Nice job by IEEE's Spectrum's Paul Wallich in creating a DIY "follow me" box (working with ArduCopter) to keep an eye on his kid on the way to school. Sample from the article, which appears in print this month:

On school-day mornings, I walk my grade-school-age son 400 meters down the hill to the bus stop. Last winter, I fantasized about sitting at my computer while a camera-equipped drone followed him overhead.

So this year, I set out to build one. For the basic airframe, I selected a quadcopter design for its maneuverability and ability to hover. Construction was straightforward: You can buy a quadcopter kit with all the pieces or, as I did, get parts separately and spend more time on system integration. 

On the mechanical side, there’s a central frame to hold the electronics, spars of aluminum to support the motors and propellers, and legs to cushion the quadcopter’s landing (I made a few extra sets of legs out of foam board for easy replacement). 

On the electronics side, there’s a main control board plus sensors, batteries, a power distribution board, power controllers for the motors (which draw tens of amperes, not what you’d manipulate with ordinary microcircuitry) and a radio receiver for standard remote-control flying, plus an RF modem for computerized control—I got both control systems for redundancy. 

For the main control board, I chose an ArduPilot Mega, mostly because it integrates everything I needed—the CPU, input/output ports, a three-axis gyroscope and accelerometer, and a barometric altitude sensor. A daughterboard soldered on top holds a thumbnail-size GPS unit, a magnetometer (compass), and a slot for microSD card storage. The whole board is powered by a 5-volt feed from one of the motor controllers. (When programming it on the ground, you can power the board via a USB connection.) 

(via SUASNews)

Views: 1316

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on November 30, 2012 at 2:26pm

Cool.  So he's got a follow-me ground controller working?

Comment by Todd Hill on November 30, 2012 at 4:44pm

That's sweet, and I'm jealous:)

Comment by Jack Crossfire on November 30, 2012 at 5:49pm

It never actually tracked the kid.  GPS inaccuracy, weather, & battery life strike again.

Comment by Jesse on December 2, 2012 at 12:46am

I get mental images of the copter doing it's job too well, and trying to keep up with the school bus instead of returning home haha... 

Comment by Joe Bloeski on December 3, 2012 at 4:07pm

Too bad, he was cozy at home while his kid was being abducted from the bus stop

Creative idea yes, good parenting no


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