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I have bought a really small proto X quad (it has a joystick which navigates the device) and I am looking for a way to send a signal to this thing from my computer.

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So can anyone point me how can I turn on one of the propellers of this quad using my laptop (I have a decent knowledge in python/matlab/C# but hardware is a completely new world to me).

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I can think of 2 ways:

(1) Open it up, get rid of off the control board in the quad and only keep the motors and electronic speed controller. There should one per motor, but they might be integrated in the main board in which case you'd have to get some yourselves. Then get anarduino (a programmable microcontroller) to control the motors. The communication with a laptop can then be done via an RF signals (using e.g. xbees) and use another arduino as a transmitter plugged into your laptop to control it.

There a lots of tutorials and blogs online about this kind of projects, with open source code available etc.

(2) Probably the easiest option: Reverse engineering the RF signals between the quad and the remote control and replicate them from your laptop. To do that, you'll have to know the frequency that's being used (probably written at the back of the remote), buy a receiver + transmitter for that frequency. Use the receiver to "listen" to what the signals are when using the remote. Then you can try to recreate those signals in software and use the transmitter to send those across to the quad.

Sounds difficult, but it's probably the easiest option. See this magpi article - page 8 that describes how to do this - This was for a totally different project but the method still stands.

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You won't be able to do this with a Proto X, since (a) you don't have access to the board firmware, and (b) the hardware cannot be modified.

If you wish to experiment with this, a good first step will be to get a Flip 1.5 board and bluetooth module. For $24, this will give you a complete open source system that includes PC or Android bluetooth or USB communication.

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