Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition (How to)

I recently got a Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition and I had a few issues with setting things up and running. After researching on the Internet many others had similar issues and a number of opinions and solutions were being suggest but without definitive answers. 
Due to the fact I had to spend a lot of time trying to find out who is right and who is wrong on the forums, I decided to make this non-security related blog-post because I believe it will really help a lot of people when it comes to that particular drone.

In case you didn't know:
  • The drone comes with 2 cameras, the obvious front one (decent quality, low resolution) and one at the bottom of the drone (very low resolution, bad quality picture) which is very difficult to notice if you do not know it is there. You can swap the image you receive on the mobile app, between the two cameras, by clicking the circular arrows icon. 
Mobile Apps:
  • You need to download the mobile app before you start and make sure you download the official one. There are apps for both Android and iOS called: AR.FreeFlight by Parrot SA. Once you install the app on your phone or tablet, then you will be able to configure the drone's setting by clicking the gear icon. 
WiFi connection:
  • However, in order to connect your phone with the drone, you will need to search for available WiFi networks once the drone is powered up, and connect to the drone's WiFi. 
Firmware Update:
  • Make sure the battery is fully charged on your drone and your phone is fully charge as well. 
  • Make sure you downloaded the official application (AR.FreeFlight). Run the application so it can check for any updates it needs online. 
  • Make sure you do not have a USB connected to the drone. 
  • Power up the drone and wait for the initialisation process (Blades jiggle and LEDs turn green). 
  • Connect to the drone's WiFi using the mobile device where you installed the mobile app (AR.FreeFlight). You should switch to Airplane Mode and allow only the WiFi to be connected to the drone. Switching to Airplane Mode is not mandatory, but it will ensure you do not receive a call during the firmware update process. 
  • Run the mobile app and go to the AR.DRONE UPDATE button. By hitting the button it should update the Drones firmware automatically. 
  • Once the process finishes the drone will reboot. 
  • Close the Mobile app, and make sure you are still connect to the drone's WiFi after the drone rebooted. 
  • By launching the Mobile app once more and clicking the update button you will prompted that the drone has the latest update. 
Recording video to USB (not on the mobile device you are using to fly it):
  • Make sure you format the USB in FAT32 (Allocation unit size 4096 bytes).
  • Some USB drive do not work for some reason with the drone. Not sure why, if it needs a specific type of USB or it is a capacity issue. The USB that worked for me was 4GB (I do not know the manufacturer, it was a promotional USB from a conference).
  • Power up the drone without the USB connected to it. 
  • Wait for the initialisation process (Blades jiggle and LEDs turn green).
  • Connect the USB. The green LEDs should blink. 
  • If the LEDs do not blink, launch the mobile app, (make sure it is connected to the drone's WiFi), go to settings and enable the "USB record" option. 
  • Close the app, remove the USB from the drone, power down the drone, and try powering it up again and after the initialisation process is finished connect the USB. 
  • You can confirm the USB is working properly by opening up the mobile app, and looking next to the REC button. In the picture below you can see the USB icon next to the REC button. The > 1h means there is more than an hour record time available to be stored on this particular USB memory stick.

Tilts to one side when in-flight (reset): 
In order to reset the drone you will have to follow the following steps. Make sure you find a good flat area to set drone. You need to be able to launch from there (better to do this in open space).After the launch (due to the reset) it will automatically do a 360 spin in the air to calibrate itself. Thus, do not panic if you are not expecting this.
  • Set drone down and connect the battery but don't strap it in position since you need to press the reset button underneath where the battery sits. You need something long for this. A toothpick is ideal (wouldn't recommend a stretched out paperclip that might short-circuit something).
  • With the battery plugged in just sitting on top push the toothpick down into the reset hole and press the reset button. As soon as you let go, the motor LEDs will turn red then they will go off. As soon as they go off, unplug the battery, and be quick about it. (wait 30 seconds)
  • Place the battery as you normally would for a flight, connect the battery to the drone, strap it in place, and install your hull. Let it go through its initialisation sequence before trying to connect to the drone's WiFi.
  • Connect to drone, (the WiFi name will be reset if you had it changed to a custom name, pairing will also be off).
  • Launch the app and go directly into settings, hit reset defaults and do a flat trim, wait about 5 seconds then go to flight screen and launch the drone.
  • Once the drone launches it most probably do a spin calibration (as mentioned earlier on).

Before you fly, check the rest of the options and make sure you are happy with what you have (height limit, speed limit, auto record, etc.)

I hope you find this post useful and it will allow you to get things started within a few minutes. Drone away!

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