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Building the SeeedStudio/Bitcraze Crazyflie 2.0

I'm Charly and i'm one of the technical team here at Active Robots and i've been given the Seeed Studio Crazyflie 2.0 to build. My first impressions are that the packaging is very stylish and compact, it has a simple sketched drawing of the built product on the top of the box and the parts are individually packaged within the foam lined box and unlike the original Crazyflie this one requires no soldering to assemble.

The SeeedStudio Crazyflie 2.0 mini quadcopter has some great features such as:

  • 7 minutes flight time
  • Weighing only 27g and being 9cm wide
  • Integrated micro USB charger
  • Bluetooth LE
  • Controlled by one of the following Android App, iPhone App or using Win/MAC OSX / Linux with a joystic/gamepad
  • No soldering required for assembly

crazyflie boxWhen you open the box immediately you see a website address it is here that you will find all the information that you need to be able to build the Crazyflie 2.0. This webpage has been well thought out, there are step by step instructions each with its own video clip. You will also see that they have also included a full video showing the assembly.

As with most kits you get a full list of the items contained within the box, you are instructed to make sure that you have all that is listed and happily for me I did.

Whenever I building a kit I do a quick scan of the instructions to check if any specific tools are required and from what I could see nothing was needed, even better nothing worse than having to hunt for a particular screwdriver especially when someone has walked off with it. However at a later point within another instruction you will need either a pin or needle purely so that you can check the propellers are balanced.

Before building you are advised to test the Crazyflie control board to ensure that it works before assembling the whole kit. This I felt was a brilliant feature because there is nothing worse than building a product/kit to find you have a faulty component right at the end. The test took a matter of seconds (you will need a micro USB cable) and proved that our board was fully functional!

So now I was ready to start assembling. The instructions say that it will take less than 10 minutes to build, I smiled and thought ‘really?’, but they do also state that careful attention needs to be taken to reading the instructions as there are a few pitfalls.

I read and reread the instructions, did a quick scan that I had all required to begin, and quite excitedly started to assemble the Crazyflie. I may not have mentioned that I have a slight obsession with RC Helicopters so much so I am acquiring a little fleet of them, so you can imagine this project is right up my street. All the time I was assembling this I was also making a mental note that this would be a great Fathers Day present for my Dad who also likes to build gadgets and funnily enough has a similar obsession to mine!

The initial stages of the assembly were going well, I did need to pop back to my desk to check the orientation of the motor mounts (it is not so clear when you print the instructions out). When inserting the motors in the these mounts you are advised some force is required. I would say the very first one you do is the hardest but there is a ‘knack’ to it and with some gentle manipulation you are able to do so. You are advised NOT to put any pressure on the motor axis as this will cause damage, and as long as you respect this you will be fine.

Once the motors are inserted and the wires tidily clipped away you have to insert these mounts onto the Crazyflie wings and connect the motors to the board. This is a little fiddly and the right amount of force is required. Now in the instructions you are told to fully insert the mount then connect the motor, however as you have little space to work with I found that it was easier to clip the motor in when the mount was about ¾ inserted.

You are now ready to attach the propellers but you are advised to check that they are balanced first, which I would recommend that you do check. Again a there is a link showing you how to do this with video clips. It is at this point that you will need a pin/needle as you have to slide the propeller on to it to perform the test. Ours were fine but steps are shown so that you can balance them correctly if required. You do get 5 of each propeller so you have spares.

The next step is the only area within the instructions that I felt wasn’t very clear, because you will need to determine which set of propellers is CW and which is CCW. Keeping each set separate will help. The guide directs you to an area to show the differences but this was just a diagram.

crazyflie propellorsIt does not appear to state what the difference is, I made the assumption that the difference is in fact that one has A on it. The diagram does also show where each propeller needs to be attached. If you do look at the video clip for this step it does in fact show the propeller marked as A being CW. It would have been clearer if this was also written in the steps too. I did find out afterwards that if you watch the full assembly video it is clearer and they do give you more detail.

The final steps of the assembly were very easy to follow and just consisted of adding the battery to the expansion slot.

When fully assembled you are then instructed to press the power button, on doing so it runs a self test that makes all the propellers spin in sequence.

Of course now you have to decide how you want to control you Crazyflie. I downloaded the App for my iPhone. The App is simple and easy to use, you just connect to the Crazyflie and put your thumbs on the screen. There is also a settings screen to make adjustments.

crazyflie iphone control

Now the fun really began, as both myself and my colleague had to see if it worked, which it did of course and the Crazyflie was indeed very addictive as we mastered the controls, so much so that it was only when the battery ran out that we stopped, not before plugging it to charge .

This product is fun and easy to build and yes it did take under 10 minutes to build. On the whole this kit is well thought out with lots of information available on the website. They have an area specific for developers along with a support forum.

I look forward to seeing what other products Bitcraze and SeeedStudio have on offer in the future and definitely rate this product 10/10.

Charly

The Crazyflie 2.0 is available to buy from Active Robots on our website www.active-robots.com.

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