Missing Drone Posters Are a Hilarious Look into the Future

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Sure there are reward posters for missing cats, dogs, and other various pets — but now in Denver, a man named [Merrick] makes a plea for his $2400 missing drone.

We couldn’t help but chuckle at this news story because it could be the tip of the iceberg. As drones become more and more common place, seeing missing posters for them could become pretty normal! The problem is, when you’re using a long-range drone, and flying it in a city, it is very possible to lose your line of sight and lose the device altogether. That is exactly what happened to poor [Merrick] the other day. Thinking quickly, he started making lost drone posters, and after channel 7 news reported on it, it was discovered in an alleyway the following day. The person who found it thought it was government related and didn’t want to mess around with it — it’s a pretty serious looking drone. [Read more...]

Hackaday Links: February 23, 2014

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You can pick up a tiny laser pointer on the cheap if you know where to look. But when it comes time to replace the multiple button cells that power it be prepared to clean our your wallet. [KB3WZZ] got around that with the cap from a ball-point pen. He drilled holes in the end plug of the pointer, and used wire and a plastic pen cap as a battery adapter. He’s powering it from USB, but now that you have wires exiting the case you can use any source you wish.

[Gerben] tipped us off about the trinket clone he built himself. It’s a tiny sliver of a PCB which he etched, populated with through-hole parts only, and finished off with some finger nail varnish to prevent shorting and corrosion. The solder-covered edge connector for USB was left unvarnished of course.

If you live in a college town you are probably quite used to seeing futon pads and frames on the curb waiting for the garbage collector. A little bit of ingenuity, and some added lumber, will turn a futon frame into a respectable shelving unit. [Thanks Martin]

Complicated bench equipment + good lighting + a great camera = an awesome teardown. This time around it’s the guts of a Keithly 2002 8.5 digit mulitimeter laid bare. [Thanks David]

Here’s a PCB laminator hack that is definitely worth a look. The original unit was acquired on eBay for about $25 and had a thermostat whose performance wasn’t optimal. A bit of alteration for the thickness of the substrate, and you’ll never hand iron a toner transfer board again! [Thanks William]

Last summer we heard about Scout, an ocean-going drone trying to cross the Atlantic. We just checked the live tracking and the craft is still at sea. But a much smaller 5ft vessel made it from New Jersey to Guernsey (an island between the UK and France) after traveling for about 14 months. [Thanks Rob]

An Android Controlled Arduino Drone

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Who among us has not wanted to create their own drone? [Stefan] wrote in to tell us about a project for high school students, where a Styrofoam glider (translated) is converted into an Android (or PC) controlled drone.

[Stefan] tells us that the inspiration for this project comes from 100 years ago, when “steam-engines were THE thing” and children became introduced to modern technology with toy engines. “Today, mechatronic designs are all around us and this is an attempt to build the equivalent of the toy steam engine.” This project showcases how modern tools make it easy for kids to get involved and excited about hardware hacking, electronics, and software.

At the heart of the glider is an Arduino Pro Mini which communicates with either a computer or an Android phone via Bluetooth. It is especially interesting to note that the student’s used Processing to create the Android app, rather than complicating things by using Eclipse and Android Development Tools (ADT). While the more detailed PDF documentation at the end of the project page is in German, all of the Processingand Arduino code needed to build the project is provided. It would be awesome to see more Bluetooth related projects include a simple Android application; after all, many of us carry computers in our pockets these days, so we might as well put them to good use!

Do you have any well documented projects that introduce young and budding engineers to hardware or software hacking? Let us know in the comment section or send us a tip!

SkyJack: A Drone to Hack All Drones

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Quadcopters are gradually becoming more affordable and thus more popular; we expect more kids will unwrap a prefab drone this holiday season than any year prior. [Samy's] got plans for the drone-filled future. He could soon be the proud new owner of his own personal army now that he’s built a drone that assimilates others under his control.

The build uses a Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 to fly around with an attached Raspberry Pi, which uses everybody’s favorite Alfa adapter to poke around in promiscuous mode. If the SkyJack detects an IEEE-registered MAC address assigned to Parrot, aircrack-ng leaps into action sending deauthentication requests to the target drone, then attempts to take over control while the original owner is reconnecting. Any successfully lassoed drone doesn’t just fall out of the sky, though. [Samy] uses node-ar-drone to immediately send new instructions to the slave.

You can find all his code on GitHub, but make sure you see the video below, which gives a thorough overview and a brief demonstration. There are also a few other builds that strap a Raspberry Pi onto a quadcopter worth checking out; they could provide you with the inspiration you need to take to the skies.

[Read more...]

Crazyflie control with Leap and Kinect

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The gang at Bitcraze is at it again, this time developing Leap Motion control for their Crazyflie quadcopter, as well as releasing a Kinect-driven autopilot proof of concept. If you haven’t seen the Crazyflie before, you may not realize how compact it is: 90mm motor to motor and only 19 grams.

As far as we can tell, the Crazyflie still needs a PC to control it, so the Leap and Kinect are natural followups. Hand control with the Leap Motion is what you’d expect: just imagine your open palm controlling it like a marionette, with the height of your hand dictating thrust. The Kinect setup looks the most promising. The guys strapped a red ball to the Crazyflie that provides a trackable object against a white backdrop. The Kinect then monitors the quadcopter while a user steers via mouse clicks. Separate PID controllers correct the roll, pitch and thrust to reposition the Crazyflie from its current coordinates to a new setpoint chosen by a click or a drag. Videos of both Leap and Kinect piloting are below.

Tight on cash but still want to take to the skies? We have two rubber-band-powered devices from earlier this week: the Ornithopter and the hilariously brilliant GoPro Slingshot.

[Read more...]

FPV drones with an Oculus Rift

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It was only a matter of time, and now someone’s finally done it. The Oculus Rift is now being used for first person view aerial photography. It’s the closest you’ll get to being in a pilot’s seat while still standing on the ground.

[Torkel] is the CEO of Intuitive Aerial, makers of the huge Black Armor Drone, a hexacopter designed for aerial photography. With the Rift FPV rig, the drone carries a huge payload into the air consisting of two cameras, a laptop and a whole host of batteries. The video from the pair of cameras is encoded on the laptop, sent to the base station via WiFi, and displayed on the Oculus Rift.

Latency times are on the order of about 120 ms, fairly long, but still very usable for FPV flight. [Torkel] and his team are working on a new iteration of the hardware, where they hope to reduce the payload mass, increase the range of transmission, and upgrade the cameras and lenses.

[Read more...]

Kebab skewer quadcopter

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Quadcopters are the epitome of high-tech hobby electronics. We’re quite used to seeing the frames built out of modern materials (carbon fiber, 3d printed, etc). But it’s pretty hard to beat the strength-to-weight ratio of kebab skewers. You heard us correctly. [Shiny Shez] built his quadcopter frame from kebab skewers.

You might want to get that Boy Scout Handbook out and brush up on your lashing skills. Lashing is a method of using rope (string in this case) to fasten together wooden sticks (bamboo kebab skewers). Once the lashed joints are precisely oriented [Shiny] applies a liberal coat of super glue to cement them in place.

He went the easy route when it comes to control hardware. You can get spare parts for the Husban X4, a commercially available quadcopter. Its main controller is used here. The single board controls the motors, monitors an IMU to keep the aircraft stable while in flight, and includes a wireless transceiver. On the receiving side [Shiny] uses an Arduino with a wireless module. This way he can control the quadcopter from his laptop, or go one step further and use an Android phone.

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