An Android Controlled Arduino Drone


Who among us has not wanted to create their own drone? [Stefan] wrote in to tell us about a project for high school students, where a Styrofoam glider (translated) is converted into an Android (or PC) controlled drone.

[Stefan] tells us that the inspiration for this project comes from 100 years ago, when “steam-engines were THE thing” and children became introduced to modern technology with toy engines. “Today, mechatronic designs are all around us and this is an attempt to build the equivalent of the toy steam engine.” This project showcases how modern tools make it easy for kids to get involved and excited about hardware hacking, electronics, and software.

At the heart of the glider is an Arduino Pro Mini which communicates with either a computer or an Android phone via Bluetooth. It is especially interesting to note that the student’s used Processing to create the Android app, rather than complicating things by using Eclipse and Android Development Tools (ADT). While the more detailed PDF documentation at the end of the project page is in German, all of the Processingand Arduino code needed to build the project is provided. It would be awesome to see more Bluetooth related projects include a simple Android application; after all, many of us carry computers in our pockets these days, so we might as well put them to good use!

Do you have any well documented projects that introduce young and budding engineers to hardware or software hacking? Let us know in the comment section or send us a tip!

18 thoughts on “An Android Controlled Arduino Drone

    1. just what i thought. the german page says that the total costs was about 60 euros which given that they also had to buy the other components only leaves those cheap ebay type bluetooth modules. i cant see how they even good a good enough range to fly a circle around the phone. their page also states that in the future they are looking into using RF hardare with a greater range. great project still :)

    1. I was thinking that bluetooth would be a poor choice given its range, but they say they got about 80m with a class 1 and 2 module which is pretty great i guess. I have an old plane that needs control guts, I guess I’ll be doing this soon.

  1. In the article they say the range is about 80 m and they got telemetric feedback on the range qualit.
    Since they have a constant line of sight they can go to Bluetooth Class 2 max range.

    I like the idea, need to check it out some time (built just where I grew up)

  2. You can use bluetooth class 1 modules which have 100 meter range. Though the caveat is that BOTH devices need to be class 1 and virtually all smartphones, tablets etc are bluetooth class 2 (10meter range)

    How would I do it (assuming I have enough time and $$$) ?
    Ardupilot + communication through cellural network

  3. This is a cool project however…
    It’s an RC plane, not a drone. Sorry but the way the word “drone” gets tossed around these days for anything that can fly and be controlled just bugs me! My definition of a drone is a craft that can operate autonomously OR via an on board camera transmitting an image to the pilot miles away. If you can see the aircraft from a ground POV and you’re controlling it it’s an RC craft.

    (Steps down off soap box)

    1. After some searching, I find I am WRONG. :)
      Definition of DRONE

      : a stingless male bee (as of the honeybee) that has the role of mating with the queen and does not gather nectar or pollen
      : one that lives on the labors of others : parasite
      : an unmanned aircraft or ship guided by remote control

      I stand corrected…

    2. I see your point though. I would rewrite the definition. I’m the same way about RC vehicles being called “robots” as in “Robot Wars”. I was severely disappointed when I turned on the show and discovered they weren’t autonomously attacking each other.

    3. You are all correct re. autonomy, I checked the sensor equipment and also assumed that the plane would at least be stabilised using the sensors. Not so (at the moment), but this is on top of the To-Do-List (“Ausblick”), right behind replacing BT with something with more range.
      But still, I think that this is a cool project to do at school and I’m sure that MY plane would have been able to fly autonomously after a few weeks. :-)

  4. Hey, would you be so kind to send me a link to the german pdf or a contact to the person who did this project. For a german university course I am still looking for people who would introduce their UAV’s projects.
    Thanks so much, Julie

  5. Sounds a lot like the “PowerUp 3.0” that I backed on Kickstarter.

    But this hack solves a problem Ive had-crappy RC cars paired to phone control apps for nearly a hundred bucks. With this hack I can make a module that moves from one vehicle to another (boats even!) and of any quality or performance level I choose!. Now how to get video telemetry back so I don’t have to pay $300 for a Parrot AR…

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.