Tag Archives: quadcopter

Meet the drone that flies, floats and swims underwater

The Loon Copter looks like something out of James Bond.

It’s in our nature to be curious, so it comes with no surprise that there have been a lot of excitement surrounding commercial drones. Drones open up the skies for ordinary people to explore the land from above and if the history of human innovation has taught us anything, it’s that we have the tendency take something great and make it even better. Researchers from Oakland University’s Embedded Systems Research Laboratory have done just with Loon Copter, the first aerial and underwater drone.


Fittingly named after the aquatic bird, the Loon Copter is a multi-rotor platform capable of traditional aerial flight, on-water surface operation and sub aquatic diving. The Michigan-based research team of Dr. Osamah Rawashdeh, Sean Simpson, Hamzeh Alzubi and Iyad Mansour started this project in 2014 and demonstrated successful operation in early 2015.


The Loon Copter has the body of a conventional quadcopter, but the cylinder that hangs below the air frame is what truly gives it the unique capabilities. The cylinder, when filled with air, changes the drone’s bouyancy so it can transition from flight to floating on water. The cylinder also can fill up with water and sink, allowing the drone to dive. The four propellers used for flying in the air, is also for navigating in the water. The drone can seamlessly return to flight by pumping out the water. Sounds like something out of a James Bond movie right? It’s not too far-fetched as the Loon Copter’s design can be adapted for search and rescue applications, or marine research.


The Loon Copter is one of the 10 international semifinalists in the 2016 Drones for Good competition, which received 1,017 entries from 165 countries. Dr. Rawashdeh and his team will be in Dubai from February 4-6, 2016 competing for the grand prize of $1 million. Learn more about the Loon Copter and the team’s work by visiting their website.

This R2-D2 drone has all the bells, beeps and whistles

An aerial cinematographer has created an R2-D2 drone that not only beeps and whistles, but can capture footage through its camera eye.

Just when we thought we’ve seen it all, we happened to stumble upon this impressive Star Wars project from a Makerspace in a galaxy far, far away. Meet Arturo, the world’s first R2-D2 drone. And with The Force Awakens now in theaters, the timing couldn’t be better.


Equipped with four propellers, Arturo features a moving head, LED jetpack lights on his feet and a speaker that emits R2-D2’s appropriate beeps and whistles. Aside from that, the drone includes a DJI GPS autopilot navigation system and a CCD camera installed in its eye.

The brainchild of aerial cinematographer Don Melara, the quadcopter made its debut only days before the much-anticipated launch of the blockbuster flick at the International Drone Expo in Los Angeles.

The build itself took just over a week to complete and the result is awesome. Not to mention, it’s even more amazing to watch fly through the sky at dusk. See for yourself below!

Fleye wants to be the world’s safest drone

Fleye is a spherical robot that you can hold, touch, push and bump without any risks of injuring yourself and others.

While many quadcopters these days all share a common resemblance, one Belgian startup is looking to change things up a bit. Fleye, which is being billed as the world’s safest drone, is a spherical flying machine with enclosed propellers and a camera.


Since its blades are covered inside plastic protective grids, you can touch it, push it or bump into it without losing a finger. The soccer ball-like drone can be controlled via its accompanying mobile app with four flying modes: selfie, panorama, hover and manual.

In selfie mode, Fleye will record 1080p video (30 fps) as it comes back towards you. In panorama mode, the machine goes up to a set altitude, and rotates on itself to capture a 360° view. And as you would expect in hover mode, the gadget provides three-inch precision (when in range of sensors) so you can focus simply on altitude and viewing angle.

What’s more, manual mode allows you to program your own route using either its virtual touchpad or Bluetooth game controller. Or, you can even add your own RC receiver to Fleye.


At the heart of the device lies a Linux-powered, dual-core ARM A9 CPU with 512MB of RAM, as well as a pair of GPUs. A special and a bit more expensive developer edition will be available with a quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM, too.

It also supports the popular Computer Vision library OpenCV, which enables Fleye to execute missions autonomously, reacting to what it sees in its environment. In other words, it can recognize and avoid obstacles that it may encounter as it soars through the sky.

With its open API and SDK, you can program Fleye to do any number of additional tasks. This means developers can write their own custom apps to control it remotely or run directly on its on-board computer.


Measuring just nine inches and weighing no more than a pound, Fleye boasts 10 minutes of flight time with a max speed of 10 mph thanks to its 1500mAh battery. The spherical bot is equipped with an accelerometer, a gyrometer and a magnetometer, along with a pressure-based altimeter, a GPS module and sonar that can measure ground distances at up to 10 feet. Plus, there’s a bottom camera for optical flow tracking.

Sound like the next-gen drone you’ve been looking for? Fly over to its Kickstarter campaign, where the Belgian team is seeking $185,837. Delivery is expected to get underway in September 2016.

Maker converts his TIE Fighter toy into a flying drone

Can you ever get sick of Star Wars projects? Didn’t think so.

Just in time for December 18th’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one Maker has successfully converted his Hasbro First Order TIE Fighter into a fully-functional, flying quadcopter.


Impressively, Imgur user “woodpiece” was able to accomplish this feat with only a few tweaks. The Star Wars enthusiast threw a couple of rotor arms onto the toy and cut out a slot on the radiator for the propellors. The rest of the modification process involved disassembling the device and installing a quad motor attached to 3D-printed mounts. The Maker glued the wings to the main body, while ensuring that all the wires remained inside the frame through its existing holes.


All the electronics were able to fit comfortably, with no additional cosmetic enhancements necessary. The brains of the operation is a Flip MWC Flight 1.5 Controller (ATmega328) which sits at the base of the cockpit, along with the motor controllers and battery.

As awesome as this all may sound, you have to see it in all its glory as it soars through the sky. The end result was a remote-controlled unit with rotors on both front and back of the wing panels. You can find a step-by-step breakdown of the Maker’s build here.

[h/t Daily Dot via Toyland]

Meet Easy Drone XL Pro, the quadcopter that can fly for 45 minutes

This modular, plug-and-fly drone is said to last three times longer in the air than any other quadcopter.

Looking to take the UAV experience to new heights, Brooklyn-based startup Easy Aerial has developed a lightweight, modular quadcopter that can last three times longer in the air than others on the market today. Not to mention, its price tag and simplicity will make Easy Drone XL Pro accessible to just about everyone.


Following a successful Kickstarter launch for their Easy Drone, its creators have spent the last year listening to customer feedback and designing a new addition to the lineup. Arguably its greatest selling point is that Easy Drone XL Pro can stay in the sky for 45 minutes on a single battery charge. What’s more, the ‘copter boasts a 28-inch span from motor to motor, diagonally, and with its size can effortlessly lift a combined weight of up to three pounds — particularly great if you’d like to attach a GoPro to it.


The flying device features the same modular, plug-and-fly design as its predecessor, along with the same control unit and travel backpack. Easy Drone XL Pro comes in kit form, which includes a sturdy frame, powerful 400KV motors and foldable 15-inch propellers, a proprietary modular command unit with a built-in video transmitter, a remote, a video receiver, a USB telemetry module, an 8,000mAh battery, a charger, and a convenient bag that makes storage a cinch. And not unlike others, a set of versatile AVR MCUs can be found at the heart of this remarkable UAV — in both the video and RC signal receiver boards.

Impressively, Easy Drone XL Pro is capable of carrying a GoPro and a FPV camera for 45 and 50 minutes, respectively, while streaming video to the screen on the ground. However, it should be noted that the weight and flight time are directly correlated — as the weight increases, the flight time shortens.


Sound like a drone you’d love to have? Fly over to its Kickstarter campaign, where Easy Aerial is closing in on its $30,000 goal.

This DIY quadcopter is built around an Arduino Yún

A group of Makers have designed an Arduino-based drone that can be wirelessly controlled from any device. 

Developed by Makers Simone Castellani, Giovanni Intorre and Andrea Toscano as a Master’s project at the Universita’ degli Studi of Milan, Comelicottero is a quadcopter driven by an Arduino Yún (ATmega32U4) and wirelessly controlled from any PC or mobile device.


Aside from its on-board Arduino, Comelicottero is equipped with an accelerometer and gyroscope tasked with handling its stability through a PID-based command system.

From take off to landing and everything in between, the ground station communicates with the flying apparatus over Wi-Fi. Meanwhile, the user can manage and monitor all incoming data from their drone through a gamepad attached to the laptop running custom software. The Makers decided to swap out the Bridge library for an efficient Python script on OpenWRT-Yun in order to maximize the Yún’s capabilities.


Moving ahead, the Makers are looking to finalize their autonomous navigation system, which is currently undergoing testing due to magnetometer interferences with the motors’ magnetic field. As our friends at Arduino note, the sketch and all of its documentation will be made available on GitHub and released with GNU license in the near future. Until then, watch it in action below!

Video: Drone captures fireworks

Sure, 4th of July fireworks from the ground-level are great; however, nothing quite compares to the eye-level view of a drone.

Just this past weekend, Nashville entrepreneur Robert Hartline decided to capture the city’s Independence Day fireworks show from the air using a drone-and-camera apparatus as part of a promotion for a new venture, USA TODAY reports.

This isn’t the first time fireworks have been captured from up-above using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). In May, YouTuber Jos Stiglingh mounted a GoPro Hero 3 Silver camera onto a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter to provide his audience with a firsthand look at a stunning airborne spectacle in West Palm Beach, Florida. Paired with tenor Andrea Bocelli’s “Con Te Partiro,” the video has now been viewed over 6.5 million times.

What’s even more amazing is that neither ‘copter was damaged in the process.

Besides the recreational filming of fireworks, UAVs are set to soar across an array of industries, ranging from real estate and aerial photography to action sports and Hollywood.

Oh, and if you’re still in the patriotic holiday spirit, don’t forget to check out this ‘Made in the USA’ infographic!

SwiftBot WP is a rugged modular ‘copter

The Submerse crew recently debuted a rugged, modular quadcopter built around Atmel-based Arduino hardware and open source software. Dubbed SwiftBot WP, the UAV is designed specifically to tackle the next frontier in robotic exploration – the ocean.

“We want to be able to safely land on the surface of the ocean, or navigate over a reef while transmitting live underwater video,” a Submerse rep explained in a recent Kickstarter post. “Our goal is to accomplish this completely autonomously: take off from the beach, see live video, and return home, all without pilot intervention. [And] while we’ve made the SwiftBot water-resistant, our next task is to make it waterproof.”

Unsurprisingly, the SwiftBot uses 3D printed parts, as the fuselage, electronics enclosures and camera anti-vibration mount are all printed.

“3D parts make our quadcopter unique: it’s infinitely customizable. Our 3D parts library allows users to pick and choose how they’d like to personalize their SwiftBot,” the rep continued.

“[Similarly], we have chosen to use open source software, hardware, and design, to make it easy for DIY’ers, Makers, roboticists, researchers and multirotor enthusiasts to partner with us to develop, improve and expand the applications for these amazing new robotic devices.”

Additional key specs include:

  • 450mm wheelbase that incorporates ultra-high strength plastic motor arms.
  • High-strength PCB-material hub.
  • Four powerful electric motors and 10” propellers, allowing the UAV to easily carry a small camera.
  • 30A Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs).
  • A high-discharge-rate LiPo battery pack, offering ample power available for extreme maneuvering and aerial acrobatics.
  • Open-source flight controller hardware and software (automatic updates).
  • System can be customized to add sensors, lights, alarms, retractable landing gear and camera gimbals.
  • Easy quad to hex upgradability.

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-powered SwiftBot WP? You can check out the project’s official Kickstarter page here.

Video: Hacking quadcopters with Arduino

A Maker by the name of Dzl recently reverse engineered the communication protocol of an inexpensive quadcopter to work with an Atmel-powered Arduino board.

According to the HackADayCrew, Dzl kicked off his hack by cracking open the quadcopter’s accompanying control handset to determine which transceiver it used.

“[He] then found the relevant datasheet and worked out all the pin configuration involved in the SPI communication. Flying data is transmitted as 8 byte packets sent every 20 mS, controlling the throttle, yaw, pitch and roll,” wrote HackADay’s John Marsh.

“[Dzl] took the build a step further, writing an Arduino library (direct Dropbox download link) that should catch you up to speed and allow you to skip straight to the fun part: hacking and experimenting.”

Dzl offers additional quadcopter hack details on his blog. More specifically, he used an Atmel-powered Arduino UNO (ATmega328) to eavesdrop on the communication between the handset and ‘copter. The annotated list of the initialization sequence is as follows:

* Quadcopter activated.
* Handset broadcast a unique network address or ID.
* Quadcopter receives broadcast, acknowledges, starts listening to data from specific ID.
* Transmitting flying data packet every 20 mS.

“Multible Quadcopters can be controlled simultaneously by assigning them different addresses,” Dzl confirmed. “The passing of ID is done on one fixed radio channel and flying data is sent on one of about 12 random radio channels. The quadrotors seem to auto scan the radio channels until they find data.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out Dzl’s official project page here.