Open-source quadcopter swoops out of the shadows

We recently took a close look at the MeCam, a rather interesting programmable flying machine equipped with its own little camera that streams video to smartphones.

At first glance, I thought the Crazyflie Nano (pictured below) was actually yet another iteration of the MeCam. The biggest difference between the two devices? The little Crazyflie lacks an integrated camera.

However, one of the things I like best about this design is that you can build it yourself with a developer kit that is currently up for pre-order, with an expected ship date of April 25 and a $173 price tag. So for roughly $170, you’ll get the motor, battery, four propellers, various sensors, wireless radio, and all the other parts required to construct the flying machine.

The entire platform is designed specifically to be open – including hardware and software. The hardware includes sensors for detecting altitude and heading, although they currently lack software support, at least out of the box. Then again, this is a developer’s kit after all, so you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and use some of your coding skills to get this bird in the air – with fully-functioning sensors.

The helicopter is very small, weighing in at only 19 g and is designed to lift up to 10 g. I would bet the extra lifting capability means you might be able to graft on your own camera if you’re so inclined. Power for this little flying machine is generated by an included 170 mAh battery good, which is good for only 7 minute of flight per charge (fully recharging the battery takes about 20 min).