Qi Inductive Charger

Qi Inductive Charger

My last post mentioned the next few posts would be about add-ons. In that context, here’s a post about something that makes the Crazyflie 2.0 much easier to use.

One of the more useful items Bitcraze released with the Crazyflie 2.0 is an inductive charger Flykit* (Flykit is the formal name for the Crazyflie expansion boards). This little expansion is simply an inductive charging receiver coil with the requisite circuitry to allow it to inject 5V into the Crazyflie’s charging circuit. It uses the Qi standard which, owing to the proliferation of smartphones using inductive charging, has become nearly ubiquitous in the market. The good news is that the widespread use of the Qi standard makes cheap and effective chargers (transmitter coils) readily available. In fact, even one of the most simple chargers is perfectly capable of charging a Crazyflie 2.0 equipped with a Qi Flykit!

Qi boardThis is the add-on I most commonly fly with because, owing to an inherited neuropathy, I don’t have much feeling in my fingers and it’s hard for me to fiddle with a µUSB cable at the end of every flight session. With the Qi Flykit, all I have to do is drop the Crazyflie on the charger and wait until it’s fully charged. It doesn’t take much longer that a direct µUSB connection and seeing it sitting there charging makes me happy!

PowerBot Qi chargerInductive chargers are interesting in that the coils (transmitter and receiver) do not have to be in direct contact with each other. I find I can charge the Crayflie’s battery even while holding it a centimeter above the charging pad! In the smart phone arena, some hackers have taken advantage of this property to mount Qi chargers in (under) furniture. Indeed, the charger I’m currently using (pictured) is very hackable (read easy to dismantle) for such a project.

Crazyflie chargingThis offers up some unique possibilities beyond me simply setting my Crazyflie 2.0 on a charging pad. It would be fun and cool to make a Crazyflie landing pad that could charge the Crazyflie after each flying session. Couple that with autonomous flight and you could have a Crazyflie that takes off, makes its rounds, and near the end of its battery cycle, returns to home base to recharge for the next sortie! That’s some cool stuff!

*The revision ‘B’ hardware pictured here is a nicer form factor than the revision ‘A’ hardware shown on the SeeedStudio site.

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