Link to our Droiko on Kickstarter: Kickstarter Droiko
The Droiko checkpoint smart mesh is one of the most innovative aspects of Droiko . Each Droiko checkpoint is a very small plastic box containing some electronics, sensors and a small battery. Each Droiko checkpoint is fully independent and is an extra accessory. It takes drone gaming to the next level, but it is not actually needed to fly Droiko.
Its main use is to define a racing track, using them as radio-frequency references, but they are also used to define special areas or objectives in games and drone combats. They as well enable you to use any RC radio transmitter as the controller to fly Droiko. Just connect your RC receiver to its connection header and you are ready to go, no need for extra batteries or power. It is a very flexible accessory with many extra uses: laser target, height reference to improve automatic height control, or position reference to enable autonomous flight.
Each Droiko checkpoint is even a full development platform on its own. It is fully Open Source and documented, like everything related to Droiko. Features the same powerful Bluetooth enabled nRF52 processor as Droiko helicopter. It also features a programming USB port, multiple free I/O pins, a high power full color led, a 5V output and a high precision barometer. This is our way at Cactus Robotics to engage the community in creating innovative custom addons for Droiko. We encourage using our affordable, highly optimized and well documented electronics in any other project you like. Each Droiko checkpoint is very easy to use, just switch it on and it will start working with its latest configuration. If you want to set it up, simply connect to it with your smartphone using our Droiko App and Bluetooth. This way you will be able to select its working mode (checkpoint, laser target, RC radio transmitter bridge, a combination of modes…), change its number/color or its field range. If you want to recharge the battery, open the enclosure and replace the battery for a fully charged one. Every Droiko battery is identical (helicopters and checkpoints) and you can charge them all with a single charger.
Once the checkpoints are set up (they come pre-configured) you can forget about them. No need to configure them every time, not even when you change gaming mode. This is possible thanks to its easy way of working: each checkpoint that you are using has a number/color. When you are playing Droiko, the Droiko App will tell you what is each color at the start of the game, so you can place them accordingly before playing. For example in a short race the red checkpoint is the starting line, green checkpoint the second track reference and blue checkpoint the finish line. This way it is very intuitive to play games and start having fun since the first minute.
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A few more details about Droiko checkpoint
While being simple to understand and modify, each Droiko checkpoint is a very advanced piece of technology. Each Droiko checkpoint creates an invisible spherical radio-frequency field around itself. The size of this field is configurable from a few centimeters to a few meters. Droiko helicopters detect these fields and use them as references and targets. The image below represents this invisible field. Droiko checkpoints can also communicate to each other and to Droiko helicopters, in order to synchronize some gaming information. While doing all this they can also detect laser impacts using the same laser detectors mounted on Droiko helicopters.
A very interesting use is when they work as position and height references. This is something that is usually only seen on very expensive professional drones. Thanks to its barometer, each checkpoint serves as a pressure reference. Using differential pressure height control, we can avoid height changes due to atmospheric pressure changes. Each Droiko helicopter also knows how far, approximately, they are from each checkpoint, so we can perform some autonomous flight or apply exclusion areas.
As a final note we would like to mention that the pictures shown here are not from the final checkpoints’ design. The final design features a Lego ® compatible plastic box, a removable suction cup in order to fix them to windows and flat surfaces, a high power full color led, laser detectors, an expansion port, a switch, a USB programming port… The final design will be made public in the following weeks.