Howard Gordon's Blog (24)

Fun with planes, parafoils and robots

Snowflake is a collaboration between Naval Postgraduate School and University of Alabama at Huntsville to develop single and multiple autonomously guided parafoils. The project, described… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on May 14, 2010 at 9:30am — 5 Comments

Bat-teK video - cool highlight of some Surveyor technologies

Bat-teK is a Carnegie Mellon + Lockheed Martin project that uses a lot of Surveyor's robotic technologies, including the YARB blimp, SVS stereo camera and SRV-1 robot, along with CMU's console and mapping applications. CMU gave us permission to post this… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on December 3, 2009 at 10:30am — 6 Comments

Shrediquette open source tricopter

Tricopter - The Movie... from W. Thielicke on Vimeo.


"The Shrediquette is a tri-rotor helicopter built by William… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on November 30, 2009 at 12:31pm — 1 Comment

Xoie Claims $1 Million Lunar Lander Prize

This is beautiful -

Full story here -… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on November 4, 2009 at 5:24pm — 2 Comments

Software based horizon finder for SRV-1 Blackfin camera

Here's an updated version of the software-based horizon finder for SRV-1 Blackfin. An actual slope and intercept is now being computed, and some filtering has been added as well ...

Here was the original post ...…


Added by Howard Gordon on May 22, 2009 at 3:16pm — 24 Comments

New navigation module with GPS, compass, 3-axis tilt, and 8-channel 12-bit analog

We just received the prototypes of a new sensor board we developed for outdoor navigation. This navigation module includes a Honeywell HMC6352 compass, ST LISLV02DQ 3-axis tilt sensor, Analog Devices AD7998 8-channel A/D, and interface to GPS (we're using the Locosys LS20031). The board measures 31mm x 38mm (1.25" x 1.5"), and weighs around 5gm without GPS (18gm with GPS).

Though designed for the Surveyor SRV-1… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on May 9, 2009 at 8:00am — 6 Comments

YARB robotic blimp now available for purchase

Since posting our Google Android G1 control console for the YARB robotic blimp, there has been a fair amount of interest in an assembled version of the 66" blimp, so we have decided to make YARB available for purchase.

Cost is $875, which is $200+ more than the cost of buying the various kit components, or equivalent to the cost of… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on March 14, 2009 at 1:30pm — 1 Comment

YARB robotic blimp controlled by Google Android G1 phone

The open source Google Android G1 phone seemed like an obvious platform for wireless robotic control, so we created an Android-based console. After running this first with the ground-based Surveyor SRV-1 robot, we made a few small modifications and used it to control the Surveyor YARB. The tilt sensors in the Android phone work quite nicely… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on February 15, 2009 at 1:00pm — 11 Comments

Interesting 900MHz radio

Take a look at Click on OEM Radio Modules and check out the AW900mSPI.

The AW900m is a 900MHz digital radio with lots of range and throughput - 1.54Mbps radio channel with 900-1100kbps delivered. SPI/UART version will retail for $129 per card. These look really good - I should have a couple of modules shortly and will report on performance. The UART… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on December 22, 2008 at 2:30pm — No Comments

YARB flies again - now with 3D stereo vision

YARB (yet another robotic blimp) is back in business, now carrying a new Surveyor SVS (stereo vision system) controller with a pair of Blackfin cameras. The new rig weighs about the same as the previous single-camera setup with added sensors. It is actually a bit too light, so ballast has been added using washers held in place on the Wifi antenna.

There is a new simplified console that… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on October 2, 2008 at 10:52pm — 2 Comments is a pretty handy website for prototype builders - I stumbled across them when looking for nylon fasteners and found lots of other interesting stuff - gears, belts, cables, springs, bearings, shafts, tools, etc. Prices are reasonable, though freight is a bit expensive - it cost $8 to get $15 worth of parts via UPS, but otherwise, no complaints. In any case, the site is worth a visit.

Added by Howard Gordon on September 3, 2008 at 7:10am — No Comments

Stanford Autonomous Helicopter Project

From Yann's Techno Toy Blog ...

Stanford Autonomous Helicopter Project has developed new reinforcement learning techniques to stabilize and control their helicopters. The developers have been able to teach their heli to perform just about every aerobatic figure imaginable. However, the heli has no on-board intelligence. Instead, data is fed from onboard GPS and IMU with… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on August 24, 2008 at 7:30am — 3 Comments

$3 gyro ?

I just stumbled across this 300 deg/sec rate gyro -

Description -

Datasheet -

They're talking about $2.50 in volume… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on July 14, 2008 at 10:29am — 5 Comments

simple VTOL airplane with vectored thrust

I just ran across this on Yann LeCun's blog - Yann is a professor of mathematics at NYU, a leading authority on neural networks, and an R/C enthusiast.

This is a conventional airframe with two sets of vectored motors (similar to what we're doing with the blimps). Yann reports that two rotors turn clockwise and two counter-clockwise on a diagonal. Stabilization and control is accomplished with a combination of conventional gyros… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on June 16, 2008 at 10:00am — 2 Comments

a few ideas gleaned from the microblimp design

Along with a couple of Tri-Turbofan toy blimps, one of the purchases for my early blimp experiments was a Plantraco MicroBlimp, which is the company's current offering. After ordering, I found out that it was too small to carry any useful payload, so I left it in the box until deciding to take a closer look yesterday.

Plantraco seems to specialize in really small radio controlled aircraft. They tend to be somewhat expensive, but… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on March 29, 2008 at 9:00am — 1 Comment

YARB 1.0 - added compass and ultrasonic sensors

I attached some additional sensors today - a pair of Maxbotics EZ0 ultrasonic ranging modules and a Honeywell HMC6532 I2C compass. Also, I added an extender to the camera module to point downward about 30-degrees and I finally adjusted the focus. I think the camera angle is pretty good now - the wide angle lens has a field-of-view of approx 120-degrees, so the bottom of the frame captures objects almost directly below.

I haven't yet filtered the sensor data. The… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on March 16, 2008 at 5:01pm — 19 Comments

YARB 1.0 update - first untethered flight

Here's a video clip from YARB 1.0's first untethered flight. I captured the video while sitting in my office while the blimp explored the hallway and front room (the dogs completely ignored it). The camera is a bit out of focus, and the afternoon light washed out the picture somewhat, but you get the idea.

You can see the modified console with buttons to vector the props and invert the video. I'm actually surprised with how easy it is to pilot YARB - it is very responsive.… Continue

Added by Howard Gordon on March 13, 2008 at 4:26pm — No Comments

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