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Manufacturing Drones?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Hazel1919, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. Hazel1919

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    Hello all!

    Quick background: We are located in Europe and are prototyping designs for a ready-to-fly Drone/quadcopter. We have the equipment and expertise in this field to manufacture a professional product so we pose the question to you: What do you want to see from us in 2015?

    This year we witnessed many crowd funded drone campaigns with all sorts of features and gimmicks. So for 2015 we have set out to make THE BEST, most reliable drone for under < £799.


    We want to create a stable aerial photography platform that can carry a wide range of cameras...

    Our market is aimed at those who want something more affordable than an "Inspire 1" or "Steadidrone flare" but with similar functionality and that just works.

    There seem to be very few 'Prosumer' manufacturers located inside of the EU (Europe) offering complete RTF Drones.

    Our product is currently based around the Pixhawk and APM software ecosystem and we have gone to great lengths to tune and program all of the features to work together flawlessly in one professional package.

    Here is a preview of the specs:


    1Kg Payload
    20 minute Flight times – 4000mah 4S battery
    Our target price is £799 for a fully ready to fly drone..
    Autopilot - Pixhawk + ublox GPS from 3D Robotics
    Frame - X650 carbon Fiber
    Motors - 710kv
    Props – 12" balanced Carbon Fiber
    4-in-1 ESC
    Turnigy 9XR Radio system (completely set up)

    My question to you is this: What features would you like to see in a £799 Drone? Feel free to think outside of the box!


    We want to put an emphases on great customer support and documentation. We are in the process of developing our site and are eager to hear your opinions on what you would like to see in 2015!

    Here are some pics of our early prototype...



    Best regards!

    Hazel.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. FlyingFox

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    Hi, me persoannlly would also need it to be compact and light to carry in a back pack and require little setting up from the back pack.
    Thus enabling me to hike up hills mountains ,and take it with me to lots of places.
    Stability for a camera is a must , and a decent type of camera with a good sensor. It doesn't need audio.
    Way points also not required, just a gimmick , fly it yourself.
    Follow me feature also gimmicky unless your a Down hill skier.

    Good FPV video aerials and control aerials too. So you be confident at 2-3000' away you won't lose control or video feed.

    If you can do a set up like that 20 min apx flights decent stable camera, and compact to carry, I'll buy one

    In fact send me one in the UK and I'll bêta test if for you, up mountains etc
     
  3. Hughie

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    The ability to configure the yaw rate, possibly on the fly, would be useful for producing smooth pans.
     
  4. alwil338

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    More attention to the quality of the electrical components and the manufacturing details. No cold
    solder joints, no shorting of boards. We need reliable battery connections along with a superior
    battery. I for one would be willing to pay for these features. Just knowing you have a quality
    machine is a great asset.
    Al
     
  5. N017RW

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    The best advice is find something that differentiates you from the coming flood of low cost, high quality products that all companies strive to produce.
     
  6. Happyflyer

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    Mostly all of the above.
    Support, support, support. DJI's greatest flaw! Don't be like them. Grab the money and run.
    USA based dealers. So we would not have to spend mega bucks to ship back to Europe. Shipping costs from the USA to the World are insane.
    From the picture it looked like prop nuts. The self tightening ones on the Phantoms was a great idea. Nuts would be a real bummer.
    Looking at your picture again, I thought there may be a wire and connector out the back of the quad. If that is the battery connection, bummer. Having to put two connectors together is one of many reasons I dislike my mini-quad. Fumbling with those connectors.
    I may have missed it if stated but what is the size in your picture? Longest distance from one motor to the other.
    Maybe offer a variety of colors. Saves painting your quad.
    Looks interesting.
     
  7. noiseboy72

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    I think 4AH and 20 minutes with a 1KG payload will be a big ask. Maybe make room for 2 batteries of this size?

    £799 would be a very good price for this package, particularly if you are bundling the R/C with this as well.

    A flat mounting tray under the quad to mount up FPV and other kit would be a good idea, along with folding landing gear.

    An ultrasonic or similar sensor to give correct altitude when flying indoors would be a good option.

    Option for separate control of camera, so it can be operated independently.

    Please do let us know how you get on, as this is an interesting project.
     
  8. Alaska-Flyer

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    My intended use would be primarily for aerial mapping and inspection. It would be great to have a forward facing proximity
    sensor with a user definable range (1M - 5M- 10M) so when working close to a structure like a bridge or a tower we can fly safely and not worry about impacting a fixed object.
     
  9. JamesG

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    Control of the camera, both angle and photo/video taking - preferably a GoPro.

    And parking sensors, like you can get on a car.
     
  10. richiewrt

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    Modular and cheap to upgrade would be nice. Want better FPV experience - upgrade to these antenna's. Want better video - upgrade to this more high end camera. That way folks could get their foot in the door cheaper and upgrade the parts most important to them.
     
  11. Fyod

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    Point of interest circling around an object.
    A good gimbal, H33D is great.
    20+ minutes of real flight time with all accessories. No need to charge the GoPro.

    Retractable landing gear is not needed in my experience.
    1.5km range is enough for my needs.
    The Inspire does not offer anything that I need, especially not at that price.

    Looks great so far!
     
  12. DattaGroover

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    Great ideas!
     
  13. Hazel1919

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    Alright! What a great response guys... these are some excellent suggestions.

    One thing that we are very aware of is that Drones in their current state are no where near ideal. We have compiled an incredibly long and detailed list of hardware and software improvements that will be made in the coming years and we will do our BEST to implement these amazing ideas. At the same time we want to keep our price levels reasonable and make certain that all the tech that goes into our drones is safe and reliable - ultimately putting YOU in absolute control.

    @FlyingFox, thanks for the response! We are looking at incorporating a light canvas backpack that is able to hold the Drone as well as all the requisite accessories for easy transportation. The frame itself easily folds away into a 'storage mode' within seconds.

    Our drone will be 100% compatible with a wide range of cameras (GoPro, QX1, Sony Action Cam, etc...). We won't lock you into a proprietary camera with limited functionality.

    @Hughie, good point, we are looking at integrating the DYS Smart3 Gimbal, for GoPro users, at least. This should provide incredible panning smoothness.

    @alwil338, I understand how you feel on this matter. This is something that we pride ourselves on. We are not a mass production outfit and we pay attention to the "small stuff", like gluing connectors, lock-tighting all screws and checking soldering. All of our machines go through an intensive QC process.

    @N017RW, that is excellent advice. To date we have seen about 4 different crowd funded drone campaigns reach over $1 million and yet hardly any finished products have been shipped. We will deliver on our promises.

    @Happyflyer, that is a key point. We love to talk about Drones and will be on hand to help with any questions you may have. One thing that we will be emphasizing on our website is the importance of practicing with a smaller quad before purchasing our drone, this is certainly not a toy! In addition there will be detailed safety guides provided with each Drone.

    In time we would also like to have distributors in the US.

    Regarding our carbon blades, we use nylon lock-tight nuts, these nut's are extremely secure. We also sand balance and reseal all of our blades in house.

    For our batteries we use standard XT60 connectors, this means that our drone will be 100% compatible with any 4S battery fitted with an XT60 connector. In other words we don't lock you into a proprietary battery system. The drone will be compatible with any 4s battery equipped with an XT60 connector!

    The size of the quad is 650mm diagonally from motor shaft to motor shaft.

    @noiseboy72, you are absolutely correct! We should have been more clear, the 20 minute flight time is WITHOUT a payload. However as stated, our Drone will be compatible with even higher capacity batteries for even longer flight times!

    We will be shipping with the controller fully configured to work with the Pixhawk flight controller and everything will be 100% ready to fly out of the box. Attach your blades > Connect your battery > Perform a pre-flight check > Arm > fly!

    Regarding mounting equipment, our frame design uses a rail and clip system, you simply clip on your Gimbal or accessories. With this system you can adjust your center of gravity and the battery acts as a counter weight for your Gimbal.

    Rretractable landing gear is something we are looking into, however the tradeoff for retractable landing gear comes in the form of added complexity and weight.

    On the subject of on-board sensors... the Pixhawk and APM project is very close to fully integrating optical flow technology. This will be a huge breakthrough for Drone tech and is something that we want to integrate as soon as possible! We don't believe it is wise to hand over control of your Drone to a $3 ultrasonic sensor, as some companies have done.

    We will certainly keep you updated! :D

    @Alaska-Flyer
    , good point... as mentioned above, we are looking into full integration of optical flow sensors. This technology is very exciting at the moment!

    @JamesG, an important feature indeed... when we integrate the 3-Axis GoPro Gimbal with our Drone we will program camera controls into the transmitter itself for controlling the tilt of the camera. The Pixhawk software has full mission scripting capability, including controlling where the camera points, by using a 'region-of-interest' waypoint.

    James, Could you elaborate on the parking sensor idea? Is this similar to optical flow? If so we have big things in store... :)

    @richiewrt, that is an excellent idea. Our drone is extremely modular in design and there is plenty of room on the machine for extras. Being open source, the Pixhawk is extremely compatible with a whole range of upgrades. We wanted to take that idea and extend it to the hardware. There is no 'proprietary' equipment onboard that locks you into an expensive upgrade path. We wanted to focus on building a high quality reliable platform that puts YOU in control.

    @Fyod, check! ;)

    Regarding Gimbals, we are looking at integrating the DYS Smart3 Gimbal (for GoPro users) at least. The Pixhawk software has automatic panning capabilities. This plus smooth 3rd axis panning will provide incredible camera stability.

    With even higher capacity batteries you can be looking at close to 20 minutes with a GoPro and Gimbal on-board.

    Finally, to confirm, the transmitter/receiver system will be able to provide stable control at 1.5km easily. However should you lose connection there are a number of fail-safes that will be triggered in order to return your Drone home safely.


    Apart from the technology, some the advantages we will being to you (especially those of you in Europe) include the fact that all of our Drones will be manufactured in the EU to the highest standards of quality control. As mentioned, we are not a mass production outfit and we put all of our attention into the fine details and tuning.

    Also, we are 100% independent and do not have any obligations to shareholders, so this Drone will be 100% designed for YOU.

    So please keep the suggestions coming, we are compiling all of this valuable information for 2015!
     
  14. noiseboy72

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    Of course, if you would like some beta testing and also a review in the next edition of my book... Feel free to send me a sample to fly for a few weeks :)
     
  15. JamesG

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    Re: parking sensors.

    Just like in a car, if any side is getting close to an object, beepers start sounding and get louder/faster the closer you are.
     
  16. TimmyG94

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    You could really grab a nice chunk of market share from the problem-plagued Inspire One if you put these features into your flagship model:

    1) Real-time telemetry of all flight data --- pilot can see GPS coordinates, compass heading, etc in the phone/tablet app. You might also want to add 3G cellular data capability (using Nano-SIM card) like the Flytrex Live device so that the bird can be tracked in real time on Google Maps satellite view if you send it out really far using a Ground Station type of app.

    2) Plenty of wired connectors so pilots can easily add aftermarket LED lights, booster antennas, GPS trackers, etc. You need to have decent soldering skills and basic electrical knowledge to add these kinds of things to the Phantom and that's a big drawback for a mass-produced UAV. Show your customers that you ENCOURAGE adding lots of cool gizmos to your UAV by including these connectors!

    3) Unlimited range Ground Station app. Needless to say, the 500m maximum flight radius from home point is a major downside to the Ground Station feature of the Phantom. Autonomous flight range should ONLY be limited by battery power!

    4) Built-in loud audible alarm (>70 dB) that can be triggered by the controller and operates on a separate 9V battery that will last for 48 hours. This feature would really come in handy when trying to find a lost bird in heavy brush or weeds. A lot of us already use GPS trackers like the Flytrex Core or Live devices but they can only get you to within +/- 50m of your bird, and if it's hidden in thick grass or weeds then you can walk within 10 feet of it and still not see it! Having the ability to trigger a loud audible alarm would make locating it very easy if you are within 50m of it. I don't know of any current GPS tracking devices that have an audible alarm, but I think it would be a really cool feature.

    5) A servo that can drop a small payload. I assume the Turnigy 9XR system will have a channel available for this. Most of us enjoy aerial video, but it gets boring after awhile and we'd love to be able to carry small items to our friends and family who live within reasonable flight distance (<3 miles) so we can air-drop the items into their backyard. This could be a game-changer for you guys because none of the "prosumer" drones on the market have this feature!

    If you added ALL of these features, then I would easily buy your unit for $1,500 USD and not even hesitate about the purchase. I like that you guys are "think outside the box" type of innovators because that's exactly what is needed in the nascent drone industry. I'll be awfully sad if DJI is the only company "innovating" and all they can come up with is a 4K camera and retracting landing gear for a $2,800 Inspire One? What a joke. I'm sure you guys can do MUCH better, and the mere fact that you're asking for customer-driven ideas is a good sign! Keep dreaming big and that cash will roll in! :mrgreen:
     
  17. JamesG

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    If we are thinking of adding 3G, why not have "backup" FPV going via the 3G network for better quality at distance?

    I would say flight controls too but I feel that's asking for trouble... :lol:
     
  18. Narrator

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    If you're aiming for something comparable to the Inspire 1, but more affordable, then you'll need it's main features.
    Retractable landing gear and its own quality camera that pans as well as tilts.

    One thing I haven't seen on a 'RTF-with-camera' is the ability to zoom.
     
  19. JamesG

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    I really don't see the need for the retractable landing gear, strikes me an extra thing to go wrong, and it's useful to have if you need to crash land.
     
  20. TimmyG94

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    I agree that retracting landing gear is unnecessary .... too much added weight with moving parts that can break. Seems like more downside to the one upside it provides.