3D Robotics

HoverFly: New commercial quadcopter control board

The HoverFly folks got in touch to tell me about their new quadcopter control board, the HoverFly Pro, which will be hitting the market in October for $360. It's got twin Parallax Propeller chips (that's also the chip used by AttoPilot), and has the standard quad controller features with the addition of built-in OSD. That seems like a pretty good price for a plug-and-play (closed source) system. It's not a full autopilot, since there's no navigation ability, but the site lists a forthcoming GPS version, so maybe that's coming (or maybe that's just for position hold--the closed source autopilots have serious regulatory restrictions, which normally limits their waypoint abilities, but we'll just have to wait and see in this case.)

From their site:

Feature List:

- Plug-N-Fly - just hookup to your quad and fly. No calibration software and no tweaking needed.

- All boards come fully assembled. The HoverflyPro is precision
manufactured. Sensors are the smallest on the market and the entire
board is assembled by pick-and-place robots.

- Features 2 Parallax Propeller MCUs that provide a total of 16 microprocessors running in parallel for the fastest data collection and
control of your Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs).

- MCUs operate at 80Mhz for a total of over a GHz of processing power.

- Operates with Brushed or Brushless motors.

- Support for standard PWM Speed Controllers (I2C is not required).

- On-board voltage conversion switches automatically for 5.0V or 6.0V ESCs.

- UltraPWM technology means better stability. The PWM signal is compressed to achieve a faster update rate without using I2C ESCs.

- Scalable Control - Use any size motor or frame. HoverflyPro is capable of running very large motors.

- Not limited to tiny cameras. You pick the motors, battery and frame for the payload you want to carry.

- On-board voltage regulation. Input power range 6V-15V.

- Direct USB programming. No need to connect flight battery for
programming. Use the Windows update client and any mini-USB cable to
connect to the HoverflyPro. Programming clip no longer needed.

- Position holding gyros on all axes.

- FREE software upgrades. Windows update client notifies you of software updates. A simple USB connection provides quick and easy
software updates.

- You choose the configuration. Quad, Hex, or Octo. In Quad configuration you can pick "+" or "X" orientation.

- Altitude hold via barometer / accelerometer

- Auto leveling

- Automatic Pitch,Roll compensation for video and still cameras.

- Built in control for pan/tilt when in altitude hold mode

- Simple to use. Comprehensive instructions to ensure your success.

- Use any receiver and transmitter. HoverflyPro automatically senses and uses any PWM input.

- Basic and Aerobatic mode. Basic uses accelerometer to keep the quad level when the sticks are centered. It limits the maximum bank
angle achievable. Aerobatic allows the user to rely on the gyros only
for stable, but more extreme performance.

Detailed Specifications

- 2.75" x 2.75" (70mm x 70mm)

- Board height - < 0.5" (12.7mm)

- Programming power - USB or flight battery

- Flight battery - Input power range 6V-15V. Power connection is symmetric (no wrong way to connect power).

- 8x Receiver inputs

- 8x ESC outputs

- Camera Pan/Tilt outputs for camera mount stabilization

- 2x Future outputs (3-pin)

- On-Screen Display (OSD) input and output (3-pin).

- Buzzer


- XYZ Digital Gyroscope

- XYZ Digital Accelerometer

- Pressure/Barometric Sensor

- Expansion Interface (12-pin)

- ESC voltage conversion output module

- Flight Battery voltage level sensor (for OSD and emergency modes)

- Programming switch (2-position). Base program and advanced feature programs required during update.

- Manual Gain adjustment (potentiometer)

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  • I have the board set - FC plus GPS/Nav. It is truly amazing. The position/altitudhold/loiter is spot on and RTH, etc all work as advertised. It's a bit pricey compared to open source stuff but it truly works right out of the box. I've tried it on 3 different airframes and none of them required more than one tuning flight. There is no PID tuning. It has gain adjustments for horizontal  and altitude hold and thats  it and both are adjusted via the transmitter.

    I'd recommend it for someone who wants to do a high-end camera platform or a super stable FPV system and has no interest diving into the technology and just wants it to be turnkey.

  • Anyone try the Hoverfly pro board recently? from what I read, it seems to be holding up to the hype.


  • I would very much like to get my hands on this FC, I am not into the whole UAV thing, I just really like the multi rotor crafts, and after seeing some of the stunt flying these things can do, I would very much like to have a FC that has all the hardware on it for flight stability, GPS lock (when that option is available) and is scalable.

    I know this is a site dedicated to UAV's but I think this FC may be a great starting platform for those of us that are not electrical / mechanical / computer engineers, and just want to have some fun.
  • hmmm....seen the list of features before. And I remember the rollicking that he got for his creative use of terminology the first time he barked about the product on DIY. I'll believe it when it see it released AND endorsed by those with experience in the UAV community.
  • Agreed, multi core technology looks better and better the more I work with it. I am working on a 1600 MIPS XMOS chip (16 threads at 100mhz, on 4 cores). The chip has tons of digital IO, and the smaller package is only 12mm square.
  • I went to the Hoverfly website and found this video of an octocopter that is carrying a HiDef Canon video camera. Amazing!
  • and no single screenshoot on how osd looks like? thats so bad.
  • Developer
    The ".. over a GHZ of processing power." statement is a bit misleading. The Propeller core use 4 clocks to execute a single instruction. So a 80mhz core translates to 20MIPS or 320MIPS for 16 cores.
    Other than that, the multicore approach should be very beneficial for autopilot applications.
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