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Flutter: $20 wireless Arduino with half mile range

#1
I just came across this kickstarter for Flutter.

I'm a noobie Arduino tinkerer but I can see the potential here. Description from the Kickstarter:
What is Flutter?

Flutter is a wireless electronics development platform based on Arduino. With over half a mile of usable range, a powerful ARM processor, and integrated encryption, Flutter makes it easy for you to build projects that communicate across the house, across the neighborhood, and beyond.

Imagine:
  • A quad with a robotic manipulator or sky crane claw
  • New homebrew telemetry system, voltages, RPM, battery/motor temp, airspeed, barometric pressure, whatever. Any sensor you can hook up to an Arduino you can put into the plane and have it send data back.
  • RF scouting with airborne spectrum data sent back real time
  • Simple downed plane locator
  • Slap a RC car chassis on the bottom of a quad and you have a hybrid
  • Color change LEDs by remote
  • Any cool arduino thing you've ever seen cheaply made wireless with a half mile range

(Insert mad scientist laugh here: MMMUAAAAHAHAHA)
 

Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
Moderator
Mentor
#2
Seems like a cool idea, but I'm inclined to think it's going to be vaporware. Even if they get it going, it's going to come with issues.

They don't mention freq in the writeup, but from their rubber duckie (antenna), it looks in the 5.8 neighborhood. That band is cluttered in urban environs, and the air isn't that clear to RF at that freq. Probably okay when flying in a suburb field, but it's likely full of fail in their advertised central park photo.

If they're going for a part 15 cert, they can't mount a standard screw on antenna connection -- which they're advertising on the pro version (may be marketing speak -- it's "professional", just not standard). They *have* to make it difficult for you to mod/upgrade the antenna, it's a part of the regs.

I'm not completly convinced they'll make it though the part-15 certification and still hold on to the 1/2 mi radius. It's possible -- a full range 2.4 system can make it well beyond a mile and it would be a digital link (whch is allowed to transmit with higher levels).

I do wonder about their throughput (which could make for some really nasty latency), and interference rejection. It's one thing to get/miss an hourly status update on your pool pump tempurature or a minutely update from your BBQ pit, but another thing for your plane to miss a servo "chop throttle" command.

Having it as a cheap 5.8 band spectrum analizer might be nice, especially if you want to run 5.8 FPV . . .

All that being said, If they can get it going and keep the prices down, about half the ideas you mentioned are fully realizable. At $30, it could make for a nice DIY platform.
 
#3
My guess is that it is running on the 2.4Ghz spectrum since they mention wifi (802.11) protocol. That could cause some noise for RC application, but multi channel protocols like DSMX should be OK.
 

Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
Moderator
Mentor
#4
Could be, but the antenna looks short for 2.4Ghz. Might just be me.

Sounds like they're using a spread spectrum method as well, so the two probably won't fight . . . too much . . .