3D Robotics

Parrot AR.Drone unpacking

Super excited...the Parrot team sent me two AR.Drones as development kits! (One is for me and the other for a famous game designer friend). They just arrived, and here are some first impressions and closeups. First, I haven't flown it at home yet because you've got to compile the source code with the iPhone SDK and then load it in ad-hoc distribution mode, and I'm not a iPhone developer (yet). But I did get to fly it at CES and it was just as awesome as you've heard. The coolest thing is that when you get in trouble you just take your finger off the iPhone screen and it snaps into hover mode exactly where it is and just stays there, totally locked. Amazing... Here are some photos from the unboxing (these photos are all on Flickr, where you can mouse over them for notes. Just click on the photo and you'll be taken there): IMG_4658 This is the main board, with the Arm9 core in custom Parrot DSP silicon, the downward-facing camera for optical flow, the ultrasonic sensor and the WiFi radio. IMG_4657 This is a closeup of one of the brushless motors and ESC (the quad comes in either brushed or brushless models). This ESC runs at 200Hz. IMG_4660 It comes with a 1000mAh LiPo and charger. IMG_4661 You can see the carbon fiber rods through the battery compartment IMG_4659 Green LEDs in the front; red LEDs in the back IMG_4662 A USB-to-serial cable for hardware interfacing
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  • We buy a lot of Matchports and are always on the lookout for lower cost modules with higher throughput (e.g. SPI), so the Redpine module looks interesting. There are USB wifi modules for sub-$10, but they require that you have USB Master or USB OTG capability in your processor. I've been waiting on something suitable from G2, ZeroG and others for a while.
  • With WiFi you can take the 'Chumby Approach' and just use a USB based adapter plugged in.... that said there are a few other modules around the $30-$40. The main problem (for me) is that these don't provide the management frames and therefore can't be an AP.

    This one does though....

  • Where can we purchase one?
  • If Jordi orders a few thousand Marvells we can probably have the first 450Mbps iPhone compatible radios for $10. Can't find any SyChip store.
  • Mouser's search engine is hitting "wifi" in the category field for 65kbps radios. The iPhone uses a Marvell 88w8366 only available in volume. Everyone knows about the Lantronix Matchport. Let's try to find one below $45.
  • 3D Robotics
    Jack, WiFi chipsets are less than $10 in volume.
  • SyChip makes an 802.11b/g module for $29, and I'm pretty sure there are even cheaper units out there.
  • It's probably over $500 for the brushless version. How did the French get 802.11 in there? The cheapest 802.11 module from $parkfun is a $70 brick. If only someone with teardown skills ended up with it, but the free samples would have to cost a lot more for that to happen.
  • @Roy Brewer
    Its just the iPhone side. Control API and Game API (really. That's their marketing plan? Strange).

    They do list in the developer docs the API used to send control commands to the quad, but the examples come with a static library for that (at least for the iPhone examples). All the main flight control code appears to be closed source and not available.

  • @Chris Whiteford,

    They have flight code available for d/l, or just game API?

    - Roy
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