Chris Anderson's Blog – December 2008 Archive (29)

Review: World's first toy autopilot

WowWee's BladeStar indoor flying machine is advertised as the first toy with an autopilot. From its description: "The exclusive Autopilot Mode with sensor-based navigation enables it to glide through the air, avoiding ceilings and flying away from… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 30, 2008 at 1:00pm — 2 Comments

ArduPilot code now in beta!

Jordi's finished the first beta of ArduPilot, in anticipation of the board's commercial release. Changes and improvements include:

  • The code is now hosted in a proper code repository (Google Code) for version control and to allow others to contribute to the project. You can find it here.
  • RTL (return to launch) and waypoint modes are user selectable
  • Waypoints…

Added by Chris Anderson on December 29, 2008 at 8:37am — 14 Comments

Test flying an EasyStar with EasyGlider wings

After testing the new 4-channel EasyGlider Pro and finding it a great flier but without as much internal space as our beloved 3-channel EasyStar, people suggested I just modify some EasyGlider wings (which have ailerons) and use them on the EasyStar.

So I did that. It was a pretty easy mod--you just have to carve off a little foam from the Easy Glider wings and thread a aileron… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 29, 2008 at 12:00am — No Comments

Arduino debugging tips

If you're trying to upload code with Arduino and you get an error message that looks something like this:

"Problem uploading code.....

avrdude: stk500_getsync(): not in sync: resp=0x78

avrdude: stk500_disable(): protocol error, expect=0x14, resp=0x78"

(or any other error report when uploading…


Added by Chris Anderson on December 26, 2008 at 4:00pm — 108 Comments

New version of Fritzing available

The cool all-in-one free Arduino prototyping software has been updated, with new parts and better stability. Download it here.

Added by Chris Anderson on December 25, 2008 at 2:52pm — 2 Comments

Another Arduino-based helicopter autopilot

This guy built a "heli shield" for an Arduino dev board. Code is available… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 24, 2008 at 10:01pm — 2 Comments

Original DIY Drones UAV projects

These are projects from 2007 and early 2008 that were a lot of fun to do and are still worth checking out for UAV ideas. There is also a PDF/poster that shows how they compare to military and commercial drones.

GeoCrawler 1 (Based on a LEGO Mindstorms autopilot)…


Added by Chris Anderson on December 24, 2008 at 3:00pm — No Comments

New Sparkfun autonomous vehicle competition

Navigate autonomously around the Sparkfun building in Boulder, CO, by ground or air. Event is on April 15th. Shortest time wins. $300 first prize. We can win this!…


Added by Chris Anderson on December 23, 2008 at 7:48pm — 3 Comments

Nice writeup on DIY Drones on the Ning blog

Sweet recognition! Check out what the company that hosts us and about 700,000 other social networks thinks about DIY Drones here.

Added by Chris Anderson on December 22, 2008 at 3:18pm — 1 Comment

How to program the Attiny on ArduPilot

To load the failsafe firmware on ArduPilot's Attiny chip, you need to do the following.

1) You'll need an ICSP AVR programmer. We recommend AVRSIP2. Connect the cable to the correct ICSP port on your board, as shown… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 22, 2008 at 12:30pm — 76 Comments

New ArduPilot MUX code

We fixed some bugs in the ArduPilot's failsafe code, which runs on the board's second processor, an Attiny45. It now works great, and has a secret "reboot the autopilot" feature. Just toggle the autopilot enable switch on your transmitter five times fast, and it will reset the Atmega168. Great for times when you don't want to land just because a random bug froze the autopilot. Otherwise it just does what it's supposed to do: transfer control from RC to autopilot and back again on command--every… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 21, 2008 at 10:10pm — No Comments

Day two at DIY Drones HQ--success!

Jordi came over today and finished up the work on ArduPilot and the second simulator. He caught a lot of bugs that had been bedeviling us, especially unintended crosstalk between the main autopilot processor (the atmega168) and the failsafe processor (the attiny45) that made it impossible to load code when one or the other was… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 21, 2008 at 10:00pm — 25 Comments

Jordi debugging ArduPilot and BlimpDuino

Big day of ArduPilot and BlimpDuino work at DIY Drones HQ (my house in Berkeley). Jordi and his wife are up from LA and we've been debugging code and tweaking PID loops all day. We also set up a second simulation environment. It was a beautiful day… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 20, 2008 at 9:30pm — 4 Comments

New ArduPilot boards in!

Just got the first batch of ArduPilot production boards. They're tiny--smaller than a key! Jordi is in San Francisco this weekend and we're going to spend the weekend testing them, including in the air. Hope to have videos next… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 19, 2008 at 11:02pm — 3 Comments

When autopilots kill

From a long and very good article in Vanity Fair about a Brazillian mid-air collision last year, when two aircraft coming from opposite directions were given the same altitude and heading. The autopilots were so accurate that the two planes hit each other dead on in the open skies over the vast Amazonian rain forest: Excerpt:

"Navigational precision poses dangers not immediately apparent. In the… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 19, 2008 at 10:39pm — No Comments

Cool new all-in-one prototyping software

Fritzing is designed to help non-engineers take breadboard Arduino prototypes and quickly create schematics and PCB files. It's just in an alpha version now, but the potential of this software is tremendous. It's amazing to see how quickly the… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 19, 2008 at 12:13am — 2 Comments

New failsafe code for the ArduPilot/Pro

We caught a small bug in the attiny code that runs the failsafe on ArduPilot and ArduPilot Pro. On ArduPilot, the failsafe will allow you to reboot the main microcontroller remotely, and this was stuck in the on position, making it impossible to load the autopilot code. Corrected Attiny code is here (if all you want is the hex file to load onto the attiny, it's in the Defualt folder).

Added by Chris Anderson on December 17, 2008 at 5:22am — No Comments

Instructions for using BlimpDuino

Here's how to use Blimpduino:

First thing, needless to say: inflate the envelope. For that you'll need helium. You can get it in a party balloon kit that you can find at most Targets or Wal-Marts or any party supply store. You can also buy it from Amazon, or…


Added by Chris Anderson on December 14, 2008 at 11:30pm — 9 Comments

GPS altitude accuracy vs. barometric sensor

Tom Pycke tested GPS altitude measurement vs a barometric sensor with his UAV. It shows that today's GPS sensors give excellent altitude readings, accurate to a few meters even if they're only getting 5 or 6 satellites. More ammunition for those of us… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 13, 2008 at 2:10pm — No Comments

Arduino-powered heli

The Wash UAV uses an Arduino Mini, Maxbotix ultrasonic sensors, and a HMC6352 compass module on a BladeCx2 heli. It looks like they're very close to full autonomy.

[from… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on December 11, 2008 at 3:30pm — 1 Comment

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Season Two of the Trust Time Trial (T3) Contest 
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