Super Skywalker 2+ Hour Endurance UAV

Spanish company Airelectronics have taken the popular and affordable Skywalker UAV airframe and extended the wings by 40% to bring the flight time out to 2.5 hours.

With fully automated takeoff, landing and flight planning with Airelectronic’s U-Pilot system and their U-Camera system, the application for such a long flight time UAV are significant.

With Shark attacks on the increase in Australia, these systems could be an affordable and much more environmentally friendly solution to shark nets and manned flights.

More details here.

Graphene Batteries Are Here: Longer life, Cooler Running & Faster Charge

Graphene Battery HobyKing

HobbyKing have just release a new graphene battery by Turnigy. For a long time now, graphene has been the next big thing in batteries. Why? Because the carbon fibre type fibre can form a single layer of just 0.335nm (microns). This makes the battery sub-strate the thinnest ever seen in batteries, which in turn allows it to store more charge.

The graphene particles form a highly dense compound allowing electrons to flow with less resistance compared to traditional Lipoly batteries.

The result is a battery capable of maintaining greater power output whilst remaining much cooler under load. Since heat and resistance are the natural enemy of batteries Graphene chemistry has significantly reduced these problems and the result is an incredible boost in cycle life.
Turnigy Graphene batteries are the new standard for serious hobbyists who require POWER ON DEMAND.

The 1300mAh 4S battery that HobbyKing are supplying are perfect for mini racing multicopters.

Check them out here.

Eagles Trained to Take Down Drones in Netherlands

The Dutch Police have been busy teaching Eagles how to take down drones.

Dutch police realise that drones can be a danger in many circumstances and also realise they can be used by organised crime for various nefarious activities. So they’ve taken to training our fine feathered friends to quickly take out an offending drone.

It’s a pretty cool solution… unless the Eagle decides to make off with a small child in the vicinity.

DJI Introduces a Thermal Camera and Gimbal Powered by FLIR

Exciting news for people looking to expand the applications of their DJI Inspire or Matrice airframes. DJI have just announced the pending release of a Thermal FLIR camera and gimbal than can be attached to the Inspire or Matrice.

Aerial thermal imagery has excellent applications for precise agriculture, power grid maintenance, environmental (green) building inspection and many more.

More details on DJI’s website here.

4 Ways Drones are Being Used in Agriculture


The general public concept of a drone is a sinister military aircraft that will drop a payload of death onto unsuspecting military targets, whether the target is a person or a thing. Hobbyists have a different view of drones, as does

But there are far more practical uses for drones that are beneficial and productive to society-at-large. Among those alternative uses is in the area of agriculture. With an increasing global population, the need to continue to feed the people of the world continues to be a challenge. Whether in Brazil, Australia, or the United States, the management of the available resources and maximizing potential crop yields can be greatly assisted through the use of drones through “precision agriculture.”

In order for the farmer to maximize the use of the technology, they first must deal with government regulations. Though many of the issues are still being worked on, the FAA has created some guidelines for commercial and public use:

  • A maximum ceiling of 500 feet
  • A demonstrated need for using a drone
  • Requires a pilot license for operation

This third requirement can get expensive, which is currently a sore point for farmers. What the drone can be used for is an agricultural environment is of particular interest.

Once commercial businesses get a clearly defined set of rules to work with, technology will most definitely develop devices that will make drones even more useful to agriculture. For the time being, the use of a camera is the most common choice and has a variety of applications for farmers. A second use is to equip the drone with sensors to be used in the collection of data for further analysis.

1. Counting

One of the most obvious uses for a drone is to simply count the crops in a field. An aerial view is far mire accurate and with the recording capabilities of the camera, can provide detailed information to the farmer. Drones can be programmed to flyover a field in specific patterns, virtually guaranteeing that an accurate count is made.

Though much of the focus of the use of drones focuses on crops, animal herds monitoring can also benefit from the use of drones. Herds can be regularly monitored and specific problem spots can be identified, taking swift action when necessary. When property boundaries become an issue, a drone can help establish the boundaries and prevent situations from deteriorating. Daily counts can be made without having to spend the time to physically visit the site.

2. Crop Production

The crop growth process needs to be monitored from seed planting to crop harvesting. This requires a constant watch on the growth stages of the various crops as well as estimated crop yields. Drones are far better equipped to handle these measurements than any other method. For specific crops such as corn, drones can be used to make oblique images of the field to best determine the time for detasseling.

3. Crop Protection

Crop protection comes in several different forms, the most obvious is preventing the spread of disease throughout the area. Drones can help identify diseased plants, allowing the farmer to plan a course of action to control the contamination. But having an action plan to preventing animals and birds from eating high value crops is also a critical part of crop protection. Drones are able to help with this by identifying wildlife that has the potential to eat or damage crops. Finally, when it comes to plants thee weed problem is one that cannot be ignored. Though not a disease in the usual sense, unchecked weed levels can do more harm to a field than many pathogens. Drones can be used to accurately assess weed growth in specific areas.

4. Data Collection Through Sensors

For farmers to integrate this option into their drone technology they will need a relative good knowledge of the capability of the sensors but also the ability to interpret the data gathered. The cost-effectiveness of purchasing the equipment and perhaps the hiring of a consulting firm to create useful information from the data may be lower than originally planned.

Specific data that drone sensors can collect are:

  • Wind profiles
  • Temperature and pressure profiles
  • Water quality assessments
  • Methane and carbon dioxide levels

With regional climate changes being seen everywhere combined with other environmental situations such as the lengthy drought in California, the use of drones in planning and projecting future profits can impact the survivability of the farm and of the business.

While the technology definitely has tremendous upside potential, there are practical limitations to consider. The first is the size of the drone. Again, we are not talking about military functionality but business use. Because the size of commercial drones are likely to be smaller, they will be limited in how much weight they can carry upward and how long they will be able to stay airborne. Currently, most drones can stay flying for about 20 minutes. The more equipment that is attached to the drone, the more fuel will be required to keep it airborne. That means either reduced flight time or a bigger frame, the latter which may not be legally possible.

But make no mistake. All farmers are waiting for is the FAA to pound out some reasonable guidelines and drone use in agriculture will skyrocket. After that, the sky is the limit.

Pixhawk vs Naza: Which Flight Controller Suits Your Geek Level

pixhawk vs naza
For both the beginner experimenter and the experienced drone fanatic, finding a proper flight controller can be a confusing business. There are a number of options available, two of the biggest names being Pixhawk, by 3D Robotics, and Naza, by DJI. Most people will often simply choose a controller in line with their manufacturer, or simply out of brand loyalty. However, these two controller lines have shifted and changed over the years into two very distinct products. Neither is outright better than the other, but each definitely has its pros and cons. To truly make a choice between the two, however, one must first learn what each brand stands for.

About the DJI Naza

The Naza is designed to be an extremely user friendly controller, which simultaneously doesn’t hold back on functionality. It can be used by even the newest of beginners, and is great for children, as well. Simple operation combined with accessible applications for both PC and iPad mean that the Naza is an excellent choice for those with no prior experience in drone technology. However, it lacks some of the more advanced features of competitors, and while very stable and effective in its use, the Naza is limited in it.

About the 3D Robotics Pixhawk

The Pixhawk is on a very different end of the scale, as compared to the Naza. It has a much wider range of features, more than most will ever use. Unlike the Naza, which is designed to be ready to go right out of the box, the Pixhawk may require a bit of work to get functioning to its fullest potential. Its Mission Planner software is also a favorite among many, and is fantastic for getting precision statistics about the drone’s flight. It is also highly customizable, with a special coding environment which may remind many a user of Linux. Additionally, the Pixhawk can be used in many different devices other than copters, so if you ever get bored of yours or if it falls out of use, you can configure the Pixhawk to be used with a new build.

The Two Side by Side

The Pixhawk and the Naza are quite obviously designed for different users. The Pixhawk is designed to be used by enthusiasts, as its range of features may not all be appealing to the common man. However, on the other hand, the Naza is designed for the everyday user. That is to say, anyone can pick it up and figure it out, without much difficulty. While the Pixhawk is by no means a technical nightmare, it certainly is more complex, and for those less versed in computers and technology, the Naza may be a wise choice.

However, once you get past the initial difficulty challenge, the Pixhawk truly begins to shine. It is reliable, precise, and boasts a much wider range of features than the Naza. Its Mission Planner software is a huge selling point, as it allows for a degree of customization, flexibility, and precision seen in no other controller. However, when it comes to software, the Naza may again win over some users with its simplicity. Its 16 point Ground Station software is simple, yet effective, and allows for solid control of the copter while maintaining a user friendly interface, pleasing aesthetics, and smooth software functionality. It is available for free on both PC and iPad, which may be an added bonus for those with an iPad. However, this ease of use does come at a cost, in that it is just not as precise as Pixhawk’s Mission Planner.

Reliability may be a question on the minds of many. When it comes to reliability in the flight controller, neither brand should have any major issues. With either the Naza or Pixhawk, you can expect years of service, and potentially hundreds of flights. That is, of course, assuming you take proper care of the equipment, which may be quite fragile in both products.

Overall, although the DJI Naza is a much more beginner-friendly experience, the 3D Robotics Pixhawk does have a significantly higher degree of functionality and precision. For those who have done their homework and know their way around a drone, the Pixhawk can’t be beat. However, if you aren’t great with computers, or don’t have much or any experience with drones, the Naza is a fantastic controller, and should suit your needs well enough. Just don’t expect the same multitude of features, as it is, after all, a more basic controller.

The Folding Quadcopter That Fits in Your Pocket

This little quadcopter will fit in the palm of your hand when folded.

Inspired by origami, the folding drone developed by a team at EPFL and NCCR Robotics unfurls and takes off in a third of a second. The moment it is turned on, the rotors engage, the articulated arms extend and the drone begins moving. This eager device could be quickly released in large numbers over a disaster zone in order to bring back photos and establish contact with people in need.


Krossblade SkyProwler VTOL Transformer UAV

Another drone Kickstarter campaign, but this looks pretty cool…

SkyProwler is a Professional-Grade High-Performance Multi-Mission Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Transformer UAV/Drone. It takes off like a multicopter, picks up speed using its high-powered thrusters, and then transitions to cruise flight on its high-speed wings. The multirotor take-off mechanism folds away in-flight giving SkyProwler super efficient aerodynamics and hence speed, endurance and range far better than pure copters and on-par with pure airplanes.

Boat Drone Scans Lake and Sea Beds [ArduBoat]

[Geir] has created a pretty neat device, it’s actually his second version of an autonomous boat that maps the depths of lakes and ponds. He calls it the Sea Rendering. The project is pretty serious as the hull was specially made of fiberglass. The propulsion is a simple DC motor and the rudder is powered by an RC servo. A light and flag adorn the top deck making the small craft visible to other larger boats that may be passing by. Seven batteries are responsible for all of the power requirements.

The craft’s course is pre-programmed in Mission Planner and uses ArduPilot loaded on an Arduino to steer to the defined way points. An onboard GPS module determines the position of the boat while a transducer measures the depth of the water. Both position and depth values are then saved to an SD card. Those values can later be imported into a software called Dr Depth that generates a topographic map of the water-covered floor.

[Geir] has sent this bad boy out on an 18 km journey passing through 337 way points. That’s pretty impressive! He estimates that the expected run time is 24 hours at a top speed of 3 km/h, meaning it could potentially travel 72 km on a single charge while taking 700 depth measurements during the voyage.

Read more here.

5 Quadcopters to Learn on That Won’t Breaking the Bank… or Your Face

What’s the best quad to learn on? Simple: a cheap one. You’re going to crash it so the cheaper the better. Small quads are great for learning because they’re usually cheap to repair, they tend to bounce back and more importantly, they won’t damage people or property any where near as much as a larger one will.

Trust me, I made the mistake of buying a larger expensive quad when I first started. Spent hours and $$$ rebuilding and repairing it until I finally decided to buy a little one I could fly indoors to build my skills on.

Here are some affordable multirotors that you can cut your teeth on without cutting your fingers off.

1. The BLADE Nano QX RTF Quadcopter. Around $100 and available on Amazon.


2. EZ Fly 101S Flipside Quadcopter. $60 from Amazon.


3. BLADE 180 QX HD BNF Quadcopter


4. Hubsan X4 H107CHD 2.4GHz 4CH RC Quadcopter with HD Camera


5. Parrot BeBop Drone 14 MP Full HD 1080p Fisheye Camera Quadcopter


CHIP – the $9 Computer More Powerful than a Raspbery Pi

Meet Chip: a new computer perfect for tinkerers that’s cheaper and more powerful than a Raspberry Pi B+.

For just $9, you get a pocket-sized board with a 1GHz processor with WiFi and Bluetooth, 4 GB storage and 512 MB RAM. Chip can also work with any screen, new or old.

You could, of course, use it — along with LibreOffice — to do your taxes or write that novel you keep talking about. Or you could play video games with it. (There’s even an option to buy Chip with a pocket-sized screen and keyboard system.) But we see it as a platform for all kinds of homemade electronics projects.

You can pre-order Chip online, via the Kickstarter campaign.

World’s First Hydrogen Powered 4H-Endurance Multi-Rotor UAV


HYCOPTER is the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered multi-rotor UAV. HYCOPTER is being readied for a record flight endurance of 4 hours, or 6 times the average flight duration of equivalent systems today.

Unlike any other rotorcraft, HYCOPTER makes use of its frame structure to store energy in the form of hydrogen instead of air, eliminating energy storage weight. With less lift power required, HYCOPTER’s ultra-light fuel cell turns the hydrogen in its frame into electricity to power its rotors.

With HUS’ breakthrough technology, today’s 20-30 minute multi-rotor missions shift to a new paradigm with flights lasting several hours at a time. Aerial survey jobs will become materially cheaper/faster and drone delivery over longer distances, more feasible.