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.

DelFly2 and DelFly micro

The video you see above is the on board footage of the DelFly2 autonomous ornithopoter robot. Weighing 16 grams, it carries a small camera and can provide a live feed. If you’re amazed at the tiny size and weight of the DelFly2, check out the DelFly micro, video after the break, that weighs 3 grams. Remember when we thought 17 grams was small for an ornithopter?

All processing for the DelFly2 is done at a base station and transmitted to the flying bot to keep the weight down. The team also had to create their own brushless motor that runs at 60% efficiency and weighs only 1.6 grams. The 130mAh battery can sustain 15 minutes of horizontal flight or 8 minutes of hovering.

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Distributed Flight Array

Though it is in the beginning stages of development, the Distributed Flight Array is already looking very interesting. Each unit can scuttle across the ground using the down force from its prop, but when 4 or more join forces, they can take off and fly. The documentation shows that they should be smart enough to fly in random configurations, though in the video we only see the standard 4 prop layout. This is being worked on by the same people who produced the balancing cube.

[via BoingBoing]

First hovering ornithopter NAV

DARPA has awarded an extension to AeroVironment for their work on the Nano Air Vehicle project.  The prototype seen above, called Mercury, is an ornithopter which means it flaps it’s wings. It is the first to show controlled hovering. Look closely, there’s no rudder or tail. Mercury uses the two wings for both lift and control. Ornithopters themselves aren’t new, we’ve even covered them before. Usually they use the flapping wings for propulson and a tail to steer as they travel like an airplane. We would really love to see some detail shots of Mercury.

[via slashdot]

Flying cars a reality

[Stillboy] alerted us to a flying car that runs on biofuel. Flying cars have been the mainstays of science fiction and technological wish lists for years, but they elude production, as expenses, fuel, and gravity get in the way. [Gilo Cardozo], a paramotor manufacturer, managed to overcome those hurdles by thinking simply. He attached a paramotor to his car, which is powered by a Yamaha superbike engine and a gearbox from a snowmobile. His modified Rage Motorsport buggy is street legal in the United Kingdom, and in the air, can get up to 80 miles per hour. It will be fully tested in January, when he and his chief pilot and expedition organizer [Neil Laughton] drive and fly the car to Timbuktu.

Other flying cars are also in the works. DARPA recently announced their Personal Air Vehicle Technology project that will hopefully lead to a military-suitable flying car that can get up to 60 miles per hour on the ground and 150 miles per hour in the air. Moller International claims that a flying Ferrari is in the works, and could be available for purchase within two years. Are jet packs next?