Airstring is live on Kickstarter


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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  • Developer
    This product only works when it's cheap as its only 2G tech... The HW is the $20 unit from Seed Studio Xadow 2G modem as I posted before. See as its part of the RePhone Kit for $60

    Anyway, doesn't really matter anymore as you can get a 3G unit from Pebble for $99 dollars called the Pebble Core that is 'hackable'

    See my previous comments

    Today there are 12 backers... Not that surprising as the need for fleet management is a enterprise type requirement and that is early days
    Seeed Studio Bazaar, Boost ideas, Extend the Reach
    Electronics products and services for Makers to Engineers. Fusion PCB manufacture, PCB Assembly, CNC milling services and more. Affordable and reliab…
  • Good point Ben!

  • @JesusA I'm not sure 3G/4G would even be that useful because the coverage isn't there outside of urban areas where you are likely to be flying.

  • Hello Jesus

    We have chosen this module because it is currently the best fit for the goal of this project.

    You are right about the latency. However, we think latency is not critical, since the telemetry link is usually not used to control the aircraft. We will look into 4G telemetry in the future of course, but only once the 4G module also has the same benefits our current module has which we believe are much more important.

    It is really small, not much more than a SIM card actually, and the SOC is designed specifically for IOT apps. It is not just a modem but a full smartwatch SOC. This means it has a powerful CPU, GPRS connectivity, and bluetooth, so the benefits are

    • The powerful CPU allows us to parse Mavlink packages, and extract information like GPS position.
    • It also allows us to perform advanced End to End encryption, which is essential to ensure security.
    • The bluetooth connectivity allows the user to connect via smartphone and configure parameters without complicated scripts, files, etc.
    • The flexibility of programming means we will be able to implement new features easily. For example issueing an RTL command through an SMS if your Ground Station computer fails.. 

    Again, all of this without using a large companion computer, separate modem etc.

    Maybe we haven't made all these advantages clear enough, but they show when you use the product. I hope I made my point, feel free to contact me personally if you want do discuss this further.

    Also, I know you at Droning were experimenting with GSM Telemetry, how did that work out?
    Best regards,


  • Hello naish. The price comparison with the satellite SDB modem is not fair. You are comparing the price of a stand alone modem with the price of a telemetry service that includes modem, server, client and support.

    If you were to buy the modem you would still need to implement all of this yourself, which is doable of course, but it is not easy or desirable.

    In my opinion it makes much more sense to have one company develop a good solution and just use this solution.

    In all honesty, if something like Airstring had been available I would just have bought it and installed it in my UAVs and I wouldn't have gone through all this trouble :)

  • José. Enhorabuena!

    Though I have a question. Why did you stick to GPRS? Why not let the modem be 3G or 4g? GPRS usually has a lot of latency (several seconds).

  • 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. 

  • @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


  • Developer

    @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.

  • 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.

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