If you have been envious of the people having fun programming quatrotors now it is time to get your own. The Nano Quadcopter is small, cheap and programmable.
There isn't much to say about the general idea of an open source flying development platform - watch the video and it will all be clear and you will want one.
It's a small, minimalist, quadrotor that you can program yourself. It weighs only 19 grams and is 9cm from tip to tip. You can get a 6-Degree-Of-Freedom (DOF) model for $149 as an easy build kit.
The 6 DOF model has a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyro which makes it auto leveling. A 2.4GHz radio communicates with a USB receiver dongle that you can use via Windows or Linux. It comes with an initial program that lets you fly it using a joystick but the fun comes when you write your own programs.
It has a flight time of 7 minutes and recharges in 20 mins inductively or via USB. You can add your own additional sensors - magnetometer and/or barometer - or you can buy the enhanced 10 DOF model ($173) with them built-in.
The software is open source and there is clearly still a lot to do. From the video you can see that it has enough lift to carry a tiny keyring video camera, but how much it is capable of we will have to wait and see. The Bitcraze web site has a video of it carrying a live 5.8GHz wireless camera for live video and estimate its lifting power at around 5 to 10gm.
You can order it, but it won't be ready for delivery until May as the first batch, due for an April delivery, has sold out. Notice that the kit, while not difficult, does involve soldering. There is an assembly video at the Bitcraze site that you can use to judge if you can do the job.
Getting involved an a big open source project is well worth doing in terms of satisfaction, education and job prospects, but it's a tough thing to do. Now there is a set of "one video per concept" vid [ ... ]