Sunday, November 13, 2011

Score - Thanks HP Laptop

The donor laptop

Lithium Ion - 10.8V at 47 Watt Hours

Charging nicely


Let me get this into a 'case', extend the charging connections and get a suitable connector to get the juice to the Weatherman.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I can't make a playlist long enough for these guys.  Our first R and D platform is named in honor of them.

Dead Sara

"The Weatherman v1"


I have been watching these in the lab - MIT YouTube Lectures - MIT 16.885J Aircraft Systems Engineering - It is from 2005 and the coolest thing about this years course is it's devotion to the Space Shuttle program.  So from one of the lectures they stress backup systems and since SARA is a research platform for avionics, we will take a nod to NASA and build in a backup sensor system.  This will indeed add weight and reduce flight time, although again, for research purposes, it will provoke an upgrade to the control software.  I picked up four of these guys to play with - 3d Robotics Failsafe MUX
Basically it has two sets of four inputs, out to one set of outputs.  I don't know how yet, but I will attempt to setup a set of matching sensors to those in the Android phone, maybe even two Android phones....

SARA - Small Avionics Research Platform

Pics -

So I mentioned before about using the Android phone as the sensor for the quadrotor.  Now that the airframe is completed, mechanically, it is time to delve into using the sensors from the Android and feeding an Arduino Mega, with a 2560 microcontroller.  The electronic speed controls use a pulsed width modulation signal to control rotational direction and speed of the props.  For testing, I will remove the props and verify that the motors are spinning in the proper direction (1 and 2, which are opposite each other on the airframe, should spin in a counter clockwise direction.  3 and 4, which are opposite each other on the airframe, should spin in a clockwise direction.)  I will attach each of the four ESC wires to their own digital pin on the Mega.  This will become a piece in a three part system consisting of Guidance (getting to where I want to go), Navigation (where am i now) and finally Control (the Mega will use PWM to manipulate the propellers around the vehicles center of gravity and send her in the right direction).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Great article in the vein of avionics.

NASA test pilots are unsung heroes, are so many people really interested in things like Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber dating?

Need to read this

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Robot Vision Idea

A friend of mine once showed me how layers in Photoshop worked and that is when I 'got' how cool graphical design was and also realized it's potential.  When I see a well detailed image, the shadows and colors and the perceived depth are evident.  Could we take this layered approach to building a robotic vision system?  What would be required?  First, let's scrap the limitation of the eyeball's physical size, we just aren't there yet in terms of shrinking the tech.  For now, let's think of video layers, each with it's own sensor input.  What could we use as layer data?

Layer 1: HD camera input
Layer 2: IR sensor input
Layer 3: Thermal input

Bedtime, to be continued....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Running an R and D lab part 0

Whatever it is we do here at NM, one thing is for sure, this place is a lab.  I missed my Mecha Lab Management 101 classes, so here are some random notes for me or you that might help.  This is the wishlist, modify please.

Label everything.
Find a place to store your tools so that they are usable at any time.
Get your MxkxrBots into ready state.
Clean up at the end of each day.
Separate materials (aluminum, brass, etc).
Obtain adequate lighting and also means of visual magnification.
Kidnap, bribe, hire someone to take apart a heap of old broken gear and organize the parts.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Holy Awesome

Go there.  Be happy.  Sense.

Android Based Quadrotor

In between a few paying projects, we have been putting together the mark III airframe from diydrones.  The lab has a few Mega 2560's laying around and I also ordered an Ardupilot shield the other day.  We have planned to use the above setup as we love the community and are glad to see so much activity in the small craft UAV market.  However, after receiving a random email from a colleague, Amjad Hussain, we are going to take the time to integrate a Samsung Aspire into our design as the Quadrotor brain.  I need to dive into it further and this will be an ongoing project with the team.  Introductions to said team will follow in the next few posts, I need to check with the paranoid hacker types to make sure they don't mind the worlds eyeball on them.  Cheers.