For software, I'm suprised the article doesn't mention ArduPilot (and developments thereof) given LOHAN.
I put together a hexacopter from various chinese bits and pieces for less than £200, loaded up Ardupilot, and now have a fully autonomous (automatic take off and landing) UAV.
I generally use it to take panoramic photographs by allowing it to take off straight up, hover at 50m or 100m, point at 8 compass points for 15 seconds each, and then land. I use a compact camera on auto (using CHDK). Works pretty well.
More complex flight patterns work fine but the simpler they are the easier it is to avoid flyaways.
This one can also be pre-programmed without carrying a laptop into the field.
No licence yet though - volunteering 'for amusement only'. I do adhere to the flight rules - insurance won't cover stupidity.
**much soldering and manual reading required**