Tiny Drones

Latest-generation drones now cost around $1,000, if not more. Or how about … $10? Seriously! Teardown: A tiny drone and its controller article tells about Cheerson CX-10 Quadcopter that can be picked for around $10. I picked one at slightly higher price (around €15) from Banggood or DX, to get the idea of today’s drones. I also bought a protection cover for the drone so that the drone blades are not damaged so easily and do not hurt if the drone accidentally hits you. After installing that protective cover, this drone was pretty fun to fly.

I planned to do a tear-down article of this tiny drone (I already opened the controller), but then I found out that EDN magazine had already published a nice one in Teardown: A tiny drone and its controller article. The drone is powered by tiny Lithium-ion Polymer battery (100 mAh capacity, capable of around 4 minutes of flight time)  that is charged with USB charging cable. For communications the drone and controller both use Panchip Microelectronics XN297 2.4 GHz transceiver, intended for wireless mice and other applications. The main CPU is STMicroelectronics’ STM32F050K MCU, based on an ARM Cortex-M0 processor that is connected to 3-axis gyro and 3-axis accelerometer.

Checking out what is now available is newer version Cheerson CX-10W CX10W Mini Wifi FPV With Camera 2.4G 4CH 6 Axis LED RC Quadcopter (also available from DX) , that is controlled with smart phone or tablet with app through WLAN connection, and also has a tiny camera.

I have not tested this drone, but I found a review of CX-10W in YouTube and also another review. It looks interesting. There is also information on the manufacturer web page.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Flying A Normally-Sized Drone With A Nano-Drone’s Brain

    Drones come in all shapes and size, and [Kedar Nimbalkar] was wondering if the guts of a tiny Cheerson CX-10 nano-drone could take off with a larger body, leading to an interesting brain transplant experiment.

    For his test, [Kedar] acquired a CX-10 and the body of a larger Syma X5SW drone. After gutting the CX-10 for its LiPo battery and circuit board, which features an STM32 ARM-core MCU, a 6-axis IMU and the wireless transmitter, [Kedar] studied the datasheet of the onboard SQ2310ES driver MOSFETs.

    DIY How To Make The World’s Smallest Drone Bigger ! Cheap RC Drone Hack

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Home> Consumer Design Center > Teardown
    Teardown: A tiny camera drone

    Does a 0.3 Mpixel image sensor-and-lens assembly, mated to a microSD slot supporting up-to-32 GByte flash memory card capacities, justify a 50% price increase (to $15 total, mind you)?

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    So there you have it. Earlier today, I dropped $20 and change on the Cheerson CX-10W, which dispenses with the remote control (although you can still optionally use one from a different model, or purchased standalone), relying instead on control via a Wi-Fi-tethered Android or iOS device. It also dispenses with local microSD-based storage, instead wirelessly streaming still images and video to that same smartphone or tablet for viewing and archiving. Interestingly, Ebay tells me that it’s also possible to buy the CX-10W Wi-Fi camera board standalone, albeit for roughly the same price as the entire drone.

    Source: http://www.edn.com/design/consumer/4442669/Teardown–A-tiny-camera-drone?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_funfriday_20160909&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_funfriday_20160909&elqTrackId=652232de708d4a3e8bb73a537f5f7df7&elq=f88271a4810749f6bb0362c38a375893&elqaid=33805&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=29546

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Interesting usage idea for this tiny drone:


    Yes, the pun was ripped off the article that got our attention . It was just too good not to share. A team of researchers in Japan created an artificial honeybee, a small drone that is meant to cross-pollinate flowers. The (still) manually controlled drone is 4 centimetres wide and weighs only 15 grams. At the bottom side of the drone, a mix of a special sticky gel and horse hair resides. The purpose of this gel is to collect the pollen particles as it bumps into the flowers and exchange it as it goes hopping around from plant to plant. In experiments, the drone was able to cross-pollinate

    You’re Looking at the World’s First Artificial Honeybee

    Tiny drones may help pollinate crops when dwindling honeybees aren’t enough.

    In a honeybee colony, normally it’s the female worker bees that go out, gather pollen, and make honey. The male drones only exist to provide the queen with sperm to make more female workers. But, in response to declining honeybee populations, researchers in Japan are putting drones to work. Only these drones are the plastic, remote-controlled kind.

    Combining scotch tape, paint brush hairs, a tiny quadcopter, and a failed, forgotten experiment, these interdisciplinary researchers have produced an artificial honeybee. A drone-drone. (Sorry.)

    Miyako had bought 10 drones, and destroyed nine of them. In the paper describing the drone, published today, February 9 in the journal Chem, he wrote, “a certain amount of practice with remote control of the artificial pollinator is necessary.”

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hubsan FPV drone teardown

    it appeared to be mostly fine, except…one motor was seized. On the plus side – teardown excuse.

    This stuff is small, and probably not up to many disassembly/reassembly cycles.

    The main processor is an ST STM32F031K6, an ARM Cortex-M0 with the usual cadre of peripherals, as well as a motor-control block (the leftmost large chip in Figure 2). Although at the lower end of the ARM continuum, it’s doubtless more than powerful enough for this application. Amazing what $1 will buy you in a microcontroller these days.

    The next major chip is an Invensense MPU-6050, which combines a three-axis gyro and accelerometer with onboard processing.

    Chip #3 is labelled AMS29023, but I haven’t been able to find any information about it. Clearly though, it’s the 2.4 GHz RC receiver (the video transmitter uses 5.8 GHz).

    I’ll wager the foam-covered part at the bottom of the board is a pressure sensor, as Hubsan claims height hold ability.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Teardown: Drone streams live video

    Back in May 2016, EDN published my teardown of Cheerson’s $10 CX-10 quadrotor drone. More recently, you saw my dissection and analysis of its $15 CX-10C sibling, with an integrated still and video camera that captured images to a memory card inserted in the drone’s microSD slot. And now it’s time for the ~$20 CX-10W, which live streams those same images to a Wi-Fi-connected Android- or iOS-based smartphone, tablet, or other device.

    By default, the CX-10W is also controlled by that same Android- or iOS-based device … but drone enthusiasts report that a CX-10 or CX-10C’s transmitter can alternatively also control the quadrotor.

    these are the exact same three foundation ICs found in the CX-10 and CX-10C:

    A Panchip Microelectronics XN297 2.4 GHz transceiver at the bottom, intended for wireless mice and other applications
    An InvenSense MPU-6050 MEMS IC above and the right of the XN297, which combines 3-axis gyro and 3-axis accelerometer functions along with integrating a motion processor
    And an STMicroelectronics’ STM32F031K MCU to the left of the MPU-6050 (as well as above and to the left of the XN297), based on an ARM Cortex-M0 processor

    Flip this PCB over and, in addition to gaining a clearer view of the lithium-ion polymer battery, you’ll also find another antenna. This one, considering what’s on the other side of this same PCB, likely handles Panchip’s proprietary 2.4 GHz protocol:

    Now for the top-half PCB. As you can already tell from the markings on the other PCB, one of this PCB’s functions involves Wi-Fi (the other two wires handle power and ground). And in fact, the IC at the center is a Marvell 88W-class 802.11 transceiver:


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