pre-flight ( \ ˈprē-ˌflīt \ ) : A/V telepresence & weather

PUT http://birdhouse/restapi/hw/state?value=pre-flight

Safe, repeatable landings use a combination of FPV and LOS views.

Birdhouse detects your drone's approach through a geofence, raises its deck, then switches your TV to line-of-sight. LOS is used to guide your drone to the landing threshold, then your tablet's FPV (pointing down) helps center on the landing pattern. This activates the drone's vision positioning system (VPS) for stable landing.

If landing back on Birdhouse isn't possible (say, an R/C failure or extreme weather), no problem: Birdhouse reprograms your drone's return-to-home (RTH) waypoint after launch: if something goes awry, it auto-lands in the bailout LZ.

We'd love to sell you one! ... but we're still prototyping our way to an MVP (minimum viable product).

Check the timeline for project status ... sign up for our newsletter (below) or follow us on Facebook ... email with questions! We'd love to hear from you, and we need your input to prioritize our prototyping efforts.

Birdhouse is a tool for FPV flight, much like FPV goggles. Like those goggles–or any element of safe flight practice–usage is governed by federal and local regulations in your area. Birdhouse is likely to come with a pre-use EULA similar to other FPV equipment, stipulating use in accordance with local LOS/BVLOS practice and regs. Most hobbyist use cases will involve an external LOS observer in contact with the Pilot In Command, possibly in conjunction with additional constraints like PIC+LOS.

Sorry, no MSRP yet. Like any nascent product, we have to sort three things: 1. ROI sanity check, 2. construction costs, 3. profit margin.

  1. if users only see $100 of ROI and our BOM is $1000, that's a no-starter!
  2. determined from a sample run of 3+ prototype units, averaged to an early estimate of BOM and labor costs.
  3. fluid based on expenses and projections.

Pricing is obviously a hot topic (for us too!), so expect regular newsletter updates as 1-3 fill in.

Birdhouse should work with any multi-rotor aircraft whose telemetry is available through an SDK (Software Development Kit). Given DJI's 70% market share (and our pack of Phantom mules), Birdhouse opens with support for DJI's Phantom 3+.

Supporting other DJI models (Inspire, etc) mostly involves scaling the enclosure, a simple matter as its 3D model is parametrically driven from a modeled drone; scale the drone and the enclosure "wraps" around it.

Non-DJI models additionally require up-front coding to integrate a new SDK.

In the box, you'll find a Birdhouse enclosure, junction box, and cable. Depending on the bundle, you'll also find a pre-modified drone or a drone self-mod kit.

With Birdhouse on a deck or porch outside, plug in one end of the cable. Run the other end indoors to the junction box. Through the box, make remaining connections to your home theatre (110 A/C; HDMI; ethernet; BNC pigtail for your R/C). After a short calibration procedure, take off on your first remote flights!

Once you're comfortable at ground-level, Birdhouse can be moved to a higher vantage point to extend LOS and antenna range. For this, Birdhouse comes with three RAM Mounts™ attachment points, for mounting options spanning the ecosystem of RAM™ hardware.

(don't mount it on a submarine, but ...) Yes, Birdhouse provides basic environmental shelter and monitoring, protecting against humidity, exposure and insects. It is not hermetically sealed, nor does it provide full HVAC environmental controls (yet). Therefore its mounting location should consider sun exposure and other factors to maintain the drone (and its flight battery) within their operating ranges.

Yes, there's a mod for your drone, and one for your remote control (R/C). They're backwards-compatible, so apart from Birdhouse your drone functions normally.

  1. On-board charging: your drone gets an upgraded battery terminal PCB and stick-on docking pad. Weight is negligible for no impact on flight characteristics or CoG.
  2. Remote operation: the R/C's built-in antenna is switched to Birdhouse's remote one, exposing a micro-BNC pigtail connection.

Whatever your DIY level, there's a mod bundle to fit:

  • Birdhouse / Drone Bundle: Birdhouse can be purchased together with a pre-modded drone (sold at cost).
  • Mod kit: if you already own a drone and you're handy with a soldering iron, Birdhouse provides a mod kit which can be installed in about a half-hour (TBD: link to Youtube time-lapse).
  • Mail-in: finally, if you're not into soldering, mail your drone to us. The mod is free and we pay for return postage, just pay postage to us (fair, no?)

Since Birdhouse mods breach the factory case seals, yes: these mods may impact your warranty. We hope to work with DJI on the final design, however, with ambitions of an eventual factory review and blessing.

Both mods are easily reversed.

Today's flight batteries are safer than ever, utilizing embedded microcontrollers to manage the charging process. That said, charging carries inherent risks in case of ruptured or malfunctioning LiPo cells. While we can't certify Birdhouse "fire proof" before destructive testing, the following measures minimize thermal risks for a safer alternative to in-home charging:

Active: Birdhouse monitors every charging cycle with high-frequency temp and particulate sensors. If any parameters breach a threshold, charging current is cut and alerts are sent, accompanied by an event dashboard to gauge status in realtime from e.g. your mobile device.

Passive: for the worst case, Birdhouse is fully lined with aramid weave, similar to that in explosion-proof battery bags.

Keep an on Things ...

Follow the prototyping effort as Birdhouse iterates to an MVP.

Contact Us

Co-located at Techshop San Francisco. 17K ft2 of Makerspace, $2.5M of fabrication equipment.