I am working on my own quadcopter and I would like to stream video from it to my computer. I know how to do it using Raspberry Pi and wifi dongle hooked to its usb port, but I don't want that solution because it's bulky and heavy. I need something like what ARDRone did with their ARDrone2.0 quadcopter ARDrone 2.0. They have an onboard microprocessor, 512MB RAM memory, tiny HD camera and a wifi module. All of it fits in a very compact space that is considerably smaller than that needed by Raspberry Pi. I've been searching online a lot trying to find out how to build these systems, but I couldn't find anything. Where do I need to start to learn how to build these custom systems without using Raspberry Pi, Arduinos, etc. Thanks!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why not use a COTS IP camera? \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jun 30 '14 at 14:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I googled it and it looks a bit bulky. I also need to have onboard image processing capabilities, which can only be done with an onboard microprocessor. \$\endgroup\$ – pkout Jun 30 '14 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that in some countries transmitting a digital video stream from a flying object is forbidden. \$\endgroup\$ – Vladimir Cravero Jun 30 '14 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am talking just wifi - not a radio transmission. ;) Also, I am in the USA and here wifi video from a quadcopter is okay. \$\endgroup\$ – pkout Jun 30 '14 at 14:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Start by learning ARM microcontrollers then move forward on how to control RAM and then Wi-Fi module and then HD camera. Learn high speed PCB design techniques. Learn how to create SMPS circuits. \$\endgroup\$ – abdullah kahraman Jun 30 '14 at 15:53

tweaking off-the-shelf hardware to reduce mass

In practice, people often find that they can get most of the advantages of full-custom systems with much less time and money by tweaking off-the shelf PCBs.

Even if I were convinced I needed to make a full-custom system, my first prototype would use off-the-shelf hardware just to make sure the system as a whole "works" and I haven't forgotten some critical subsystem, even if the prototype weighs 10 times as much as I expect the full-custom version to weigh.

Most of the mass of a typical computer is in the enclosure and the connectors.

My second prototype would use mostly off-the-shelf hardware, tearing off the enclosures I don't need; desoldering the connectors and other heavy components for stuff I don't use; and desoldering heavy connectors and replacing them with lighter connectors or direct wire connection.

I hear "The Ben Heck Show" frequently demonstrates a similar process. The "WiFi Booster Mod by DBS" has some pretty pictures illustrating desoldering heavy connectors and replacing them with direct point-to-point soldered wires.

Full-custom Linux PCBs

In principle you could minimize the size and mass of the electronics by designing your own full-custom PCB(s).

If I were convinced I needed to make such a full-custom system, I would start from some open-hardware motherboards that run Linux and tweak the design slightly for my third prototype.

old-school rant

Wow, someone complaining that the Raspberry Pi is "bulky and heavy" ? Do you know nothing about the Cray-1 or the Cray X-MP that several people -- "Help Chris boot his Cray-1 supercomputer", "Raspberry Pi versus Cray X-MP supercomputer", "A Cray for $35", etc. -- claim can be replaced by a Raspberry Pi?

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a quite useful answer! As for the relative size of RPi compared to ancient computers, that's irrelevant here, of course (but I do understand your sentiment). I am trying to build something that would be getting close to production level quality. Raspberry Pi is good for prototyping, not so much for the final or nearly final product, especially so on a flying platform like a copter. I like your suggestions on how to gradually approach the final product setup, though. \$\endgroup\$ – pkout Feb 26 '15 at 22:32

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