If you have tinkered with computer hardware projects before, I hope you have checked out hackaday.com. They are a famous website that re-posts about many kinds of hardware hacks. If you have found a new toy you want to customize or want to be inspired by other hackers or makers, hackaday is a great start and I visit the site frequently.
Now, me being the “young, easily misguided, and overly willing kid” I was when I read an article titled Hacking a Cheap Toy Quadcopter to Work with an Arduino my first reaction was “Awesome! I can hack into a drone and control it!!” and without too much research into the post I went and bought the same Quadcopter and an Arduino so I could start my hacking career.
My dad wanted to know what I was up to and once he heard, he laughed and said to read the original blog post to understand what to do. After taking notes on the process, I found that the hacker had basically recreated his remote control using an Arduino; he used the board to connect the wireless receiver to joysticks and used the Arduino as the brains of the controller. In my mind, there was a picture of a self-flying, computer-driven, autonomous quadcopter that was built under $100. That did not exactly pan out.
This project started two years ago and after my discovery, there has been no progress in replicating the hackers work. While flying the quadcopter I learned that flight by hand is extremely difficult and the battery life was a mere 20-30 minutes before the quadcopter started to become unresponsive to the controller. I’m not sure if this project will ever happen because I realize that as it is one of my first projects with an Arduino, it was definitely more than I could chew.
Comment below if you have ever had a project stall out before it even started because the big picture was just a little too big. Also I would love any advice on making an autonomous quadcopter on a college student’s budget (>$100).