We had good weather on Sat, so we tested four UAV platforms at the Alameda air field near Berkeley. Another successful trial: useful data and no lost planes!
Our mission for the next two weeks is to complete a trial that: A) takes off from the "highway" used in the Matrix 2 (the set was created at the Alameda and parts still remain); B) flies autonomously over water to the Hornet aircraft carrier, which is moored about a mile away (it's the carrier that… Continue
The tragic death of four people in a collision of two news helicopers in Phoenix has prompted much discussion about whether following stolen cars and other TV-ratings fodder is worth the risk. What isn't debated is whether people want to watch that sort of thing, because the answer is so clearly yes. So why not give people what they want without risking human lives, and encourage TV news… Continue
It's been amazing to watch how computer technologies have revolutionized the R/C aircraft world. The combination of high-efficiency brushless electric motors (first developed for DVD drives), lithium-ion batteries (developed for laptops) and spread-spectrum digital radio (popularized with WiFi) have created a class of small, quiet electric planes that are every bit their old noisy gas-powered predecessors. AMA membership is…
I decided for the sake of weight, I'd replace my Garmin Etrex Vista GPS on my plane (strapped piggback) with a dedicated chip version So I ordered one from Mouser.com. Mouser seems to have everything I ever need inabout 10 versions so its always a little daunting for me. This time I picked up a $28 GPS on a chip. If anyone cares its spec sheet is at http://www.tycoelectronics.com/gps/pdf/A1037-A.pdf.
Long story short -- read the specs first cause I forgot to get an antenna.… Continue
Here at DIY Drones, I've been working with other amateurs to create open technology platforms to make it easier for more people to build their own UAVs (for aerial imagery, high-res Google Maps mashups, contests and other flying robot fun).
The good news is that there are a lot of programmers out there happy to donate their time and talent to helping these project along. The bad news is that each of them has their own favorite programming language, and it's up to the organizer (ie,…
In my quest for the perfect pan-tilt gimbal assembly for a small UAV, I've made one out of Lego and have some clumsy ones out of aluminum. Most commercial pan-tilt assemblies are made for much larger cameras than the ones we fly, or they're incredibly expensive turrets meant for military and commercial UAVs. But I've hunted around and found three that appear to be within our size, weight and price range. How do…
In my instructions on how to build a Lego Autopilot, I've neglected to show how you turn the thing on and off remotely. The answer is a servo strapped to a Mindstorms touch sensor inside the front of the plane. This video is pretty self-explanatory.… Continue
I just read washington Posts comments on UAVs and recently the intern ruling by the FAA ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/19/AR2007071902347.html?nav=rss_technology/techpolicy ) It seems we hobbyist have it somewhat easy, all we need to do is fly below 400 feet, have a spotter, and basically be safe. Yet how strange is it that as soon as we move to the commercial/professional world we need to get a waiver from the FAA? I've seen the applications to get one but how… Continue
I'm working on a UAV (have been for a few months on and off) that will
bring my plane back home. You see I fly a foam plane (an EasyGlider)
that I have modified with an electric motor atop and a video camera and
downlink so I can see what the plane sees and fly "First Person".
I had a rather "adrenaline inducing" experience when my video downlink
was lost (my fault - I flew behind my receive antennas coverage). Well,
I also realized that I… Continue
Last week I had a great chat with the guys running the US operations of Pict'Earth. The company was originally started by a team in France who created their own UAV and real-time Google Earth integration. To get a sense of how cool that is, check out this video:
That was based on a custom UAV that cost around $10,000. The US team is targeting cheaper applications. First, the… Continue
Here's a semi-scale Predator. Pretty cool, but it's an ARF so I can't do too much bragging. I just modded an inexpensive ($80) Nitro Models kit with a AXI 2208 brushless motor and added some proper landing gear and an airscoop to cool the motor in the back. (BTW, Nitro sells two Predators. Get
this one, not the similar…
WASHINGTON — The use of unmanned aircraft in Iraq has surged by nearly one-third since the buildup of U.S. forces began early this year, and drones are now racking up more than 14,000 hours a month in the battlefield skies.
The increase in unmanned aircraft — from high-altitude Global Hawks to short-range…
There's nothing like a big project for a crash course in a new technology. After choosing the Basic Stamp platform for the embedded processor version of the autopilot, I've now learned the hard way about the complexities and limitations of embedded processors. They're not insurmountable, but they're important to…
Great news on the Lego UAV front. Ralph Hempel, who has been helping me on adding GPS waypoints and navigation to my Mindstorms Autopilot, has cracked the tricky bluetooth integration code problem. Just the review the challenge, it appeared that the easiest way to connect the Mindstorms NXT CPU with a GPS receiver is via its bluetooth interface. But the native NXT bluetooth stack and
API is very limited, and we couldn't find a good way…