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    Now You Can Turn Anything Into a 'Drone'

    Written by

    Meghan Neal

    contributing editor

    Who doesn't want their own drone? No, not for engaging military special ops, endless gazing, or shadow warfare, but because it's cool when benign objects go airborne without a human on board. 

    Sure, drone-crazed, mechanically-savvy makers can create their own autonomous fliers, and they are--in droves. But the latest kit to hit today's booming hobby-drone market caters to the rest of us: The "Drone It Yourself" kit, the brainchild of Jasper van Loenen, an interactive designer from the Netherlands, allows anyone to mod everyday, not-too-much-bigger-than-a-breadbox objects into drones. 

    A phone drone. Cologne drone. Trombone drone. You get the idea. The sky's quite literally the limit.

    The kit includes 3D-printed plastic objects (clamps and such), four motors, and a control unit that houses a receiver, four ESCs (electronic speed controllers), a Bluetooth module and an OpenPilot CC3D flightcontroller.

    Sounds drone-y, right? Wrong.

    The designer is good to point out that both the DIY kit and the seemingly infinite number of objects it can drone-ify technically aren't "drones", a buzz term that for better or worse has become a catchall for anything and everything that flies sans humans, from hunter-killer aerial robots incinerating suspected militants along the Af-Pak border to small-fry hexacopters that are revolutionizing cinematography, agriculture, search and rescue, and any number of civil applications. Rather, they are unmanned aerial vehicles, pilotless aircraft capable of autonomous flight without direct human intervention. Which is not to be conflated with "drones" proper, pilotless aircraft capable of autonomous flight with no direct human intervention with military targets. 

    But for all those who've got their targets set on van Loenen's DIY kit, here's how you get one: You can't--unless you own a 3D printer. (Either way, you can download the drone-making files here.) It's understandable, then, that Drone It Yourself hasn't yet found its way to the common online crowdsourcing incubators, though that's not to say commenters on the project's page aren't urging van Loenen to, you know, Kickstart the damn thing. Indeed, the DIY kit and projects similarly working to democratize flight offer glimpse into the future. Or so the thinking goes. 

    “We’re building a home-brew drone class, if you will,” Chris Anderson, who left a long-running gig as Wired editor earlier this year to focus fulltime on his hobby-drone company, DIYDrones, said at a technology conference in April. “Regular people couldn’t build an autopilot 10 years ago. Five years ago it was unaffordable. And now we can buy the parts at Radio Shack.”

    Will you drone to that?

    More unmanned things:

    MotherboardTV: Drone On

    Finally: A Drone for Dropping Rhymes (Not Bombs)

    The Pilotless Motherboard