One of the most promising quadcopter designs to ever come to market is currently available for pre-order from Seeed Studio, with a scheduled ship date of April 25th. If you’ve ever been interested in trying your hand at playing with quadcopters, or ever wanted to work on the technology that makes them possible, this is a product you absolutely cannot afford to miss out on.
[youtube id="3WBUVYZkODI" width="600" height="350"]
The Crazyflie Nano is one of the smallest and lightest quadcopters ever designed, and cuts the component count down to the absolute minimum. By using the printed circuit board (PCB) which the electronics are mounted on as the actual body of the quadcopter, the Crazyflie does away with all of the structural components which would usually add a large portion of the craft’s weight.
To put it as simply as possible, the Crazyflie is a circuit board with motors glued to it.
Its unique construction makes it one of the smallest and lightest quadcopters available, at 19 grams and just 90mm from rotor to rotor. But don’t be fooled by its size, as the Crazyflie is packing a 72 MHz STM32F103CB 32 bit CPU and a full complement of sensors such as a manometer, barometer, and 3-axis accelerometer.
Also included with the Crazyflie is the Crazyradio, which is a 2.4 GHz USB dongle which you use to program the Crazyflie and communicate with it during flight. Not only are you able to control the Crazyflie in real time over this link, but it also streams telemetry data from the craft which is displayed on your computer screen, such as an artificial horizon to determine its orientation. Direct user control is performed with a PS3 controller, which is not included, so you’ll need to head over to your local game store before you take to the air.
There are two versions of the Crazyflie currently available, the 6-DOF for $149 USD and the 10-DOF for $173 USD. They are both identical aside from the fact that the DOF-10 has more sensors onboard, though at this time the software support is not complete for them. If you are looking to do some hacking with the underlying software of the Crazyflie you’ll probably want the 10-DOF, while anyone who is just trying to pickup a cheap quadcopter to play with will likely be fine with the 6-DOF.
In either event, remember that the Crazyflie is a kit, and does require some minor assembly (including soldering). That said, the construction of the Crazyflie is fairly straightforward, and should be well within the capabilities of even a beginner. Bitcraze has put together (no pun intended) an assembly video to show you how to get your Crazyflie up and running in only a few minutes:
[youtube id="kS3qR1IjeGE" width="600" height="350"]