Mini quadrocopter is Crazy awesome


Quadrocopters are all the rage lately, and while we have seen our fair share of large devices, [Arnaud Taffanel, Tobias Antonsson, and Marcus Eliasson] have been dutifully working to buck that trend. Their CrazyFlie is a miniature quadrocopter that uses its PCB as the main structure of the device.

Since the goal was to use a PCB as its frame, the copter’s footprint from the edge of one motor to the other is a modest 8cm, and it weighs in at a measly 20 grams! The entire platform runs on a Cortex-M3 CPU that takes input from an accelerometer and pair of gyroscopes to help keep its balance. Wireless communications are handled via a 2.4Ghz radio transmitter, and the quadrocopter’s power is supplied by a tiny 110 mAh LIPO battery pack scavenged from an R/C plane.

All of the control and telemetry is handled by a PC, which relays control messages it receives from the pilot’s game pad to the CrazyFlie. We’d love to see if they could retain this small footprint if everything was handled by the quadrocopter itself. Either way, this thing rocks – we most definitely want one!

Stick around to see a quick video of their mini quadrocopter in action, and be sure to check out our coverage of U. Penn’s quadrocopter creations if you are interested in seeing more.

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Turn any motor into a servo with RepRaps new board

[Zach] just let us know about a new board that’s available from the RepRap project. It uses an AS5040 magnetic rotary encoder to measure the absolute position of the rotor of whatever motor you’re using. This is actually pretty damn exciting. Powerful servo motors are expensive, but with one of these, you can use whatever motor you can get your hands on. Big DC motors are cheap, but even used DC servo motors expensive. Best of all, the encoder is open source and you can score a kit version for a paltry $20. Now we can make that 8 horse power servo…

Remote control whiteboard

Whenever [sprite_tm] sends in his latest project, it’s like getting a Christmas present and a night off. He put together a whiteboard, x/y stepper system, serial interfaced microcontroller and added a webcam with perspective correction for the online view. Me? I’m tempted to build one of these for leaving notes for the wife when I’m out.

electromagnetic aluminum can crushing

This has been around for a while, but we never covered it – and it’s friggin’ awesome. [jesse] sent in this crusher, but I featured this one due to a sort of draconian copyright notice on the former. The latter also uses some easier to find, hackable parts. They’re both built on similar concepts – use a large bank of capacitors to store up the energy needed, and deliver it in one large pulse to a coil electromagnet. The resulting force lasts for a short time, but is enough to physically crush an aluminum can inward without touching it. Yet another one has some more dramatic examples of crushed cans.

USB 2.0 FPGA based 24 channel logic analyzer

[lekernel] sent in his USB logic analyzer. I might just have to build this one for my work bench. It’s based on an Altera Cyclone 2 FPGA and he’s provided full schematics, source and a quick and dirty Linux driver to get things going. The board is nearly all surface mount, but he points out that the entire thing was soldered with a standard iron and de-soldering wick. If you’re looking for a good starter FPGA project, this looks like a good one.

I started writing for Hack-A-Day a little over a year ago. I’ve barely taken a break, but for the next week I’m going to be taking some serious time off on a Caribbean island. Thanks for a great year guys! While I’m gone, [fbz] has kindly consented to take over the reins. I’m looking forward to another year when I get back, but right now I’ve got to finish packing my dive gear.