I have had a dream to build an autonomous drone from the time I learnt about drones over 3 years ago, this has recently became reality. December 2015 I ordered an unofficial ArduPilot APM 3.1 flight controller which features a GPS, compass and barometer for autonomous flight with the intent to rebuild my photography drone into an autonomous drone.
The build started in early January, designing how I would fit all the components in the small 450mm class frame and would fulfil the main objectives of:
-creating rugged Autonomous Drone that can be stored in a shoulder bag
-designing a vibration resistant flight controller mount
-designing a robust mounting system for brushless gimbal
-designing a easy to store landing gear
This design phase continued to the end of February as I was also occupied with sharping my FPV piloting skills with my 250 class racing drone. Once the design was finished I made the wiring loom which required many crudely drawn wiring diagrams and a lot of trial and error.
After configuring the various components I have under two weeks for testing until the autonomous drone’s first mission, aerial photography of Fraser Island, Queensland on a 4wding trip with some friends.
Below is a video of the first successful position hold test.