So you’ve spent a ton of time build and hopefully flying your quadcopter. Now you need something keep it safe in between flights!
At Techshop I built my own quadcopter using the laser cutters and some of the other tools and equipment available. One day though while driving around with the quadcopter in my truck another box rolled over on top of the quad and broke the main frame apart. That is was inspired me to build some sort of transportation / storage box for it.
On a morning visit to a Northern California middle school, I saw not a single student. The principal showed me around campus, but I didn’t see or hear students talking, playing, or moving about. The science lab was empty, as were the library and the playground. It was not a school holiday: It was a state-mandated STAR testing day. The school was in an academic lockdown. A volunteer manned a table filled with cupcakes, a small reward for students at day’s end.
This is what the American public school looks like in 2012, driven by obsessive adherence to standardized testing. The fate of children, their schools, and their teachers are based on these school test scores. I wondered what kind of tests the students were taking. The California Department of Education’s STAR website has sample test questions, and I started looking through them randomly.
This is a port of the Arduino based Arducopter Drone software to Flash for users to try AC’s features and to learn how to tune their drones. I hope it helps users learn more about PIDs, flight control, and sensors as well as prevent crashes of expensive drones!
The mission of this website is to share our knowledge for building low-cost Conservation Drones to help conservation workers and researchers in developing countries do their jobs a lot more effectively and cost efficiently.
Of course, we recognize that there are highly sophisticated commercial UAV systems in the market and in use by the military, agricultural industry, and even the film industry. But most of them cost tens of thousands of dollars. Instead, we choose to adapt an autopilot system developed by an online community of hobbyists and developers (diydrones.com) to build our Conservation Drones.
Our emphasis is on low-cost. The challenge we give ourselves is to build drones that cost no more than a decent pair of field binoculars. These drones could also potentially be adapted for other environmental applications.
This project is partly supported by the National Geographic Society, The Orangutan Conservancy, Philadelphia Zoo, and the Denver Zoo.
Some are proving drone-building can be a business. In 2009, Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired and a drone evangelist, co-founded 3D Robotics Inc. in San Diego. The firm sells drone parts, such as electronic pilots and sensors. He says it is growing at 50% a year and has multimillions in revenue.
Mr. Anderson likens the community of hobbyists to Silicon Valley’s Homebrew Computer Club in the 1970s, where Apple Inc. co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak showed off their first personal computer. At the time, the future uses of computers weren’t clear, says Mr. Anderson, with the software applications materializing over time. “I think drones will go the same way,” he says.
Hobbyists say drone prices have been driven down sharply even in the past two or three years mainly by the surge in popularity of smartphones. The chips smartphones use to determine whether they’re being held vertically or horizontally or to locate themselves on a map are the same ones drones use to keep themselves flying straight, level and in the right direction.
The supply of such chips has spiked along with the use of smartphones, sending prices lower.
“Today if you have an iPhone or an Android, you basically have an autopilot in your pocket. You’re just running the wrong app,” said Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and founder of DIY Drones, an online community and company that sells drone kits and parts.
Anderson started DIY Drones in 2007 after spending the weekend building an electronic Lego robot and trying to fly a radio-controlled plane with his kids. The robot didn’t impress the kids on its own, and the plane was hard to fly, Anderson said. So the family used the Legos to build a primitive autopilot and attached it to the plane. The kids thought it was cool for a few weeks, but Anderson became obsessed.
Anderson said safety is a top consideration of his group, and he supports strict observance of the FAA regulations developed in the 1970s to cover the amateur use of radio-controlled planes, which also apply to today’s DIY drones. Those rules include restricting their altitude to 400 feet, requiring them to always be in view of their controller on the ground and prohibiting them from being flown over built-up areas.
Drones aren’t just for the military anymore. Remote-controlled flying devices are becoming more widely available, and journalists have begun to consider their use in reporting. That may or may not be a good thing, and our panelists have strong opinions on both sides of the topic. We’ll discuss the state of the art in the field, open source projects, how to build your own drone and what not to do, and also show some demo devices.
Keeping with our recent all-multirotor all-the-time theme, it’s time for another how-to post! Plans are afoot, and scheming has been schemed. The flying robot skeletons have been piling up in a corner of the workshop, and after several revisions we’ve narrowed down the design to something worth sharing.
This tricopter frame design is decently ridged, it’s not extremely crash resistant, but it does fine with a few hard landings. This is the first flying revision, so there is plenty of room for design improvements. Improve and share! Available under a creative commons ShareAlike-NonComm-Attrib license.
My friend Joachim P., taking some inspiration from the cardboard quad, decided to build a paper tri-copter. Using a pretty ingenious tail tilt mount, his Tri-copter comes in at 357g fully loaded. It also costs around 130$ (sans transmitter.) Of course, he’s using a gyro only board (the KKmicrocopter controller), so one could probably get a lot more stability with 6DOF or 9DOF board, but I’m impressed none the less.
Jordi Munoz had no training. Scant schooling. Little money. He also had a video-game console and nothing else to do.
So he built his own drone.
A Mexican native, Mr. Munoz married an American citizen and moved to Riverside,Calif., in 2007. While waiting for his green card, the 21-year-old was marooned in his apartment, unable to work, attend school or obtain a driver’s license.
On the other hand, he had an Internet connection. A Nintendo Wii. A radio-controlled toy helicopter his mother had given him to help kill time.
Tinkering with the Wii’s control wand and a $60 gyroscope he had purchased on eBay, he modified the helicopter to fly itself, just like the $5 million Predator unmanned aerial vehicles deployed by the U.S. military.
Five years later, Mr. Munoz is co-founder and CEO of 3D Robotics, a San Diego-based company that has 18 employees and earned more than $300,000 in revenue in December producing components for hobbyist drones.
It took a few round, and I went down a few dead ends, but today I finally managed to make a flying paper robot. Originally, I started out with a flying sphere design copied wholesale from the JDM Flying Sphere. Eventually I figured out that I didn’t know thefirst damn thing about making a flying robot and that it would probably make a bit of sense to try and build one that had been successfully flown by more than one other person working for the Japanese military. So, I decided to build a quadcopter. A few people have built those, and it looked like a simpler problem.