Extending the range of the AR Drone, 2 ways.

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve got an AR Drone to play with. One of the common mods that popped up on the internet were ways of extending the range on the AR Drone. It normally uses a local Wi-Fi connection to your phone or tablet for control and video signals. Many found this quite restrictive and have gone pretty far in extending that range.

The first and easiest was just to set up a higher power Wi-Fi Bridge where you’ll be flying. The Drone only has about 15db of wi-fi magic in it, so anything stronger than that is an improvement. There were too many variations on this to delve into the details, but as you see, there’s not much too it.

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Playing with DSP and building a guitar pedal

Building guitar pedals has come a long way from hooking up a few transistors and building a simple boost circuit. [Cloudscapes] has been working on a Anti-nautilus auto glitch, auto repeat pedal, and if you’re looking for something that sounds like a spaghetti western soundtrack skipping on a record player, we couldn’t think of anything better.

[Cloudscapes] was already familiar with 8-bit AVRs, but when doing real-time audio sampling, a more powerful microcontroller was in order. He turned to the MikroElektronika MINI-32 board for development purposes. This small board fits a PIC32 microcontroller into an easily breadboardable DIP-40 form factor, perfect for playing around with some very capable hardware.

For the DAC, [Cloudscapes] had some experience with the 16-bit PT8211, but finding a good 16-bit ADC in a convenient package was a bit of a challenge. He eventually settled on the 12-bit MCP3201 ADC, more than enough for a pedal that is supposed to sound lo-fi.

After [Cloudscapes] got a few boards made, he started on his DSP adventure. Unfortunately, the initial code used unsigned 16-bit words to represent each sample, meaning every time the loop repeated it would start at 0 and produce a short pop in the speaker. After a week of debugging, [Cloudscapes] realized signed integers are a much better data format for storing audio data and got rid of the problems plaguing his project.

Now [Cloudscapes] has a wonderful DSP dev board, perfect for making new and strange guitar effects. After the break you can listen to a demo of what the Anti-nautilus pedal actually does, and we’ve got to say it sounds great.

Thanks [Chris] for sending this one in.

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Hackaday retro edition roundup

In case you’ve forgotten about it, we still have a retro edition of Hackaday. It’s our simple, hand-coded HTML site featuring a few random hacks from Hackaday’s 8-year history. There’s also a retro successes page where our readers can log on with their old boxxen and claim their prize as a master of retrocomputing. Here’s a few retro successes that came in over the past month or so:

Our second OS/2 Warp submission comes from [Chris]. He got an HP Omnibook 800CT running OS/2 Warp 4 to load up our retro site.

A few of you may be wondering what the upper bound of what we consider a retro computer is. [Witek] used a Wyse thin client from the year 2000 to pull up our retro edition. These terrible computers used a Compact Flash card plugged directly into an IDE port to load up Windows CE. Yeah, it’s technically a SSD. [Witek] put the GRUB bootloader on one and loaded up our retro edition with Debian Squeeze. We have too many bad memories of these thin clients, and we’ve got to commend [Witek] for putting the effort into doing something useful with one.

[leadacid] is on a roll. He gave us our first OS/2 Warp submission and has since moved onto an IBM RS/6000. Previously, he got a Macintosh 8100 and a Quadra 840AV to pull up the retro site. Nice job.

Those are all the retro submissions for now, but if you have an old computer lying around, try pulling up our retro site and send it in.

Sadly, you can’t buy this hoverbike

The LA Times posted a story about a company called Aerofex that built a real-life hover bike very reminiscent of the vehicles embedded in the redwoods of the forest moon of Endor.

The bike itself is a pair of ducted fans, with the pilot straddling the craft amidship. Aerofex claims the ducts on their hoverbike prevent the recirculating flow of air that causes dust or snow to completely obscure a helicopter pilot’s vision when landing.

From the Times’ article, Aerofex doesn’t have any plans to make this hoverbike commercially available and is instead meant to be a concept vehicle for future UAVs.

On the Aerofex blog, there’s a ton of videos showing off the capabilities of this bike. From what we can gather, it doesn’t seem like this hoverbike can climb higher than a few inches off the ground, so it’s of questionable utility when not flying around a dry lake bed.

Surprisingly, Aerofex says their bike doesn’t require any artificial stabilization or software; it’s controlled by the pilot leaning front to back and side to side. We’ll take that as an indication this hoverbike may be easy for someone to build in a garage, and we’ll be sure to post the first Aerofex hoverbike clone that shows up on our tip line.

You can check out a video of the hoverbike in action after the break.

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Hacking the AR Drone: Intro

Ever since we played with the original AR drone back at CES a few years ago, we’ve been keeping an eye on them. While we all agree there are better quadcopters out there, the price point for a ready-to-fly quadcopter of this size is really great with these.

When the fake video from FPS Russia of the weaponized drone made the rounds earlier this year, we were surprised at how people reacted. Anyone who has messed with quadcopters recognized it as fake right off the bat (not to mention the overly cliche fake russian character).

We won’t be adding a full fledged firearm to this. Mainly because it simply can’t lift the weight (There are ones that can, but we couldn’t justify the cost just for that). We do have some ideas though.

Lets go over the specs of the AR Drone 2.0 first.

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More small radio modules for your wireless needs

In the never-ending pursuit of cheap wireless communication for your microcontroller projects, [kiu] came up with a small board that allows for serial communication via a 433MHz radio link.

[kiu]‘s transceiver uses an RFM12 wireless module available online for just a few dollars. Alongside this module is an ATMega8 and a USB to serial FTDI chip. When [kiu] plugs this board into his computer, he’s able to run a terminal, connect to this board, and receive and transmit hex values at 115,200 bps from another one of these boards.

According to [kiu]‘s BOM, 10 boards only cost him 180 Euros, or about $225 USD. Considering off-the-shelf solutions such as an XBee could easily cost twice as much, we’re thinking [kiu] did a very nice job here.

[kiu] put all the board files, schematics, and code up on his GitHub, ready for your perusal. A very cool build, and very useful for a high altitude balloon, rocket, or wireless sensor build.

Programming the ATtiny10 with an Arduino

The ATtiny10 – along with its younger siblings that go by the names ATtiny 4, 5, and 9 – are the smallest microcontrollers Atmel makes. With only 32 bytes of RAM and 1 kB of Flash, there’s still whole lot you can do with this tiny six-pin chip. [feynman17] figured out a way to program this chip using an Arduino, allowing him to throw just about anything at this absurdly small microcontroller.

The ATtiny10 doesn’t use the familiar ISP programming header found on other Atmel-based boards. Instead, it uses the exceedingly odd Tiny Programming Interface to write bits to the Flash on the chip. [feynman17] realized he could use the Arduino SPI library to communicate with this chip and built a small programming shield with just a few resistors and a 8-pin DIP socket to mount an ATtiny10 breakout board.

After writing a sketch to upload a .hex file from the Arduino serial console, [feynman] had a programmed ATtiny10, ready to be dropped into whatever astonishingly small project he had in mind.

As for what you can do with this small microcontroller, chiptunes are always an option, as is making a very, very small Simon clone. It may not be a powerhouse, but there’s still a lot you can do with this very inexpensive microcontroller.