New DIY Drones product preview: the PhoneDrone board for Android!

I hinted that the DIY Drones team had been working with Google on an Android-compatible RC interface board. Now that I/O is over, I can give the details. We're calling it the "PhoneDrone board for Android", and it's a way to connect any Android device (2.3.4 or higher) to the world of RC and UAVs.The board has 8 channels of RC in and out, with PWM-to-PPM conversion and multiplexing between RC and Android control. You just plug the Android's phone USB connector into the board and you have two-way communications with RC gear and any other board, such as APM.


That means that you can switch between RC control and Android control or mix the two. An example would be "fly/drive by wire". You steer your vehicle via RC, but an Android phone does the actual control using its onboard IMU. On a car, that would allow every turn to be a high-speed controlled drift, for instance (we may show something like that at Maker Faire).


Or, with a UAV, you might have the Android phone doing high-level image processing and object tracking, sending mission commands to an autopilot board such as APM. You might also want to use the phone's long-distance wireless instead of an Xbee for two-way telemetry.


This can either replace APM if you've got equivalent code running on Android, or compliment it with the Android device doing image processing or long-distance wireless comms.


Note that the pictures here are of an early prototype and some branding has been photoshopped out, pending final silkscreen approval.



  • 8 Input&output PWMs
  • Native USB host master (MAX3421)
  • Native USB slave (Atmega32-au)
  • Arduino Compatible
  • Atmega2560 as main controller
  • Atmega32-u2 as FTDI substitute and PPM encoder
  • Three spare serial ports to communicate with other boards (including APM)
  • Build-in 5V-2A switched power regulator (input range 6V - 36V)
  • Build-in 3.3V LDO power regulator 
  • Android TM compatible... 
  • All Atmega2560 pins exposed.
  • High quality PCB is ROHS/lead free, Gold immersed. 
  • Dimensions: 4" x 1.6"...
It will be available in limited quantities next weekend at Maker Faire at the DIY Drones/GeekDad booth, and then available at the DIY Drones store afterwards. Target price: $99.
More pics:


Views: 10743

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on May 23, 2011 at 1:35pm
If people are interested in getting up and running with Android development on the cheap, PandaBoard ($174) is a very nice open hardware package that should run SDK 12 (Android 3.1) just fine.
Comment by Ahmad Usman on May 29, 2011 at 4:17am
Great Board and great work I am going to assign one of my student to write autopilot code for Google Android handset that include everything to become a full autopilot as his final year project. The Handset which he will use is Android IDEOS. It has built in GPS, Accelerometer and Gyros......
Comment by Kevin Hashawan on June 4, 2011 at 9:28pm
Any updates on when this thing will be available? Anything at all? The store page still hasn't been updated in 2 weeks :( I want it.
Comment by peterjdolan on June 23, 2011 at 9:52am
I picked up one of these boards at Maker Faire a little while ago, and I haven't been able to find any information whatsoever on it yet.  Does anybody have a pointer to any resources on the board?  I'd be happy even with an archive of the mailing list used by the developers when they were putting it together.
Comment by John Windberg on September 30, 2011 at 2:50pm

Anyone have any luck getting and android accessory kit DemoKit to run on anything other than a Nexus?

I'm battling with a Samsung Tab and a t-mobile G2, both of which are supposed to work, they have Android 2.3.4.

I have the latest Android ide and everything is up to date...

I keep getting this:


Package requires unavailable shared library

accessory; failing!
Comment by Guillaume Helle on November 10, 2011 at 3:49am

hello i have a question about the PhoneDrone : is it fully compatible with the ArduPilotMega board?

I explain : before i wanted an ArduPilotMega and an ArduIMU for my drone... In a first time can i use the PhoneDrone with ArduIMU without Android phone? Can i plug the ArduIMU on the PhoneDrone like the APM?

And use the same firmware as the APM?

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on November 10, 2011 at 7:53am

Guillaume: I'm afraid not. They are all very different boards. It's probably possible to wire together an ArduIMU and PhoneDrone board somehow and have the combination serve as an autopilot, but you'd have to heavily modify the ArduPlane code. I don't believe anyone else has done that, so you'd be on your own.

Comment by Guillaume Helle on November 21, 2011 at 6:19am

Ok in this case what is exactly the goal of the PhoneDrone board :

- without ArduIMU we can't use it as the ArduPilotMega or we must use the Android ebbbedded IMU ? If we want use Android video for motion trackin, is it a good idea to use the Android IMU for drone attitude and read it 5, 10 or 25 ms???

- Connected to the ArduPilotMega what is the utility of the 8 PPM IOs?



Comment by AVS on November 21, 2011 at 6:47am

the board plugs into an android phone. android phones usually have the sensors such as giro,accel,mag,gps so think of the phone as the oilpan or intelligent imu and this board as the apm. There are other uses for this type of board (see other google IOIO devices) but this is a simple answer.

Comment by deadfalkon on February 22, 2012 at 12:55am


Hello there, I just got my PhoneDrone board and couldn´t find any documentation yet. I created a google group and invite you all to join. Maybe some of the diydrones/3dRobotics people join as well ans support us.

If you have any suggestions, contact me in the group.

Cheers from Berlin


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