Parallax is now selling Quadcopters. That’s pretty cool, and if you watch the video you get an tour of their building 🙂 ELEV-8 Quadcopter Kit.
The ELEV-8 quadcopter is a flying robotic platform that is lifted and propelled by four fixed rotors. There are no fixed wings; all of the lift is created from the rotors. Unlike standard helicopters a quadcopter uses fixed-pitch blades, whose rotor pitch does not vary as the blades rotate; control of vehicle motion is achieved by varying the relative speed of each rotor to change the thrust and torque produced by each.
The ELEV-8 quadcopter uses a HoverFly board with a Propeller multicore microprocessor to electronically control stabilization of the aircraft. The benefits to this system are a stable platform, with no mechanical linkages for a small maneuverable and agile aircraft.
The ELEV-8 quadcopter is an inexpensive way to get involved in the quadcopter arena. The kit includes; frame, mounting hardware, motors, speed controllers, propellers and the control board for flight stabilization. (the only thing you need to provide is the RC radio equipment, battery). We recommend a six channel RC radio.
The ELEV-8 platform is large enough for outdoor flight and has plenty of room for payload and attachments (up to 2 lbs).
Perfect for “drone journalism”.
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where can I get a ‘copter like this? Looks really excellent video quality, what sort of camera is being used?
When they say “cheap”, it clearly is more expensive than the Parrot AR.Drone
ELEV-8 – $550
AR.Drone – $299
Does anyone know what gyro/accel it’s using? BOM nor the site give any information. Some of the links go to a beeflyer or whatever website which doesn’t give out any information…
Interesting. As for the AR Drone vs. Elev-8… A quick glance on the Web seems to indicate the AR Drone uses an ARM A9 based processor running Linux (real multitasking via MMU?). However the Elev-8 seems to use the Hoverboard(?) Parallax Propeller platform based platform.
Personally, I cannot speak to the price difference between the two devices without further analysis. But I can say I would rather prefer a multitasking Linux-capable controller over (even multiple) Parallax Propellers for an application like this.
Why? Because the Propeller has no real support for multiple precision floating point in software or hardware and to get close to the hardware (which is multicore), the Propeller really needs you to program in assembler (alas typically four clocks per instruction). Maybe XMos multicore processors would be an alternative – dunno. Also there are no on-chip D/A and A/D peripherals on the Propeller (but lots of very capable timer-counters).
There are some (e.g.) C "compilers" for the Propeller, but the ability to handle math is still limited IMHO (much reliance on CORDIC and little or no support for optimized compiles). Plus each core in the propeller has very limited per-core RAM. Forget using the Propeller’s native SPIN language interpreter for a real-time routines in an application like this, likely way too slow.
Certainly as of today, a Propeller based control board will use far less power than an ARM A9 board that can run "real" Linux, but that doesn’t really matter so much in a Quadcopter application because the total power budget is largely dominated by the motors and motor controllers.
As for Open-Source, at first-glance it seems there is enough out there to allow you to duplicate either design. But there may be gotchas that I don’t know about (I leave this analysis to the experts in this Quadcopter area).
Their it is quite expensive , since they’re using Turnigy motors and ESC’s which can be had in Hong Kong for about 12$ each. Since that’s the most expensive part of a quad, I take it you could build the whole thing for about 200$.