Chris Anderson's Blog – March 2008 Archive (19)

Australian UAV contest announces its second year

The Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation has announced the second year of its amateur UAV contest, called the Outback Challenge, which will be held on the 23rd-24th September 2008, in Kingaroy, Queensland. There are three categories:

1) A remote operation challenge (fly by video downlink only) that's only open the Australian High School students

2) A autonomous UAV target spotting and package delivery… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 30, 2008 at 6:31pm — No Comments

PCB fabbing advice

For those of you getting into creating your own PCBs, here's some quick advice:

We use the CADSoft Eagle software (free version can handle up to two PCB layers). It's powerful but pretty hard to learn. For easier to use (albeit more limited) software, you might try… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 28, 2008 at 11:30am — 6 Comments

New double-sided BlimpBot board!

Our progress towards a $79 UAV mod kit for toy RC blimps is going well. We've now got a much better, two-sided PCB board that we're having fabbed. It's smaller, has more features and now integrates the IR sensors on the same board (Eagle schematic here; mask files… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 28, 2008 at 11:30am — 15 Comments

Interview: Martin Müller and the Paparazzi Project (now less DIY!)

We've been following the Paparazzi autopilot project with interest for several years. It's a European open source technology initiative that has created both thermopile (infrared sensor) and gyro-based autopilot hardware, along with quite sophisticated software to run it. But the problem to date is… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 25, 2008 at 10:30pm — No Comments

Minimum Blimp V2 PCB files, code

This is just a quick update for those following along with the Minimum Blimp UAV project. We've modded a toy RC blimp and created our own Arduino clone PCB (complete with motor controllers and ports). Here are the PCB files and source code:

--Schematic (Eagle file format) is… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 25, 2008 at 9:14pm — No Comments

Where are the "add blog post" and "add forum discussion" links?!

Last night Ning, our social network hosting platform, pushed out a few new features and in the process changed our look and feel a bit. Among those changes: the "Add a blog post" link at the bottom of the blog listings and "Add a discussion" link at the bottom of the forum listings are gone. So now how do you do those things?

Answer: use the tabs above. You add a discussion topic on the "Forum" tab and… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 21, 2008 at 8:07am — 1 Comment

Autonomous blimps at MAKE NYC meetup

MAKE Magazine's New York City meetup (a hardware hackathon open to all) is next week, on the 27th, and this time they've got blimps!

Here's the announcement:

What can a group of Makers do with a tank of helium? We're not sure! Care to find out? The sixth Make:NYC Meeting includes:

Challenge: Blimps

You've got brains, we've got blimps. Two teams will compete to… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 21, 2008 at 7:30am — No Comments

Minimum Blimp V2 update

As mentioned before, for the second version of our Minimum Blimp Jordi and I decided to mod a RC toy blimp on the grounds that it will be cheaper and more robust than trying to build the whole mechanical assembly ourselves (the aim is to have a fully programmable and hackable blimp… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 19, 2008 at 6:00am — 10 Comments

What does "Open Source Hardware" mean?

Here at DIY Drones, we adhere to open source principles wherever possible. That means we aim to share (that means post it, not make people ask for it) code, schematics, PCB files, parts lists, instructions, and algorithms for every project featured here. In practice, that's not always possible (not all project have PCB files; not all projects need schematics),… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 18, 2008 at 2:00pm — No Comments

A clever approach to indoor beacons: ultrasound + IR = GPS

A Luxembourg-based team has come up with a really clever indoor navigation system that combines ultrasonic beacons with IR to achieve absolute position ("synthetic GPS"), much like the NorthStar system we use but entirely DIY.

As they describe it: "The infrared flash of a single beacon arrives… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 18, 2008 at 5:13am — 1 Comment

BoingBoing TV features DIY Drones!

Our Minimum Blimp demo at ETech is the focus of today's Boing Boing TV. Learn how Jordi and Chris met and watch Jordi get subtitled! (Note: Some of the imagery is taken from elsewhere on this site and other presentations I've made and doesn't actually come from the Minimum Blimp or any blimp for that matter. It's just there for… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 13, 2008 at 9:26am — 3 Comments

Minimum Blimp UAV (Version 1) schematic and code

For those who want to reproduce what we did with the Minimum Blimp, the schematic is above. The Arduino code is here.

We're now moving on the Minimum Blimp Version 2, which… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 11, 2008 at 9:30pm — No Comments

Regulatory FAQ

[These are Frequently Asked Questions about the current state of UAV regulation in the US. Regulations elsewhere are different, but here is a similar post giving the rules for Canada.]

Q: Are UAVs legal in the United States?

A: Under certain conditions, they are. There are two ways to legally fly Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the "National Airspace", which is to say all but…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 9, 2008 at 8:30pm — 49 Comments

PicoPilot software updated

The good folks at UNAV have been listening to our complaints about the way their software handles communications errors if you don't have your Com ports set up just right when running the software (it basically barfed up a cascade of mystifying error messages, with no indication of what was really wrong and what to do about it).

They've now created a… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 9, 2008 at 7:47pm — 1 Comment

Testing the real world range of the Pololu IR transcievers

As you know, we've had a lot of trouble with the short range of our Pololu IR transceivers that we use with our Blimp UAV. They're rated at up to 20 feet, but we can't seem to get more than 10 feet (and usually more like 5) in real world conditions, with the usual amount of IR noise and the two transceivers not being on the same horizontal plane. I know that… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 8, 2008 at 9:00pm — No Comments

Failsafe board now cheaper, better

The Failsafe board (known as a "RxMux", or Receiver Multiplexer) that I wrote about before (and here) is now available for $20 less and with the connectors that I complained were missing in the… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 6, 2008 at 8:22am — 2 Comments

ETech BlimpBot demo report: Success!

Well, that went better. After last week's disaster, Jordi and I worked hard to make the Etech demo of the Minimum Blimp… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 5, 2008 at 5:00pm — 5 Comments

Great primer on accelerometers and basic triginometry

I'll be the first to admit it: I had to relearn a lot of trig that I was last taught in 7th grade when I started work on autopilots. Now Freescale, who makes accelerometers, has come out with a really easy to understand primer on the math of tilt sensing that make it all wonderfully… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 4, 2008 at 8:42am — No Comments

TED Report: Foiled by Air Conditioning!

Yesterday Jordi and his wife drove up with the BlimpBot to Monterey, where I was attending the TED conference, so I could demo it. This was a pretty high-stakes demo, since not only would there be 2,000 of the most influential people in the technology, entertainment and design (TED) worlds watching, but they included Al… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 1, 2008 at 8:00am — 17 Comments

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Season Two of the Trust Time Trial (T3) Contest 
A list of all T3 contests is here. The current round, the Vertical Horizontal one, is here

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