Hackers In Residence - The Tethered Quad

Contributors: Emcee Grady
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Getting Started

By: Tara Tiger Brown and Sean Bonner SparkFun Hackers-in-Residence

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Important: Voiding Warranties

This should go without saying, but by hacking these off the shelf devices you are voiding all warranties. This is important because if you kill your drone by cutting it up you have to know ahead of time that you won’t be able to call anyone at the company to help you troubleshoot. Same goes for the Dropcam - it’s intended for indoor use in a controlled environment not to be flown all over the place outside strapped to a drone. So just know going into this you are on your own.

What You’ll Need

  • Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Quadcopter @ $299
  • Dropcam WiFi HD Camera @ $149 (use this option for wifi/live web streaming) or HackHD Camera @ $160 (use this option to record to SD card and view later)
  • Monoprice 50ft 14AWG Enhanced Loud Oxygen-Free Copper Speaker Wire Cable @ $21
  • 4 x Deans Connectors @ $0.95 ea
  • few small zip ties
  • Power Supply (we used a power supply from a PC, which requires two 4 pin Molex Connectors @ $0.95 each, but anything that supplies 12v at around/up to 8A should work.)
  • 5v Power Regulator @ $1.25 or 3.3v Power Regulator if using HackHD instead of Dropcam
  • Heat Sync plus Mounting Parts (Screw, Nut, Locknut) @ $0.95 ea
  • Thermal Tape @ $3.95
  • Micro USB cable that you are willing to cut up (to power the Dropcam)


  • Soldering Iron/Station - we prefer variable temp but there are lots of options that should work.
  • Lead solder (easier to de-solder if you need to)
  • Scissors
  • Knife (xacto or similar)
  • Wire Stripper
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue


  • All project photos are here
  • Project Video #1 is here
  • Project Video #2 is here