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ManuCH
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My New Toy: Parrot AR.Drone

Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:09 pm

So, has anyone else got one of these?

http://ardrone.parrot.com/

I'm quite impressed by this thing. Here's the video of my first 2 flights - or attempts thereof:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eshee35khA

Parrot calls it a "quadricopter" - an RC helicopter with 4 rotors. It has several gyroscopes and an autopilot to stabilize itself (when you launch it, it hovers in place until you move it). The RC is an app to be installed on the iPhone or iPod Touch. The Drone creates an Ad Hoc WiFi network so you don't need a WiFi access point (which you wouldn't have outside).

Yes, this falls into the category of "very useless stuff", but I couldn't refrain from purchasing one!
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ALTF4
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RE: My New Toy: Parrot AR.Drone

Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:23 pm

I've always wanted to get an RC helicopter, but I know those are hard to fly and very expensive.

This might be the best option.... looks like fun, plus the iPhone app is cool. Will it work over an actual LAN so longer ranges? I have several wireless routers across my house and property, all on the same network.... would be cool to use to freak the neighbors dog out while sitting in my room.  
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ManuCH
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RE: My New Toy: Parrot AR.Drone

Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:11 pm

Quoting ALTF4 (Reply 1):
Will it work over an actual LAN so longer ranges?

No, it wants to create an Ad Hoc network, so there's no way to use an existing LAN. Maybe it will change with a software update. There are some users reporting success in extending the range by using a WiFi repeater. I'm pretty sure it won't work with every model, though, so there's some experimenting to be done (but generally, someone purchasing a geek-toy like that, is someone who likes to experiment  )

Quoting ALTF4 (Reply 1):
would be cool to use to freak the neighbors dog out while sitting in my room.

My idea as well. But after using it a bit, I wouldn't let it go unaccompanied by trusting solely the on-board cam. I would freak out if for some reason I lost the WiFi signal... anyway, another thing that can't be done with the current software is flying out of the window if you're higher up than the 1st floor: the ultrasound altimeter screws up because it doesn't "see" the ground anymore, then acts up by trying to adjust the altitude. And no, because of some bug it doesn't just float to the ground - it shoots up to the sky, and bye bye Drone.

It is also pretty demanding as far as WiFi interferences are concerned. I've had my first negative experience (copy-paste from the Parrot forum):

Quote:
I powered it on, it went green LEDs, and I connected the iPhone 4 to the ardrone WiFi network. I started the app and saw the picture from the camera. I hit the "launch" button and it hovered to 1 meter above the ground - then it struck: "CAN'T CONNECT TO TOY".

I closed and re-opened the app. I de-activated and re-activated WiFi. I went to Airplane Mode and activated WiFi only - nothing. I could see the WiFi network, but it wouldn't get the DHCP lease (it remained on the 169.x.x.x IP address, and couldn't get 192.168.1.2).

Yes, I was in an area with *lots* of WiFi networks, so that was the problem without any doubt. But then came the funny part: people started crowding around the hovering toy and asked what it is, and why I was leaving it there. Hah! There was nothing I could do to stop it: I tried grabbing it from above and gently moving it around, but it would want to stay there. I didn't want to risk a "fly away" moment, so I simply let it discharge and land.

Positive experience: it hovered in place for 12 minutes successfully. Negative experience: there's no way to force-stop the thing if WiFi is knocked out. Has anyone tried to build a remote-power-kill-switch using a separate RC?

Anyway, is there any other solution to this problem other than going somewhere where there are less WiFi networks? As soon as I arrived home I powered it up and it was working again. It even launched, then re-landed immediately because of low battery, but it never disconnected.
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ALTF4
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RE: My New Toy: Parrot AR.Drone

Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:41 pm

Quoting ManuCH (Reply 2):

Thanks for mentioning the issues with it. Still sounds fun - but maybe I should wait and see if they update the software first.
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