Tuesday, 26 June 2012


I have recently upgraded my Parrot AR Drone to the new 2.0 version. The new version features a number of upgrades but there are two in particular which are really standing out so far.

The front facing camera has been upgraded to 720P HD quality. This is much better than the first Parrot drone which had a camera which really wasn't great. Unfortunately the new camera uses a rolling shutter which means that at times the video can be quite wobbly but mostly the video quality is good enough to still be impressive.

The other big upgrade in the 2.0 is the addition of an "Absolute Control" mode where control is done relative to the pilot rather than relative to the drone. For example, this means that when you tilt your iPad towards you the drone will move towards you rather than simply moving backwards. This makes flying the drone much easier!

Here are a couple of videos from some flights which I did today.

The Parrot 2.0 delivers impressive performance for a relatively low price tag. However, it is interesting to see what can be achieved if you have a (much) higher budget. The OktoKopter-XL costs >£5K-£10K for the drone + camera + other necessary parts and can produce some really impressive videos such as the following.

MikroKopter - Zoom from Holger Buss on Vimeo.

MikroKopter - Wind turbine from Holger Buss on Vimeo.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Exciting Components

I haven't been spending much time on electronics recently but I have been seeing some really interesting components.

HackHD (http://hackhd.com/)

I think this is a very recent project but I can't see any dates on the HackHD site. This simple PCB features a 1080P 30FPS camera which can be controlled electronically and records to an SD card. The website is very bare with some details about the PCB but no example videos. Thankfully there are some good examples and comparisons on Youtube.

The site offers to sell you a starter kit including PCB, battery, memory card and some other components for US $140 (about £90) which seems pretty reasonable.

808 Car Key Micro Camera (http://chucklohr.com/808/)

While Googling for reviews of the HackHD I came across a thread on a paintballing forum which was discussing the HackHD. One poster in this thread suggested that they would prefer to use an 808 Camera which supposedly only costs USD $38 for 720P video. A bit more Googling turned up the link above which describes the 808 camera as a line of cheap HD cameras out of China. The most recent edition is the #18 model which supports 720P 30FPS video and is available for around USD $36 on ebay.

The same ebay sellers are offering a cheap 1080P video camera but this thread suggests that the video capture is unreliable.

Electric Imp (http://www.electricimp.com/)

Electric Imp is a micro controller with a wifi connection in a standard SD card form factor.

The card will retail for USD $25 and there are several interesting development kits which cost between USD $7 and $25. This is a very recent project so the products haven't actually been released yet but are due very soon.

I'm particularly interested in this as it is impressively cheap for a wifi solution.