Hex: A $49 open source, smartphone-controller nanocopter hits Kickstarter

You may not be able to buy a MeCam flying camera for $49 just yet (it’s expected to hit the streets in 2014). But $49 is enough to buy you a tiny quad-coptor that you can control with your smartphone.

Hex is a nanocoptor kit that’s based on open source designs, and which is expected to ship in December. The team behind Hex are trying to raise funds for the project on Kickstarter, and they’ve already blown past their $10,000 goal, which means the project is fully funded a month and a half before the deadline.

Hex Nanocopter

Hex uses Bluetooth 4.0 to communicate with your phone, and then you can use touch-based controls or the gravity sensors in your phone to control movements of the flying drone.

It also features auto-stabilization to reduce the risk of crashing when you’re not paying attention.

Aside from the low price, there are a few things that set this kit apart, including support for custom shells which can be 3D printed to fit. You can choose from existing shells or design your own.

The Hex hardware and software are open source and Arduino-compatible, which makes it easy for folks who are comfortably programming Arduino devices to alter the behavior of the nanocopter.

The kits consists of propellers, motors, a shell, and a board with a processor, sensors, and other goodies. It’s battery-powered, but like most tiny quad-copter, Hex can’t carry a lot of weight — so it’s equipped with a relatively small battery that only provides about 7 minutes of flight time.

While the basic kit is available for a Kickstarter pledge of $49, a pledge of $159 or more will gets you a kit that includes a WiFi webcam and a “photographer” shell, which lets you shoot video and send it to your phone in real-time.

There’s also a $469 “Spy Set” which includes a set of glasses that gives you a first-person view of what your little drone is seeing through its camera.

via CNX-Software

  • Bruce_Mc

    Controlling a quad (or hex) copter with a phone over bluetooth could give problems with range and with responsiveness. I think this would be much better suited to indoor use than outdoors.

    Walkera is probably the most well known company that makes small quad and hex copters. They have a wide selection of products that include First Person Video and control via apple phones and tablets using WiFi.


    • Brian

      Apple lockin is bad. Any idea when they will support android platforms?

      • Jeppe Rishede Thomsen

        You could maybe try to click the link before commenting??
        They have both iOS and Android apps ready!

  • Jeppe Rishede Thomsen

    The biggest problem I see is that the shell does not seem to be included, so you need access to a 3D printer!

  • John Morris

    Allow me to translate:

    Instead of not buying the MeCam you can not buy the Hex since neither are past the vaporware/Kickstarter stage. Someday you might be able to buy one or both of them. Or not.

    Can we please leave KickStarter projects to Kickstarter until they ship product? It seems that in the last year or two I have seem as many Kickstarter projects that never shipped product as alternate energy schemes that never make it past the exciting press release phase.

    So many people have great ideas and then discover that actually building, debugging, delivering and supporting actual product requires business skills they don’t have. They also discover that all that ‘overhead’ in the competing products they were sure they could eliminate can’t be, which is why that incredible teaser price doesn’t survive contact with reality.

    • Bruce_Mc

      I agree. There is no need for Liliputing to deceive it’s readers like this.

      “While the basic kit is available for a Kickstarter pledge of $49 …”

      That sentence is a lie. Only hope is available, not a real product.

      For those who want a real product now, I think the Parrot AR drone is a good place to start looking.