DIY Drone Obstacle

Original mock-up

Original mock-up

Have minidrones at school? Try building your own indoor obstacles with the kids! This sample was made for our drone club to help facilitate indoor flight challenges. Our drones (Parrot Mambo) are flown inside the school during our winter session. We use the drone lessons from Tynker for the kids to learn the basics. Tablets with the Tynker workshop allow them to build their own program to fly them. The obstacle setup should be durable enough to use outdoors if needed (perhaps staked down). Ideally the kids will be able to come up with their own ideas and build additional obstacles. For the drone club we can make use of this first sample for now.

Hoop Tree - drone obstacle_watermark.jpg


Costs can be reduced if you use fewer than four legs to support the base. The 5-way connector is more cost effective if you purchase multiple units, so in this case it was an expensive component of a single build (especially with shipping costs). The connector is furniture grade. You should not need that level of support in your design, so keep that in mind when planning to test other options (e.g., smaller PVC diameter and fewer legs). The build would probably be successful with two legs using a connector like this readily available at Lowe's. You can also change up the base design itself. This design uses four 12 inch legs and a 48 inch center post. End caps were used to close up the legs and help keep the obstacle stable. A cordless Dremel tool with basic attachment accessories was used for all PVC cuts and holes drilled in center post/hoops. Insulating foam tubing sized to match the hoops was used to make them more visible and provide protection for any accidental crashes. Tape could also be used to decorate the hoops - whatever works for you!

Costs (change diameter of PVC/connector to decrease cost)

  1. PVC (10 feet of 1-1/4") = $4.32

  2. PVC connector = $3.80 (plus shipping)

  3. Hoops (22 feet of 1/2" PE and 1 foot of 3/8" connector) = $0.46 (1/2" PE on clearance - limited availability!)

  4. Screws/nuts = $2.48

  5. Foam tubing = $3.88 (optional)

Alternative hoop source (seasonal) would be using "Fun Hoops" from Dollar Tree making the cost for hoops go up to $4. Check with your school/staff to see if any hula hoops are available to repurpose here and eliminate that cost altogether!

If you and your students build something, please be sure to share photos of your design and tag me on Twitter!

Hoop Tree - drone obstacle 2_watermark.jpg
STEAM, Editor's PicksJen Gilbert