We introduced Airstring to this community some weeks ago and we received a lot of feedback which has gone into the campaign and into the project itself.

Today we announce that the Airstring project is live on Kickstarter and you can reserve your own Airstring module to connect your drone to the internet using GSM technology


Let's bring drones online!

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3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on May 18, 2016 at 8:40am

Please tell us more about that SMS application. Can you text MAVLink commands to the drone? I actually did my first "text commands to drone" back in 2007! It didn't work very well in those days ;-)

Comment by Stephen Gloor on May 18, 2016 at 8:55am

@Tridge - These guys now do 4G public IP addresses.  We are using a VPN as well however more for network simplicity than anything as we have a static public 3G IP address.


It is Optus though.

Comment by Alexandru Evian on May 18, 2016 at 9:07am

GPRS? Feels like a stone age. There are plenty of IoT-oriented 3G modules, and 4G modules started appearing too.

Comment by Jose Alberto Soler on May 18, 2016 at 10:06am

Chris, the other application was not related to drones. It was about activating the blinds and locks at an office via sms. We had the idea of implementing commands like RTL via SMS but thought it was adding too much to the first release. If you have any ideas about that though, let us know and we'll look into it.

Comment by Jose Alberto Soler on May 18, 2016 at 1:32pm

Hello Alexandru thanks for your comment. There are always new boards and hardware just around the corner. Right now we are using what we think is the best module available for this application. Bitrate is not the most important concern since telemetry doesn't require a lot of bandwidth.

Comment by Robert Palmer on May 18, 2016 at 3:19pm

GPRS is a bit old to get my interest but I did take a look at the Kickstarter page...  Wow, that price seems crazy for what is being offered.  Ten years ago, we were using GPRS modems for chemical plant monitoring and paying a premium for industrialised hardware that survived in those environment. 

I'll stick to a 3G/4G connection through a companion computer when it is necessary to go through a phone network.  Cheaper and available now.

Comment by Jose Alberto Soler on May 18, 2016 at 4:11pm

Robert, please keep in mind that the price of the board is almost irrelevant for the overall cost of the project. There is a huge programming effort to making sure the communications work out-of-the-box (or as simple as possible) and are secure.

We are actually expecting to lose money on the Kickstarter campaign and recover it in the year later with the extra sales.

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on May 18, 2016 at 6:10pm

@Stephen, we've solved it now for our vehicles using OpenVPN running on an ec2 instance in Sydney, which gives us the flexibility to go with any telco. I was more curious how Jose was solving it for more of a consumer friendly experience.

Comment by Stephen Gloor on May 18, 2016 at 7:57pm

@Tridge - we started using a cloud instance however the latency was even worse than normal 3G.  As we can now run OpenVPN on the ground station RasPi using the public iP address we just connect directly so the normally bad 3G latency is manageable.

Also we interpreted the current rules that say all equipment must be on site to exclude this way of working and as we had a better solution we did not bother querying it.  I am sure the VPN instance is OK however it would only take one over zealous scrutineer to ruin your day.

"3.3.1 Location of infrastructure

Team infrastructure cannot be located outside the Base operation area. Remote computer equipment such as

servers may not be used and all processing must occur either on the aircraft or on the GCS computers within the


Comment by naish on May 18, 2016 at 8:33pm

Nice product.  

Unfortunately It's hard to justify the cost even on a professional application. The telemetry cost more than the Autopilot. A satellite SDB modem cost nearly the same. 

Also 3G it's old now, makes no sense to buy a professional product with old technology. 

I hope you guys will work on this issues, and make a better product. 


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