Controlling Crazyflie with RC remote

To begin with, we have just created a Bitcraze Announcement google-group that we will use as a very-low-volume mailing list to make big announcements like the release of Crazyflie. So if you are interested by buying Crazyflie just subscribe to the list and you will receive a mail as soon as it becomes available.


As for the project, we are now waiting for the next (and hopefully last) prototype run. In the mean time we are trying to fix everything from the todo-list. One item was to verify that the radio dongle can receive PPM signal from a RC remote, as it was designed for. This is what I  have been working on last week and the result hardware-wise is this kind of hacked programming/RC-training cable attached to our radio dongle:

The idea is to be able to control Crazyflie using a RC transmitter only (without a computer) so that the radio dongle would be powered and controlled by the RC transmitter. This kind of transmitter generates a PPM (Pulse Position Modulated) signal which is acquired from the training jack of our ‘Turnigy 9X’ transmitter. We do not plan to manufacture such cables right now as there are too much kind of RC transmitter around there  and we believe that you will be able to hook the Crazyradio dongle to your transmitter without problem :-).

As the cotper firmware can not fly easily without the PC yet (most of the settings are still sent from the PC software before flight) we decided, as a first step, to use the PC anyway but by using the radio dongle for the PPM acquisition:

A HID USB joystick mode has been added to the radio dongle so that it is now recognized as a joystick by the PC (in addition to the radio endpoints) and transmits the axis position of the RC transmitter to the PC. By mapping the axis the same way a Plastation3 gamepad is mapped we could fly Crazyflie with the RC remote and with an unmodified version of our PC software. This permitted to verify that the radio dongle can acquire PPM signals (with a little hardware change that has been sent just-in-time to our manufacturer for the next prototype) and so Crazyflie will also be able to fly without PC :-). In the case of our radio transmitter however we will have to connect the radio dongle to the TX module port instead of the training jack as the training jack does not provide power.

This is still work in progress and it is unlikely the ‘pc-free’ functionality will be finished before the copter release but at least now we know that the hardware can do it.

12 comments on “Controlling Crazyflie with RC remote

  • Good job!~~~
    May be you can use nRF24LE1 with a PA and LNA to design an 2.4G transmitter in the future, so the signal will be acquired by the copter using the same series nRF IC. And with a PA and LNA, the control range will be longer.

    • Yes, that is a good idea and we have been investigating it a bit. The difficulty is to make enough room for it on the crazyflie board and we have not found any good single chip solution for the nRF yet. For the radio dongle it is more doable but since we need it mainly for extending the range from the crazyflie to the dongle it doesn’t help that much.

  • Hello,

    i am very interessted in your project,
    please tell me the link to subscribe,because i want one :-)

    Kind regards


    • Yes we have. We have not had the chance to test one though. Would be nice to compare flight performance and crack it open to see how they solved things. The Ladybird is a bit bigger and heavier then ours. It does not have expansion capabilities nor open-source so the possibilities are rather small compared to the crazyflie.

      • So crazyflie is open source? I cant see to find any code or board files. Do you plan any releasing source?

  • in terms of cost and connectivity / flexibility bluetooth would be the thing to go with. I don’t know how reliable bluetooth is, and if latency would be an issue, but bluetooth range with direct line of sight is very great and you could propably bind the playstation controller directly to the crazyfly. Also, every smartphone or notebook could be the controller, you wouldn’t even need a dongle on most modern machines.

    this is however just an idea or wish!

    cant wait to see the final prototype ;)

    • We where thinking about bluetooth in the beginning but the complexity, cost, power consumption and weight made us look into other directions. Wifi could have been another option but it is even more advanced.

  • Very very cool stuff!
    I’ll definitely be getting one of these at some point.
    Have you guys thought of using a Kickstarter type site, such as IndieGoGo (Kickstarter is US only).
    That way you can ramp up development and manufacturing, plus gain more interest from the funding site, to support a full production of this thing on a larger scale than I assume you currently are at?

    • Thanks Stu!

      You have a great point and it is an option we have been discussing. We are all new to startup a project like this so we kind of want to take it step by step and not rush it and make people disappointed. That is one reason why we have not used a kickstarter, and to avoid unnecessary pressure to deliver…

  • Another cool thing (maybe bitcraze 2.0 :-) would be to have collective pitch rotors, might need a bit larger frame but the maneuverability would be amazing.

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