The Quadcopter

A quadcopter flies propelled by four motors. They can be just toys or complex devices used for professional photography or environmental monitoring. Ours is a low-cost alternative (400€) to professional models, made out of foam, rubber bands, and an Arduino. It’s an open-source design open for replication and improvements. We used a design by Ivan Gayton, from MSF, whose main goal is mapping, to help MSF logistics during crisis. During summer 2014 we carried out the first test of his machine “in the field”.

Seeing a place from the air opens a new perspective, and that’s exactly what we need in Agbogbloshie: to craft a new narrative of the place. Maps of the area are not good at the moment. Some paper maps show it as a green area, and their online counterparts didn’t have information until we added some.

We transported the components from London, although as they are manufactured in Asia they could as well have been shipped directly to Ghana. Our friend from KNUST Creativity Group, Sam Amoako led the assembling work helped by Tim Affram, that strecthed over several weeks. We developed a draft manual explaining the job carried out.  We tested the device several times, crashed it a few, and ended by testing in Agbogbloshie. When we left Ghana we didn’t trust the drone still so as to place an expensive camera on it.

(Pictures of tests, crashes.)

Our learnings from this project:

  • The need to engage with the community. People will have a device flying over their heads and they need to know what that’s for. The resulting maps should either be open or remain property of the community.
  • The quadcopter offered us a great opportunity to engage with University students. They put their knowledge at the service of a poor community suffering from pollution.
  • Using and creating a quadcopter requires some complex skills. They can be transferred to the local population by means of the activities of the Makerspace.


AMP has the quadcopter now, and the Creativity Group will be working on it soon again.