There’s been a huge increase in the number of RC helicopters controlled by cell phones and tablets. Since almost everyone has a smartphone of some kind, it makes sense that these gadgets would show up and increase in popularity.
Parrot AR Drone
This is one of the higher end cell phone controlled RC helicopters. It works by generating it’s own wifi network that you can connect to with your Android or Apple phone. After you’re connected, you can fly the rc helicopter around and look at a live video feed. The Parrot even has an ultrasound altimeter that tells you how high you’re flying above the ground. The Parrot AR is gyro stabilized, so you can get the hang of flying it in only a few tries.
It has a foam structure around all the rotor blades, so collisions with walls and furniture really aren’t a big deal. The Parrot AR works outside as well – it’s big enough to not get bounced around by light wind too much.
Cheap RC Helicopters without Cameras
If you walk in to Best Buy or Target you’re likely to see boxes of smaller RC helicopters that work with iphones. These are usually fairly simple, only two or three channel RC helicopters. They are sold with a simple interface to your iphone, usually one that plugs in to the headphone jack on the bottom. These ones are usually in the $50 dollar price range.
Building your Own
Building an RC helicopter that you can control by a cellphone or over a network isn’t as hard as it once was. Small computers like the Arduino can control brushless motors and servos, and they also have modules that enable wireless communication. If you build a quad copter airframe and control it over a cell network, you can make a helicopter that works almost anywhere.
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