see employment opportunities with this technolgy through manufacturers, user training, repairs, programming, etc. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

  • As for soldering practice, buy a bunch of electrical wires (the ones with many small wires inside, not the one-piece solid ones... I forget what the english word is) and make the kids solder them together, to get a feel of how the solder sinks into it when the metal is properly heated.

    Then get a bunch of header pins and perfboards and make them work on those. The same concept will apply, and they need to have a good feel for it before you're going to let them solder the pins on a 200$ flight controller (if that's what you plan on making them do, I don't know... I doubt your project will need enough soldering to let everyone try if you build only one hexa).

  • Those are very interesting points Paul! Let's hope this theory of perspective can help them better grasp the world around them.

    Have you ever flown FPV yourself? The experience is very interesting. The first time you realize you have control from a point of view outside of your own body is impressive in itself, but the first time I got to see myself in real time from that outside POV bordered on the awe-inspiring to me.

    Good luck!

  • Thanks to you all for your support so far.  I'm excited to see the KickStarter campaign gain traction and amazed at the reach of the participants - particularly those that have experiences with autism themselves or their loved ones and friends.  I'm convinced we're going to discover some great things with this project. 


    One challenge in this project is to illustrate perspective taking. I've been thinking a lot about how to leverage FPV and aerial imagery to address that.  Some ways to do that as well as issues to consider:


    1. Changes in altitude.  What do things look like when we look at them differently.

    2. Video of ourselves while on the ground.  What do others see of me when I'm on the ground?

    3. Change over time.  What does the same place look like in different weather?  Time of day?  Season? How does that make me think about that place differently?

    4. Being Watched.  How do the kids feel being watched from above?


    Another thought that occurred to me is that we will need to practice tasks like soldering a bit before taking o nthe hexarotor kit.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how best to practice soldering?

    Thanks in advance.


  • Moderator

    This is fantastic Paul!  I will also be adding to the kickstarter project and please let me know how I can help further.

  • Fantastic to hear this!

    As a father of an Autistic child I think this is a great idea. Nothing has given me as much pleasure as building copters with my son who loves constructing the frames for me. He's a little young to understand the theory side of things as yet but there's time for that.

    I can't get into kickstarter at the moment (blocked on office machines) but I assume your US based. I'll be keeping a close eye on the project as I'd love to do somthing similar with Autism NI, our local charity here in Northern Ireland.

    Good luck! and I'll help any way I can!

  • Hey! What a surprise to see my name in that list. I'm honored to have my video in that kickstarter. I just wish you asked me for a better quality version!

    As team leader for a local FIRST robotics team (Go go team 4167!) for 2 years now, I've always considered it important to include at least a few students with autism on the team; it's not only a great learning experience for them, it also gives them a challenging hobby, a team to cooperate with and a sense of worth in the project. The other students also learn that they can count on these kids just like they can count on any other member of the team. Other teams might prefer to only accept the best-performing kids, but that's not team 4167's motto.

    I'll give a few bucks and spread the word.

  • 3D Robotics

    Great cause. I just backed it. 

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