Tuesday, June 24, 2014

DIY Drones in 2014

I've always tried to keep my eye on the developments in technology coming out of the DIY Drone community. Over the weekend I decided to dive in and survey what the state of the art is right now.

Hak5 Season 16 has had some awesome episodes covering drones with Piotr from 1 Bit Squared.
Including topics like:

  • Quadcopter basics
  • Flight controllers
  • Configuring PaparazziUAV
  • Building an airframe
  • Wiring an airfraime

3D Robotics
As would be expected Chis Anderson is pumping out some great products at 3D Robotics. They make the ready-to-fly IRIS which you just snap a GoPro on and... go. They certainly still make kits the APM:Copter DIY Quad kit looks like a great option for the tinkerer.

It looks like the APM has been superseded by the PIXHAWK as 3DR's autopilot of choice.

3DR is defiantly making class leading products and is leaning towards appealing to a broader user base. They are the Apple/Makerbot of drones and will continue to be strong. I tend to like things a little nerdier so I kept looking.

PaparazziUAV seems to be becoming the open source software and hardware autopilot of choice for the more hardcore hobbyist. It is the platform covered in the Hak5 videos and seems like it brings DIY drones back to it's roots. PaparazziUAV can be run on a number of different hardware platforms but it seems like STMicro and NXP ARMs are the most popular processors these days. The LisaM a normal small form factor board and the LisaS a crazy mindbogglingly small board are pictured below. Both are built and sold by 1 Bit Squared.
As always DJI is still cranking out off the shelf drones for aerial filming that you can buy off Amazon.
The new Phantom 2 Vision+:
I also found out that DJI makes flight controllers like the Naza-M that you can put onto a custom built airframe if you want an electronics tinkering free ride. They of course also make airframe kits for those electronics to go on.

It goes without saying that you could make almost any kind of remote controlled vehicle from parts from HobbyKing. I spent less time looking at airframe kits than I did flight controllers but I think you could find a good starting point in HobbyKing's Multi-Rotor RTF / PNF / ARF page.

That's about it while I've dived into lots of other DIY endeavors 3D printing being the most expensive I've as of yet successfully maintained control over myself from pouring hundreds of dollars into flying robots. The day is quickly approaching when it will be so cheap I won't be able to talk myself out of it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Century Of Self: Happiness Machines

Connecting a Wireless Xbox 360 Controller to Windows 8

Wanted to get a bit of gaming on with my new Windows 8.1 install. Turns out installing the driver for the wireless 360 controller is quite the feat. You have to manually select the driver using the Have Disk option in the Update Driver wizard. How is this still a thing in 2014?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

OpenSpritz for Android

There is some well deserved excitement around a speedreading tech startup called Spritz. I stumbled upon an open source clone for Android. Check it out

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Decoding POCSAG and FLEX-A Pager Traffic

I'm writing a technical manual on cheap SDR for a class. I had some fun tonight monitoring pager traffic from the surrounding hospitals and security systems that still use alphanumeric pager protocols. Purely for educational purposes of course.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Arduino Leonardo in Stock at Pololu

Thanks to Pololu I was able to place an order for a couple of new Arduino Leonardos. Excited to get these in and start playing. I'm also thinking that by prototyping things with these boards I may be able to move a project to a custom layout a little quicker because of the reduced number of parts.