Chris Anderson's Comments

Comment Wall (120 comments)

At 5:58pm on July 11, 2007, Jeffrey Johnson said…
Great talking to you today. We are on it with using your designs here, and look forward to dovetailing our efforts. Power to the PictEarth People!
At 10:13pm on January 2, 2008, Dhrumil said…
Thanks for setting this up.
At 12:12am on February 8, 2008, Mark L said…
Hey Chris,

I just read your post on UAVs and I'm wondering if there's anywhere that one could purchase a pre-made UAV...couldn't find one on ebay.
I run a network of websites,, and am considering featuring a UAV article. Can you point me in the direction of where someone could purchase one? If so, what other info should my readers know?
Mark L
At 12:17am on February 8, 2008,
3D Robotics
Chris Anderson
The cheapest commercial one is around $7,000 ( The cheapest *good* one is around $10,000 ( That's why we started this site, to bring the price down below $1,000.

We're *DIY* Drones--buying one premade isn't the point ;-)
At 6:41pm on February 28, 2008,
William Premerlani
If you want to do a Q&A with me, that would be fine.

The reason for the board is that my son and I thought it would be fun to build our own board, develop theory, and write firmware. We were inspired by Maynard Hill, who came to town and gave a talk.
We got our feet wet with a rapid-prototyping board mounted on an RC truck, and then build our own board for a sailplane. We bought our parts from SparkFun. Nathan Seidle, the ownder of Sparkfun, asked me what we were doing, I told him, he offered to build a surface mount board for me.
My son and I spent a few delightful summers getting the firmware working. At the time, our goal was to play, to just do some interesting things with it, without any goal in mind. When we were done, we had something that worked to our satisfaction, Nathan asked if he could sell it, we gave him permission.
We recognized that what we had was not a full-fletched autopilot, but that it might be interesting to anyone wanting to tinker with the controller. They could build on our firmware, if they wanted, or start from stratch, if they were ambitious.
By the way, the main reason we used assembly language was that my son had never written any, and he wanted to learn. He had used lots of other languages, but not assembly.
As far as what people are doing with my board, you probably have more information than I have!! The only person I've talked to so far is a member of diydrones. All I know is that the board is selling well at SparkFun, with no complaints.
By the way, the reason the board has been backordered for so long is that the vendor of the GPS replaced their ET301 with an ET312 at the same time that SparkFun was automating their board production, resulting in some defective boards. Even after we worked out the hardware problems, there was a subtle change in the ET312 that caused some problems. Every board that SparkFun builds is tested with the full firmware running, and the boards were not passing. We finally figured out what was wrong, production is resumed, I guess they are catching up on backorders.
All of the work my son and I was deliberately done in a vacuum...we didn't do any research on what other people were doing. We made some mistakes (that was the point) and had some fun.
My background is an electrical engineer with strengths in control theory, mathematics, and theory of flight.
I work at GE's research labs, I've been there for 33 years.
You might want to do a Google on "William Premerlani" to see what I have been up to. Much of it has to do with software gave me a good chuckle when you said in your review that you wondered why we hadn't used C...the answer is, it would have been too easy!!!
At 10:52pm on March 22, 2008, Elisa said…
any time if u like to have a wet dip & country village food, come over try our our boats,(planty of spcae for plane flys
At 6:02pm on March 26, 2008, T-Rex said…
I heard you on Talk of the Nation today...great job! I did not get to hear the whole show, but definately heard the part about your "robotics" site and 3-axis accelerometers. You, my friend, rock!

By the way, thanks for the advice about starting out in R/C with a foamie...else I would not have made it past my first flight attempts.
At 6:27pm on March 26, 2008,
3D Robotics
Chris Anderson
Thanks! I wanted to say "3-axis MEMS accelerometer" but I held back for the sake of the NPR audience ;-)
At 10:44pm on April 4, 2008, Simon Pan said…
Hey Chris,

I won honorable mention, best in category, best in engineering, 550$, and an internship offer, at the state science & engineering fair. (The winners were a guy who did computer simulations of bird flu epidemics to determine the best method to distribute a limited supply of antivirals, a girl who developed an advanced, complex robotic vision algorithm which could detect blobs in foggy areas and high altitude ranges, and a guy who figured out a method to stem the growth of certain forms of cancer, so it was a humbling experience).

I just wanted to thank you for making this website and for your great documention and projects, because without them I'd probably still be trying to figure out how to connect the GPS receiver to the Stamp.


- Simon
At 8:26am on May 10, 2008, Huckleberry said…
Thanks Chris,

Been following along for some time (geekdad) and just bought a Blubberbot for something to do over the summer holidays... thinking about the project possibilities for my kids in electronics 11/12 ... hmmm blimp racing? Anyway, great to be here.
At 11:02am on May 31, 2008, sravan said…
hey chris,
i am interested in building a robotic surveillance helicopter with an endurance of 2 hr and covering a range of min 40 km.I am using a Baron helicopter.Could you tell me sources for autopilot system and video camera system (good but cheap ones).
Thank you
At 3:44am on June 16, 2008, Constantinescu said…
Hy Chris, Some time ago i found a very interesting summary on the cheapest version of the helicopter stabilization system. Please help me to find it again. Mean time my PC was the target of a concentrated virus attack and I was forced to change it completly. I bought a pcb board of ArduPlanetV1(created by Jordi) called ArdupliotBeta3 from Please help me to find the schema and components list in order to try to built it. A bientôt, Georges
At 9:02am on June 16, 2008,
3D Robotics
Chris Anderson
ArduPilot (created by me and Jordi) is all here on the site. But it does not support helicopters.

Some time ago Jordi started work on ArduCopter, which can be found on the arduino site (google "ArduCopter") but it not yet flying and there is no board and no recent progress.

I don't believe that any low-cost function open-source helicopter autopilot exists, but the Paparazzi (which can handle quadcopters) comes closest. Check them out and see if that meets your needs.
At 8:17pm on August 5, 2008, Stefanos Samakas said…
Hi Chris thanks for ading me as friend....Good luck with your project....! ! ! !
My project is going very slow at the moment. Some test flights that i did last week prove that the BS2 is working well on the air regarding the vibration of the engine am using a NEMSIC accelerometer for the roll acces at the moment .
Roll chanel and flap switch are conected to the PCB, flap switch is used to engage or disengage the A/P. In engage mode the accelerometer is holding the aircraft roll very good ...and if i move my stick i get priority from accelerometer ...So far everything is working...ha ha !!!
At 5:54pm on October 4, 2008, Christopher Macdonald said…
Hey Mr. Anderson, i have asked you a few questions earlier in the year. I'm pretty sure i'll be using the ardupilot as a base for a science project im doing this year on UAVs, I'm thinking i'll make a plane fly somewhere, and let go of a parachute and fall to the ground, but its pretty open ended right now, I just ordered a bunch of crap... I used arduino for a project I did last year, so i have a bit of experience, but not much.. Anyway I have a gas powered alpha trainer, i'm sure you've seen them before, they're everywhere. Lots of space in it, a friend of mine owns/d it but he gave it to me and another friend, and he says he doesn't expect to get it back in once piece. I'm going to make the ardupilot with just a regular decimila and a breadboard, and jordi's failsafe... Sounds kinda irresponsible for the plane because I'm making it on a breadboard, but I really don't care if I write it off and neither does the owner, and I like breadboard because you can modify stuff so easily.. I don't know if you really care about these little science projects, but I just figured i'd write you a comment because my science teacher wants us to find a "mentor" for our project. Anyway tell me if i'm doing anything stupid please. Thanks!
At 11:04am on October 8, 2008, Pablo Alberto Pacini said…
HI Chris !!! I want to build an R/C UAV ( like Predator, etc ) but I don't know where find construction plans or schemes to do that. Can you help me with this ??? Thanks & Regards. Pablo.-
At 3:42pm on October 10, 2008, rishabh said…
Hello Sir, I am an engg student from India and need help over my project on making a "low cost concept"(just the design on paper) for UAV. It would be really nice if i could get your help over the autopilot part. I have unsuccessfully searched a lot on low cost autopilot system for UAV. It would be really nice if i could get some help from you over this project, like what other options I could use instead of a complete ready made autopilot system. Thank you.
At 7:51pm on October 16, 2008, Christopher Macdonald said…
hey, chris, do you know of any good free flight simulators like you were talking about earlier this month... My plane came with one but my friend lost it...
At 5:46pm on October 19, 2008, Christopher Macdonald said…
Hey, Chris... I just realized my transimitter only has 4 channels :(... all of them are being used.. I saw that it said 6 channels on the reciever so i thought it would be the same with the transimitter..Is there any way to turn on the autopilot w/o buying a brand new transmitter.. like a cheap 2 channel transimtter or upgrading or something... I dunno, i probably have to buy a new one, I'm just seeing if you know of anything.. My current transmitter is a JR Sport S400.. thanks!
At 7:18pm on October 19, 2008, Christopher Macdonald said…
I was under the impression that you can leave FMA co pilot on... but it hasn't arrived yet.. so i guess i was wrong..

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