Mechanical Bird Actually Flies by Flapping its Wings

Turns out you don’t have to be a multi-million dollar corporation like Festo to create a remote controlled, flapping bird robot. [Kazuhiko Kakuta] is a medical Doctor of Allergy, and in his free time he likes to build flying mechanical birds with his son.

It has just over a meter wingspan, weighs 193 grams, and it flies by flapping its wings. The majority of its components are 3D printed. If that’s not impressive enough for you as is, consider this. It it has no sensors, no gyroscopes or anything — it’s all manually controlled by [Kazuhiko].

And this isn’t even the only ornithopter he’s done. He’s also created something out of an anime film, Castle in the Sky. He even sells the designs for one of them, to be printed via Shapeways.

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How to properly fly with electronics

Some electronics professionals have to fly relatively frequently. One such person, [Steve Hoefer] shares with us how to properly fly with your exposed wires and bits without getting nabbed by the TSA for suspicion of being a terrorist. The article is fairly in depth with tips on how to handle most situations including being pulled aside and put in a tiny room for questioning. Most of it boils down to the fact that you can’t expect the TSA agents to be experts in everything. They see stuff that is slightly out of the norm, they have to follow up. We’re not talking about pat-downs and body scanners here, we’re talking about circuit boards, duct tape, and battery packs.

One story [Steve] shares is especially humorous. He noted that the servos had been disconnected from one of his robots. He wonders, why disconnect them? If they were suspected of being an explosive, they shouldn’t have messed with them. If they weren’t… why did they un-plug them?

Ollie the socially awkward autonomous blimp

[Pritika] is a user experience design student who just finished up an autonomous blimp project designed to react to voices and communicate, “his friendliness and eagerness to be noticed.”

The instructable [Pritika] posted goes through the build – a 850mAh LiPo battery powers an Arduino Pro Mini, which controls two 3.6 gram servos. While not much in the way of electronics, the real beauty behind this build is the implementation. From watching the video of Ollie interacting with people, we’re pretty sure [Pritika] met her objective of making her pet blimp friendly and unobtrusive.

With quadrocopters getting so much attention as of late, it’s interesting to see development in lighter-than-air robotics. Our back of the envelope math (which is almost certainly wrong) tells us that Ollie’s ‘body’ can lift 60 grams when filled with Helium, and double that with Hydrogen. While this isn’t much lifting capacity, it’s not inconceivable that a slightly larger blimp could have more sensors or a live video feed, especially considering the 16 gram ornithopter we covered last year.

Check out a video of Ollie after the jump.

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Fly like Superman using The Force

infinity_simulator

At one point or another, who hasn’t had a dream in which you could fly, simply by thinking about it? [Yehuda Duenyas, aka XXXY] is currently working on a project at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute which can allow you to do just that.

As part of a thesis project dubbed the “Infinity Simulator“, he has constructed a system that allows people to fly about using the elaborate rigging system at RPI’s Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. His project allows users to glide through the air, walk up walls, and otherwise live out their flying fantasies, with mere thoughts.

An EEG headset is placed on the user, along with other wearable sensors which enhance the audio and visual experience of the person in flight. With enough concentration, the rigging system sweeps people off their feet, sending them soaring anywhere their mind desires. It sounds a bit like pretending to be Superman while using The Force to us, however the installation is described on the EMPAC web site as a “live-action stunt show crossed with a video game.” Either way, sign us up!

Hopefully we will see some video of the completed project in the near future, but in the meantime keep reading to see a behind-the-scenes preview of the flying rig in action.

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R/C PPM hacked

[Thomas Pfeifer] has taken the PPM signal produced by model aircraft wireless controllers, and with an ATMega8, converted the signal to act as a USB joystick. Which means you can now use a standard R/C remote control to fly model aircrafts on your computer. Of course now with PPM decoded you could also use the signal to control any electronic device. Like your mower, iPod, and we’ve even seen remote controlled pellet guns. Catch a video of [Thomas] flying a simulated quadrotor helicopter after the jump.

[Thanks Max]

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Wooden quadcopter body

brings back memories of balsa wood gliders

[Greasetattoo] shares the process of building his wooden quadcopter body that won 2nd place in the Minnesota state fair.  His plans were purchased as a kit back in 1999, but he never got around to actually building them. The original plans called for a foam board body, but he felt that a wooden piece of art would be much nicer. This build isn’t focusing on the electronics, they’re just a kit from Mikrokopter. Instead, it is a log of the entire process of making the beautiful wooden body. He really put some nice detail in there from the layered and nicely finished dome to the little oak sleeves for his motors. Great job [Greasetattoo].

Texas Instruments watch claims it’s a computer mouse

[Jack Toole] and his team [Aaron King] and [Libo He] sent in their computer interface dubbed the Chronos Flying Mouse. The video above explains the concept very thoroughly, but we’ll reiterate some of the highlights here. The project uses a Chronos EZ430 with its accelerometers to wirelessly transmit delta positions of the user’s wrist. Add a little open source software and you have a regular PC mouse, a video game joystick, a game wheel, and a few other different devices in one. We just love the suave feeling of snapping to click.