Throughout history many great inventions have been created by accident, and this might just be one of them. Flybrix DIY drone kits include all required parts to build your very own multicopter with LEGO bricks. Specially designed bricks can accommodate micro motors, while an assortment of standard bricks can be used for building the airframe. Everything is connected to an Arduino compatible controller board which draws power from a small battery. Creations can be remote controlled over Bluetooth from a mobile app, or with a dedicated 2.4GHz radio controller and receiver.
Flybrix is a self-funded North American startup created by Amir Hirsch, Robb Waters and Holly Kasun in 2015. The idea came up as they were researching autonomous flight using computer vision and other technologies. They were using LEGO bricks for rapidly prototyping their microdrones, until they had one of those eureka moments.
These LEGO drone kits are aimed at children over 14 years of age and are among the best STEM toys anyone could want. Well, anyone who likes LEGO will at least check these out, I know I will. The kits are of course fully compatible with any bricks you already own, and even include a surprise figurine which has the tough job of being the pilot of your airborne contraptions.
As mentioned earlier there are two Flybrix kits which include everything necessary to make your very own LEGO drones. There are 8 special boom-arm bricks, 8 rotors and propellers, 46 assorted bricks, a figurine, a Flybrix controller board, USB data cable, small LiPo battery and USB charging cord.
The difference between these two kits is the remote control method. The Basic Flibrix kit can be controlled via Bluetooth from a mobile app compatible with iOS and Android, and has a retail price of US $149 for a limited time. The Deluxe Flibrix kit includes a dedicated 2.4GHz radio control transmitter and a receiver which connects to the Flybrix board. It has an introductory price of $189.
The radio control transmitter and receiver can also be bought separately for $80. Deliveries will start in November this year, find out more about this on their website.
Flybrix controller board
The custom Flybrix board comes pre-programmed and is built around an Arduino compatible 94Mhz Cortex-M4 microcontroller. It also includes several sensors such as a barometer, magnetometer, various LEDs, analog-to-digital (ADC) converters, a SD card slot and a Bluetooth module. Wi-Fi and GPS modules can be added optionally.
Software, programming and instructions
Flibrix can engage users of all levels of expertise. Beginners can learn how an UAV works as they build and fly their creations, while more advanced users can view logs and alter settings from the Flybrix software, or even from a Chrome extension. The Flybrix code can also be fully customized, all sources are available on Github. There are also various tutorials to get you started with this neat little platform.