Autonomous helicopter works like a Wii remote

autonomous-ir-helicopter

[Jack Crossfire] took one of those inexpensive indoor helicopters and made it autonomous. He didn’t replace the hardware used for the helicopter, but augmented it and patched into the remote control to make a base station.

The position feedback is provided in much the same way that the Wii remote is used as a pointing device. On the gaming console there is a bar that goes under the TV with two IR LEDs in it. This is monitored by an IR camera in the Wii remote and used to calculate where you’re pointing the thing. [Jack's] auto-pilot system uses two Logitech webcams with IR filters over the sensors. You can see them mounted on the horizontal bar in the cutout above. The helicopter itself has an IR LED added to it that is always on. The base station follows this beacon by moving the cameras with a pair of servo motors, calculating position and using it when sending commands to the remote control’s PCB.

Don’t miss the demo video of the rig after the break.

[Thanks Chris]

Comments

  1. Zee says:

    I wonder how good his positional accuracy is.

  2. Joejoedancer says:

    Dang, that looked like a lot of work. Too bad these things run for about 5min.

  3. Hirudinea says:

    On his page is a link to a video of the helicopter with a broken blade, the system seems to be controlling it quite well, better than a human could. Very nice design.

  4. Aryl says:

    What’s with the poster of naked chick shooting a bow and arrow with a pistol holstered?

  5. H says:

    His battery/flight time issues could be mitigated by duty cycling the LEDs. The blink rate would need to be fast enough to avoid the camera picking up on this. That is, unless you add an IR phosphor to hide the blinking.

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