Chris Anderson's Blog – July 2008 Archive (26)

Move to start a civilian UAV association

[From the CropCam googlegroup:]

From: Greg Lewis - ODIS [email redacted]

Date: Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 12:04 AM

Subject: International Civilian UAV Users Group?

To: Cropcam

Hello All,

We are just finishing up the latest CropCam training session and there has been some very good dialogue.

One of the things that we have been discussing is trying to gauge interest in forming an International civilian UAV… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 31, 2008 at 11:02am — 8 Comments

FAQ: What's the difference between a UAV and a RC plane?

I get this question all the time from newcomers, so I'll answer it here as we build a proper FAQ:

Q: What's the difference between a RC plane and a UAV? And why doesn't the AMA allow UAVs on its fields?

A: The generally-agreed distinction is that UAVs have the capacity for autonomous flight and navigation. A RC plane becomes a UAV with the addition of an autopilot.

The AMA doesn't allow UAVs because its insurance doesn't cover them. I actually agree with the… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 31, 2008 at 9:46am — 2 Comments

Easy to understand PID tutorial

For those who are feeling a bit intimidated by PID loops, here's a really clear and easy to understand tutorial from an autopilot project. The code examples are C++, but they're easy to translate to C.

Added by Chris Anderson on July 29, 2008 at 8:51pm — 1 Comment

Housekeeping note: how to send private messages

If you want to communicate with another member but not necessarily in the forums or their public pages, you can send a private message. The feature is marked by a little envelope, but initially you will only see it next to the names of site administrators (me and a few other people). If you want to send a PM to someone else, you have to "friend them" first, which is to say you extend a friend invitation to them and they accept. You should then see an envelope icon next to their name at all… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 29, 2008 at 4:11pm — No Comments

Cool AttoPilot feature: relative waypoints

Dean Goedde has added a cool feature to the forthcoming AttoPilot: relative waypoints. He explains:

"I have innovated a new method for using waypoint paths: a method to signify a waypoint list as being a "template". In this method, the waypoint list becomes a list of relative coordinates, relative to the 0th WP in the… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 29, 2008 at 3:29pm — 5 Comments

Anybody know anything about this very nice-looking autopilot from Poland?

Ryszard Arandzikowski, a superdedicated hobbyist in Poland, has spent the last three years creating this suite of UAV technologies. Autopilot and ground station software,… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 29, 2008 at 12:30pm — 2 Comments

Easy Glider Pro (and new Multiplex Mentor) now available

For those who love the Multiplex EasyStar but want more lifting capacity and space (or just need ailerons) good news: its big brother, the Easy Glider Pro, is now available. This upgraded plane apparently fixes some of the problems with the earlier… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 27, 2008 at 10:30pm — No Comments

Smallest flapping bot yet

Bart Remes and his team at the Technical University of Delft have just produced the smallest-ever flapping wing robot (ornithopter) with a built-in camera.With a wingspan of just 10 centimetres (4"), the DelFly could easily be confused with a real dragonfly. Not yet autonomous, but a good candidate for a mouse-chip optical flow autopilot. (Thanks to…


Added by Chris Anderson on July 23, 2008 at 9:32pm — 4 Comments

FAQ: Confusing terms explained

This is a glossary of some of the terms you may read on DIY Drones. Please feel free to suggest others in the comments below!

  • 2.4 GhzThe frequency used by digital (spread spectrum) radio communications in our applications, including 2.4Ghz RC, bluetooth and some video transmission equipment. This is a different band than the older 72 Mhz band…

Added by Chris Anderson on July 21, 2008 at 10:30pm — 45 Comments

Video of the BlimpDuino with vectoring thrusters

Switching BlimpDuino from modded toy blimps to a custom vectoring thruster platform was the best move we've made so far. Not only does it save a lot of money and fuss, but the vectoring thrusters give us much better control, including total command… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 20, 2008 at 6:30pm — 3 Comments

Even better than the "Air Sniper": the "Air Knife"!

Our friends at the Danger Room blog were inspired by the comically bogus "AirSniper" UAV/assault rifle ad we found. So they did it one… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 18, 2008 at 7:30pm — 5 Comments

DIY Drones on the Ning home page!

Very cool! We're now a featured network on the home page of Ning, which is the social network service that this site is based on. They told me it was due to our "strong organic growth", which is due to all of you!

We now average around 1,500 unique visitors and around 6,000 page views… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 18, 2008 at 7:30am — 1 Comment

Wall Street Journal: Unmanned Aircraft Face Hurdles

From today's WSJ:

Unmanned Aircraft Face Hurdles


July 17, 2008

FARNBOROUGH, England -- Unmanned aircraft are rapidly becoming mainstays of military and border-security operations worldwide. But significant commercial uses for the planes aren't expected to emerge for at least another decade because of regulatory and technical challenges, industry and government officials said at… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 16, 2008 at 10:14pm — 1 Comment

Warning: bad experience with UNAV

I've had mixed experiences with UNAV (maker of the Pico Pilot) in the past. I like their autopilot hardware, but the software is terrible and it all feels a bit dated and old-school. Based on some early looks I think Dean Goedde's AttoPilot is going to blow the Pico Pilot away (a proper review will be coming as soon as I get my hands on the hardware). But I wanted to be fair to UNAV, so I offered to review their new PicoPilot groundstation… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 16, 2008 at 9:18pm — 21 Comments

Lunch with Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi

Massimo Banzi, the co-founder of the Arduino project, was in San Francisco today after spending the weekend at FOO Camp, and he dropped by for lunch with me at Wired. As you know we're huge Arduino fans, so this was a rare treat to learn more about how the project works and… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 14, 2008 at 10:35pm — 2 Comments

Is this for real?

Spotted in the current issue of Unmanned Systems, the AUVSI magazine: an ad for a sniper rifle/quadcopter UAV (shown above). Absurdly, it says you can take off the rotors and camera and also use the fuselage as an assault rifle! If this were the April edition, I'd think it was an April Fool's joke. The ad is full of typos and the… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 14, 2008 at 9:30pm — 14 Comments

ArduPilot code update

We're been making progress on the ArduPilot code and are getting closer to releasing a proper beta. In the meantime, here's an update (and, for the brave, a pre-alpha look at the code):

The basic outlines of the code (GPS parser, navigation loops, altitude control, servo control, etc) are written. The GPS parser is pretty well tested and works okay. The navigation algorithms have been tested on a simulator, but still need to be tested in the real world. The servo control needs to be… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 13, 2008 at 9:00pm — 1 Comment

Interview: Andrew Bugera on the 2008 AUVSI Student UAV contest

(Left to Right) Don Hatch, Tim Herd

Performing an engine check before the competition practice flight.

Location: Webster Field

We've written a bit about this year's… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 11, 2008 at 5:30pm — No Comments

Five good planes to convert to a UAV

I get this question all the time: what's a good plane to turn into a UAV? The answer is that it depends on your needs, your budget and your RC skills. But here are some good electric candidates:

For RC beginners:

The NextStar… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on July 10, 2008 at 11:00pm — 42 Comments

An old skool instrument panel for OSD data

This is just the coolest thing. It's not exactly UAV-related, but our FPV (first-person view) friends use much of the same technology as we do, from real-time video links to on-screen displays (OSD) of GPS and telemetry data. Here's what one FPV guy did to avoid having to have an electronic integration of his telemetry into…


Added by Chris Anderson on July 10, 2008 at 12:20am — 1 Comment

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