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« on: May 16, 2022, 08:36:31 PM »
VTOLkarthik
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Hello All,

Hope everyone is doing well.

I have been inactive in the forum for quite a while and many of you wonít even remember me. I was active from 2013 to 2017 in this forum and then I left for US to do my Masters.

So let me introduce myself. I am Karthik Rangarajan, MS in Robotics, Mechatronics and Automation from NYU and currently living in New York. I am working as a Senior Robotics Engineer at Power-flo Tech, New York. I work on developing robotics solutions for various industries. I am also into FPV drones and custom drones building as a passion. Before coming to US to pursue my Masters, I was working in PCB manufacturing industry at Centum Electronics, Bangalore. So, I do have experience in PCB designing and manufacturing processes as well to some extent.

I am planning to return to India with only one goal.


I had planned to return after working for some time in US and now, I am doing just that. When I left to pursue my masters, I had planned to come back with knowledge I have gained and to use it to build startup on made in India drones/quadcopters. My current plan is to target Nano category of drones which are below 250gm. As this requires less sensors and processing powers as the other categories. Also at the same time, requires less registration process under DGCA. There's no B2C or consumer drones(as far as I know) so far in India and this is huge lag in drone technology in India. That's what I am focusing on and willing to fill that gap in the market.

Since 2020, I have been working on this project alongside my full-time work. Being a robotics engineer, I am quite good at lot of things but not an expert. I am something what people would call, jack of all trades, master of none. I have been working on the product design.
I am currently designing PCB schematics for the flight controller, sensor boards, GPS, ESCs, and CAD design for the drone. I have also 3D printed gimbal design and working on programming it. I was actually inspired by the Parrot Anafiís gimbal design and was working on 3 axis gimbal which could do the same. I was quite surprised and annoyed (for a bit) that DJI made it on their Mini 3. But that also give me confidence that such a design will work, and itís proven. There are some other aspects like camera sensor, video encoder, RF communication from controller to the drone which requires chips or ICs which can only be accessed by registered companies and is not available to public or individual. So, those are something which will need to be taken care after registering the company.
Other manufacturing parts like motors, battery, plastic injection molding, etc., needs to be researched further. I have shortlisted few manufacturers for motors, PCBs, etc., but would need to talk to them to see the limitations and requirements. I have also looked at some equipment's, machines which can be bought for these processes. I am also not rejecting the option of manufacturing these parts elsewhere other than India if thatís not feasible. But I really want to have it manufactured in India and ďwill notĒ go with the other option until I have exhausted all the possibilities. So, if anyone has contacts of any manufacturers or suppliers in these fields that could be of great help.

Note: I am not talking about component level manufacturing. Manufacturing components like SMDs, ICs, chips are a whole new sector which I donít want to get into for now. When I say manufacturing, I mean PCB assembly level, injection molding for plastics, etc.

I did see some of you had discussed about this in the other thread long back and that gave me some confidence that people in India really need such a product and this market is untapped yet. The skill and people were lacking. In fact, it has become worse now especially India banning importing goods from China. But thatís also good as it will give rise to inhouse manufacturing too. Letís hope for the best. Anyone who were discussing in that thread and wants to collaborate, please contact me!

http://www.rcindia.org/multirotors/why-cant-we-make-dji-like-stable-crafts/

On the non-technical side, I had an Entrepreneurship course in my Masters, where my team and I built a startup company to a point before it was lunched(The core team had to drop off because of personal reasons like education loan). My Professors were so vouching for us to go ahead, but because of the teams financial constraint, we had to give up. So I have some experience on startup skills on non-technical side. I have researched enough technical aspects of the current drone market, go-to market strategy, and working on pitch decks to present to VCís and angel investors. I am also listing down potential investors to whom this idea could be pitched to. I am working on the product logo designs, product renders, company names, domain registrations, etc. It needs to be finalized once the core team is onboard.

The features I am planning to include would be, and not limited to:

3-axis mechanical gimbal
4K 60FPS camera or higher
1080 HD real time video transmission
GPS and other required sensors like Baro, IMU, magnetometer, etc.
Range: 7-10Km (But will be meeting the DGCA UAS requirements)
UI app control through a controller (maybe an app on phone)
Battery life of +30mins
Obstacle avoidance sensors (Optional/probably)
weight <249g

I am thinking to also include obstacle sensors as it looks like all the minis being released are equipped with it. But it totally depends on the design and the weight criteria. At any cost I do not want it to be more than 250gm. But it looks possible as some of the companies have achieved.
I am also working on other amazing features which for various reasons, I cannot mention Giggle. If there is a feature request, please feel free to post here or contact me.

I have looked at the registration process at DGCAís website DigitalSky. Everything has been made online and the process seems to be good. But the requirements, especially the range and height are quite questionable. But we need to follow the rules no matter what.

And now to the part where I need the communityís help on 2 things. One to answer a small and simple survey on few questions to see what users/consumer needs and requirements are i.e., what are the features you are looking for, pricing, etc. I request everyone who reads this to fill out the survey and please share to your friends and family who is looking for a drone or who owns one or who is planning to buy one.

https://forms.gle/W45qEgELatgCujux9

Another request is to join the core team! As you know for a drone, you will need all sorts of skills and engineers. We need to build a team of awesome people who drives with passion. I am looking for people who are passionate about drones and has the skill and/or willing to learn, and I donít care about your qualifications. In addition, since I am also building the company/startup from scratch, I will need technical as well as nontechnical people.
I am looking for PCB designers, hardware engineers, programmers, embedded engineers, mechanical engineers, RF engineers, Robotics engineers, UAV Hardware Engineer, UAV Software Integration, UI and UX engineers, app developers and any positions that I am missing. Most importantly I need people who have expertise in Flight control software like PX4, Ardupilot, etc., who have programmed for any drone applications. If I see a right person who is passionate about the idea and are interested, thereís also opening for cofounderís positions and CTO. Cheesy
I also need marketing, sales, HR, lawyers, accountants, etc., at the later stage or as and when needed.

Last but not least, if you are reading this, I hope you read all the above rants and if you are anyone(an individual, manufacturer, supplier, VC's or angle investor)who is interested to be onboard the core team, please feel free to contact me.

Anyone can contact me on any of the below SM platform:
Email me @ karthikrangarajan@nyu.edu
Follow me on twitter @karthikRanga92
Follow me on Instagram @karthik_kwads
LinkedIn for professional @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/karthik-rangarajan

« Last Edit: May 16, 2022, 10:08:35 PM by VTOLkarthik » Logged
 

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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2022, 06:23:12 PM »
Turbo20
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karthik,

Good that you have planned all these extensively. Few pointers before you really dive in:

1. All what you have planned is on paper, get into contact of local vendors of all parts to have a reality check. Its easier if you can find a co founder from India who can do this job.

2. There are many player now into drone space, i would suggest contacting them. As you are targeting a very niche area, their won't be any conflict of interest. This way you will get faster reach to the vendors.

3. It won't be easy to be able to put all the enhance features into a sub 250 drone, remember battery is also a dead weight.

4. Best is to pilot there in USA. Build this prototype with parts available there and see if you can meet the criteria set by you. Only thing left then would be to get those part vendors here in India. If you don't you can get it from USA itself as you know them by now.

5. Collaborate!!! There are folks making ESCs, flight controllers, CAD etc here in India. get them onboard. (one less thing to worry about one at a time.

6. Don't derive conclusion unless the form reaches 200-300+ entries.

7. Be open with your ideas, even the secret ones. Ideas are easy, implementation is hard. Don't worry of copying. Ain't gonna happen so easy. But if you open up, you may find right talent to join the team.

8. Don't think about VC/funds yet. You will have to put your own money first to develop a proto first and show there is market. After the validation only VC would jump (in most cases). Reason being, recent boom has mushroomed lot of drone manufacturer..(rather assembler/importer).

Hopefully you will give the company India need, at least for hobby flier and will not have to look to bangood and customs mails.
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2022, 07:25:58 PM »
VTOLkarthik
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Hi Turbo20,

Thanks a lot for your valuable feedback and comments!

Yes, Currently I am bootstrapping the prototype. I am building an MVP which has the necessary features. Just to let you know, I have built sub 250gm FPV drone(of course not with all the features that I have mentioned). So, I do realize the complications involved.

I am sort of collaborating with the many open source community and some chip companies to develop the flight controller. As I had mentioned, getting access to some chips are not available to individuals. So I am proceeding with hobby grade parts. I am planning to keep it as open source system on top of open source system where anyone could develop.

Most of the drone manufacturers are just importing parts and assembling it. I couldn't find companies who were manufacturing on large scale. They are all designed for build to order. I am still researching on suppliers and vendors.

As you mentioned, I am looking for someone who could take up the responsibility from India. If you are interested let me know.

I totally understand that VC would not throw money just for an idea. I am planning to get a prototype done which could be used as a validation.

Finally, thanks for your final statement and filling up the form. Please share it among your friends and community.
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2023, 12:24:06 PM »
VTOLkarthik
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Hey All,

I am back again!

I have been working on this and there has been lot of development that I wanted to share with the community.

Latest development after the post:

I moved back to India from USA last August to build my Startup.
I have registered the company and now I am Founder and CEO of Agam Robotics. https://www.agamrobotics.com/

Flight Controllers has been designed and is getting manufactured as we speak. This is based on Pixhawk and a totally a different chipset as compared to the ones used(STM32). I will be getting the boards this week or early next week and will start testing it soon!

I have also signed NDA with a sensor company and I have completed the Sensor board design and have sent it for manufacturing. I am working on other sensors like TOF sensor, GPS, etc.

The prototype for the drone is ongoing. I am 3D printing the frames. As of now I am completely Bootstrapping the startup. I would wait until we have some traction with the individual components(FCs, sensors, etc). As many Angel investors and VCs look for some traction before dropping some money. But I do have couple of investors really interested in this space and are following up with me on the progress.

I have also started to build in public. You can follow my startup progress in detail on my YT Channel -


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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2023, 10:23:53 PM »
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Nice work, i will wait for the development phase videos and final flight
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« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2023, 12:06:45 AM »
VTOLkarthik
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Thank you. Sure, though it would take some time to get to that stage, but excited nevertheless.
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2023, 12:10:01 PM »
VTOLkarthik
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Hey all!!!

3rd Video in the series released!

Let me know if you guys have any suggestions for the next video. I am working on few things, but if you like me to talk on specific topics, please let me know!

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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2023, 10:08:00 PM »
VTOLkarthik
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Hey All,

This week's update!

I have received the Pixhawk carrier board!
First ever truly Made in India Flight controller carrier board is here!
Take a sneak peak in the video of the unboxing.


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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2023, 08:24:12 PM »
manu
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Good initiative Mr. Karthik. Well, I would disagree with you on your claim about the indian made carrier board; The company I work for, developed a carrier board with a gps chip on it way back in 2016.
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« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2023, 07:43:33 PM »
VTOLkarthik
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Hi Manu,

Thank you. Well, I wasn't aware. My bad!
Was it Pixhawk PAB standard based? The standard wasn't in existence back then, I guess.
This is more like carrier board + Flight controller based on PAB.
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« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2023, 07:45:24 PM »
VTOLkarthik
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Hi all,

The next video is on!

The confusion of what is a drone and quadcopters is prevalent in the community. Let's fix it once and for all.

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« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2023, 01:15:34 AM »
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I was mentioning to carrier boards designed around a cube. I didn't see a df17 on your board, guess you are using the latest 6x version.
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« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2023, 06:51:33 PM »
VTOLkarthik
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I see. This uses DF40 Hirose connectors, the standard was set from FMU v5 version. So our design is backwards compatible. Also ours is more like version 7.
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2023, 12:46:45 PM »
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Sup community!

The flight controller is finally here! I am working on the firmware. It will take some time for the development. Menawhile watch this video for the unboxing.

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« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2023, 03:45:44 PM »
manu
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Are you doing this by your own or do you have a bunch of people working for you. Really good solid content. Why did you opt for nxp instead of STM.?
« Last Edit: July 19, 2023, 03:59:23 PM by manu » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2023, 11:52:23 PM »
VTOLkarthik
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Hi Manu,

Thank you.
As of now, it's just me and few people on the open source community working on it.

The reason for choosing NXP is that, we wanted to go with more powerful MCUs for bigger applications. This has dual core 1GHz+ 400MHz and much more features which is future-proof. STM32 on the other hand, is powerful but it's just on the processor side(only 480MHz) but nothing on the features side.
I will make a full video on the spec of this FC and why we opted for it in further weeks after the testing process.
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« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2023, 11:42:58 PM »
VTOLkarthik
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Hey all,

Missed to post it here. Not an important one to anyone here but have fun watching.


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« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2023, 09:49:11 PM »
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Latest updates and progress on Flight controller.

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« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2023, 10:56:08 AM »
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I got caught up with lot of developments!
So here's the video for the entire month. Do checkout the test flight.

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« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2023, 11:36:40 AM »
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Hello All,

It's been a while I actually updated. There has been some progress and setbacks but a new sensor Optical flow sensor from Agam Robotics has been released!

AgamFlow Sensor can be used on drones/quadcopters/multirotors for stabilizing the aircraft. So if any one is interested in knowing more about it or interested in testing it, please contact me!

Make sure to check out the video!

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« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2023, 10:05:42 AM »
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Hello Everyone!

Here's some of the latest developments!

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« Reply #21 on: October 28, 2023, 12:29:24 AM »
manu
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Where do you get the pcb printed? JLC?
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« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2023, 03:32:50 PM »
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No. Everything is locally manufactured.
There are multiple manufacturers I have gone through. Currently dealing with Micropack because they are the only few who can manufacture the Flight controller.
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« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2023, 09:43:45 AM »
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Hey All,

This week is slightly more about my rant on some drone companies.
Take a look at the India's hurdles in achieving Global Drone Hub status.

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« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2023, 11:47:52 AM »
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How do you upload the design and get it manufactured by MICROPACK?

I just looked into their website but could not find an option as such.
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