Sky Drone FPV HD Video Solution For Drones Uses 3G or 4G/LTE Networks and the BeagleBone Black

Earlier this week, I wrote about SparqEE CELLv1.0 a low cost cellular module to allow applications such as RC helicopter with extended range thanks to cellular networks. It turns out there’s currently a crowdfunding campaign that aims to bring such solution to market, but using 3G/4G USB dongles instead. Sky Drone FPV (First Person View) is an HD video system that can be controlled using 3G or 4G/LTE networks, and features the BeagleBone Black as the controller board. It would usually be attached to a quadcopter, by there’s not reason why you could not also use it with RC ground vehicles.

Sky Drone FPV Prototype

Let’s start with the technical specifications:

  • Controller Board – BeagleBone Black
  • 3G/4G LTE Modem:
    • Option 1 – Huawei E397Bu-501 for US / Americas (4G LTE FDD 1700/2100MHz and 700MHz)
    • Option 2 –  Huawei E398u-1 for Europe / Asia (4G LTE FDD  900/2600 MHz)
  • Camera:
    • Option 1 – Full HD 1080p 5Mpix Camera, Field of View: 120° (default)
    • Option 2 – Full HD 1080p 5Mpix Camera, Field of View: 62°
  • MAVLink support for compatible autopilot boards for HUD and telemetry data. It has been tested on APM 2.5 (ArduPilot-Mega)
  • Typical End to End Latency – <150ms
  • Data Usage – Customizable; bandwidth cap can be configured
  • Power Input – 6-23v
  • Total Weight – 129 g including all components and all cables: USB, APM, and uBEC (Universal battery Elimination Circuit).

This hardware will allows you to stream full HD digital video (up to 1080p @ 30 fps), and take 5 MP still images simultaneously, with a range only limited by your power source, and 3G or 4G/LTE network coverage. The company will also provide an FPV Groundstation app for iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry PlayBook to control the system and receive the AES-256 encrypted video stream.

FPV Groundapp
FPV Groundstation app

If they reach soon-to-announced stretch goals, they’ll also implement on-groundstation video recording,on-device video recording, augmented reality overlays, and possibly Oculus Rift virtual reality headset support.

If you are interested in this project, you can currently pledge $349 (Early Birds), plus $20 shipping if you don’t live in Hong Kong to get a full Skydrone FPV System, the Sky Drone FPV App, and a Sky Drone Sticker with the camera and modem of choice delivered in December 2013 or later. If you miss the “Early Birds” pledge, you’ll have to fork $399. Retail price will be $449.

You can watch the Indiegogo video below for an overview, and a demo of the prototype system, as well as some info about the campaign.

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