Friday, 12 April 2013

"Predator" Shoulder Cannon

Alright - good news and bad news. Bad news is that Quadcopters cannot fly very well through trees, but the good news is that the only casualty was a motor having its insulation wire scraped off. Nothing tragic, but the motor needs replacing - so with its replacement speeding its way to the UK, it's time for another project.

EL-Wire is a wonderful thing
In the past, I have attended multiple "themed" nights at various venues (Mainly Bierkeller but who cares honestly?) and the main problem I have found is putting together an outfit a week or 2 before the event is a little too short notice - so I am putting one together now while I have time and motivation to do so. Previously I have chosen to go as Isaac Clarke from Dead Space, look I even have some pictures of my previous efforts... The first picture was my first attempt, complete with EL-Wire to make it glow! The one below was my second effort, and we can agree a much more satisfying result, but still a little meh. So - time for a new outfit, but I am going for a totally different franchise this time round: Predator!

 So, with this new idea I needed to work out how I was going to approach this new outfit. Initially, it sounded like a HUGE project, even compared to a Quadcopter. So to make life easier for me, I decided to split the project and break it down into easier "Bite-size" chunks to work on. With that in mind, I managed to compress the entire project into the following components:

  • Helmet
  • Shoulder Cannon
  • Gauntlets (Blades)
  • Wrist Computer
  • Armour

By tackling these individual components, I would be able to build the outfit piece-by-piece when I had spare time. So the first thing to build was....The Shoulder Cannon.

Base Shoulder Mount ready for the turret to be fitted
Throwing a design quickly together, I managed to laser cut some shapes out of 3mm MDF, and to my amazement it actually worked first-time round, so I expanded on it to give myself a flat platform to work with for the cannon. Once that was built, I managed to get a servo mount cut that allowed the servo to fit snugly in, yet not be glued down for reuse in the future. After that, I managed to salvage some foam from the old armour from last year (See the previous picture) and make it into padding for the shoulder mount. All that remains on it is to have the cannon itself built, it needs plating to be added and a strap or two to be fitted so that it doesn't fall off (Right now because all the weight is shifted to the right it tends to sit on the shoulder but feels like it wants to base jump off me to the ground). So seeing as I'm away for the next couple of weeks I figured I would leave you all some pictures of the prototype so far, and I will provide completed pictures once it is finished. So check back in a week or 2 to see the finished result.

As demonstrated by my willing "Model"

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Daedalus UAV

So I'm a Robotics student studying at UWE, and I've always wanted to build myself a Quadcopter. The idea of flying one has just been something I've wanted to do for years. Only problem is, I've never had the skills, experience or time to put it together. Luckily for me, I'm on my placement year which has given me the perfect amount of time to get something built and flying (and most likely crashing a few times too) before I start my 3rd year of studies.

I must interupt myself at this point to let you all know that I'm going to be summarizing about 6 months of development in one post (I kept forgetting to do one of these so this should be fun ^_^)

The Mk1 Drone Prototype - Featuring thrust vectoring
With this in mind - I set out to plan, design, construct and fly a Quadcopter by September 2013 so that it would be finished and optimized by the time I start next year. So off I went with the project and I threw together a few concept designs in Sketchup to get started. Initially, I wanted to put a Hexcopter together - but after reading a lot of posts on the wonderful DIY Drones forums I was advised to go for a Quadcopter for a first project, purely for simplicity and because it would be generally easier to get going. By this point I had already constructed a prototype, but seeing as MDF is a terrible material to build with it is a good thing I moved onto the more realistic Quadcopter approach.

With this in mind I made a few more designs, I managed to piece something together which looked fairly promising. After a few goes on the laser cutter I managed to put it together, but I wasn't satisfied with it. The bodywork felt way to heavy to fly properly - so I scrapped the design and went for a completely new one, based around the Talon V2 body from Hobbyking. After it arrived, I managed to lasercut some body plating to go onto it to attach speed controllers to as well as all the electronics. So, with that I managed to put together the next version of the drone: The Mk5 Prototype.

So after cobbling it together - we took it out for a test flight (The test pilot was my housemate as he had more experience with RC helicopters than myself sadly) This flight....didn't last very long. It did a backflip because I derped up and powered up the Drone before turning the remote control on. Lesson learnt the hard way >.< but no real damage done. A quick repair job later and the copter was ready to fly. After attaching a MultiWii-programmed board to it we took it out for a spin. Results were interesting - it seemed to be in Horizon mode (basically it was flying without stabilization control and was harder to fly) and we couldn't work out how to change it in the GUI while programming it.

The new copter was built, programmed and good to go with everything cable-tied down and nothing hanging off (except the FPV camera which was removed just before takeoff). So we took it outside and fired it up. We managed to get a good 30/40 seconds of flight out of it this time, with no crashes or problems. We didn't even lose a single propeller. >Here< is a video of its first successful flight:

So it works! And with its successful test flight, I christened it "Daedalus", as it seems to be an appropriate name for the Drone. But there's still a hell of a lot more work to do on it. Next step is to get the PID callibrated correctly, as well as install and improve the FPV system for flying it in a little more exciting fashion and of course GPS tracking for some advanced work. The body will be receiving minor improvements as work progresses in response to any problems encountered along its development. So check out the next post for updates on the next flight and development.