The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is one of the most advanced quadcopters in the market today. It has a lot of features that both beginning and experienced pilots want to try out but what makes the drone more valuable is its customizability. A lot of pilots buy this particular drone in order to tweak it up to their liking.
Thus, we will talk about the most popular AR Drone 2.0 mods, how they are installed, and how they improve the performance or aesthetics of the famous quadcopter.
Parrot AR Drone 2.0 features and specifications
The Parrot AR drone 2.0 is a mid-sized quadcopter measuring 23 x 5 x 23 inches. Because of its size and weight, the drone is also a bit heavy for younger individuals at 4 pounds; nothing an average adult could lift, though.
The quadcopter comes in 3 different styles which you can choose depending on your preferences. The drone is sleek in style and is symmetrical, with its built-in camera installed at the front. The packaging is also neatly done and is enticing for customers. It is also assembled before packaging, and thus is ready to fly. Watch this video of unboxing the drone for you to see its artistic style up and close:
In terms of performance, the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 gives more than what its price asks for. It has a built-in camera which can capture HD videos at 720p in 30 fps. It is also able to stream with little to no delays.
You can link the drone to your device so that it can send the video or photo directly to your mobile device after recording or capturing it. You can do this by downloading a free application calledAR.Freeflight on Google Play or Apple Store. This application also lets you fly your drone using your smartphone or tablet and is very intuitive and easy to use.
The app also lets you see what the drone sees, and lets you switch cameras. If you want to shoot more amazing videos, you can purchase the application’s Director Mode which lets you program the drone to do special moves that make your videos more professional-looking.
The drone also has a Flight Recorder GPS which you can install. This Flight Recorder GPS makes use of a GPS module which lets you choose a destination for your drone to go on the map. It also has a home button which programs your drone to go back to its original takeoff location. The Flight Recorder GPS has a 4 GB memory which stores the drone’s flight patterns, making it sort of the “black box” of your drone.
The drone is controlled using the WiFi network emitted by your device which means you can control the drone from about 30 meters away. The only slight drawback of this is the connectivity issues that might arise when the drone flies too far from your location.
The AR drone 2.0 has a maximum of 12 minutes of flying time before running out of battery and it takes about an hour to get fully-charged. In terms of structure, the drone is relatively stable to fly thanks to its sturdy frame. It is made with carbon fiber tubes as well as fiber charged nylon plastic for added strength. The engine is masked with foam to lessen its vibration, thus giving it a more stable flight. The parts are also all replaceable for added customizability.
The drone is equipped with a 1 GHz 32 bit processor to give it a faster response time. It also comes with a 1 GB DDR2 RAM and a USB 2.0 for faster connection. It has a built-in WiFi to let you control it using your device. It has a 3-axis gyroscope for improved mobility. It also has a 3-axis accelerometer and magnetometer. It is also built with pressure sensors and ultrasound sensors. The motors on the other hand are made to produce less noise, and to be water-resistant.
The drone has 4 motors running at 28,000 RPM. They are also fully-programmable to give great maneuverability. The motor is self-lubricating to prevent wear and tear. The engine is made with sturdy materials to make sure it is performing properly at all times.
All in all, the drone is great for its price of 300$. It has a number of excellent features, and you can control it readily using your device. Even more, is that you can fully-customize it the way you want. On the next section, we discuss some of those Parrot AR Drone 2.0 mods that you can make in order to optimize your quadcopter’s performance.
Parrot AR Drone 2.0 mods
Parrot’s AR Drone 2.0 boasts itself as a fully-customizable quadcopter. It means that you can install, replace, and optimize some parts of the quadcopter to your liking. The internet is full of tips and tricks from various hackers who have fiddled with the drone and found out a tweak or two in order to improve its performance.
You can find things from extending battery life, to putting unique LED lighting systems, and even extending the WiFi range of the drone.
This section summarizes the things we’ve gathered so far, but you should know that you are the only one responsible for any kind of tinkering that you will be doing to your drone. Also keep in mind that once you’ve opened the quadcopter and started to install, replace, and do stuff to it, it may lose the warranty.
Though some of the mods are relatively easy to do, it pays to exercise caution when performing certain improvements to your drone. Lastly, if you think you are too young to do these things by yourself, it is never a bad choice to ask assistance from someone who is older and more knowledgeable than you.
Extending the drone’s range
The first thing that you may want to explore is how to extend your AR Drone’s range. Due to its WiFi connectivity, the quadcopter is restricted to about 30 to 100 meters of flying range depending on some variables. Though 100 meters is relatively long already, sometimes it is still not enough, especially if you want to climb to higher altitudes and capture a wider and majestic view. Thus, it is better to increase the flying range of your drone first.
There are two methods that you can use to increase your drone’s range. One method is increasing the signal of your WiFi by installing a WiFi antenna. In the video below, you can see how the protagonist makes use of a modified main board into which an antenna can be attached. This method will increase your flight range to up to 50%, but it’s best to watch the vide first as it shows in detail how you can increase the range of your Parrot AR Drone 2.0:
However, if you want to increase your flight range to an even longer one, and by longer we are talking about 1500 to 2500 meters long, then you should convert your drone into a 2.4 GHz remote controlled one.
This will surpass the range that the WiFi provides. But this method is extremely difficult to do, and requires advanced technical knowledge. Also, there is a risk that you might break your drone beyond repair. Thus, you should only do it if you are certain that you can follow the instructions up to the letter. The video can be found below.
Extending the drone’s battery life
The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 already has 12 minutes of flight time. Though it is above the average time of 10 minutes, it still pales in comparison with DJI Phantom’s 20 minutes of flight time.
What makes Parrot AR Drone 2.0 better though is its customizability, and thankfully, increasing the flight time is one of the options.
The first thing you want to do is to improve the efficiency of your motor. If your drone’s motor works at maximum efficiency, it will consume less battery in the process. This in turn will improve your drone’s flight time. The most basic way is to upgrade your bushings to shielded sealed bearings.
The bushings are installed to reduce the vibrations of the engine. While bushings are effective, they’re not as effective as shielded sealed bearings. Using these bearings will reduce the friction made by your drone’s motor, and in turn may increase your motor’s efficiency by up to 4 times, and thus consume less battery.
It is also simple to do and just takes 10 minutes of your time. If you want to learn how to do it, you can watch this video:
Another way to increase your drone’s battery life is to change the batteries into a longer lasting one. Your drone makes use of a Lithium-ion polymer battery at 1500 mAh and 11.1 volts. This type of battery gives your drone a maximum of 12 minutes of flight time.
Upgrading your batteries on the other hand, might give as much as 20 minutes of flight time. To know more about the options you have in terms of replacement batteries for your drone, you can refer to the below video.
Increase the drone’s durability
Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is by itself a relatively sturdy drone. It is made up of durable materials that make the quadcopter able to withstand a number of sudden drops. However, it never hurts to invest in your drone’s durability even further.
There are certain ways to increase your drone’s durability, but one of the most convenient ways is to change your drone’s base plate into a stronger one. The material most available to the public today is the carbon fiber base plate. This base plate reduces the shock that your drone might experience when it suddenly falls while flying.
The carbon fiber base plate also fits perfectly to your drone’s base, thus making the installation process a lot easier. This video teaches you how to install your new base plate properly:
You can also install gear and shaft bumpers to your drone to prevent it from getting broken if ever it hits something head on. Another use of the bumper is to prevent your drone’s gears and shafts in the event of a collision.
The installation is fairly easy to do and it doesn’t affect your drone’s performance in any way. You can also buy the materials readily on Amazon. The instructional above video that you can refer to if ever you want to install bumpers to your drone can be found.
Improve the drone’s aesthetics
Parrot AR Drone 2.0 already has a stylish design that most pilots get attracted to. However, what’s lacking in this quadcopter is some good lighting. Because of this, it is hard to operate the drone during night time. Of course, hackers have transformed this particular problem into an opportunity to improve the drone’s looks.
We have two LED lighting mods that can be installed to your drone to make it look cooler especially during the night. You can install a series of LED lights to mimic the appearance of a UFO. In this video, you can learn how to transform your drone to look like a UFO by just installing certain pattern of LED lights. The video can be watched here:
While making your drone look like a UFO may seem like a cool idea, there is an even cooler way to improve your drone’s looks. However, this method requires a lot of things that you need to do.
We are talking about transforming your drone to look like a police vehicle. Yes. It doesn’t get any cooler than that. If you want to spend the time to make your drone more awesome, then take the time to watch and follow video.
Improve the drone’s video and photo capabilities
Due to the drone’s setup, the camera it has is facing forward. Though it still provides a great view of the surroundings, it lacks perspective. A good way to improve this is to make the camera face downwards instead. By doing this, your drone can enhance its field of vision and deliver breathtaking photos and videos of the view below.
You should do this with great caution however, as making a wrong move might permanently disable your camera. If you are still willing to do it, here is a tutorial:
As you may know, the Parrot AR Drone 2.0’s camera has limited capabilities. A video quality of 720p is considered high if you are a hobbyist who just wants to enjoy the view from above.
However, if you are a professional photographer who wants nothing but quality and perfection for your craft, then it is good to improve your drone’s camera. One way to do it is to attach a GoPro to it. You can check out below tutorial in order to improve your drone’s photo and video capabilities.
The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 proves to be one of the most customizable UAV’s available in the market today. Due to its stylish design and interesting features, the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is a really good catch by itself.
Adding its customizability however further increases its value. It has some drawbacks as all drones do, but these drawbacks are easily offset by your ability to improve your drone through customization. If you are an avid pilot who wants to have a drone that you can fully customize for its looks, functions, and durability, this drone is definitely for you.