Crazyflie is one crazy-tiny quadrotor
By Paul Ridden
February 5, 2013
A nippy new quadcopter named Crazyflie has just been made available for pre-order by Sweden's Bitcraze. Unlike other pint-sized fliers like the (yet to be released) NanoQ and MeCam, this impressive-looking critter won't arrive in one piece and all ready to fly. Instead, Crazyflie is being made available as a self-build quadcopter development and hacking kit.
The original Crazyflie project seeds were sown while Tobias Antonsson, Arnaud Taffanel and Marcus Eliasson were working for Swedish consultancy Epsilon. After a successful video outing for the first prototype on Hack a Day, Bitcraze was born to bring the tiny quadcopter development kit to market.
The team has been improving and enhancing Crazyflie ever since, and has now announced that two kits are available for pre-order. A new streamlined design sees all of the electronics brought together on one board, an extension port has been included, and improvements made to the motor mounts. It has a motor-to-motor measurement of just 9 cm (3.5 in) and weighs in at 19 g (0.6 oz). It's also claimed capable of lifting a 5 - 10 g (0.17 - 0.35 oz) payload.
Both the 6 DOF and 10 DOF kits come with a four-layer, low-noise control board featuring a 32-bit MCU with 128 KB of onboard flash memory and 20 KB of RAM; a Crazyradio USB radio dongle; an antenna; four motor mounts and five DC motors; two sets of props; and a 170 mAh Li-Po battery. The latter offers a flight time of up to seven minutes and recharges in 20 minutes via micro-USB (cable not supplied).
A 2.4 GHz Nordic Semiconductors radio chip facilitates communication between the device and a host Windows or Linux computer (Mac support is on the To-Do list), with the help of the supplied radio dongle that offers a range of up to 80 meters (262 ft), depending on the environment. Crazyflie is shipped pre-programmed and ready to receive wireless updates from a host PC via a radio bootloader, but does feature an accessible ARM Cortex 10-pin JTAG interface for advanced development and debugging.
Although both kits use the same PCB and feature 3-axis MEMs gyros with an accelerometer, the 10 DOF version also packs altitude and direction sensors (though there's currently no firmware available from Bitcraze to support them).
The hardware is supported by an open source development platform, with full schematics, host source code and firmware available for download via the Bitcraze website. There's also a Wiki offering assembly instructions and tips on getting started.
Crazyflie is not a project for beginners, however. Putting it together requires some skill with a soldering iron. Buyers will also need to have a PS3-compatible joystick to hand in order to fly the quadcopter.
Once built, the platform can be used to add new features, enhance existing capabilities, develop novel hacks and share tips and tricks with fellow Crazyfliers.
As you can see from the video below, Crazyflie is fast and agile, and has already provided a home to some interesting hacks.
The 6 DOF kit is priced at US$149, while the 10 DOF version is a little more expensive at $173. The pre-order window is set to close on February 18 and shipping is slated to begin on April 25.
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