Solar powered hovercraft

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It looks a little bit like an octocopter, but this solar-powered hovercraft is distinctly different from its free-flying brethren. It depends mostly on ground effect for operation and to get it just a bit into the air you need a pretty large reflective rig nearby.

The vehicle needs to be even lighter than traditional quadcopters in order to function. It doesn’t carry any battery at all which presents a problem when trying to program the microcontroller board. For this it is connected to an external battery, which is removed before flight so that the control can be powered from the solar array.

What’s not shown in the image above is a mirror array used to focus more intense sunlight on the panels to bump up the available electricity. Not much is said about this, but there is one image on the project page which shows the creator standing in front of the set of four mirrors (perhaps sheets of mylar?) strung up between a couple of trees.

Alas, we couldn’t find a video of the aircraft in action. With such a delicate balsa wood frame we’re sure this thing is affected by every air current that passes its way.

[Thanks Laimonas]

Human-shaped planes troll NYC

It looks like a genetic leap has unleashed the age of mutants, but this is really just a few guys trolling New York City with some custom RC aircrafts. The video after the break shows the fliers up close. They’re pretty much full size, we’d guess 5’10” from head to heel. The outstretched arms and body act as wings, while the legs act as ailerons and rudders. But from afar (or even a medium distance) it’s quite difficult to make out the flat surfaces… they look like office workers loosed from their cubicles. Unfortunately we don’t have more than a flight demo to share with you. If you know where to find build info (or any extra details at all actually) don’t forget to send in a tip We wonder if these are the same guy who made the flying hero we posted back in July?

There’s another nugget of delight right at the beginning of the video. A sweet octocopter which looks much like this one was used to capture the aerial footage.

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Sweet octocopter takes the RED Epic to new heights

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So you’ve got a $40k+ RED Epic video camera and you need to get it from all the way down here to all the way up there. Sure, you could rent an expensive crane and take your shots from above that way, but why bother with that when you can fly instead?

German video effects company OMStudios decided that it was up to the task of finding a crane alternative, so they built a crazy octocopter drone to get the camera up to where they needed it. Figuring that if four rotors is good eight is even better, the group’s octocopter lifts the camera to heights of up to 150 meters, which is pretty impressive considering the weight of its payload.

While we might be a little hesitant to trust such an expensive camera to a glorified RC helicopter, it actually looks pretty solid from the video. Besides, we’re pretty sure these guys know what they are doing since they have a RED camera in the first place.

[via Engadget]

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Octocopter will someday kill someone

Above you can see Doctor Wily a Chinese hacker starting up one of the propellers on his octocopter. It seems that the man is using a collection of eight motorcycle engines, each with its own wooden propeller to create an eight-bladed helicopter. We were able to locate some video footage of his experiments, which you’ll find embedded after the break. As you can see, this is perfectly capable of flight, but we’re not quite sure if we’d call it controlled flight just yet.

The video starts off showing all kinds of hack-ity activities, like tightening the bolts on the propeller and priming the gas lines by sucking on them like a straw (mmmm….. high-octane!). Coke bottles serve as the gas tanks, and you’ll want to keep your hands inside the vehicle because there’s no cages to keep them out of the hand-started propellers. Although we don’t speak his language, we did understand the demonstration of the controls that the man gives, showing an earlier model with rings of fabric around four of the propellers meant to help direct the downward thrust as a steering mechanism. We don’t think this will be viable until there is some type of PID system that predicts the performance of each motor and makes quick adjustments to keep the craft balanced. None-the-less we were glued to the screen hoping that this turkey would fly.

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