3D Printering: Custom RC Camera Mount Takes To The Sky

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3D Printers are only good for printing trinkets and doodads, right?  Not really. Although, I do print the occasional useless object, most of my prints are used for projects I’m working on or to meet a need that I have. These needs are the project’s design requirements and I’d like to share the process and techniques I use when creating a functional 3D object.

My pal [Toshi] has RC Airplanes and flies often. I have an Action Camera that I never use. Why not combine the two and have some fun? The only thing standing in our way was a method to mount the camera to the airplane. 3D printing makes it easy. If you have a popular vehicle or application, there may be something already available on a 3D model repository like Thingiverse. Our situation was fairly unique I decided to design and print my own mount.

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Amazing flight of a 3D printed rubber band powered ornithopter

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We’re actually going to link to an old post from back in February because we think it’s equally as impressive as the most recent work. This is a 3D printed ornithopter powered by a rubber band (translated). The frame is much like a traditional rubber band plane. The difference is that after winding it up it doesn’t spin a propeller. The flapping of the four plastic membrane wings makes it fly like magic. Seriously, check out the demo below… we almost posted this as “Real or Fake?” feature if we hadn’t seen similar offerings a couple of years back.

The flight lasts a relatively long time when considering the quick winding before launch is all that powered it. But the most recent offerings (translated) from the site include the motorized ornithopter design seen above. It carries a small Lithium cell for continuous flight. These designs have a 3D printed gear system which makes them a bit more complicated, but brings steering and remote control to the party. If you want one of your own they’re working on a small run of kits. We figure it’d be a lot more fun to prototype and print your own. Sure, it’s reinventing the wheel. But it’s a really cool wheel!

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20 pounds and a gut feeling yields a configurable Rubidium atomic clock source

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So you see an image like this and the description “Aircraft stable oscillator” on an eBay listing for twenty pounds (about thirty bucks), what do you do? If you’re [Alecjw] you buy the thing and crack it open to find an atomic clock source inside. But he really went the distance with this one and figured out how to reconfigure the source from the way it was set up in the factory.

First off, the fact that it’s made for the aerospace industry means that the craftsmanship on it is simply fantastic. The enclosure is machined aluminum and all of the components are glued or otherwise attached to the boards to help them stand up to the high-vibrations often experienced on a plane. After quite a bit of disassembly [Alec] gets down to a black box which is labeled “Rubidium Frequency Standard”… jackpot! He had been hoping for a 10 MHz signal to use with his test equipment but when he hooked it up the source was putting out 800 kHz. With a bit more investigation he figured out how to reconfigure the support electronics to get that 10 Mhz source. We think you’re going to love reading about how he used a test crystal during the reconfiguration step.

Once he knew what he had he returned to the eBay seller and cleared out the rest of his stock.

[Thanks DIY DSP]

RC Airplane Made from Political signs

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Whatever candidate (if any) you’re in favor of, we could bet that you’re probably tired of seeing advertisements and political signs everywhere. [Mark] wrote in with a hack that allows you to actually use these signs for something fun, making a RC airplane!

[Mark] gives a full bill of materials in his article, but the featured component is campaign sign. This isn’t LawyerADay, so we’re not sure of the legality of taking them. After election day at least, it’s doubtful anyone will care. Of course you’ll also need a motor, prop, and RC controls, as well as some dowels to attach the tail section to the main body, so don’t buy the “campaign promise” that this is a free airplane.

CAD diagrams are available of the cutouts, as well as how to cut the signs to form hinges without any other parts. This is quite clever, and a video of the plane in action on a table is available on the site. According to [Mark], no video was rolling on its test flight, but it did fly before some interference grounded the plane. Hopefully he’ll be able to get some footage of it in action soon!

Putting 300 watts of LEDs on an RC plane

Being a member of the FPVlab forums, [HugeOne] is really in to strapping a video camera to RC airplanes and flying around by the seat of his pants. He’s also in to flying his plane at night. Combine these two interests, and you’ve got 300 watts of LEDs flying around at night, most likely causing a spike in UFO reports in [HugeOne]‘s native Quebec.

The main issue with putting 16 CREE XM-L LEDs in such a confined space is the issue of heat; even though these LEDs are amazingly efficient, they still produce a good amount of heat. [HugeOne] solved this problem by soldering these LEDs to a piece of copper pipe and connecting two radiators to his plane for liquid cooling.

The result is a small, lightweight LED array capable of producing more than 20,000 lumens flying around the wilds of Quebec. This greatly improves [HugeOne]‘s night flying ability (video after the break), and has surely annoyed the local police department with an increase in UFO reports.

Does anyone know how bright the nav and landing lights on single-engine passenger airplanes are?

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Autonomous fixed-wing drone threads the needled in a parking garage

We’ve got something of a love affair going on with quadcopters, but there’s still room for a little something on the side. This fixed-wing drone can pull off some pretty amazing navigation. MIT’s Robust Robotics Group is showing off the work they’ve done with the plane, culminating in a death-defying flight through a parking garage (video after the break). This may not sound like a huge accomplishment, but consider that the wingspan is over two meters and repeated runs at the same circuit brought it within centimeters of clipping support columns.

Unlike the precision quadcopters which depend on stationary high-speed cameras for feedback, this drone is self-contained. It does depend on starting out with a map of its environment, using this in conjunction with a laser rangefinder and inertial sensors to plot its route and adjust as necessary. We think the thing must have to plan a lot further ahead than a quadcopter since it lacks the ability to put on the brakes and hover. This is, however, one of the strengths of the design. Since it uses a fixed-wing approach it can stay in air much longer than a quadcopter with the same battery capacity.

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Geigers on a plane

[Thomas] took a Geiger counter he built on a plane. Why? Because he can, much to the chagrin of airport security.

[Thomas]‘ Geiger counter is built around an old Russian SBT-10A detector containing ten separate Geiger tubes. This tube was connected to a circuit containing a LiPo battery, a few high-voltage components, and an audio jack connected to the tubes themselves. When alpha, beta, or gamma radiation hits one of the Geiger tubes, an enormous click is sent to the audio jack and into the microphone jack of a small netbook.

Right after boarding a plane in Dublin, [Thomas] booted up his computer, started recording in Audacity, plugged in his Geiger counter, and stored his experiment safely in the overhead compartment. After landing in Prague a few hours later, [Thomas] saved the 247 MB .WAV file and began working on a way to convert clicks in an audio track into usable data.

The audio output on the Geiger counter overloaded the mic input on his netbook, making ‘event detection’ very easy with a small C app. After plotting all the data (seen above), [Thomas] had a complete record of the radiation on his 2-hour flight.

Because there was far less atmosphere to absorb cosmic radiation, [Thomas]‘ radiation dose was 9.1 microsieverts. Much more than at sea level, but nothing even air crews need to worry about.