Crazyflie control with Leap and Kinect

crazieFlie03

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.

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FPV drones with an Oculus Rift

FPV

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.

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Kebab skewer quadcopter

kebab-skewer-quadcopter

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.

Turning anything into a drone

drone

For his graduate project, [Jasper] wanted to do something with a quadcopter drone. Not content with simply building any old drone, he decided to make a kit that turns anything into a drone. Everything from a bicycle wheel, to a computer keyboard, and even a phone is more than able to take flight with [Jasper]‘s Drone It Yourself kit.

The DIY drone kit consists of a few 3D printed parts that include four clamps and mounts for the four engines. Also on board are ESCs, a battery, receiver, and an OpenPilot autopilot that will hopefully keep a drone in any shape imaginable hovering in the air. All this packaged in a sleek aluminum briefcase make it look like something out of an eccentric Bond film parody.

This project isn’t for sale – at least until the Brookstone catalog steals the idea – but you can get the bill of materials directly from [Jasper], just in case you’d like to make your own random flying object.

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The Burrito Bomber

Burrito Bomber

The Burrito Bomber, created by the folks at Darwin Aerospace, claims to be “the world’s first Mexican food delivery system.” The delivery process starts with the customer placing an order through the Flask based Burrito Bomber webapp. The customer’s location is grabbed from their smartphone using the HTML5 Geolocation API and used to generate a waypoint file for the drone. Next, the order is placed into a delivery tube, loaded onto the drone, and the waypoint file is uploaded to the drone. Finally, the drone flies to your location and drops the delivery tube. A parachute deploys to safely deliver the tasty payload.

The drone is based on a Skywalker X-8 airframe and the Quantum RTR Bomb System. The bomb system provides the basic mechanism to hold and drop a payload, but Darwin Airspace designed their own 3D printed parts for the delivery tube. These parts are available on Thingiverse. The drone is controlled autonomously by ArduPilot, which uses the webapp’s waypoint output to guide the drone to the target and release the payload.

Unfortunately, this can’t be a commercial product yet due to FAA regulations, but the FAA is required to figure out commercial drone regulations by 2015. Hopefully in 2015 we’ll all be able to order burritos by air.

For all the source and models, check out the group’s Github. There’s also a video of the bomber in action after the break.

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Raspberry Pi Quadcopter

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but that doesn’t diminish the awesomeness of [Matthew]‘s Raspberry Pi-powered quadcopter.

[Matthew]‘s quadcopter is similar to all the other flying drones we’ve seen before with one important difference – all the processing, from reading the gyroscopes to computing exactly how much power to give each motor – is handled by a Raspberry Pi. This task is usually the domain of a microcontroller, as these calculations need to happen in real-time. The Linux distro [Matt] is running on his Pi has a lot more overhead than a simple AVR or ARM microcontroller, so doing everything that needs to be done in real-time isn’t guaranteed. With a bit of clever programming, [Matthew] managed to make sure all the necessary tasks were taken care of in time. It’s still not a real-time operating system, but for this project at least, it’s good enough.

Since the Raspberry Pi in [Matthew]‘s quadcopter is much more powerful than a microcontroller, there’s plenty of head room to SSH into the ‘copter while it’s flying. There may even be enough processing power to stream video to a web server; we honestly can’t wait to see what [Matthew] does with his flying Linux computer in the future.

You can check out [Matthew]‘s code over on the git or watch a few flight test videos over on his youtube.

 

Adding Node.js based sensors to the Parrot AR drone

[Max Ogden] wanted the option to add sensors to his Parrot AR Drone. This a commercially available quadcopter which runs Linux. This makes it rather easy for him to use Node.js to read the sensors from an Arduino board. The use of the Arduino is merely for easy prototyping. It is only needed to bridge the drone’s serial port with a sensor’s delivery method, so just about any microcontroller could be substituted for it.

There are some hardware considerations to take into account. The manufacturer was nice enough to populate a 0.1″ pitch pin socket on the serial port (if only this kind of invitation to mess with hardware was an industry standard). But the device expects 3.3V levels so pick your hardware accordingly. There is one commenter who tried the project for themselves and found that the drone wouldn’t boot up with the Arduino already connect — he had to boot and then complete connections. Troubles aside this makes adding your own sensor payload very simple and you don’t have to wait until landing to get at the data.

Maybe we’ll have to add some shock voltage data reporting to our shockerDrone.

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