Hak5 Season 16 has had some awesome episodes covering drones with Piotr from 1 Bit Squared.
Including topics like:
- Quadcopter basics
- Flight controllers
- Configuring PaparazziUAV
- Building an airframe
- Wiring an airfraime
As would be expected Chis Anderson is pumping out some great products at 3D Robotics. They make the ready-to-fly IRIS which you just snap a GoPro on and... go. They certainly still make kits the APM:Copter DIY Quad kit looks like a great option for the tinkerer.
It looks like the APM has been superseded by the PIXHAWK as 3DR's autopilot of choice.
3DR is defiantly making class leading products and is leaning towards appealing to a broader user base. They are the Apple/Makerbot of drones and will continue to be strong. I tend to like things a little nerdier so I kept looking.
PaparazziUAV seems to be becoming the open source software and hardware autopilot of choice for the more hardcore hobbyist. It is the platform covered in the Hak5 videos and seems like it brings DIY drones back to it's roots. PaparazziUAV can be run on a number of different hardware platforms but it seems like STMicro and NXP ARMs are the most popular processors these days. The LisaM a normal small form factor board and the LisaS a crazy mindbogglingly small board are pictured below. Both are built and sold by 1 Bit Squared.
As always DJI is still cranking out off the shelf drones for aerial filming that you can buy off Amazon.
The new Phantom 2 Vision+:
I also found out that DJI makes flight controllers like the Naza-M that you can put onto a custom built airframe if you want an electronics tinkering free ride. They of course also make airframe kits for those electronics to go on.
It goes without saying that you could make almost any kind of remote controlled vehicle from parts from HobbyKing. I spent less time looking at airframe kits than I did flight controllers but I think you could find a good starting point in HobbyKing's Multi-Rotor RTF / PNF / ARF page.
That's about it while I've dived into lots of other DIY endeavors 3D printing being the most expensive I've as of yet successfully maintained control over myself from pouring hundreds of dollars into flying robots. The day is quickly approaching when it will be so cheap I won't be able to talk myself out of it.