Easy Drone: New APM-based Kickstarter drone project

Easy Drone is a cool new Kickstarter project with two interesting innovations: a "FlyBot" module that contains all the electronics (APM and FPV gear) and can be moved to other frames, and a simple and robust frame design:

Here's more from the Kickstarter listing:

EasyDrone is an advanced, modular quadcopter designed for videographers that need quick, easy and affordable aerial shots. It is convenient to transport and quick setup without tools. EasyDrone has wireless video and camera gimbal control built in as standard features.

Functional design that stands out

It has been noted that 2014 is the year of the drone and for a good reason. If you look around you will find a number of drone options for different applications. 

However you will notice that all existing multirotors kind of look alike. They are rigid, not modular and hard to take apart for transportation. If you want advanced features like video stream and gimbal options - brace yourself for a spaghetti of wires that you'll have to deal with every time you want to deploy.  

Easy as...

I took a radically different approach with Easy Drone challenging existing design patterns and the result is taking drone design to a whole new level. On top of that I made all of the features that I often wanted to use already built in: 

  • wireless video
  • on screen display
  • telemetry
  • gimbal control
  • camera power

KEY FEATURES

1. Unique lightweight frame - It's self-supporting™ carbon frame is a proprietary design never before utilized on quadcopters. It makes transportation and assembly a breeze while providing incredible strength. 

2. One compact command unit - Easy Drone's command unit (Fly Bot) has all the features you need built in and no wires! It's a true plug-and-fly solution.  

3. Use one Fly Bot with multiple frames - Pre-programmed, tuned settings for any combination of motors and blades. Just wirelessly load new settings and it will be optimized for your new build.

Example: I like to use larger props and slower motors for the gimbal and faster ones for FPV flying.

4. Auto tuning for any configuration - with a flip of a switch you can make the Easy Drone determine it's own best settings, no manual tuning necessary. 

5. Six flying modes - EasyDrone can be flown in any one of the six flying modes with a flip of the switch.

6. Telemetry module built in - Connect to your computer or tablet to wirelessly change settings or set path points. 

7. Video stream is not an option - it comes standard - Feel free to turn it off, but it is built in to every FlyBot so you can plug in any camera feed and see the live stream on the ground. 

8. Camera battery never runs out - Power the camera in flight while transmitting video from it. Uses the main battery for power. 

9. Important flight data on your video screen - See altitude, speed, battery status and dozens of other data points superimposed on your preview video. 

The Easy Drone story

I made my first robot when I was 10 by combining parts from several RC toys my parents bought me. Since then I have been fascinated with remotely controlled machines where flying RC robots make the ultimate feat.

Idea development

It has been six months from the first napkin sketch to first functional prototype. Another few months of testing and tuning followed. 

I have tried many existing aerial videography solutions, but couldn't find one that was modular, easily customizable and had necessary features built in to it. Easy Dronewas developed to offer a modular solution for professional videographers and a fresh approach to drone design. 

How is it better?

What you need from your aircraft for filming aerial video: 

  • ease of transportation and deployment
  • flexibility in terms of lift power (different cameras) and maneuverability 
  • certain features (like wireless video) built-in, not added-on
  • and you certainly DON'T want to deal with wires

Easy Drone is a modular multirotor drone that pushes the envelope when it comes to customization for different flying needs because one control unit can be used with any frame (combination of motors and props). 

This allows you to go from a fast flyer to a slower, heavy lift by just plugging the control unit (Fly Bot) onto a different frame.  

What has been done so far:

  • Created 9 iterations of working prototypes
  • Speed controllers/Motors/Battery combination performance testing
  • Selected  flight controller system 
  • Video link selection and testing 
  • On-Screen-Display module selection and testing
  • Radio telemetry module 
  • Tune hardware and software
  • Program radio controller
  • Finalize production design
  • Develop assembly capability

What we are planning to do (pending successful campaign)

  • Expand our current shop o handle demand
  • Secure alternative sources and vendors
  • Order parts and components
  • Marketing materials (instructions, packaging, etc.) 
  • Produce training videos and post on our website

Production timeline for 2014

The Goal :: Why KickStarter? 

Our goal is to make the Easy Drone a standard piece of equipment for photographers and videographers who like to shoot aerial videos. To make this a reality we need your support to set up mass production and get Easy Drones into the hands of you early adopters. We are confident that your experience will be our best recommendation. 

Technical specs

There are two different frames that we offer at this time - L and XL. See their specs below. We will be coming out with many more different frames because with the Easy Drone there is an infinite number of combinations. 

  • Assembled weight (without camera) - 2.5lb (L) or 3lb (XL)
  • Maneuverable camera weight - 1lb (L) or 1.5lb (XL)
  • Autopilot - APM 2.6 
  • External GPS + Compass
  • Telemetry freq. - 433 MHz
  • Video link freq. - 5.8 GHz
  • Radio freq. - 2.4 GHz
  • On-Screen-Display: MinimOSD Rev. 1.1
  • Battery monitor/power regulator
  • Power - 3S LiPo 11.1V battery
  • Remote - 12V LiFe battery

Flight times:

  • All features on (camera power, gimbal power, video link on) - approx. 12 minutes
  • Gimbal on - approx. 14 minutes
  • No additional equipment - approx. 16 minutes

Flying time greatly depends on the battery, the amount of wind, style of flying and load so it's hard to say precisely what you'll get out of it. The above are some averages we have encountered so far. We are actively looking for the optimal battery/motor/prop combination to extend flying time. 

 

Views: 4235

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on May 13, 2014 at 11:23am

Well that's a unique frame construction method!

Comment by Shady on May 13, 2014 at 11:42am
Comment by Gary McCray on May 13, 2014 at 2:00pm

Very nice design a study in KISS and looks really sturdy.

Comment by Ivan Stamatovski on May 13, 2014 at 2:04pm

Thanks Gary, I'm glad you like it!

Comment by Quadzimodo on May 14, 2014 at 1:20am
I am a big fan of the modular construction method
Comment by Postal on May 14, 2014 at 7:31am

I wonder why he implements APM 2.6 instead of Pixhawk? The price difference is not that high, but the performance varies significantly. 

Comment by Ivan Stamatovski on May 14, 2014 at 11:37am

Hey, Illia - good question.

When I started working on the easy drone Pixhawk was still in beta. However, I am going to revisit the design if the campaign is successful. It would be great to ship the Easy Drone out with the latest and best autopilot from 3DR. 

Cheers, 

Comment by Bill Isenberger on May 14, 2014 at 11:46am

One advantage of the APM is that it is a 5 volt system that works with CHDK without modification.

Comment by Shyam Balasubramanian on May 14, 2014 at 4:15pm

Very nice, although the price could be reduced on Kickstarter. They factor in the price for their invention on all pledge request costs.

Comment by Ivan Stamatovski on May 14, 2014 at 5:42pm

Shyam, thanks for the compliment - I'm glad you like my project. 

About the price though, it's true that between KickStarter fees and Amazon payment costs you kind of need to add extra 8-10% when forming the price. However if you added up the cost of all the parts that go into the Easy Drone you would find that it actually costs as much as the sum of components. 

Here is just a few key parts - APM 2.6 + GPS/Compass module + 5.8GHz Video link + Telemetry Module + OSD board + Remote + Motors and Batteries + Custom parts, frame and hardware...

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