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 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 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!