A Revolution in the Drone Industry
PlexiDrone is the first commercially available RTF camera drone designed to let anyone easily create and fly with their own custom payloads. With features like the ones shown below, PlexiDrone's custom payload architecture gives developers maximum freedom.
- Quick-Release Trigger for easy assembly (no tools required)
- Universal payload rail (allows for simple CG adjustment and mounting on almost any fixture)
- A simple, reliable, and open-source communication protocol (your custom design can talk to / or interface) with PlexiDrone's flight controller board and mobile application
- Independently programmable payload clip using common languages and tools (Arduino IDE, Atmel studio, Visual Studio)
- Access to regulated power (3.3V, 5V, 16.8V)
- Access to PWM, analog, and digital pins controlled by a programmable micro-controller
Custom Payloads can be anything from mechanical devices, camera mounts, to any type of custom electronics system. For example, you may decide to improve PlexiDrone by adding your own experimental 3D scanning sensors for fully autonomous navigation! Imagine that custom payloads are to PlexiDrone what mobile apps are to smartphones and tablets. Your custom payload could revolutionize the drone industry.
The Key to Custom Payloads
The Key to successful Custom Payloads is the use of the Quick-Release Payload Clip. With it you can quickly detach and click in any payload on the fly!
If you are a Developer you would have to design your payload so that it either fits with or integrates the design of the Payload Rail (shown below).
The 3D CAD and/or 2D drawings of the Payload Rail can be found here.
In addition to producing a physical payload there is an electronic component as well for most payloads. An assortment of signal, power and ground ports are available for you to hack away with.
Possibilities with Custom Payloads
The possibilities are virtually endless provided the total payload weight is below 1000 grams. You are not limited to developing for cameras despite this accessory being ubiquitous with drones presently. You have the capability to go beyond, to produce something the world may not have seen before.
Some examples of payloads that could be developed:
- 3D scanner
- Audio system
- Candy dispenser
- Delivery container
- Bright flashlight
- Anything else that you can imagine will make an impact in an industry that weighs less than 1000 grams and can be attached to the Payload Clip
The Quick-Release Payload Clip means PlexiDrone users can attach the Custom Payload with ease, and the electronic ports ensure this is a seamless, intuitive experience for the user. That is, the user would be able to simply plug in the custom payload and it powers on instantly. To help conserve power to maintain longer flight times, it is also possible for a Custom Payload to have its own independent battery.
How to Share Your Idea
There are many ways to share your Custom Payloads with the rest of the world, but we recommend doing one or both of the following:
- 3D file sharing service such as Thingiverse or GrabCAD
- On the PlexiDrone Cloud with all PlexiDrone Developers and Customers
Custom Payloads Volume Size Recommendation
Special consideration must be paid to the overall volume your custom payload would occupy. Provided below is a maximum volume size recommendation. This however serves as a guide only, for example; adequate testing must be done with your design to ensure it does not contact the landing gear when it is retracted down.
Recommended Volume Limits
This volume represents approximately 200 x 200 x 150mm / 8 x 8 x 6" (LxWxH) of space:
To avoid contact with the ground, PlexiDrone's Landing Gear will allow for a payload to be as tall as 150mm / 6" (from bottom-most point to bottom face of Payload Rail). Appropriate 3D files and 2D drawings to help guide this recommendation can be found here.
Your custom payload's weight should be concentrated as closely as possible to the Center of Thrust (CoT) Z-axis. The weight should should be laterally (X & Y-axes) balanced about the Z CoT axis as best as possible. If the payload is not balanced, then PlexiDrone makes corrections to motor speeds via its flight controller in order to keep itself level and stable resulting in peak performance loss in addition to reduced battery life.
Example of Good Custom Payload Weight Distribution:
In this example a custom payload (blue form) is mounted to PlexiDrone. If you divide up the lateral weight distribution into four quadrants you will see a good balance between Left and Right, and between Front and Rear. Even though L+R and F+R are not the same weights, this example is still overall a payload with good weight distribution.
Rarely does such a balance come naturally, and the payload designer could often be faced with a challenge like in the example shown below.
Example of Poor Custom Payload Weight Distribution:
In this example a lop-sided custom payload (blue form) is mounted to PlexiDrone. If you divide up the lateral weight distribution into four quadrants you will see a significant excess weight on the Left side. If at all possible, the payload should be redesigned to distribute more weight to the Right side.
Above all, it is recommended to keep the payload as light as possible without compromising structural integrity to avoid significantly reducing battery life.
Payload Rail & 3D Files
To design a Custom Payload it is recommended to integrate the Payload Rail geometry. The article on this and the 3D files and 2D drawings for both the Payload Rail and Recommended Volume Limits can be found by navigating through here.
Custom Payloads FAQs
How do I Sign Up and Become a Developer?
There is a form to fill out here. Upon completion and submission DreamQii will review the form and will inform you via email what the next steps are.
Does my Custom Payload Design Need its own Power Source?
It does not; power is drawn from PlexiDrone's PlexiPower Battery. That said, your Custom Payload having its own battery in addition is a possibility, but be aware the added weight of an additional battery may prove to not be beneficial to flight time.
Can PlexiHub CS's Buttons also be used for Custom Payloads?
Yes. The PlexiHub's control buttons can be customized via the PlexiLink App.