Introducing the USAV.


(Disclaimer - I'm not an english speaking person from birth, but thru endless re-runs of predator, Total Recall and Terminator - I have perfected my english skills.... not)

On the outer skin it's a standard 450 Quadcopter - but the brains is a new approach to the standard UAV.

Most amateur-UAV today either use a remote controlling system, an ardu-pilot or a combination of the two.

While the ardurino platform is very well made and has the most impressive features, I wanted to create a different approach. 

Being a software designer I decided to let the brains of my UAV to be based on the well known Android platform - in other words program a smartphone to fly the UAV and utilize all the nifty features and gadgetry these phones are born with (GPS, accelerometers, compass, camera, gprs radio etc..).


You may argue that it's an expensive solution, but obtaining an old Sony Ericsson X10 mini was easy and very affordable (around 25$).

So having turned my back to the wonderful world of Ardurino, I instead turned to Sparkfun's IOIO Board


The particular upsides of this board are amongst others;

* Works with android 1.5 and up

* Has adjustable charging for the phone

* Does not require any USB shield, can talk directly to a connected phone

* Phone connects through standard USB or bluetooth

* A very simple to use API makes it easy for a JAVA guy (like me) to talk to the IOIO board

The IOIO board can talk and recieve digital/analog/pwm etc., thus making it relatively easy to "fake" an RC receiver.

I've installed my homebrew app/autopilot on the android phone, just like a regular android app.

Granted - this is my very first QUAD, UAV and even hobby vehicle - although I make it sound easy, I actually had to go through all the tragedies, let downs and broken props as everyone else in here. Also, this particular craft is not built for beauty, and I've probably made a lot of rookie mistakes when using heavy plexi glass plates, 4 mm nuts etc..

So the navigation system of my UAV consists of an Android phone, the IOIO board and a KK controlboard.


As of now, the android utilizes the GPS for location, compass for heading and GPRS for communication and accelerometers for figuring out if a catastrophe is near (ie. if the phone is flipped, then we are likely to crash and the engines are cut off). All data is logged to the sdcard in the phone. The balancing of the quad is handled by the HK KK board.

SO! What makes the S of the USAV I hear you ask - well - my approach to flying might be somewhat different than other people flying UAV's - My vision goes toward the extreme of autonomous. I like systems that are able to make their own choises and who interact with the outside world through "normal" channels like everyone else. 

Enter the S for social - this quad can fly to various predefined waypoints just like the ardupilot, but it is also more autonomous in that you are able to give it a task, and the Quad will find a way to solve it by itself (do the dishes is NOT an option - I tried it and the wife haven't forgiven me for breaking the 14 century Ming Vases we dine and drink from). More on this subject will come....

Moreover - instead of fiddling with code and editors to tell the quad what you want - you simply use a chat client (GTalk) when you want something done or you need a status - in other words, the quad is my new best chat buddy! I will uncover more of this in an upcoming post.

The merits of the Quad is twitted by the Quad instantaneously during flight, so every masochist can follow the Quad's doings in realtime.

I believe this is the very first UAV with social skills!

So where are we currently at? (we being me and my new best flying friend). Well, we are still learning basic maneuvers - lift off, landing, turning etc.. Last flight really revealed that I have to look into adjusting the pots on the KK board to decrease a heavy oscillation that in the end rattled the KK board off it's platform resulting in a nasty crash and broken props - last chat message from the QUAD was a simple "ouch!" 

There's also problems with the compass being disturbed by the engines and finally a downward pointing sonar would be nice to make the landings more smooth.

Following the nature of blogs I will post updates and comments are very welcome :-)

Thank you for tuning in on this very first post, from a new user of this awsome site.

Fly with whatever force you believe in



E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • great ...

    I have some professional experience in conversational (dialogs assisted) applications and my vision is that in the feature they will substitute traditional forms thru chat, twitter, etc etc

  • Jesper

    Can you write some tutorial how to build your UAV please ?

    I am a very new to electronics



  • @ Andersen shure.....!

  • i also wish to see the quads twitter feed

  • Thanks a lot!

    @Mr. Shakyawar - I actually have plans to let some one be a guest pilot some day :)

  • Moderator

    Top Banana a little bit of the future starts to focus (back to the future for some of us, remember PictEarth)

  • thats very cooll..... would like to see the work in progress videos.......! best wishes..!

    want to tweet to your quad......... " Hey....  getting boored... lets have a sneak peek into neighbor's lawn....  ;-)  " 

  • 3D Robotics

    Impressive! Out of curiosity, why didn't you use an official ADK board like the PhoneDrone for the RC interface, since it was designed for exactly this purpose?

  • Distributor

    Very cool!  Would be nice to see a video too

This reply was deleted.