Well, that went better. After last week's disaster
, Jordi and I worked hard to make the Etech demo
of the Minimum Blimp UAV
go smoothly. It was almost a full hour, and the room was a bit smaller, so we were optimistic. But we weren't counting on optimism alone: Jordi had done a lot of work on the blimp since TED to help it handle air currents better, including:
- Using the voltage regulators on the Pololu Motor Driver boards rather than a stand-alone voltage regulator.
- Adding a separate battery for the motors so high current drains and voltage drops don't risk crashing our Arduino. (This is a short term hack while we get our power management properly fixed and switch to LiPos)
- Upgrading the vertical motor to a low voltage N20, which has a better power to thrust ratio than the motor we'd been using
- Tweaking the code to give full thrust when needed, which is allowed by the better power management
- Other tweaks in the software to adapt to the inertial momentum and laggy physics of a blimp in a moving fluid
The result: success! The range of the IR transceiver is still less than ten feet in a noisy environment like a conference hall, but it nicely follows you around if you hold the beacon and walk around the room and otherwise does what it's supposed to do. Presentation went great, full room, people seemed to love it and video crews interviewed us afterwards. (Links to coverage when they go live)
Next: Minimum Blimp UAV 2.0 with a custom PCB, single LiPo and integrated motor driver chips. And then a kit you can buy and build for less than $100. Stay tuned!
[Photo of Jordi credit: Phil Windley]