July 12, 2013 By 

Imagine a quadcopter hovering above a payload – a can of beans, perhaps. The ‘copter descends onto the payload, activates an electromagnet, and flies away with a hobo’s dinner. Right now, this is a bit of an impossibility. A normal electromagnet that powerful would consume an amazing amount of power, something quads don’t usually have in abundance. With the OpenGrab project, the dream of a remote-controlled skycrane is within reach, thanks to some very clever applications of magnetics.

The tech behind the OpenGrab is an electro-permanent magnet, basically an electromagnet you can turn on and off, but doesn’t require any power to stay on. OpenGrab was heavily influenced by a PhD thesis aimed at using these devices for self-assembling buildings.

This project had a very successful Kickstarter campaign and has seen some great progress in the project. While beer doesn’t come in steel cans anymore, we can imagine a whole lot of really cool applications for this tech from infuriating electronic puzzles to some very cool remote sensing applications. 
Filed under: hardware

Views: 4919

Comment by Josh Potter on July 12, 2013 at 11:10am

Has anyone received theirs yet and had a chance to try it out?

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on July 12, 2013 at 11:24am


Good question.:-)



Comment by healthyfatboy on July 12, 2013 at 11:44am

I'm on the list serv for it and more and more people are receiving theirs now. I'm out of town but hope to find mine waiting for me when I get back.

Comment by R. D. Starwalt on July 12, 2013 at 2:25pm

So the basis is a permanent magnet housed with an controlled opposite-field electro magnet to force a release.

The release is probably a short term event and thus would not require constant current, just enough to uncouple the flux with the payload.

When used, the magnetometer data should be ignored. ;)


Comment by Cloud9Drones on July 12, 2013 at 2:29pm

Haven't received mine yet either. Austin, TX

Comment by Nathaniel Caner on July 12, 2013 at 2:48pm

Errr...won't this cause problems with the compass??


Nathaniel ~KD2DEY

Comment by Hasufel on July 12, 2013 at 4:06pm

@nathaniel : says on the kickstarter page, "there where concerns that the magnetic field cause interference with the compass on a 3dr APM board. it turns out it is a problem so magnetic shielding has to be added a minor increase in complexity."

Me want one too :)

Comment by Gary McCray on July 12, 2013 at 8:50pm

I checked this out some time ago and it is a really good idea.

The most effective solution for our multicopters is simply to have the magnet far enough away from the compass and appropriately oriented so that it produces minimal interference.

Shielding is not as effective as you might hope because to be truly effective your shield (mu metal) really needs to fully encompass either the magnet or the compass and of course that would render which ever one was shielded operationally inert.

The only question is how far below your copters magnetometer would it have to be to work OK with the compass.

Comment by Tim V on July 12, 2013 at 8:54pm

any idea when they will be available for purchase?

On a complete tangent:

if i had a peice of steel on an arm attached to an axle:       ((-------o-------)) $

with the device mentioned at the $.

by pulsing the device could you make the arm spin? if your attracting each piece of steel as it approaches and letting it glide away, then you could get it to spin?

do u get where i'm going with this? how does that concur with thermodynamics? it is basicly a stepper motor, but using TLL levels instead of coils. 

whats the catch?

Comment by Jared Reabow on July 14, 2013 at 10:39am

guessing it is a powerful magnet and the electromagnetic temporarily turns on producing an opposite pole which effectively cancels out the permanent magnet to drop things.


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