Quadrotor Pod Racing

A group of multicopter enthusiasts from Argonay, France cordoned off a path through the forest and spent the day racing. The resulting video makes it look like a heck of a good time.

Twenty “drone” pilots all used first-person view (FPV) camera setups for complete immersion, racing at up to 50 kilometers per hour through a 150m course in the woods that was chosen for maximum thrills and spills. The track basically followed a footpath, but the pilots still had to be extremely alert to avoid natural obstacles (we call them “trees”). The narrator adds that the nearly random lighting and camera artifacts added an extra level of difficulty to the event.

After practicing a few times just to get around the track in one piece, they started racing each other in heats. On the final heat, at 3:40 in the video, five copters start off head-to-head and tear out into the woods. Of them, only two cross the finish line.

FPV drone crash scenes still make us wince a little bit. We wonder how many of the participants spent the next few nights in the repair bay.

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Racing telemetry on a cockpit view

ODB

[Martin] has a Lotus Elise and access to a track. Sounds like fun, huh? The only problem is that the dashcam videos he makes are a little bit boring. Sure, they show him flying around the track, but without some sort of data it’s really hard to improve his driving skills. After thinking about it for a while, [Martin] decided he could use his Raspberry Pi and camera module to record videos from the dashboard of his car, and overlay engine data such as RPM, throttle, and speed right on top of the video.

Capturing video is the easy part of this build – [Martin] just connected his Raspi camera module and used the standard raspivid capture utility. Overlaying data on this captured video was a bit harder, though.

[Martin] had previously written about using the Raspi to read OBD-II data into his Raspi. Combine this with a Python script to write subtitles for his movies, and he’s off to the races, with a video and data replay of every move on the track.

The resulting movie and subtitle files can be reencoded to an HD movie. Reencoding a 13 minute HD video took 9 hours on the Raspi. We’d suggest doing this with a more powerful compy, but at least [Martin] has a great solution to fix his slightly uninformative track videos.

Electric motorcycle hits the racing circuit

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Check out that beefy electric motor hanging out where the swing arm connects to the body of this motorcycle. It’s the muscle that makes this recently completed electric motorcycle ready to race.

[Jackson Edwards] has been hard at work building this from the ground up. His goal was to make it competitive with production line motorcycles and his most recent test runs are pointing to success. The film shows off a couple of problems with the rear suspension. This actually led to him dumping the bike on a turn. He was unharmed but the control panel on the handlebars was unfortunately trashed. A bit of work fixed the handling and he was able to ride with confidence. We’re struck by how quiet the thing is as it tears past the camera at the very beginning of the video.

Sure, we’ve seen other electric motorcycles before. Those were all conversions from gas. Designing from the ground up really opened up a lot of choices not possible with a retrofit. Make sure to dig through all the posts on his blog to get the full picture.

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Pulse jet snowmobile, or, what Swedes do during hibernation

jetSweden is coming out of the depths of a cold, dark winter. What better time, then, to enjoy the last few weeks of frigid temperatures, short days, and frozen lakes and rivers? That’s what Orsa Speed Weekend is all about; tearing across a frozen lake by any means necessary, including jet powered snowmobiles.

This pulse jet comes from the fruitful minds at Svarthalet Racing (Google Translation) who have put an amazing amount of work into their fuel-injected pulse jet snowmobile during these last cold winter months. They’ve even gone so far as to do some analysis regarding how much horsepower their snowmobile has. Surprisingly, it’s not much more horsepower than a small car, but that’s due to the hilarious inefficiency of pulse jets compared to more conventional engines.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen jet powered snowmobiles build for Orsa Speed Weekend. We’ll just hope this year a few more videos will show up in our tip line.

Fauxrarri is the PPPRS Champion

The Power Racing Series (PPPRS) is an electric vehicle competition with a $500 price ceiling. This is Fauxarri, the 2012 Champion. It was built by members of Sector67, a Madison, WI hackerspace. To our delight, they’ve posted an expose on the how the thing was built.

It should come as no surprise that the guys behind the advance electric racer aren’t doing this sort of thing for the first time. A couple of them were involved in Formula Hybrid Racing at the University of Wisconsin. That experience shows in the custom motor controller built as an Arduino shield. It includes control over acceleration rate, throttle response, and regenerative braking. But you can’t get by on a controller alone. The motors they used are some special electric garden tractor motors to which they added their own water cooling system.

If you want to get a good look at how fast and powerful this thing is head on over to the post about the KC leg of PPPRS (it’s the one towing a second vehicle and still passing the competition by).

Real BMW dash cluster for your racing games

Here’s a cool add on that could making racing games just a little more engaging. How about a real instrument cluster? [Herctrap] has written up the schematics and shared the code to get a real car’s instrument cluster to be driven from x-sim. It is a slightly different approach than we’ve seen before, but really not too complicated.While this is still just another accessory sitting on his desk, it really seems to add a considerable amount of feedback to the game. Next he needs to build a motion rig for his seat!

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Racing with Dyson’s spare parts

When it comes time to unwind at the Dyson design facility these engineers know how to do it right. Recently, the company challenged their engineers to a grown-up version of the Pinewood Derby in which they raced their own cars powered by a Dyson motor.

The video after the breaks shows a large collection of these time trials on a track made from upturned wooden pallets. Most of the vehicles are made from parts which we don’t recognize. But some of them are very familiar like our favorite hand dryer ever (seen above) and the iconic goldenrod manifold from the Dyson ball vacuum cleaner.

The course ends abruptly, as you can see in the last run of the video. There is one entry that included a human rider and he seems to be going nearly as fast as the riderless carriages are. The video cuts away before he hits the wall, but we can’t image he had the time to include brakes in that design.

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