Here's what you gotta do before you fly the ARDrone
  1. make an appointment with the staff. That will give us time to charge up the batteries.

  2. try out the Helo TC (the littlest one). That will give you experience at controlling the thing with a hand-held phonish remote. (that is, look at the helicopter, and still be able to control it.) Experience with the Helo TC is required before moving on to the Syma (Experience does not mean expertise. We just want you to see what its like.)

  3. try out the Syma X1 -- that will give you experience with a four-rotor aircraft. Its a little tricky. It will also give you an appreciation for remembering which direction is 'forward' -- which can turn out to be important, if you hit 'go left', and it instead goes right. Experience with the Syma is required before moving on to the AR Drone. (Experience does not mean expertise. We just want you to see what its like.)

  4. Watch the instructional videos on:

  5. After that, it's the big boy. You are enjoined NOT to use the 'emergency' button, instead use 'land' if you get into trouble. 'Emergency' cuts all motors and it plummets to the ground. 'land' causes it to safely land under control. Low and slow to start. Go nuts later. Its boring, but if you want to learn, you gotta do the boring.

    You may wish to use 'absolute control' option when flying with the iphone/android client. This will make flying a bit more intuitive.

If you want a larger, more tablet-y display (and you don't have one of your own), the interface for both the Helo TC and the AR Drone 2.0 have been installed on our ASUS android tablet.

The Continuing Saga of the HackRSpace Air Force

Alex was able to get ROS to work connecting to the ARDrone and issuing commands

Kaushal proved to be very adept at flying the ARDrone, leading Charles to believe it was very simple, and easily controlled.

Shortly afterward, Charles was disabused of this notion, as somebody cracked the center supports clean in half. Charles bought a bunch of spare parts.

While waiting for these to arrive, Charles bought the Syma and Helo as training devices (they're fun by themselves, too, by the way), while he grumbled.

The Syma and Helo proved rugged and useful, and Lawrence replaced the busted crosstree in very quick time. We're ready to fly again.

As part of the continuing saga, you can watch the how-tos that Lawrence had to go through to replace the cross-tree. (These are the official Parrot how-tos. Slightly more informative how-tos from 'tomstrong67' follow.)

Parrot

(Yes, we have the special tools they show.)

TomStrong67's excellent howtos as well (pulled from youtube)