Home > Store

Building Your Own Drones: A Beginners' Guide to Drones, UAVs, and ROVs

Register your product to gain access to bonus material or receive a coupon.

Building Your Own Drones: A Beginners' Guide to Drones, UAVs, and ROVs

eBook (Watermarked)

  • Your Price: $15.99
  • List Price: $19.99
  • Includes EPUB and PDF
  • About eBook Formats
  • This eBook includes the following formats, accessible from your Account page after purchase:

    ePub EPUB The open industry format known for its reflowable content and usability on supported mobile devices.

    Adobe Reader PDF The popular standard, used most often with the free Adobe® Reader® software.

    This eBook requires no passwords or activation to read. We customize your eBook by discreetly watermarking it with your name, making it uniquely yours.


  • Copyright 2016
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/8"
  • Pages: 272
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-400013-7
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-400013-8

Absolutely no experience needed!
Build your drone, step-by-step, with this full-color, hands-on guide!

You’ve heard about drones. You’ve seen drones. Now, build your own—it’s a lot easier than you think!

Drones are the newest frontier for the DIY/maker community, and you don’t need to be a technical expert to build one. John Baichtal, the #1 author of hardware hacking books for beginners, will teach you all the skills you need.

First, Baichtal shows you the amazing drones others have built. Then, he walks you through several complete projects: quadcopters, UAVs, ROVs, and more. Not ready to start from scratch? No problem: Baichtal helps you choose from today’s best new kits.

Hundreds of full-color step-by-step photos teach you every step, every skill. When you’re ready for more advanced concepts, Baichtal explains them in plain English.

  • Discover what drones are and why they’re so exciting
  • Explore today’s most imaginative projects, from 3D-printed mini quadcopters to floating robot armies
  • Compare kits, from $200 up: Parallax ELEV-8, DJI Phantom 2 Vision+, OpenROV, Actobotics Nomad, Brooklyn Aerodrome Flack, and more
  • Create your own practical Drone Builder’s Workbench
  • Build complete rocket, blimp, waterborne, and automotive drones
  • Construct both fully autonomous and radio-controlled drones
  • Choose and assemble your chassis (airframe), motor, props, flight control, power system, accessories, and software
  • Integrate Arduino to make radio-controlled drones operate autonomously
  • Teach a drone to navigate via RFID tags
  • Learn all the basic electronics and programming you’ll need

Sample Content

Table of Contents

Introduction     xiii
Who This Book Is For     xiii
How This Book Is Organized     xiii

Chapter 1 A History of Drones     1
What Is a Drone?     2
    Three Terrrains     3
    Anatomy of a Drone     5
Summary     7

Chapter 2 Showcase of Cool DIY Drones     9
Bicycle Rim Quadcopter     9
3D-Printed Mini Quadcopter     9
Clothesline Racer     11
Vessels     11
Radio-Controlled Blimp     12
FPV Quadcopter     12
Open RC Trike     14
Foldable Quadcopter     14
Mini-Quadcopter     15
3D-Printed RC Boat     16
Tricopter     17
Mecanum Wheel Rover     18
Summary     19

Chapter 3 Overview of Commercial Drones and Kits     21
Parallax ELEV-8 Quadcopter     21
DJI Phantom 2 Vision+     24
OpenROV     26
Actobotics Nomad     29
Brooklyn Aerodrome Flack     31
Summary     34

Chapter 4 Building a Quadcopter I: Choosing an Airframe     35
Which Airframe?     35
    Choosing Between Commercial Options     37
    Making Your Own Airframe     38
Project #1: MakerBeam Airframe     41
    MakerBeam     41
    Parts     43
    Steps     44
Summary     50

Chapter 5 Rocket Drone Project     51
Amateur Model Rocketry     51
Quick-and-Dirty Arduino Guide     54
Project #2: Data-Gathering Rocket     60
    Parts for Building the Data-Gathering Rocket     60
    Steps for Building the Data-Gathering Rocket     61
    Programming the Payload     65
Summary     67

Chapter 6 Building a Quadcopter II: Motors and Props     69
Choose Your Motors     70
    Outrunner Versus Inrunner     70
    Brushed Versus Brushless     71
    AC Versus DC     72
Choose Your Propellers     73
    Prop Adapters     74
Project #3: Attach the Props and Motors     75
    Parts     76
    Steps for Attaching the Props and Motors     77
Summary     80

Chapter 7 Blimp Drone Project     81
Radio Control     81
    Transmitters     82
    Receivers     83
ESC (Electronic Speed Controller)     83
Project #4: Blimp Drone     84
    Parts     85
    Arduino Parts     86
    Steps     86
Autonomous Control with an Arduino     99
    Code     100
Summary     102

Chapter 8 Building a Quadcopter III: Flight Control     103
Know Your ESCs     103
    Common ESCs     105
    Programming ESCs     106
Receiver     109
Flight Controller     110
    Flight Controller Examples     111
Installing the Flight Electronics     114
    Parts     114
    Installing the ESCs     114
    Installing the Flight Controller     114
    Installing the Receiver     116
Summary     116

Chapter 9 Drone Builder’s Workbench     117
Design It     117
Drive It     118
Measure It     120
Cut It     120
Wire It     121
Attach It     123
CNC It     124
Summary     126

Chapter 10 Building a Quadcopter IV: Power Systems     127
Choosing a Battery     128
    Battery Types     128
Adding Bullet Connectors     130
    Why Bullet Connectors?     130
    Parts List     130
    Steps for Adding Bullet Connectors     131
Assembling the Wiring Harness     137
    Parts     138
    Steps for Assembling the Wiring Harness     138
Wiring the Flight Controller and Receiver     143
Summary     145

Chapter 11 Waterborne Drone Project     147
Realities of Waterborne Electronics     148
    Disadvantages of Waterborne Electronics     148
    Advantages of Waterborne Electronics     148
Waterproofing Your Electronics     149
    Sandwich Container     150
    Pelican 1000-Series     151
    Sealing a Tube     152
XBee Mesh Networking     153
Project: Soda Bottle Boat     154
    Parts     155
    Building the Drone     156
    Building the Controller    166
    Programming the Soda Bottle Boat     170
Summary     172

Chapter 12 Building a Quadcopter V: Accessories     173
Add Accessories to Your Quadcopter     174
    Camera     174
    First-Person Video (FPV)     175
    Landing Gear     176
    Parachute     176
    Protective Plate or Dome     177
    Prop Guards     178
Project: Adding Accessories to the Quadcopter     179
    Install the Camera Mount     180
    Install the Landing Gear     184
    Install the Top Plate     186
Summary     189

Chapter 13 Making a Rover     191
Advantages and Disadvantages of Rovers     192
    Advantages of Rovers     192
    Disadvantages of Rovers     192
Chassis Options     193
    3D Printed     193
    Tamiya     194
    mBot     194
    Arduino Robot     195
    Actobotics Bogie     196
Navigating with Radio Frequency Identification Tags     197
Project: RFID-Navigating Rover     199
    Parts     200
    Steps     200
    Programming the RFID-Navigating Rover     217
Summary     220

Chapter 14 Building a Quadcopter VI: Software     221
Flight Control Software     222
    OpenPilot     222
    MultiWii     223
    APM Planner 2.0     223
    eMotion     224
    AR.Freeflight     224
    3DR Solo App     226
Configuring the MultiWii     226
Examining the MultiWii Control Sketch     228
Pre-Flight Checklist     229
Summary     230

Glossary     231

Index     237


Submit Errata

More Information

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020