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Long Range Digital HD Video FPV Solution - A new Era of FPV flying
Sky Drone
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
11 Team Members

If we don't reach our funding goal we will still go ahead with Sky Drone FPV. While sticking to our timeline of shipping the Sky Drone FPV sets in December 2013, we will only have a groundstation app for Android at start. Other platforms will be supported later (free of charge). The only way to secure the Early Bird price ($349) of a Sky Drone FPV set, is to purchase the Early Bird perk before this Indiegogo campaign ends. If the funding goal is not reached, Early Bird funders will get discount information to order from our website later.

We are 100% committed to our technology and we will prevail.

Get more Sky Drone FPV info here: www.skydrone.aero

"Finally, the feed is encrypted via AES-256 encryption to prevent any spying eyes from taking a peek at your feed […]"

"Looks good! I've backed it."
DIY Drones

"Sky Drone’s system relies on a 3G or 4G signal, while it doesn’t have a range limit."

As all FPV flyers know, there is usually a big gap between the high quality HD video of a recorded flight that you can see on YouTube and the blurred analog First Person View you actually see during the flight. We wanted to change this and figured that we can improve a lot of other aspects with our fully digital FPV solution as well:

  • Full HD Digital Video (up to 1920*1080 with 30 fps)
  • Unlimited Range by using 3G or 4G/LTE networks
  • FPV Groundstation app that is available on all major smartphone/tablet platforms: iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry PlayBook
  • On Screen Display (OSD) incl. Head-Up Display (HUD) (only if connected to a MAVLink compatible Autopilot Board like APM)
  • Unique Feature: take 5 MegaPixel HQ Still Images that are instantly transmitted to the app (while the video is still running of course)
  • Automatic and instant Bandwidth Adaptation
  • No regulatory / frequency issues as it uses a standard 3G/4G link
  • No more antenna tracking or heavy equipment – the only ground equipment you need for FPV video is your smartphone or tablet.
  • Optional: just connect any standard HDMI Video goggle to your smartphone / tablet and immerse yourself into Full HD FPV flying (Note: we even have Oculus Rift support as one of our Stretch Goals)
  • AES-256 Encryption – nobody will be able to spy on your Video Stream, not even the NSA ;-)

 BlackBerry PlayBook with Sky Drone FPV Groundstation Software

Our Funders Know Best

Find some of our funders whose expertise is related to the scope of our Sky Drone FPV project here:

FPV Flying today is mostly done with 20+ year old, low resolution analog technology that comes with some considerable drawbacks:

  • Low Resolution Video with a lot of noise
  • Heavy equipment on the ground, that needs to be carried
  • Interference issues with other radio equipment
  • The need for a large tracking antenna to achieve long range flights

Although digital FPV solutions that could eliminate all of the above issues are available, here are the main reasons why FPV Flying enthusiasts still use analog technology:

  • Low latency
    Analog links often have a low latency. Digital solutions usually need buffering or use inter-frame compression algorithms (H.264 / MPEG4) that are not built for low latency video or unreliable connections. Furthermore they are transferred on network protocols that are not suitable for real time video transfer (e.g. TCP).
  • Reliability
    Analog video is known to “just work” and even if it doesn’t work, it usually does not stop completely but just gives you noisy or distorted images. Digital solutions on the other hand are often not fault tolerant. Image errors often make the image unrecognizable or would require re-transmission of faulty video-frames which makes a live transmission impossible.
  • Price
    Analog solutions are cheap compared to Digital Video solutions that are currently on the market. Many of the available digital CODFM based systems target the military sector and cost multiple thousand dollars.

The Sky Drone FPV solution combines the reliability, low latency and low price of an analog FPV system with the video quality of a digital FPV system!

Analog FPV vs. digital Sky Drone FPV comparison


  • The Sky Drone FPV system is optimized for FPV flying but can be used standalone for any use case e.g. remote controlled ground vehicles; you can put it in a car for vehicle remote monitoring; as a security cam; …
  • For HUD and telemetry data we support MAVLink compatible autopilot boards (tested on APM 2.5)
  • Total Weight: 129 g (incl. all components and all cables)
  • Camera:
    • Option 1: Full HD 1080p 5Mpix Camera, Field of View: 120° (default)
    • Option 2: Full HD 1080p 5Mpix Camera, Field of View: 62°
  • Controller Board: BeagleBone Black
  • 3G/4G LTE Modem:
    • Option 1: Huawei E397Bu-501 for US / Americas
      4G LTE FDD 1700/2100MHz and 700MHz
    • Option 2: Huawei E398u-1 for Europe / Asia
      4G LTE FDD  900/2600 MHz
    • Note: check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks for supported frequencies of your carrier
  • Typical End to End Latency: <150ms
  • Data Usage: highly customizable; bandwidth cap can be configured
  • Power Input: 6-23v




Sky Drone FPV Hardware components

(Photo is showing a prototype. Cabling, Casing and USB-Hub will be improved and minimized in the final product.)

  Sky Drone FPV mounted on QuadcopterSky Drone FPV connected to APM 2.5 via MAVLink

(Sky Drone FPV mounted on quadcopter; quadcopter not included)



The Sky Drone FPV groundstation provides you with a low latency First Person View and an optional HUD Overlay. The telemetry data to be displayed is highly configurable. Furthermore it allows the user to set up alarms to ensure safety. By clicking the photo button a high resolution still photo is captured and transmitted to the groundstation in the background.

 SkyDrone FPV on BlackBerry 10 - Options ScreenSkyDrone FPV on BlackBerry 10 - Options Screen

(Options Screen on BlackBerry 10 Sky Drone FPV app)

Sky Drone FPV groundstation app on Android tabletSky Drone FPV groundstation app on iPhone

(Android and iOS mockups)


You are probably wondering, if it's all so simple, why hasn't this been done before? After all, there are some commonly known problems with live video transmission over 3G/4G networks:

  • Carriers often only provide heavily firewalled 3G/4G connections
  • Bandwidth can vary greatly from second to second
  • When routed via multiple hops there is a high latency
  • Transmission methods and compression algorithms weren't designed for 3G/4G networks
  • Link Reliability

After more than a year of research, development and testing we've have solved the above mentioned problems and have come up with some clever solutions:

  • Using a customized video format streamed via UDP to achieve low latency.
  • Using NAT Traversal / “hole punching” techniques to create a direct peer to peer connection even if the link is firewalled.
  • Custom USB camera driver to allow frame by frame resolution changes to quickly adapt to bandwidth demands.
  • Mediation Server to let both peers find each other.
  • Fallback to proprietary Proxy Server if NAT Traversal / “hole punching” fails to establish a direct connection.
  • Synchronization mechanism guaranties that the MAVLink telemetry data matches video timestamp.
  • FPV pilot safety features:
    • Auto-reconnect
    • Configurable alarms in ground station
    • An auto-bandwidth adaptation mechanism can instantly change frame rate, resolution and compression parameters to guarantee a snappy video stream even on very slow connections.
    • Current Latency displayed on HUD


The Sky Drone FPV system is a great solution for any FPV flying enthusiast. However, in achieving a low cost, reliable digital solutions we had to make some tradeoffs:

  • You always need Cell Tower coverage. So if you have plans flying in the Gobi Desert or on the South Pole, you probably want to use a different FPV solution.
  • A data flat rate or high volume contract is highly recommended to avoid costly phone bills.
  • You need a smartphone or tablet running either Android, iOS or BlackBerry 10 / PlayBook Tablet OS (but we assume this won't be much of an issue).


Sky Drone FPV development


The FPV system works flawlessly as of today. However, in order to finish the “final” product and start production we still have some work to do:

  • Still Image functionality is not finished yet
  • Our current development platform is BlackBerry. We still need to port the ground station application to Android & iOS. As the UI is mainly OpenGL ES based we expect the porting process to be relatively straightforward.

Stretch Goals - if we get more funding than our initial funding goal we will add:

  • on-groundstation video recording
  • on-device video recording
  • augmented reality overlays
  • Oculus Rift Support (starting with 2D)


We have put our heart and soul and a staggering amount of work in the project. To take the last hurdles we need you to support us. The financial support will cover the production costs and contributes to the remaining development.


  • September: obtain funding
  • October: Finish Still Image Functionality + some tweaks
  • November: Port Ground Station Application to Android & iOS
  • December: App Store Submissions & Deliver final product

 Sky Drone FPV Funding Diagram

 Sky Drone FPV perks

Project Risks:

  • This project is challenging on the software side. On the hardware side we only use standard components.
  • Hardware sourcing won't be in issue. We're based in Hong Kong, The world's largest electronics manufacturing factories are just next door.

Technology risks:

  • If a direct peer-to-peer connection fails and our proxy infrastructure is used, the latency will be higher and fly by wire / autopilot assisted flight is recommended. This might happen if different carriers are used. To prevent this we recommend to use SIM cards from the same carrier on both sides.
  • Safety issues: your carrier might stop the connection after a bandwidth limit has been reached. Make sure to get a contract that does not shut off the connection. It is no problem if your carrier lowers the bandwidth after a certain amount of data transfer is reached though.
  • Cell congestion / availability might unexpectedly lower the video quality.

Q: How much data is usually been transmitted per hour?

A: With good HD quality at 30 fps you will run through 5GB of data within one hour.

Q: Does 4G/LTE provide enough bandwidth? How can I increase it?

A: 4G/LTE networks are capable of carrying full-HD (1920x1080p with 30fps). The Sky Drone FPV software automatically adjusts to the network's capabilities and always tries to ensure a smooth video stream. 

Q: Does the cellular network cause high latency?

A: No, in fact it does not. There is a lot of prejudice in cellular networks and their latency these days. In extensive network tests we have discovered that ordinary "ping" latency between two endpoints is usually around 20 milliseconds. However, this is only the network latency and does not include any payload (video+telemetry) yet. Our goal is to deliver a FPV system that comes with less than 150ms End-To-End Latency by using cellular (3G, 4G/LTE) networks. We are already very close to this. You can check out our latency test info in the “Updates” section of our campaign.

Q: Is there any way to control my drone / UAV with this?

A: No. This is a FPV system only. It allows you to see what the drone is seeing in real-time with virtually unlimited range. While telemetry data is also being transmitted from the UAV to the groundstation app, controlling the UAV through the groundstation app is currently not available.

Q: Will you publish the source code as Open Source?

A: We truly believe in open standards like POSIX, AES, MAVLink and we are building our software to be compatible with those open standards. At a later stage we will be evaluating which parts of our software we might publish as open source. Right now we do not have any immediate plans for that, though.

Q: Can I use this with my analog video gear?

A: As mentioned in the video, we are using a BlackBerry PlayBook to run our groundstation app. The PlayBook, BlackBerry 10 phones as well as some Android devices have a micro-HDMI output which can be used with any standard HDMI-to-Analog converter for example. So it should be rather easy to hook that up to your analog gear and view the output on there.  For high quality and lowest latency we highly recommend digital video gear though.

Q: How is it NSA proof?

A: We wrap our custom built video codec and telemetry stream into a AES-256 encrypted data channel. "AES is available in many different encryption packages, and is the first publicly accessible and open cipher approved by the National Security Agency (NSA) for top secret information when used in an NSA approved cryptographic module." source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AES-256

The security of AES-encrypted data only depends on keeping the cypher secret while the encryption algorithm is public. You can read more about the security aspects of AES on Wikipedia in the "Security" section of the AES article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Encryption_Standard#Security

Q: Which drone / UAV is included?

A: The Sky Drone FPV set is a FPV (first person view) system only. Therefore, it only includes the camera, controller, usb hub, 3G/4G/LTE modem, cabling for such and the Sky Drone FPV software as well as access to the groundstation app for BlackBerry, Android and iOS.

If you have any more questions, please do reach out to us through the comment tab of this campaign.

Find This Campaign On
raised by 130 people in 1 month
38% funded
No time left
$80,000 USD goal
Fixed Funding This campaign did not meet its $80,000USD funding goal by the deadline.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on September 17, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $1USD
    Thank You!

    Every dollar counts! Thanks for your support!

    7 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2013
  • $5USD
    Sky Drone Sticker

    A Sky Drone Sticker mailed to you (including international shipping) + a big thank you.

    4 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2013
  • $10USD
    Sky Drone Fridge Magnet Set

    Set of 12 Sky Drone Fridge Magnets mailed to you (including international shipping) + a big thank you.

    4 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2013
  • $19USD
    Sky Drone T-Shirt

    A Sky Drone T-Shirt + a Sky Drone Sticker mailed to you (including international shipping) + a big thank you.

    12 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2013
  • $20USD
    Forgot International Shipping

    If you've already contributed but forgot to add shipping outside Hong Kong, just choose this perk and we'll handle the rest.

    11 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $349USD
    Sky Drone FPV - Early Bird

    Be one of the first to get a full Sky Drone FPV System + Sky Drone FPV App + Sky Drone Sticker + a big thank you. (Free shipping in HK, $20 everywhere else) Options: select camera and modem type (see Technical Details) The retail price outside our Indiegogo campaign will be $449 or more.

    80 out of 99 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $399USD
    Sky Drone FPV

    A full Sky Drone FPV System + Sky Drone FPV App + Sky Drone Sticker + a big thank you. (Free shipping in HK, $20 everywhere else) Options: select camera and modem type (see Technical Details) The retail price outside our Indiegogo campaign will be $449 or more.

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $799USD
    Sky Drone FPV+4G LTE PlayBook

    A full Sky Drone FPV System + BlackBerry PlayBook 4G/LTE + Sky Drone FPV App + Sky Drone Sticker + a big thank you. (Free shipping in HK, $40 everywhere else) Options: select camera type (see Technical Details) Note: Only for US/Americas - this is the 700/1700Mhz LTE version

    1 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $6,899USD
    Sky Drone FPV - Wholesale Pack

    20x Sky Drone FPV system for retail + Sky Drone FPV App + 3x Sky Drone T-Shirt + 50x Sky Drone Sticker + a big thank you. (Free shipping in HK, $40 everywhere else) Options: select camera and modem type (see Technical Details)

    0 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $50,000USD
    Streaming Platform Integration

    We will add integration (on-device as well as groundstation) to stream to your proprietary streaming platform in addition to the GCS video feed. + One Wholeseale Pack (20x Sky Drone FPV) included.

    0 out of 2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: March 2014
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