Teardown: Drone streams live video

-January 08, 2017

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. If true, this means that the CX-10W simultaneously supports two different 2.4 GHz protocols; industry-standard 802.11, and Panchip Microelectronics' proprietary scheme. How did Cheerson accomplish this wireless juggling act? Let's find out.

A few external packaging shots to start out; the box is much smaller this time, since the standalone remote control isn't included:





As you can see from the package markings, the CX-10W comes in three different colors. I randomly received the pink option:



Here it is out of the box but still in restraints:



And here's what's underneath it: a charging cable, four spare blades, and an as-usual skimpy instruction manual:



Here are four sequential quadrant views of the quadrotor, showing the power switch and charging port, camera, etc. (but perhaps obviously, no microSD slot this time):









And here's a peek at the underside; as usual with Cheerson drones, water landings are not recommended:



Look closely, and you'll peruse something we haven't seen before with either the CX-10 or CX-10C ... an external antenna. Here's a closeup, intact:



And unfurled:



For reasons that will become clearer shortly, I'm pretty sure this one is for 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi.



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