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New single-handed controller makes palm-sized quadcopter mimic your movements. Its easy to fly and plays multi-player games.

We’d like to thank all of our backers for their support. We’re not giving up just because we didn’t meet our goal. We are enacting “The Backup Plan”. To learn more about it and keep up to date with the latest from QFO Labs, please join our mailing list at: QFOLabs.com

What people are saying about us...

This is not your ordinary quadcopter!

Our tilt-to-fly Mimix controller is so simple that flying becomes second nature. Now you can do other fun things with your friends like playing real-life, multi-player aerial games – indoors or out. Try doing this with any other palm-sized quadcopter!

See us on Fox 9 the Buzz!

Real-Life Gaming

Each NanoQ copter is equipped with an infrared (IR) “photon cannon” and an IR sensor pod. With a pull of the trigger, you unleash a photon burst at your opponent. If you hit their sensor pod you score.

Our first game will be multi-team dogfighting. You can select your team through the Mimix controller. The LEDs then display your team colors on both the NanoQ and the Mimix.

The red team getting shot with IR "photon cannons"
The red team getting shot with IR "photon cannons"

Multi-team Dogfighting Game Play

  • 1st Hit:  The NanoQ wobbles and the Mimix controller vibrates
  • 2nd Hit: The NanoQ’s power and performance are reduced
  • 3rd Hit: The NanoQ floats down and lands for several seconds
  • To Win: Knock all opposing team copters out of the sky!

Future Games

Multi-team dogfighting is just the beginning. We’re developing even more games with ground targets that react with lights and sound when they’re hit. Advanced versions of the ground targets will include a digital radio so any number of targets can communicate together. In addition, proximity detectors can turn the ground targets into reloading stations, capture points, race pylons, and more. We want Kickstarter’s suggestions on what you would like to see for future games.

Testing the team color selection LED
Testing the team color selection LED

Mimix  Intuitive and Engaging

We designed Mimix from the ground up to provide an intuitive, exciting experience. No more two-handed flying. Tilt the Mimix controller forward, back, left, or right and the NanoQ copter responds just like you think it should; you feel engaged and in control.

Photograph of the latest Mimix controller
Photograph of the latest Mimix controller

Based on US Air Force Human Factors data for aircraft controls, the Mimix controller has an ergonomic design that was made for your hand, big or small. By using the latest sensors, radios, and processors, Mimix puts you in command with precise, crisp control.

Ergonomically designed to fit your hand
Ergonomically designed to fit your hand

In the Kickstarter video, the flying scenes show our 1st-generation Mimix prototype (the 3D printer had orange plastic in it that day). The final scene in the video shows our 2nd-gen Mimix prototype with its sleek ergonomic design that is hot off the 3D printer, sanded and painted (what looks to be a wire coming from the controller is actually a stand – Mimix is wireless).

NanoQ – Better by Design

What good is a controller with nothing to fly?  Our NanoQ copter is the perfect match for the tilt-based Mimix controller.  The NanoQ can move in any direction at any time, not just forward and backwards like some helicopters.

Photograph of the latest NanoQ prototype
Photograph of the latest NanoQ prototype

To increase efficiency, we took the traditional quad-rotor design and flipped it upside-down.  This also means the props don’t run into the ceiling and the motors don’t hit the floor.  Using high-speed electronic stabilization, the craft automatically adjusts 400 times per second to quickly react to your commands. Thanks to mass production of 3-axis gyros and accelerometers, we can now bring you an affordable product with this state-of-the-art high-speed electronic stabilization.

The NanoQ copter is designed to fly in small indoor areas, but powerful enough to fly outdoors. Due to the rugged, lightweight construction, and only 4 moving parts, the NanoQ is more durable than current helicopter models. A removable “snap on” ring protects the props when flying indoors. The end result – a design that is both more durable and more fun!

Disappointed by cheap RC helicopters at the store?

So were we!  They either broke or we got bored.  Here's what sets our products apart:

  • Real-Life, Multi-player/Multi-team Aerial Gaming!
  • Robust Construction - you won’t be afraid to let your friends fly it
  • Independent Props for maneuverability
  • High-Speed Electronic Stabilization - easy to learn
  • No more AA’s! All batteries are rechargeable
  • Keep flying! The NanoQ batteries are swappable

The combination of these features gives you hours of fun...

Single handed control lets you fly the NanoQ copter right out of your hand
Single handed control lets you fly the NanoQ copter right out of your hand

A Better Flight Experience

The NanoQ was designed for easy flight right out of the box. The electronic stabilization system keeps the craft upright automatically. It ships in “Beginner Mode” to limit the craft’s speed and dynamics while you learn. When you’re ready, switch to advanced mode and the NanoQ will really show you what it can do.

By using digital radios to fly the NanoQ and IR signals for game play, we can achieve crisp flight control and accurate game response at the same time. This also allows us to simultaneously fly several NanoQs in the same space. This technology, together with team color selection on both the craft and controller, enables true multi-player team gaming.

Flying the NanoQ copter
Flying the NanoQ copter

How it works

Simply put, the NanoQ copter mimics the motion of the Mimix controller. We make this happen by sampling sensors in the controller that determine its orientation and sending those signals to the craft. The NanoQ copter uses an advanced data fusion algorithm to estimate its attitude compared to the signals from the Mimix controller. Then, the control system in the NanoQ copter sends high-rate adjustments to the four propellers to make the copter mimic your movements. Thrust and yaw are controlled through the top hat on the Mimix controller.

Photograph of the latest Mimix controller
Photograph of the latest Mimix controller

Specs

The NanoQ copter:

  • Size – 5.25” motor to motor
  • Weight – 35 grams
  • Battery – Replaceable, Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
  • Battery Charger – 2 port, USB compatible
  • Flight time – 8-10 minutes
  • Range – Up to 30 meters
  • Max Payload – 10 gram

The Mimix controller:

  • Ergonomically designed – for one-handed control
  • Works for right or left handed pilots, big or small
  • Battery – USB Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
  • Operating time – 3-4 hours

Hacking the NanoQ

The NanoQ uses an open communications protocol. Connect your computer up to the Mimix through the USB port or optional USB RF dongle and you will be able to communicate wirelessly with the NanoQ to:

  • Tweak the control parameters
  • Update the NanoQ firmware
  • Send control commands directly from a laptop
  • Send customized signals out of the IR transmitter
  • Receive craft telemetry such as attitude, control commands, and even raw sensor data

You can even connect your own electronics payload, like an Arduino, camera, or homebrewed project to the auxiliary serial (UART + power) port on the NanoQ.

There will be a developer’s forum on our website where everyone can share in all your achievements. Let everyone see what you can do! 

Who we are

QFO Labs team looking like we're working
QFO Labs team looking like we're working

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, QFO Labs is a small team of people dedicated to bringing high-tech, innovative new products to market. Our skills include Electrical Engineering, Software Development, Estimation and Control Systems, Material Science, Product Management, and Intellectual Property Management. Our team first met through a New Product Development course at the University of Minnesota in 2007. We have a broad range of experience in areas such as Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Manufacturing Process Improvement, Medical Device Design, and even running a science museum.

This product is just the beginning.  Over time we plan to introduce a series of products for real-life 3D gaming.  Beyond gaming, our team has many more ideas about what to do with the technology behind the Mimix and NanoQ.

Project Status

We’ve been developing and perfecting our remote control quadcopters for more than 5 years. The Mimix controller and NanoQ copter that you see in the video and pictures are real, working prototypes. We are finishing the Design for Manufacturing (DFM) and Design for Assembly (DFA) and will soon be releasing both Mimix and NanoQ to manufacturing. We have developed relationships with vendors and obtained quotes for production quantities of our electronic components. Currently, we are obtaining quotes for the electronic assembly of the PCBs, the tooling for injection molding and vacuum forming, and the final assembly and packaging of our products. We are planning on final assembly and testing in North America, which will allow us to be closer to and more involved with the process.

Using the latest CAD tools ensures fit, form, and function
Using the latest CAD tools ensures fit, form, and function

With your support, we can get Mimix and NanoQ off the ground and into your hands, literally. While we're close to entering production, your contribution will let us bring this product to market.

Here’s a breakdown of what we will use the $230,000 for:

  • Production Tooling: $60K
  • Award Fulfillment/Component Order: $110K
  • Certifications for CE, FCC, UL, etc.: $37K
  • Kickstarter/Amazon Fees: $23K

Our first scheduled ship date is March of 2013, which is based on our current estimates for manufacturing using the longest lead times for certain components.  In the meantime, we will keep you updated on our progress and look forward to your input and suggestions.


Reward Level Details

The Standard Package:

  • 1 NanoQ Copter, Standard Color
  • 1 Mimix Controller
  • 2 Rechargeable batteries, Lithium Polymer
  • 1 Battery Charger, 2-port, USB Powered
  • 1 USB Cable
  • 1 Extra set of 4 propellers

The Premium Package:

  • 1 NanoQ Copter
  • 1 Kickstarter Exclusive Cover
  • 3 Replacement NanoQ Covers, Standard Colors
  • 1 Mimix Controller
  • 1 Carrying Case
  • 3 Rechargeable Batteries, Lithium Polymer
  • 1 Battery Charger, 2-port, USB Powered
  • 1 USB Cable
  • 1 Extra set of 4 propellers

The Hacker Package:

  • 1 NanoQ Copter
  • 1 Kickstarter Exclusive Cover
  • 1 Hacker Exclusive Cover
  • 3 Replacement NanoQ Covers, Standard Colors
  • 1 Mimix Controller
  • 1 USB Communications Dongle
  • 1 NanoQ Cable, USART + Power
  • 1 NanoQ RF Protocol Software and Documentation Set
  • 1 Aerial Gaming IR Receiver Electronics Kit
  • 1 Carrying Case
  • 3 Rechargeable Batteries, Lithium Polymer
  • 1 Battery Charger, 2-port, USB Powered
  • 1 USB Cable
  • 1 Special Edition QFO Hacker T-Shirt
  • 1 Extra set of 4 propellers

ABOUT KICKSTARTER

Tens of thousands of wonderful Kickstarters pledge millions of dollars to projects they are passionate about. The most important things to know are:

  • Kickstarter links to your Amazon account for easy payment and security.
  • Kickstarter works on an "all or nothing" funding model.
  • If we hit our funding goal, Amazon will charge your credit card when the project closes.
  • If we don’t meet our funding goal by November 13th, you won't be charged and we don't get anything.

Special Thanks to:

We’d like to thank some of the people who have helped during our development.  Without them we wouldn’t have been able to make this product nearly as cool.

  • Chuck Thomas
  • Jon Wise
  • University of Minnesota
  • Kablooe Design
  • Initio Advertising
  • STMicroelectronics
  • Nordic Semiconductor Inc.
  • Avnet Electronics
  • Symmetry Electronics
  • Bunkspeed

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

With more than 50 years of combined experience starting and growing successful companies, we recognize there will always be risks that can impact our schedule throughout the development, manufacturing and distribution of this project.

The products shown in video and pictures are real, working prototypes. The mechanical structures were created using 3D printers, but our products have been designed to be production molded and easily assembled in large quantities. We have perfected the mechanics, electronics, and software over two years of full time development and many, many iterations. All of our components have been selected and sourced (i.e. motors, electronics, batteries, etc.).

To take advantage of a new component from one of our suppliers, Nordic Semiconductor, we are swapping out the existing radio in our current design. While this increases the risk to our schedule, we think the increased range and decreased latency is well worth the small possibility of some delay. To minimize this risk and ensure that we can pass FCC Certification without issue, we are working closely with the engineers at Nordic Semiconductor. Other than that, all of our electronics and mechanical designs for the copter and controller are complete.

Our friends, families, and investors have carried us so far. We think our working prototypes are pretty impressive. But we need your support to help fund the production tooling, quantity component orders and government certifications that we need to get to full production levels. Without your support this project simply won't happen.

Tooling for molds and longest lead time components will be put on order in November; certifications (UL, CE, FCC, etc.) will begin in December; and production should begin in January. We are very confident that we can deliver at least 5000 units per month starting in March. However, to ensure that we don’t exceed our capabilities we have limited the number of units in our initial reward levels. So be sure to support us early!

FAQ

  • Kickstarter no longer allows any project to list multiple quantities of the same reward. However, they have told us that we are allowed to “work something out with [our] backers...”.

    So, once you are a backer, we’ll get in touch with you. You can always email us at http://mailto:info@qfolabs.com with any questions.

    Last updated:
  • On the NanoQ a single battery lasts between 8-10 minutes and can be easily swapped with a fresh one to keep on going. Batteries take roughly 30 minutes to charge and the included charger can charge two batteries simultaneously.

    The Mimix controller has its own rechargeable battery built in. It is charged through the USB port. This battery takes about 30 minutes to charge and lasts between 3-4 hours.

    Last updated:
  • Yes, there is a detachable ring that protects the propellers from bumping into the wall or that new lamp shade. We don’t show the ring in our prototype photos because it’s too thin for the 3D printer to print. The injection molded part will be very durable.

    Last updated:
  • A camera would be great! It needs to weigh less than 10 grams and be inexpensive enough for a toy. We haven’t found that yet but we’ll keep looking. When we do, as a backer you’ll be the first to hear about it or maybe you’ll tell us about it.

    Last updated:
  • Early in the development of the NanoQ, we looked at using a smartphone as a controller, but were disappointed in its performance. We found the latency was too high, the control was too inaccurate, and the smartphone doesn't fit your hand for this application. In addition, the smartphone controller still took two hands to operate. These factors added together made the control too "mushy" in our opinion. That’s why we created the Mimix Controller.

    Last updated:
  • You're right, it is hard to compete with some of the super low-cost toys coming out of China. That's why we put lots of thought into how to add value through high quality and great engineering – consumers will see that.

    Plus, our unique tilt-to-fly control system is already protected by an issued US patent that was filed in 2002, three years before Nintendo introduced the Wii-Mote controller. We believe that we can compete because we make a better product, but we know that we also need to have protection against anyone knocking off our products.

    Last updated:
  • The inverted props give an efficiency gain proportional to the amount of obstacles in the air column. We've found it varied between 10-20% depending on the frame and protection ring design. The inverted props also let us put the props right in the middle of the center of gravity for awesome control response. Even better, with the props on the bottom they keep spinning when you run up against the ceiling making flying indoors a breeze.

    Last updated:
  • The prototype frames are 3D printed (FDM-type), but the final frames will all be injection molded with ABS plastic. This will improve durability while lowering our assembly cost (we're trying for North American assembly). The molded frames also let us do complex shapes not possible with carbon fiber. A lot of engineering time went into making sure the frames were lightweight, very strong, and easy to manufacture.

    Last updated:
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    The Inner Circle: Every amount helps! To show our appreciation for your support, all updates and cutting-edge news about Mimix and NanoQ project developments reach your eyes first. We look forward to your input via exclusive polls and we’ll make you a genuine part of the Inner Circle.

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    T-Shirt Club: Enjoy a stylish, custom designed t-shirt. This limited offer t-shirt will only be made available to our Kickstarter backers. And we will welcome you into the Inner Circle. Free shipping to USA. (Add $10 for shipping to Canada, $15 for international shipping.)

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    The Early Bird: Help us get off the ground! You’ll get our Standard Package (1 NanoQ; 1 Mimix; 2 Batteries; 1 Battery Charger; 1 USB Cable) at a $50 savings over the MSRP, so jump on board. And of course, you will also be part of the Inner Circle. Free shipping to USA. (Add $10 for shipping to Canada, $15 for international shipping.)

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    The Standard Package: We will thank you for your generous support by sending our Standard Package (1 NanoQ; 1 Mimix; 2 Batteries; 1 Battery Charger; 1 USB Cable) and welcoming you into the Inner Circle. Free shipping to USA. (Add $10 for shipping to Canada, $15 for international shipping.)

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    The Premium Package (Kickstarter Exclusive): You’ll be at the center our Inner Circle, and you’ll receive our Standard Package plus all 3 NanoQ covers; 1 Kickstarter Exclusive cover; 1 more Battery; and 1 Custom Case to carry it all. Free shipping to USA. (Add $10 for shipping to Canada, $15 for international shipping.)

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    49 backers Limited (451 left of 500)

    The Hacker Package: Want to make your NanoQ even cooler? We’ll send you the Premium Package plus 1 Hacker Exclusive cover, 1 USB Comms Dongle, 1 NanoQ Cable, 1 RF Protocol Software and Documentation Set, 1 IR Receiver Electronics Kit, and a special edition QFO Hacker T-Shirt. And in addition to the Inner Circle we want you to be part of our Developers Forum. Free shipping to USA. (Add $15 for shipping to Canada, $20 for international shipping.)

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    The Party Package: Allow us to show our gratitude with the QFO Hacker Package, a Custom Engraved Name Plate for your travel case, and two invitations to our product launch party in Minneapolis. Be a part of our Inner Circle in person and meet the creators of the Mimix and NanoQ. Free shipping to anywhere (travel and lodging costs not included).

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