Ag drone for less than $500

Ag drone for less than $500


What do you need to start flying a drone for a reasonable cost. For folks that are cash poor and time rich.

Here is my recommended setup for early 2016!  What you will need to bring is the understanding that you will have to read and ask questions all over the web! It might not be everyone’s idea of a perfect setup but its a place to start.

I’m going to use one supplier, not because I have shares in them but to make things easier. There are other places to buy equipment that’s what the internet is for.

The mission for this basic platform is to map farmland at low level.

A great airframe close relative of the famous Multiplex Easystar is the Bixler 3 from HobbyKing. In its almost ready to fly form its $83. More importantly as you will be crashing your new drone frequently (Its a fact of life accept it now) there are spares.

You will need a means of communication with the control surfaces and autopilot. You can buy a super cheap radio with very few channels but that won’t last you long if you get hooked.

Its one of those things where paying more at the start is a better plan. The $210 FrSky 2.4GHz ACCST TARANIS X9D would be my choice. Its a big cost but could be used for several platforms.

Now you have to be able to fly lawnmower patterns for the imaging and by far the best Opensource autopilot for that grew from the Ardupilot community.

There are many Chinese clones, the latest version is the Pixhawk/PX4 and the PixFalcon has all you need.

You will be able to do this

You are going to need a charger IMAX B6AC V2 and batteries best have at least two one on charge and one flying.


Simple eh! Oh you have to add a camera to the mix but that’s for later. Get flying first. You will also need to find a tame GIS specialist the opensource software is hard to use, but free.

The best thing you could add to this mix is a friendly local RC flyer to help you learn to fly manually if none are available there are simulators. Get one!

Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.