Investigation of adequate drone. #Part 1: Online stores.

Autonomous Drone project post

I wish you enjoyed my introductory post if not I am invite you to read it before this post. It contains the plan for this project.

 

Ah, the investigation… It took me half Saturday and half Sunday already. And to be honest I don’t know which drone I should buy not to mention which stabilization and control hardware I should use. I will try to find out it next week and I will let you know in my next blog post.

Today I will share with you my experience with drones and drone related parts online stores. I will try to summarise what I have learned in the last two days.

 

During my search I have noticed that significant number of online shops don’t keep their stock updated. I am looking for pretty small drone to start with, which will cost me maximum £400 including everything. But unfortunately in drones world it is not much. So when I have visited five first websites they had their stock empty with good but still cheap drones or the shipping time was around 14-28 days.

That being said, some people order drones from Chinese online retailers. In my opinion drone is a pretty quick thing with crazy fast rotating propellers and when bought cheap could do more harm then pleasure. Some with drone controllers, actually especially them buy at some well known store.

Selection:

I have found two looking good online stores in UK and Ireland but also I think it is really worth to check list of stores recommended by Ardupilot as I believe they have immensely more experience in it then I do:

Online stores recommended by Ardupilot

Stores I have found and I hope I will order from are UnmannedTech UK and RadioControlled ROI as they seem to have couple interesting drones and parts. But I will let you know as if they will have too many things out of stock I could order from other.

Kits:

Another way to buy a diy drone is to buy whole kit with flight controller like Erle copter but it’s especially when adding more parts can grown quickly to couple hundred of pounds.

Building own drone:

Last way is to build your own drone. Drone could cost a little bit more but will be equipment in parts that are ideal for your drone. But if don’t have much experience in drone architecture it might be better to purchase a low cost drone at the beginning. Then in the future build your own dream drone.

Let me know in the comments what you decide to purchase.

Introducing “Autonomous Drone” – my Get Noticed 2017 apparatus.

The Autonomous Drone is my new motivator-project to do a little bit more after work hours. An overall idea is to build a drone which will be able to do couple different things.

 

Plan:

First part:

First thing on my plan is purchasing a drone. This sounds easy but is not. DoItYourself drones need to be assembled manually, you need to carefully solder it and screw everything as manual says. Also it is good to plan what other parts you would like to equip your drone with. Like battery, flight controller, radio receiver, camera and many many more. And here it starts to be a little bit tricky. Drone need to be balance as best as possible and when you are assembling it you need to check if e.g. battery should be more on the back or maybe at front to balance the drone.

Second, ah silly thing but the drone will need to fly, finger cross everything is connected.

When will be able to hang in the air, just hover for couple minutes. I will start working on small WiFi controller.

Then drone firmware also will need to be extended with wifi controller code which will be able to understand wifi controller commands and transform it to real drone moves.

When all of this will be finished then will be a best time to start working on autonomous… Oh no, actually drone will need to be extended with some telemetry before autonomous. Will be extended with GPS module, accelerometer,  gyroscope, distance sensors and probably couple more.

The one thing I haven’t yet found-out is how to measure drone displacement inside a room when there won’t be a GPS signal obtainable. Probably I will need to work on some anti-collision system.

Perfect, we have everything, we can finally start working on autonomous code? Assuming all above sensor are communicating with drone control unit and they are working correctly, y… maybe, but no…

Second part:

Because, the second part of the project is cloud (Azure or AWS). All sensors data will need to be aggregated and pushed to Azure where some analysis will be done. I am planning to use cloud to correct my autonomous code based on analysis made. I am not yet sure how but I will find a way to do it. In sum it is always better to start collecting data from the beginning of the work on something then later without having view on full process from the start to ‘now’.

When it’s done, yes I can…! No, I can’t… I forgot about one more thing. On a windy day or with people in the room, drone could be randomly moved or even be turned over. And this displacement need to be included in real-time flying calculations to immediately make a correction on the flight plan.

Come on! Let’s do some work on autonomous code.  Okay, okay! We can start now. Ah relief, happy days!

Autonomous part of the project will be the most complicated part but I cannot wait when I will start working on it. I have hope that above tasks will be finishes in next couple weeks/free weekends. So I could start coding as soon as possible!

I hope you enjoyed my preface. If you have some questions and comments please feel free to ask. I started simplebug.net blog to share my experience with you.

Good luck,

Radek