Foldable Quadrotor is Origamilicious

A team at the École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne has developed and built a quadcopter with arms that unfold just before takeoff. The idea is that you can fold the device back up when you’re done with it, making it possible to store a bunch more of the quads in your backpack for instance.

The unfolding mechanism relies on the torque of the rotors spinning up to swing the arms into place. Once fully extended, a spring-loaded flap folds up, catches on some magnets, and forms an L-shaped structure that won’t re-fold without human intervention.

quadcopter_animUnder normal flying conditions, quads have a two left-handed propellers and two right-handed ones and the motors spin in opposite directions. In order to do the unfolding, two of the motors need to run essentially in reverse until the frame has clicked into place. They use a sensor (Hall effect?) to detect the arm locking, and then the rotors quickly switch back to their normal rotation before the quad hits the floor. In the video, they demonstrate that they’ve got this so well tuned that they can throw it up into the air to launch. Wow.

Everything’s still in prototype phase, and one of the next goals is “strengthening the arms so they can withstand crashes”, so don’t expect to see these in your local hobby store too soon. In the mean time, you’ll be able to see them in the flesh if you head up to the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Seattle that started today and runs through Friday. If anyone goes, take more video and post in the comments?

Continue reading “Foldable Quadrotor is Origamilicious”

hack.summit(); // a virtual dev conference

If you’d like to spend four days learning from and picking the brains of a big group of well-known developers and open-source wizards for the low, low cost of absolutely free, keep reading.

The hack.summit() conference is a live, global event put on by the  fine folks behind real-time programming assistance service hack.hands(). From December 1 to December 4, a wide range of speakers will present and answer democratically popularized questions over Crowdcast via Google+ Hangouts. Speakers in attendance include wiki inventor and Design Patterns pioneer [Ward Cunningham], Codeacademy founder [Ryan Bubinski], Google Glass creator [Tom Chi], Python Software Foundation’s [Alex Gaynor], and even the inimitable [Jon Skeet].

The goals for this conference are simple and admirable: to educate developers of all stripes about best practices, to encourage mentorship in the programming community, and to spread the joy of coding by supporting coding non-profits.

You can register for free simply by spreading the word through social media, but making a donation to the coding non-profit of your choice is definitely encouraged. There are many to great organizations to choose from such as  CoderDojo (an easy choice for us). A tidy summary of the event is available at the hack.summit() FAQ(PDF).

Next Week in NYC: How the Age of Machine Consciousness is Transforming Our Lives

I’ve developed or have been involved with a number of imaging technologies, everything from DIY synthetic aperture radar, the MIT thru-wall radar, to the next generation of ultrasound imaging devices. Imagery is cool, but what the end-user often wants is some way by which to get an answer as opposed to viewing a reconstruction. So let’s figure that out.

We’re kicking-off a discussion on how to apply deep learning to more than just beating Jeopardy champions at their own game. We’d like to apply deep learning to hard data, to imagery. Is it possible to get the computer to accurately provide the diagnosis?

I helped to organize a seminar series/discussion panel in New York City on November 13th (you know, for those readers who are closer to New York than to Munich). This discussion panel includes David Ferrucci (the guy who lead the IBM Watson program), MIT Astrophysicist Max Tagmark, and the person who created genetic sequencing on a chip: Jonathan Rothberg.  As the vanguard of creativity and enthusiasm in everything technical we’d like the Hackaday community to join the conversation.

Continue reading “Next Week in NYC: How the Age of Machine Consciousness is Transforming Our Lives”

Speakers at Hackaday’s 10th Anniversary

It is with great pleasure that we are able to announce the final slate of speakers for Hackaday’s 10th Anniversary on October 4th in Pasadena. There are still around 30 tickets left for the conference so get yours now!

The most recently confirmed speaker is a man of many names. [Ryan Clarke] may be better known as [LosT], [1o57], or [Lostboy]. For years he has been driving the flagship contest at DEFCON by generating cryptographic puzzles that run far and deep through the 4-day conference and beyond. His talk will venture into the art and science of putting together these challenges, and the lengths at which determined hackers will go to solve them. His site gets taken over each year for DEFCON, so you might want to explore his Twitter account if you’re looking to learn more about this mysterious figure.

The other four speakers have already been mentioned in the initial announcement and last week’s follow-up. [Steve Collins] will discuss how his early interest in hacking led him to become an engineer at NASA. [Quinn Dunki] will have her scratch-built Veronica computer on hand and explain the adventure of the impressive project. [ThunderSqueak] will help us wrap our minds around the concept of non-binary computing, and [Jon McPhalen] will present the benefits of multi-core embedded processing versus traditional interrupt-based design.

We can’t wait for this amazing afternoon of talks which is just one week from Saturday. We hope to see you there!

Celebrate Hackaday’s 10th Anniversary: October 4th in Pasadena

We’ve had a bit of fun today with a post about our 10th Anniversary, now here’s the real deal.

If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area on Saturday, October 4th you should join us to help commemorate 10 years of happy hacking. The day-long event comes in many pieces. We’ve put together workshops, a mini-conference, a day-long build, and we’ll cap it all off with a party.

Hackaday is a global community though. If you can’t be there in person you should set the day aside to do some hacking in your lair, or maybe even get the Hackaday readers in your area together and see what comes of it!

Without further ado, here’s what we have planned:

Continue reading “Celebrate Hackaday’s 10th Anniversary: October 4th in Pasadena”

TiLDA MKe: the EMF 2014 Badge

The TiLDA badge from EMF 2014


Hardware conference badges keep getting more complex, adding features that are sometimes useful, and sometimes just cool. The Electromagnetic Field (EMF) 2014 badge, TiLDA MKe, is no exception.

This badge displays the conference schedule, which can be updated over an RF link with base stations. It even notifies you when an event you’re interested in is about to start. Since we’ve missed many a talk by losing track of the time, this seems like a very useful feature.

Beyond the schedule, the device has a dedicated torch button to turn it into a flashlight. A rather helpful feature seeing as EMF takes place outdoors, in a field of the non-electromagnetic sort. They’re also working on porting some classic games to the system.

The badge is compatible with the Arduino Due, and is powered by an ARM Cortex M3. It’s rechargeable over USB, which is a nice change from AA powered badges. It also touts a radio transceiver, joystick, accelerometer, gyroscope, speaker, infrared, and is compatible with Arduino shields.

For more technical details, you can check out the EMF wiki. EMF 2014 takes place from August 29th to the 31st in Bletchley, UK, and you can still purchase tickets to score one of these badges.

Toorcamp is coming!

Hey, I like a good party like anyone else. I’ve been drooling over some of the projects coming out of burning man for years. However, the ratio of “gettin’ crazy” to “build awesome stuff” seems to be slanted in favor of the party experience. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, when I saw this, my eyes welled up with tears of joy.

ToorCamp is Burning Man with less drugs and more hacking. This summer ToorCamp will take place on the northwest corner of the staggeringly beautiful Olympic Peninsula. Just get yourself out there!

Located at the Hobuck beach resort near Neah Bay WA, Toorcamp is a 4 day event that should pull in roughly 1,000 enthusiastic hackers. There are four “villages” that you can wander through; the lock picking village, the hardware hackers village, the maker’s village, and the crafting village. All should include bountiful talks and hands on workshops. There’s also a quiet camp if you really really want to avoid the inevitable sporadic parties.