I will not try to write everything down in one sitting so this will probably be an ongoing blog (at least a few posts).

As I posted on another thread, I'll quote here...

"FWIW, I have not been a part of the AirDroids team since April of 2014 (less than a month after receiving the KS funds and before spending a dime of it). I cannot discuss much as per the confidential separation agreement I signed, but I have been completely out of the loop since then. I have no access to any customer service channels or emails. Needless to say, I would have tried/liked to do things differently.

I AM a recipient of one of the units and it was already bound to the included transmitter (As RTF as I could have expected). I did change the default mode to stabilize (I don't think alt hold should be the default setting) and it left the ground a few feet without any problems (I haven't had a chance to take it outside yet). The redesigned landing gear leave something to be desired for sure (I am considering designing some 3D printed replacements to post on Thingiverse). I'm interested in the tail boom modification that was discussed here to see if it's necessary.

Provided I don't receive an onslaught of negativity here from backers or DIYdroners, I will continue to have an open discussion and review the product as an informed consumer."

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  • I'm an early backer, and received my PD in December while on a visit home to the USA.  I live full time on the island of Providenciales.  I've been doing KAP of the ocean and islands here for a blog I write.  Long wanted a 'drone' although I don't agree with that nomenclature.  I come from the underwater robot industry, and know a UAV from a UUV and have worked on the tracking systems for a number of unmanned and autonomous vehicles. I have previous experience flyilng RC airplanes, but that was 30 years ago.    I  wanted a platform for aerial photography.  I personally LIKED that it was going to be 3D printed, because I have a Printrbot Plus and can CAD up parts.  

    I appreciate your position in this, and applaud your candor.  There are plenty of places on the net where one can go to join the whining about getting ripped off, I am now more focused on what I can do with the PD that I received.  I didn't wreck mine.  I tried to lift it off three times ( from a rocky, slanted driveway in over 10 knots of wind) and could tell that it wasn't going to be easy.  The landing gear made itself immediately obvious, and I decided to redesign that before something ugly happened.  My three short "hops" were nothing more than lifting up enough for the PD to shear sideways and flip over on the newly collapsed landing gear.  Some slight scuff marks on a prop or two is the extent of the damage. Nothing serious.

    I thought it was going to be some kind of trim  adjustment, and that  I'd quickly find the answer.  The manual is a joke, of course.   And even here on the forums I find the discussions starting at a level somewhat near the top of a newbie head.  As an example, the posts are full of references to 'bound receivers and transmitters'.  Is mine bound? No idea.  Nobody yet has mentioned how to determine that, in the places where I've been looking.

    So I got onto the net to see what people were doing with their new PD landing gear, and found out that there's a lot more going on with these things that just that glaring engineering equivalent of a fingerpainting.  Now I'm trying to determine whether I should try to get this one flying, or just strip it and buy a frame or 3D print one and start over from scratch.   I'm hoping for advice here.     My ultimate goal is to end up with a  multirotor that I can fly from our sailboat for aerial photography.  In my own long game, I need one that can survive repeated ocean dunking.  yeah, I know.  I've got some experience in sea water and  electronics.  

    This temporary landing gear fix is nice for a start, and it's reversible.  Thanks.  But I still need to mount a  GoPro or similar on this thing and fly it, if that's even feasible any more.

    The foldability of the PD was also a plus when I first got involved in this.  I'm personally convinced that the US government cannot let us continue to fly these things unregulated, and I wouldn't be surprised in an outright ban.  So of course I want one I can squirrel away in a backpack and  take out for a quick shot every now and then.   And I won't have the same gov regs that will be in the US, but I still expect a public backlash against personal UAVs for safety and privacy issues.   Lets face it, we just cannot have 12 year old boys hovering outside the neighbors windows and the first time one of these slices down under power in a crowded stadium, things are going to start changing.      Maybe the unflyability of 1200 new "drones" is a reprieve.   That's a lot of newbies spinning up out there.  We need help.  Thank you for your assistance, it's good to have someone with that level of knowledge about this particular "product".

    This ended my support for Kickstarter, by the way.  My third and last gamble.  One of the three worked out.

  • I took mine out yesterday for the first time and it did indeed fly fairly well. It was a little bouncy in the controls but not spinning out of control or crashing. Maybe slight tuning needed. I didn't time the flight but it was at least 15-20 minutes before it started beeping for me to land. I will time it next time around and grab a video as well. My gear solution held up as well.

    • I'm glad to hear that yours has worked out fairly well.  Are you a pilot of some experience?  I am relatively inexperienced, myself, so I suspect that your experience made some of the difference.

  • Does the job...



  • I think it's fairly safe to say that those who ordered product will be getting one (save shipping errors/admin issues).

    I found a way to fix landing gear for now...

    I simply flipped the legs backward on their main connection point on the arms and then brought out the extensions so that they were perpendicular to the arms. Then I hot glued it all in place. It makes for less folding up, but I do not intend to store it separately from the battery and so then it all works out pretty well. It keeps the battery of the ground. Used minimal glue so it's not too uglified. I've attached a few photos so you can see for yourself. It feels nice and stable now.

    I also spent some time over the weekend to design another version that fits into the motor mount screw holes for the front props. The rear is still not done. 


    I'm happy with the flipped ones for now. So, I'll wait until they break to finish the rear design, if necessary.

    I still haven't had a chance to fully test mine outdoors. I was planning to today but it's raining.

    Mine was pre-bound and motors were spinning in the right direction. At this time it does not look like I need to fix the rear tail mount servo clutch.




  • Hi Chance, and welcome! Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge on the project with us (within bounds of course). A lot of the PD backers have gathered in a Facebook group (over 200 members) and they are aware of your presense and post here. So far, all the response has been positive: everyone has been very respectful and appreciates you taking the time to talk to tell us. Know that you have a bigger audience than it looks ;)

  • Sir, I applaud your courage in facing some decidedly unhappy customers.  I hope that you will receive the respect and courtesy that such courage has earned.

    I hope that you will be able to give us some insights, within the legal constraints put upon you.  But at any rate, be welcome here.

  • I'll start by saying that creating a consumer product is VERY hard (multiply that difficulty if it's electronic and then add an order of magnitude if it flies). When my previous toy company tried to make an RC airplane after much success with RC cars, it basically took down that company. Consumer aspirations/expectations are high and the ability to satisfy those is extremely tough. I have a lot of respect and admiration for AirHogs and DJI for making great consumer flying products. I call out those particular companies because of their singular focus and accomplishment with the mass market.

    I wish Hexo+, AirDog and Zano success. You may have noticed that both Hexo and AirDog are also planning on shipping several months behind schedule as well. I think the main difference is that they are more open about it than the current Pocket Drone team. I'm not sure how they are funding their large teams unless they went and got some serious capital from investors as well.

    Another point I'd like to address is the thread that all the money was spent on sipping Margarita's in Mexico (or some such). I'm certain that the bill of materials (BOM), tooling costs and assembly, packaging and shipping all ate up a majority of the funds. Add taxes and I don't see how they did anything but break even, if they were lucky. They decided to tool, injection mold and assemble domestically. This is an admirable endeavor and possibly a necessary one for them since they didn't have experience with outsourcing to Mexico or Asia.

    The Pocket Drone that is being delivered was re-engineered from the one shown in the KS campaign to make it more durable (at least the primary frame). I think the original one had more style, but the arms on the new one are more robust. I never flew the new design as it was not finished before I departed.

    I have not tested the flight time on the new design but the 20 minute claim was demonstrated on video (older pre-KS design) and it flew for 20 minutes. If it's not flying that long, I suspect the new design has a heavier frame, motors, battery and prob hubs.

    The Trifecta on HobbyKing is an very close copy of the Pocket Drone concept down to the folding arms and extending tail boom. It might be infringing on an AirDroids patent pending.

    The servo "clutch" is all new to me as the original design was directly attacahed to the tail motor mount. It was slightly problematic and hard on servos, so it appears that they added that mechanism to address that issue.

    The folding propeller hub design could have been much simpler if it wasn't a tricopter. Since the tail prop mounting rotates about the z-axis to pivot for yaw it needed to be locked into position. If it was a quad they could have all just used centripetal force.

    It was always using an APM. The motors were resourced to find ones with hard mounts for the custom prop hubs.

    The battery box design is not ideal IMO. If it lands hard, it may break the rails off.

    The legs were always going to be difficult to make durable, especially with the clearance needed for mounting a camera below. It's disappointing that they spent so much time making the frame more robust and left the legs so spindly. The camera was mounted in front on the original version and moved to the bottom to reduce vibration/jello. I actually think it could have been manageable staying with a front mount.

    Ultimately, I think the project was largely a victim of it's own success combined with the infrequency of communication. The team was just overwhelmed and had a lack of resources.

    I'm reluctant to fly mine too much because I'd like to keep it in one piece for sentimental value. But, I may try to give it a whirl on some thick grass.

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