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Show Suggestion: DIY "Selfie Drone"; Can it be done?


Just dog tired
Yep, that's right. I would love to see a show that explores and answers the question: Is it possible to DIY build a "Feature Comparable" AND price-competitive DIY "Selfie Drone" solution?

The multicopter in question would have to meet most (at least 75%) or all of the following criterion:

Hardware Features:

1. Foldable arms OR small enough that folding isn't necessary.
2. Foldable Props
3. Stable platform with mid-range performance.
4. Flight times at least 15 minutes per battery.
5. HD (1080p) Camera with either compact 2 axis gimbal OR very good Electronic stabilization AND at least 1 axis rotation. (forward to straight down)
6. Sensor array (down pointing and forward pointing for obstacle avoidance)
7. Onboard SD card slot for video recording (optional telemetry recording)
8. 5Ghz (wifi ac band) Video and data control via smartphone app. (drone flight controlled by standard controller or by on-screen or tilt controls on phone)

Software Features:

1. GPS-based control, ATTI Control and ACRO control (switchable)
2. Automatic and Manual takeoff and landing (Switchable)
3. RTH and Emergency RTH (switch controlled RTH and automatic emergency RTH due to low battery or loss of signal.)
4. Obstacle Avoidance
5. "Camera Flow" ground avoidance and height management.
6. Altitude Hold mode
7. "Point of Interest" mode (Selecting an item on the smartphone app sends a control signal to the drone to stop and "crab circle" the selected POI)
8. "Follow Me"/ "Follow Target" mode that allows you to have the drone follow the controller OR follow a selected person or object from a set distance.
9. "Waypoint" mode that will allow the user to pre-select waypoints on Google Maps and the drone will fly that route, avoiding obstacles on the way.

The completion target is at least 75% of the above features with a target price of $600 or less.

Now, I am not a fool. I realize that the above is a TALL ask. In all honestly it's probably a ridiculous ask and possibly an impossible ask. BUT, before the naysayers come to douse me with gasoline and light a pyre beneath me, understand that there are Chinese drones on the market TODAY that meet the above targets by 75% and cost under $500. Some of them under $300. (JJRC X9 Heron, Eachine EX-3, Hubsan H117S Zino, etc.) So we already know that it is possible for a manufacturer to build something like this in this price range. The idea is to see if it is possible for a DIY-er to build something like this in this price range.

Lastly, I understand that Flite Test is more about old-school Hobby RC flying and not really about the silly selfie drones. I get it. Not asking anyone to be anything they aren't. I just thought that this would be an interesting challenge to showcase some creativity and technical prowess and to show that yes, us DIYers can do that too.


Just dog tired
Just a quick follow up:

I realize that people might get hung up on the term "Selfie drone". Please don't. it's just a random term I picked for these "multimedia oriented" prefab "drones" like the DJI Mavic and Spark that are primarily used casually and are built for good filming and easy transportability and use.


Eternal Student
The main problem you're going to encounter with this is that the only DIY firmware solutions for GPS assisted drones are iNav and Arducopter, neither of which support obstacle avoidance , WiFi/smartphone control, follow me etc., and the waypoint navigation stuff is still very basic. The vast majority of the project would be programming the firmware and the app. I'm not saying it can't be done, but the only way to meet your budget is if you got the programming for free ;)