Successful Multicopter Kickstarter Campaigns (Part 2)

Previously we discussed about two of the more successful quadcopter kickstarters.  Here are a couple more of interest. Enjoy!

Hexo+

The Hexo+ is an autonomous camera drone designed to take aerial videos at 15-minute stretches. This Kickstarter project ended with a whopping $1,306,920, which exceeded its $50,000 goal by a long stretch.

It is a beautiful quadcopter that is beats the Pocketdrone above in aesthetics but not in flight time.  This product works flawlessly with a specially designed smartphone app that allows users to frame aerial shots exactly the way they want it. With just a pinch, you could adjust distance between the subject and drone, and also the perspective of the video.

Fully automatic, it will take off and fly to a predetermined position, hovering there until subject starts moving. The Hexo+ is made to follow you at speeds up to 46 m.p.h., using GPS coordinates to track the location of the smartphone and predictive algorithms to estimate future positions. The copter sends and receives signals from the user’s smartphone via a MAVLink protocol that is perfectly suited for tracking extreme sports. But for people who prefer manual controls, you can choose to have an RC controller sent with the drone, or just use the app itself.
Like the Pocketdrone above, this quadcopter has six tilted propellers that maintain the stability and facilitate forward motions of the drone. An appendage, called the gimbal, meanwhile, is designed such that a GoPro action camera or a 360cam can be affixed to it.


One of the cons of this drone is that it does have to be used in open areas, as it does not have an inbuilt system to avoid obstacles. But costing just $299 for a 3D printing template, it is arguably one of the cheapest drones available on the market. If you’re feeling less adventurous, you can opt for the $499 basic plan. Throw in an extra $100 for a 360cam, and $200 for a GoPro action camera.

Airdog

The Airdog is the most successful drone camera project on Kickstarter, judging by the amount of funds pledged at$1,368,177! It boasts vastly more advanced features than the Pocketdrone and the Hexo+ of the previous article, and is of a different league altogether.


The engineers of this project decided against using a smartphone for autonomous subject tracking, inventing a device called an Airleash instead. The Airleash is a computerized tracker that is far more precise than the smartphone and has a much wider connectivity range. (Read: wifi and bluetooth) The Kickstarter page claims that while conventional smartphone drones only allows a range of 50m between subject and drone, the Air Leash can accommodate distances of up to 300m from the drone. One more thing is that this Airleash is waterproof, so you needn’t worry when taking underwater shots. The prototype Airleash is still a little too large for comfortable use, but hopefully a smaller, more convenient design will be manufactured in time for production.


Just like the Hexo+, it takes off and lands automatically, using advanced sensing and tracking technology. But the single, most exciting feature of this drone is that it has an inbuilt obstacle avoidance system, which is notable absent in the other two drones. This means that you can focus all your energies on whatever you’re doing, instead of worrying that your precious device would crash into smithereens. The software would allow users to set-up “no-fly zones”, either manually or via feedback from other users.

Costing $995 per drone, it is almost double the price of the two drones featured earlier. But it does come with special features that makes up for the initial heartache, and thus would be a costly but worthy investment for those who can afford it.

So that concludes the review of multicopter Kickstarter projects, hope you liked it!

Successful Multicopter Kickstarter Campaigns (Part 1)

Multicopters seem to be the latest fad on Kickstarter, with each project hitting or even exceeding the million-dollar mark. In this two-part article, I shall proceed to review four such projects so that you get an idea of what the fad’s all about. These projects are arranged in a somewhat chronological fashion so that you get to see the progression.

Hex
Hex is arguably the first successful drone camera project on Kickstarter, and can be considered the precursor to all the multicopters featured below.

It is almost completely DIY, with parts available to print, provided that you have a 3D printer at home. Being solder-free means that pretty much anyone can build their own quadcopter from scratch. Not only that, each Hex copter is highly customizable. You can choose shells made by the in-house designers or even make your own shells, should you feel up to the challenge. Of course, the shells available on the open source software is not limited to the quadcopter configuration, there are also hexacopter configurations if you wanted to be slightly less conventional.

Hex can be controlled using an app specially designed for the smartphone, which saves the need for a bulky remote control. Notwithstanding its small size, a small camera can be mounted on this drone to take aerial shots in real time. What’s exciting is that the shots from this camera can be transferred directly to a pair of First Person View glasses, allowing you to experience the aerial view as if you were seeing it with your very own eyes. The small drone also has a remarkable 50m capability, which means that you don’t have to constantly chase after the drone in its flight.

It is extremely cheap, costing only $49 for a basic copter, but that doesn’t mean that it is flimsy. Hex has multiple sensors attached to its body to facilitate steady flying and to prevent crashing. One con of this nanocopter is that it only has a flight time of seven minutes before it runs out of battery, a rather disappointing factor considering its small size.

Nevertheless, for its price, it’s more than a bargain. The accompanying camera and FPV goggles does cost a fair bit of money though, if you wanted it.

Pocketdrone
Pocketdrone fell just short of a million dollars, earning $929,212 in pledges to become the most popular drone project, the first of many more to come.

Pocketdrone can be equipped with a GoPro action camera to film aerial shots of extreme sports. It has a flight time of 20 minutes, which is far longer than the 15 minutes of HEXO+, but one of the more unique features of this drone is that it is extremely portable. It can be folded to a size equivalent to a 7in tablet, so that you can bring it everywhere you go.

While the HEXO+ and the Airdog are both quadcopters, the Pocketdrone is a tricopter, while purportedly facilitates longer flight times, better controls and quieter flights.  Controlling this device is easy if you possess a DSM compatible radio controller or an Android phone/ tablet. You could also order a controller to come with the drone.

Depending on your preference, you could preset the flight path manually or go on automatic mode. On automatic mode, it tracks the subject by detecting the GPS signals on your mobile and predicting future positions using Google Maps, which gives a fairly accurate positioning of the subject.

For all its features, a basic Pocketdrone would cost $415, with $40 extra for a controller. If you pay $555, you get a GoPro action camera thrown into the bundle.


That’s not such a hefty price to pay for high-quality aerial shots, is it?  Stay tuned for the next article!