For all the talk of the drone revolution, there remanes but 1 vehicle which is truly a plug & play drone for the masses: the AR Drone.  In true dot com tradition, ifixit.com made zillions of dollars in venture capitol & never did a teardown of the 2.0, so it was time for the unemployed masses to step in.



The entire electronics assembly & battery are supported by a piece of foam.  The boards still have many wires connecting to the frame, subjected to the full vibration.


A common 640x480 camera does the optical flow & seems to send some kind of compressed data.  It may be a 30fps USB cam.


A custom AR Drone sonar circuit.




It's a mane brain board & sensor board, connected by


just 8 pins.  The 2 cameras connect to the mane board.  The front cam may output uncompressed data.


A common PIC serializes the data from all the sensors.  Maybe it also fuses the sensor data.


The air pressure sensor is under a piece of foam designed to not touch it.



Standard gyro + accelerometer chip & unknown magnetometer, not that it matters since everyone is going to use the mpu9250 tomorrow.



The radio


with a trace antenna.



Under the can, it's a power management & USB chip from TI, some kind of flash & RAM from Micron.  In usual modern fashion, the mane processor would be sandwiched under the big chip, so there would be no way to see it.





The 1st test ever done to see how accurately the optical flow holds its position. Over carpet, it's hopeless & seeks the nearest line. With a target, it's decent at the default altitude, but slips off at higher altitude. As soon as it slips over carpet, the altitude reading goes high & it descends. It could be improved with more software.

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Comment by Gary Mortimer on February 27, 2013 at 1:22am

Oh this will be good, looking forward to seeing what you do with it. 

Comment by Noth666 on February 27, 2013 at 2:10am
Interesting about the sonar, my AR drone 1 does the opposite, if it is above a carpet it takes off upwards and bounces off the ceiling as it appeard to think its decending, which does not make any sense. Descending slowly is surely much better than it just taking off at max power into the ceiling.
Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on February 27, 2013 at 7:11am

Woah.  I haven't paid much attention to these things because they seem so much like toys.  But I've heard from some people how they really aren't bad, actually quite good.

But it has problems flying over *carpet*?

Comment by Noth666 on February 27, 2013 at 7:38am
Well I can only speak to the first version, which flies fine other than taking off from on top of a carpet.
It seems to spin up motors more and more expecting to get a sonar read, thus ending up in the ceiling.
I would say its an excellent light quad in terms of motors, frame etc, and with an RC controller it flies quite well. The ipad control is a bit harder as there is no physical stick, so you loose your 'spot' on the screen every so often.
I am awaiting my px4fmu etc to put on it, should have it in a couple of weeks.

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Comment by Gary Mortimer on February 27, 2013 at 8:29am

I have found the tablet control a bit of a bother but my sons took to it in seconds. I don't like not having the feedback of where my thumbs are I think for control. But that's learnt behaviour, I guess its time to learn again.

Comment by Noth666 on February 27, 2013 at 8:48am
Well I have gotten ok at flying by ipad, but I use the virtual sticks and often enough my thumbs drift out onto the border of the tablet, so I have to look at it and readjust, whereas on a tx you indeed feel the sticks and never take your eyes off the model.
I was quite impressed with how it flies though, in aggressive outdoor mode its very quick. It has only had quirks a few times like flipping on take off but a reset of the thing fixed that.
Comment by Jack Crossfire on February 27, 2013 at 2:58pm

The 2.0 probably switches to air pressure when the sonar signal is lost over carpet.  The apartment carpet is very thick 1980's carpet which has never worked with sonar.

Comment by Carl La France on February 27, 2013 at 6:38pm

Jack You are absolutely Brilliant ! not many people can just grab a piece of electronic equipment 'off the shelf" and break it down like that . Your posts  are always amazing   Gary has a point it will be interesting to see where it goes? you are probably already writing new code  or "tweaking it !  Have a Great Day!

Comment by Nick Mann on February 28, 2013 at 8:20am

There's a newish and truly plug and play quad with GPS and RTH that everyone here surely knows of by now, the DJI Phantom, for around 7 hunj.  It lacks the video feed, protective rings and indoor pos hold, but is otherwise a far superior beast to the (still amazing) Parrot mobile.  No I'm not on the payroll.

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