Category: Crazyflie

It’s been another week with lots of stuff going on. Shortly after the Crazyflies were delivered things really started to accelerate. Now there’s lots of cool stuff going on and we are trying to keep up :-) Here’s a few things from the last week.

  • People have started looking at the pressure sensor that is mounted on the 10-DOF version. phiamo is working on a hover-mode using the pressure sensor. There’s more information and code in this post.
  • Contributions to the Mac OSX install instructions have been made and they are now usable.
  • Another frame has been designed by bscott and is uploaded on Thingiverse. No doubt, next on the Bitcraze shopping list is a 3D printer.
  • The USB3 issue on the Crazyradio has been fixed so there’s a new version of the firmware. If you don’t have any problems with this then don’t update, because there’s a slim chance of bricking the radio (see the wiki page). The firmware is available here and instruction on how to update it are here.
  • A nasty bug on Mac OSX has been reported. When loosing connection to the input-device the output will become 100% thrust and it will not stop until the radio looses connection. This issue has been fixed in the latest version from the repository.

The Crazyflie Nano Quadcopter kit 10-DOF is out of stock again but there’s still some 6-DOF units left. We are currently planning the next batch but until then there will be a few more units (~50) that will drop into the Bazaar.

In order to have a better overview of which problems that have been solved and which still needs attention in the Support forums we are setting up some guidelines, which will be done during the week. So if you are hanging around in these forums or you want to get some support, then please have a look at the instructions.

If you live in the south of Sweden and you are interested in the Crazyflie drop by Javaforum next Tuesday (21/5) where we will be presenting.

 

It’s been an incredible week seeing people from all over the world getting their Crazyflies into the air!! We have seen videos of people doing crazy stuff we never thought of, 3D models of cases and frames on Thingiverse and of course a lot of images of people unpacking and assembling their Crazyflies. The wiki is receiving some well needed updates and everyone is helping out answering questions in the forum. It’s really great for us to see this project come to life after such a long time and as far as we can tell we have a lot of happy users, even though there’s still a few people struggling with issues.

Like we said last week, this is the first time we distribute the software/firmware/hardware widely and there’s a few bugs that has been found. We are currently correcting the most important ones and will post updates for the firmware and software once we fix enough of them. If you want to follow the progress drop by the bug tracker on Bitbucket for the PC-client, Crazyflie and Crazyradio.

We are doing our best to answer questions and give support in the forum, but there’s a couple of issues that we would like to highlight to make the assembly and usage easier for everyone. Please be careful with your new Crazyflies, they are not unbreakable.

  • Check for shorts after solderingAfter the motor wires has been soldered make sure to inspect for shorts and especially to the resistors, red highlighted area, in the picture as it can damage the digital voltage regulator. This will show up as that the blue LEDs wont light up and the other LEDs will be dim. To fix this the regulator U9 will have to be exchanged. It is the SOT23-6 package in the picture.

 

 

  •  The Crazyradio doesn’t work on USB3 ports but a fix is on the way. Until then the work-around is to use USB2 ports.
  • If the Crazyflie crashes upside down there is a chance the motor bearing gets depressed. There is a protection for this and that is to carefully glue a spacer between the motor and the propeller, similar to what we have done in the picture. That will prevent the propeller from pushing on the bearing but will instead be pushing on the spacer which will absorb the force much better. The spacer needs to be higher then the motor bearing else it will not work that well.

 

  • Loading an already existing input-device configuration in the PC-client does not work, the best is to start from scratch (see this issue). Also when configuring the input-device you will have to map all the axis and buttons before you can save the configuration (see this issue). For more information on device-input configuration see this page on the wiki.

Unfortunately the production of the new motor-mounts has been delayed and they will not be available for order until next week. But the kits that are currently in stock still contains a spare motor-mount.

Happy flying!!

Finally after more than 2 years of work on the kit, the first Crazyflie Nano Quadcopters are arriving at customers! It’s been a long journey with lots of ups and downs, and we are really happy that we managed to reach the goal (and on time).

For anyone who missed the pre-order, more kits will be available at Seeedstudio from the 6th of May. In addition to the products that are already there we will also make the motor-mounts available as spare parts. The 6-DOF and 10-DOF kits will be the same as for the pre-order (include the Crazyradio dongle) but the price for the 10-DOF kit will be updated to $179. Why the new price? Adding the two sensors turned out to be a bit more pricey then we thought.

Now to the technical stuff, here are some of the updates since last week:

  • Updated assembly with the new motor-mounts
  • Binary distribution page containing a brand new Windows installer for the Crazyflie Client (no need to install dependencies anymore) and also the latest firmware build for the Crazyflie.
  • A lot of smaller bug-fixes in the client and improved performance of the Crazyflie. So make sure to update to the latest firmware/client when you get you Crazyflie.
  • The Wiki is being updated (as always) and we are doing our best to catch up. We haven’t had time to set up the registration for the wiki, but if you feel like doing some editing drop us an email and we will set you up with an account.

Since this is the first time the Crazyflie and Crazyflie PC client are distributed there are bound to be bugs that we haven’t caught yet. So if you find any bugs it would be great if you wanted to drop by our Bitbucket page and report issues. And if you feel the urge to write some code, then have a look at how to contribute. There will probably be some bug reports and if not there’s always the wishlist.

We are always eager to get some feedback from our users so drop by our forum and let us know what you think about our projects or to pitch some crazy project ideas.

We finally got to measure the weight more precisely, just under 19g

Crazyflie weight with new motor mounts

Crazyflie weight with new motor mounts

A big thanks to Seeedstudio for making this possible. And to all of you, we really hope you enjoy your new Crazyflies :-)

 

It’s been a really hectic last couple of weeks and we are now very close to shipping the first batch of Crazyflies. It is a very big step for us so we would like to start by thanking you for your support! We wouldn’t be able to do this without your support and we really hope you will be pleased with the product and that it lives up to your expectations!

There are some updates to the pre-order kits which we hope you will be happy about. We have added two extra propellers in each kit. We have also updated the motor mounts to real moulded ones which should be easier to work with and more durable. They don’t require any glue, handles impacts and vibration better. The 3D printed motor mounts was not a viable solution when the volume increased so we have been working really hard on getting these ready in time. Since the new motor mount wasn’t available to order as a spare part during the pre-order, we have include a spare one in the kit for you.

Assembled Crazyflie with new motor mounts

Assembled Crazyflie with new motor mounts

The pre-order shipments will start as announced, on Apr. 25th, and finish on Apr. 30th. Orders will be shipped out in the order they where placed so second batch orders will be shipped a bit earlier with the last order going out on Apr. 30th.  Since Seeedstudio got a lot more pre-orders than expected, the first batch orders will need some more time for packaging and delivery and couldn’t all be shipped on Apr.25th, please understand.

Keep in mind that we are still doing development on both the firmware and software as well as continuously updating the wiki. So once you get your Crazyflie visit our page to get the latest updates and information on how to assemble the kit and start flying. Updating the firmware only takes a few minutes and you will get the latest features.

Thank you!
Bitcraze

So, like we wrote last Monday, we are visiting Seeedstudio in Shenzhen, China. It’s been a great visit and we have gotten a chance to see both the Seeedstudio offices, the production and a bit of Shenzhen. And of course we also got a chance to do some shopping at the local markets. If you ever happen to find yourself in Shenzhen make sure to drop by the SEG Electronics Market, it’s a great place for electronics enthusiasts such as us!

Since we had some problems getting vacation all at once from our employers we decided to travel separately and overlapping each other a bit. Tobias left first and then me and Arnaud a couple of days later. After roughly 22 hours of travel we landed in Hong Kong and took the bus/train to Lo Wu to the Chinese boarder. Since I went traveling the week before and I couldn’t send my passport for the visa application we took the chance that we could apply for one at the boarder (after reading about it online). Turn out that it’s very easy to get a visa for the Shenzhen area (not all of China) at the boarder at Lo Wu. Took about 5 minutes and cost between ~130 yen. Just note that it’s not all nationalities that this applies to and the rules seem to change every once and a while.

Meanwhile Tobias spent his time visiting Seeedtudio and got to see the production. All the PCB assemblies was already done but the testing was running full speed. We use a simplified bed of nails test-jig that does the programming and tests voltages, current, battery charging, motor drivers etc. It is working very well and every Crazyflie plus Crazyradio takes about 2 minutes to program and test.

Visiting at Seeedstudio was great! We have been mailing and talking on Skype for the last 18 months with lots of people there and it was great to finally meet them in real life. Of course we got a guided tour around their offices which seems like a great place to work, lots of electronics everywhere :-) We also got a chance to catch up on the progress for the production. There’s lots of practical problems to solve when we scale up from only doing prototypes to full production, such as test-rigs for the Crazyflie.

After doing some research online we decided to head for the SEG Electronic Market to check it out and do some shopping. Inside it’s like a bazaar filled with small corridors and little booths selling all kinds of stuff. And this continues for 9 floors! On the first two floors you will find mechanics, electronic components, measurement equipment, leds, cabling… The list just goes on, they even had a small pick and place machine for prototype batches. Continuing upwards it becomes more and more computer hardware like graphics cards, mother boards, memory and hard-drives. These floors also have stuff like routers, cameras and tablets. Going even higher up everything is put together and you can buy laptops and computers. Its really amazing the diversity of things you can find, we even saw some cashier machines. Walking from the bottom floor upwards we really got the feeling that as you get higher things get more and more assembled. And everything is very cheap, for example we bought 300 pogo-pins in different variations for 100 yen (~16 USD), but expect the quality to be there after.

So what did we end up buying? Well, lots of stuff! We bought a lot of prototype stuff that we will use for the Crazyflie like cables, antennas, screws and batteries. And we also found a really nice USB microscope with a stand that does 500x magnification :-)

We uploaded some photos to our Picasa album for Seeed/Shenzhen.

Seeedstudio reception

 

The community interest for FPV flight made us buy a light weight analog FPV kits a while a go. We bought the 5.8GHz micro combo set from fpvhobby to do a first test. It took a little while to solder things together but it wasn’t that bad. We soldered the camera and the transmitter power to the VCOM voltage on the Crazyflie which is available on the expansion port. Then we taped the camera and transmitter to the Crazyflie and did a test flight.  The FPV kit is only about 3 grams which doesn’t affect the flight performances that much.

It was almost too easy, but as soon as we took off we noticed some vertical lines on the TV so maybe it wasn’t that easy. There seems to be some electrical interference, probably from the motors. Also the battery voltage drop generated by fast accelerations cuts the video feed after a couple of minutes of flight. We still think that there are some improvements to be done so hopefully it will work better in the future.

As for the production, so far it is still going forward as planned.

Finally an Alpha version of the virtual machine has been posted on the forum, you are welcome to test and report any problem/suggestion you may have :-).

Like we wrote last week we are busy with a lot of administrative stuff (box design, component sourcing, answering emails etc). But we managed to do a few commits to the crazyflie-pc-client during the week. We have also started preparing a virtual machine appliance that contains everything needed for development and flying. The idea is to make it easier for anyone that doesn’t want to bother about the pre-requisites. If you download Virtual Box or VMware Player, import the virtual machine appliance and pass the Crazyradio/USB game-controller into the virtual machine then you are ready to fly and do development.

If you missed the pre-order, don’t worry. The Crazyflie Nano Quadcopter Kit will be back in stock shortly after the last pre-orders has shipped. But we plan to split the special pre-order bundles so they will become three separate products: Crazyflie Nano Quadcopter Kit (6- and 10-DOF), Crazyradio USB dongle and the 2.4 GHz antenna.

So after three very busy weeks the pre-order will close today. We are really overwhelmed by the attention that the project hs gotten and number of Crazyflie kits that we have sold. We are also very excited about already getting feedback in the forum and by mail about new mods and features. If you have technical questions or suggestions post them over in the forum so we can answer them there and everyone can see the responses.

Currently we are finalizing the sourcing and test-plans for the production which will start very soon. We are also (as always) working on updating the wiki and answering questions in the forum. We added two new pages to the wiki: One about the Crazyflie Pyhthon API and one about how to contribute to our projects.

The upcoming weeks we will be busy with a lot of administrative stuff so don’t be worried if you don’t see any commits in the repos or new hacks, we haven’t stopped the development :-)

Hi, Monday again. We just passed the two most exiting weeks in Bitcraze history. As we speak we are passing the 1K Crazyflie sold which is about 5 times over our optimistic estimations. Now the pressure is on, and there is still one week of pre-order left :-).

We are continuing to update the documentation, working on Crazyflie firmware, the PC gui client and as well all emails/administrative work that takes a surprising amount of time :-). Due to popular interest the focus has been on getting the client to work on Mac OSX and getting Crazyflie to work in a standalone mode (ie. no PC) with an E-sky R/C transmitter which is compatible with our radio chip. The transmitter is almost working (still some mapping issues to work out) and the OSX proof-of-concept is on the way to work (it should work out of the box if all the python libs where 64bits).

We should probably clarify that the PS3 controller we use to control the Crazyflie is just one possible input method. Actually any input device could be used which could be translated into roll, pitch, yaw and thrust. The GUI also simplifies it as there is a configuration dialog and soon we might have our first contribution which is for the xbox controller :-)

We are continually updating the wiki and are starting to get some activity on the forum. It is the right place to go if you have questions or want to discuss about the Crazyflie.

Thanks again for supporting us, one more crazy pre-order week to go!

So finally it’s Monday again :-) As you might have noticed the Crazyflie got released for pre-release last week! All our code has now been pushed onto Bitbucket and our repositories can be found here. Since we did some restructuring of the code before pushing there might be some bugs that we are currently hunting. The Crazyflie is mainly a development platform where you can either add new features/hacks or improve the current features. We added a feature wishlist to the Wiki for features that we never had the time to implement and also to add new features that you suggest. So if you feel like getting you hands dirty there’s still lots of stuff to do! In order to make development easier we have:

  • Wireless Radio Bootloader: This will enable you to easily update the firmware in the Crazyflie. The bootloader cannot easily be erased without using  a JTAG so don’t worry about bricking your Crazyflie when testing new firmware
  • Crazyradio USB bootloader: The Crazyradio contains a USB bootloader for easy update of the firmware
  • Well documented: We are currently doing our best to update the documentation on the Wiki and our goal is to create a well documented platform
  • Parameter setting/getting: This is detailed a bit more here but in short it’s a framework where you can easily add parameters/variables that can be set or fetched from the client. The tab in the client where you can change PID controller parameters on the fly is implemented using the parameter framework.
  • Variable logging: This is also detailed a bit more here but in short it’s a framework where you can easily log variable values to the client. You select variables that you want to log and the rate you want to get them and the Crazyflie will automatically send you updates for these variables. The attitude indicator and roll/pitch/yaw values on the FlightTab are implemented using the logging framework.

In the upcoming week we are planning on posting a video showing some of these features.