Heavy lifting copters can apparently lift people

beerlift

Online RC store Hobby King is once again encouraging people to push the limits of what quadcopters and other multirotor remote control vehicles can do. They call it the beerlift and the goal is simple: build a multirotor craft capable of carrying the greatest amount of beer (or water, everything is measured by weight).

The competition is over, but the results were spectacular. The vehicle with the largest lift capacity – pictured above – was built by [Olaf Frommann] and carried 58.7 kilograms, or nearly 128 pounds to a hover a few feet off the ground. Last year the biggest lift was a mere 47 kg with an eight-rotor craft.

It was still an impressive showing all around. The biggest lift in the 700 class – 700 mm from rotor to rotor – was done by [David Ditch] with 19.6 kg. You can check out some of the best entries below, including an amazing aerobatic quadcopter that can successfully loop carrying a cup of beer,

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An absurdly small tri-copter

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The team behind the Femtoduino – an extraordinarily small repackaging of the Arduino – sent in a few videos from YouTuber [phineasIV], a.k.a. [Eric] that shows one of the smallest multicopters we’ve ever seen.

Because this isn’t a traditional quad or hexcopter, the control system is a little weird. Two of the motors and props are fixed along the vertical axis, while the rear prop is connected to a small servo to rotate from side to side. Still, the electronics are fairly standard for any multi rotor vehicle – a triple-axis gyro provides the stability of the vehicle coupled with MultiWii, while an amazingly small servo receiver, Bluetooth module,, Femtoduino, and a trio of brushless ESCs tie everything together.

The end result is a tri-copter that weighs about the same as the Crazyflie Nano Quadcopter, but is just a bit smaller. As impressive as it is on video (seen below), we’d love to see this tiny robotic hummingbird in person.

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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.

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Google Glass controlled quadcopter

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For some reason this project makes us think of the Dog Pog Grid from Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age. It’s not that there’s a ton of drones floating around this guy, it’s that he’s got one which looks like it’s his bodyguard and is controlled by the Google Glass he wears on his head. The future is now!

We find the metamorphosis of this project interesting as well. It started as a Leap motion controlled rover project. We saw a similar hack just the other day that paired a Leap Motion with a Hexapod. But [Blaine] wasn’t satisfied with that. Having had a taste for alternate control inputs he dug in and got to work making Google Glass the control interface. But the problem with moving your head to control a rover is that you can’t actually see it because looking down would cause unwanted motion. His solution was to transition to a quadcopter, which will hover at eye level when he’s looking right at it. Glass is sending raw sensor data to a server, which does the translation to control commands for the quadcopter.

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Hackaday Links: Sunday, August 4th, 2013

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[Craig Turner] shows that simplicity can be surprisingly interesting. He connected up different colors of blinking LEDs in a grid. There’s no controller, but the startup voltage differences between colors make for some neat patterns with zero effort.

Remember the 3D printed gun? How about a 3D printed rifle! [Thanks Anonymous via Reason]

While we’re on the topic of 3D printing, here’s a design to straighten out your filament.

It takes four really big propellers to get an ostrich off the ground. This quadcopter’s a bit too feathery for us, but we still couldn’t stop laughing.

This Kinect sign language translator looks pretty amazing. It puts the Kinect on a motorized gimbal so that it can better follow the signer. We just had a bit of trouble with translation since the sound and text are both in Hebrew. This probably should have been a standalone feature otherwise.

Work smarter, not harder with this internal combustion wheelbarrow. [via Adafruit]

Hackaday Links: Sunday, July 21st, 2013

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Adafruit tears down a set of brainwave cat ears. They’re made by Necomimi and use your brain waves to adjust a pair of plush cat ears on the headgear.

If your desktop computer is sitting on the floor you may have damaged USB dongles by hitting them with your knees. [Megacier] prevents this from happening again by building a flexible dongle link.

Can anyone help [Brian Benchoff] find a datasheet for this International Rectifier 92-O350 so he can fix up his old VT100 terminal?

Here’s a quick example of how to graph data from a Raspberry Pi on the sen.se cloud service.

Have some extra fun with your oscilloscope by displaying any image. This set of conversions starts with a picture and ends with an audio file that will draw it on the scope’s screen.

You’ve probably already heard that the Sikorsky Prize for human powered helicopter has been claimed. If you didn’t see any footage of the flight now’s your chance. [Thanks Adam]

Flying with a little help from friends

flying-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends

A single cell of this distributed flight system can spin its propeller but it comes at the cost of the chassis flying out of control. To realize any type of stable flight it must seek a partnership with other cells. The more astute reader will be wondering how it can autonomously pair if incapable of controlled solo flight? The designers of the project thought of that, and gave each frame a way to propel itself on the ground.

Along the bottom rails of each cage there are several small knobby wheels. These seem to function similar to omniwheels since they are not aligned in parallel to each other. Pairing is accomplished mechanically by magnets, also helping to align the pogo-pins which connect the cells electronically.

Flight tests are shown in the video below. The array can be oriented in symmetrical or asymmetrical patterns and still work just fine. If they have 3D camera feedback they can hold position and navigate quite accurately. But this can also be piloted by remote control in the absence of such a feedback system.

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