PiWings Is a Raspberry Pi Pico-Based Flight Controller for Drones

PiWings 2.0 is a new Raspberry Pi Pico-based drone flight controller that just launched on Kickstarter.

Cameron Coward
12 days agoDrones

Multirotor drones are inherently unstable and are only able to stay aloft through the careful coordination of power delivery to the motors. Unlike an airplane or hot air balloon, even a minor issue can (and likely will) result in complete failure and a crash. It is the job of the flight controller to ensure that doesn’t happen, which makes that an incredibly important component. So, fans of the Raspberry Pi Pico development board will be happy to know that there is now a compatible flight controller for multirotor drones.

PiWings 2.0 recently launched on Kickstarter and has already raised nearly twice the modest $12,714 funding goal. This is a campaign from SB Components Ltd, which is a small maker-focused company that has proven its ability to deliver with 17 previous Kickstarter launches. Most of those took advantage of Raspberry Pi products. The original PiWings was also built around the Raspberry Pi Pico but doesn’t seem to have reached a full product release. PiWings 2.0 should pick up where that left off.

This is a multirotor drone flight controller intended for makers that want to experiment and take advantage of the Raspberry Pi Pico’s RP2040 microcontroller. At launch, it will support three different configurations: tricopter, quadcopter, and hexacopter. That means that it can control up to six DC motors. Additionally, it has four connectors for three-pin servo motors, RGB LED strip support, and available GPIO pins for entirely custom expansion. There is even a ESP8266-12E microcontroller acting as a WiFi adapter.Out of the box, the PiWings 2.0 flight controller will be able to use its onboard MPU6050 IMU and software to maintain stable flight. Owners can pilot their drones via Wi-Fi with a smartphone app or with the included dual-joystick controller. PiWings 2.0 is also compatible with other wireless controllers on the market.

But the real power is in tinkering. This is open-source hardware and owners are free to hack it however they wish. Using the Arduino IDE or Visual Studio, users can easily write and upload their own code to introduce new functionality or alter existing functionality.

If you want to try PiWings 2.0 for yourself, the Kickstarter campaign will run until July 5th. There are four kits available: the tricopter kit (£110/$140), the quadcopter kit (£125/$159), the hexacopter kit (£139/$177), and an all-in-one kit that will let you make any of those (£199/$254). Rewards should ship in September.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist. Check out my YouTube channel: Serial Hobbyism
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