This tiny ArduPilot UAV will permit education and research initiatives, or just everyone who is keen to play with cutting-edge technology and who wants to explore the field of aerial applications.
We have selected the best electronic components and created a product supported by the Ardupilot Open Source system.
It’s an extensible platform with an add-ons system enabling DIY and developments.
We need the support of all the community to raise our goal: produce and distribute ArduBee and create an active community around it.
We developed this flying electronic board through a lot of iterations, selecting the best components to make it open, programmable and modular.
Full integrated Flying Electronic PCB
ArduBee is born
It measures 15 cm from motor to motor diagonally.
High power in a small size
MCU: the powerful H7
The best processing power inside
In a little more than 50 grams of frame-board we have integrated the “state-of-the-art” and future-proof H7 processor to bring the whole system to a new level in terms of high performance, fast and secure.
MPU STM32H743VIT6 480 MHz ARM Cortex® M7
2 MB Flash – 1 MB RAM
IMU: Bosh BMI088 Accel / Gyro
IMU Bosh BMI088 6-axis inertial sensor with accuracy and vibration tolerance
The IST8310 ( Honeywell HMC5983 compatible ) three-axis magnetometer, temperature compensation
DPS310 offers great pressure and noise performance
On board 4 x BLHELI32 ESC with DSHOT1200. They are carefully powered by a dedicated low voltage circuit. Each ESC gives you RealTime telemetry with RPM, current, temperature from every single motor.
Real-Time ESC data monitoring on the GCS
Using the Real-Time RPM data will enable you the advanced noise filtering supported by Ardupilot like the Dynamic Harmonic Notch Filter.
The ESC firmware could be upgraded from the official BlHeli32 repository through the usb port.
Instead of using the less energy efficient LIPO, with wires and connectors, on the bottom ArduBee uses standard 18650 Li-Ion technology; it’s so easy to plug in, to remove and swap with a newly charged one.
The advantage of a Li-Ion is its high power density, perfect for enabling the best flight time in small and light aerial robotics.
No more LIPOs
No wires and easy to plug in and swap
Li-Ion 18650 is a widely used battery, largely available and cheap.
We do not supply the battery included with ArduBee but you need to plug in a common Li-Ion 18650 without ANY modification. We recommend high capacity batteries that can provide high current draws such as the Samsung LG INR18650-M36 3600mAh – 5A.
To recharge the battery you can use an existing Li-Ion recharger like any classic Vapcell charger.
ArduBee uses brushless motors to be able to fly indoor and outdoor. These kind of motors are more robust and durable than brush motors. Besides the standard “ArduBee”, equipped with motors provided by us, in the spirit of DIY ArduBee is also available as a board-only version. This one will allow the owner to select and assemble preferred motors and propellers. Additionally, because Ardubee was designed with different motor mounting hole patterns, either version will allow you to try new motors in the future.
You can choose from a vast range of manufactors with a wide range of dimensions, weights and characteristics. This way you can adapt ArduBee and optimize it for more flight time, payloads, speed or acceleration.
In the interest of covering a wide range of possible payloads and to offer remarkable flight-time performance, we already have tested extensively a vast variety of motors in order to find the best reference model that will meet our high expectations.
We are currently still in the process of evaluating and we will be happy to present our results and the final selected motors very soon.
Some of the motors we have tested
Motors can be mounted up and down
ArduBee is built to provide a constant fixed voltage to the motors while the battery discharges from full charge to at least down 3.0 V.
We set the output voltage of boost LDOs but they can also be changed by a skilled soldering job changing a configuration resistance to support your particular needs.
You have a lot of parameters in Arducopter to tweak the motor’s output and you can easily fly with motors with a kv range from 5000kv to 10000kv.
The same DIY concept is for the propellers, you can mount the lightest 2 blades for endurance, a 3 blade one for more thrust, or experiment with new props with a particular pitch or feature up to 3”.
ESP8266 for wireless operations like receiving real-time telemetry on the ground station, to calibrate ArduBee, to send commands and change its parameters.
With the installed MAVESP8266 you can set the module to create a WiFi network or to connect to an external network.
Possibility of inserting the SD card for saving logs.
Ardupilot has an advanced log system useful for analyzing the flight and your flying system.
on top the pre filtering log, on bottom the result post filtering
It is equipped with a Mini USB port to configure the drone with your device.
USB port detail
The most common radios are supported allowing you to use your preferred radio. UART6 RX is used as RC Input.
You can control ArduBee with the majority of radios:
- Futaba S.BUS and S.BUS2
- Spektrum DSM, DSM2 and DSMX
- Graupner SUMD
- PPM input
- Yuneec ST24
- we support also FrSky® S.Port and F.Port for telemetry
S.BUS and S.Port radios
OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE
ArduBee is a completely programmable drone. We have developed it with the well known ArduPilot open source project, but it also can easily be made compatible with projects like PX4, Betaflight and Paparazzi.
One of the main strength of ArduPilot is its amazing flexibility and interoperability. This also means a highly advanced parametered system. For a new user finding those parameters could be tiresome and quite time consuming. With ArduBee our idea was to eliminate all the initial effort and to provide a ready-to-fly experience. That is why every ArduBee comes with a perfectly pre-configured firmware, to let everyone fly immediately. In addition the ArduBee version coupled with motors, will also come with the best finetuned motor and control specific parameters.
ArduPilot offical site at https://ardupilot.org/
ArduPilot is an open source, unmanned vehicle Autopilot Software Suite, capable of controlling autonomous robots. ArduPilot was originally developed by hobbyists to control model aircraft and rovers and has evolved into a full-featured and reliable autopilot used by industry, research organizations and amateurs.
The first open code repository was created in 2009 – since then it has been developed by a team of diverse professional engineers, academics, computer scientists, and other members of drones community. The source code is developed by a large community of professionals and enthusiasts.
ArduBee usb connected to Mission Planner ground control station
If you want to add custom behavior or sensors onboard you can access all the code and modify from high-level Lua scripting to low hardware driver C++ code.
Join the dev community on https://github.com/ArduPilot/ardupilot
When designing ArduBee, we were not thinking only about a simply amazing micro drone, but already envisioned a whole platform, which offers great flexibility through a modular and stackable ecosystem.
We currently plan to offer the following Addons that we have already developed and carefully tested:
- Optical Flow
- Indoor Positioning System
- Dev Board
- … more to come
When designing the modular system we wanted to enforce no vendor lock and enable independent development. That’s why we offer the Dev Board which specifically will allow the development of own Addons. For specifics on this topic, please read in the Dev Board section below.
Simulation illustrating the stackability of ArduBee
Avoidance – Optical Flow – GPS
Top View: GPS + Avoidance
Optical Flow Addon – 0.6 grams
With PWM3901 sensor and VL53L1x ToF for distance, to hold position without the need for a GPS nor a downward facing Lidar.
The optical flow module is soldered on the bottom of ArduBee frame and consist of an optical flow Asic that provides displacement information and includes also a rangefinder (up to about 4 meters). The optical flow sensor sends data to the fly controller through the Ext SPI port and the range finder through the I2C port. Well suited to improve indoor horizontal position or even outdoor with poor GPS signal strength.
Optical Flow Addon
an electronic miniature in only 0.6 grams
GPS Addon – 12 grams
We integrated UBLOX SAM-M8Q multi-constellation ( GPS, Galileo, GLONASS ) to allow outdoor autonomous flight.
A compact GPS for your outdoor applications
Avoidance Addon – 7 grams
Collision avoidance is one of the most active and challenging fields in the research and development of hardware and software suitable for solving different autonomous flight applications.
Ardupilot offers a specific solution for the type of addon that is proposed. It has a crown of 8 sensors arranged at an angle of 45° between one and the other with a total coverage of 360° in the horizontal plane.
We use VL53L1X which are Time-of-Flight sensor, a miniature sensor providing accurate ranging up to 4 m and able to work at fast speeds (60 Hz). They are connected to MCU through an I2C port.
Collision Avoidance addon
Top view Avoidance
Macro detail: Avoidance
Simulation illustrating the Avoidance connection on ArduBee
Side view: ArduBee with Avoidance
Side View: GPS + Avoidance
Indoor Positioning System Addon
We’ve developed this single and swarm UltraWideBand indoor localization solution, with 8 or more external beacons, needed to fulfill our precision and scalability requirements to be able to fly a swarm of drones.
8 beacons fixed on the space and 8 tags moving simultaneously
Our solution is not as good as a motion capture system, but it is:
- DWM1000 based module
- precise, starting from a 10cm error that can be tuned down to 3-5cm
- scalable, has no bottleneck on number of trackable objects
- light, the payload is less than 8 grams
- flexible, it can be set up to track in non square rooms or around obstacles
- and last but not least, it is much cheaper than a mocap system
UWB technology for single and swarm indoor positioning
8 anchors placed in the corners of the flying space
Dev Board Addon
This board offers all the supported interfaces needed to users and developers who want to expand the platform with third parties add-ons or connect custom devices. You can find all the available system resources on several connectors plus a CAN transceiver and a dedicated power supply. The output of this power supply is programmable and you can change the standard output voltage to provide the correct voltage that you need (4.5 V – 12 V).
Please note: changing the output voltage requires some soldering skill as you must change a SMD resistor.
Simulation illustrating the Dev Board connection on ArduBee
To protect ArduBee we have designed and built the best possible propeller guards to combine strength and lightness, increasing the efficiency of the propellers too.
Our aim was to protect propellers from accidental collisions but, at the same time, minimize the aerodynamic impact of such protections on the ArduBee performance. We wanted a duct, also suitable for landing, which additional weight is balanced by the thrust delivered by the duct itself. But we had a lot of constraints: a maximum and a minimum length, a minimum internal and a maximum external diameter.
To this aim, we employed a “Simulation Based Design Optimization” approach, using state-of-the-art CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) calculations to design our ArduBee customized accelerating duct. Thanks to a parametric description of the duct shape, we tested thousands of different geometries using the opensource OpenFOAM package (www.openfoam.org) for the solution of the Reynolds Averaged Navier-Stokes Equations (RANSE) on an unstructured, hexa-dominant computational grid surrounding the duct and the propeller.
We collected all their aerodynamic performances and their resulting weights and we used a genetic multi-objective optimization algorithm, which mimic the process of natural selection, to obtain the Pareto convergence and, finally, the optimal design providing the maximum thrust at the minimum possible weight.
This is our custom, lightweight, duct solution for ArduBee!
ArduBee protected by the Duct
We would love to see ArduBee in many hands, especially we think it’s made for:
- Swarm Application Developers
- Scientific institutions
- Educational institutions
- Research departments
- Industrial Trainings
- Maker / Hacker / DIY scene
- Robotics enthusiasts
- ArduCopter Developers
From our own experience we know the pain of desperately searching for the perfect platform for drone development and research and we think the groups listed above are suffering the same situation. That is why we believe our initiative of developing an open and modular system can fix the current state and we hope ArduBee can fill the gap soon.
The feedback we have received from the community on our post on the ArduPilot forum and our coverage on Hackernews and Hackaday was simply amazing and made us confident that our vision could have a positive impact on the development of micro drone and swarm application.
Risks and challenges
Unlike many Kickstarter campaigns, ArduBee is a mature product ready for manufacture. Customers can even expect some upgrades on this first large production run. LuminousBees team is highly-skilled experienced professionals in their fields, with many years of experience in developing and manufacturing drones. We believe that the risks of placing ArduBee on the market are effectively nil. This confidence does not mean that we are immune to unexpected problems or changes and we will communicate any delays or problems, directly and clearly with all customers as soon as any arise.Learn about accountability on KickstarterQuestions about this project? Check out the FAQ
This article is selected from suasnews.