DIY RC sensor board


Along with hobby electronics, flying RC planes is one of [Diederich’s] favorite hobbies. When out in the field, he prefers to use an Aurora 9 radio controller, and while the remote is great, he was a bit disappointed in Hitec’s telemetry sensor lineup. He says that the sensors are pretty decent, though limited, and he was positive he could build a better telemetry solution.

His sensor board is completely open source, and comes with a long list of features. First and foremost, it emulates all of the messages that can be sent to the radio controller by Hitec’s off the shelf models, making it a simple drop-in replacement. He uses an ATMega8L microcontroller to run the show, including all sorts of input pins and connectors to support GPS as well as voltage and current monitoring.

He has made a DIY kit available for purchase online, but all of the sensor’s schematics and a BOM are available for free, should you desire to roll your own.

We love seeing DIYers show up manufacturers in this way, especially when they share the goods with their fellow hobbyists. Nice job!

Model rocket radio telemetry


[Ken] sent us his Instructable in which he used radio telemetry to monitor the status of his air-powered model rocket through a series of launches. His setup is centered around an Arduino IDE-compatible board that looks to be about the size of a Boarduino, but has the benefit of an embedded 915 MHz radio module. The vendor he used also sells a good handful of add-on modules which he used for his in-flight recording, including a barometric pressure monitor and a 3-axis accelerometer. During flight, the rocket constantly sends data to a base station, provided it stays within radio operating range.

For is initial tests, [Ken] launched his rocket four times, getting usable data on half of them. He found out some interesting things about his model rocket, including the fact that it creates a maximum launch force of 60 Gs. He has plans to revise his setup in the future, such as lightening the battery load as well as adding a high-G analog sensor for recording the forces at take off. This kit, or a more reasonably priced clone, would make for a great addition to any rocket buff’s inventory.

Controlling a rover with your eyes

Controlling a robot simply by looking at your desired location is pretty freaking awesome. A web camera pointed at your face, analyzes your movements and pupil direction to send the bot signals. Look at a location and the bot goes, change your expression to send other commands to the bot. This easily surpasses the laser guided assistance droid for ease of use.

[via BotJunkie]

Cellphone operated robot


If you can get through the cell phone text speak, you’ll probably enjoy this cool tutorial on how to build a cell phone controlled robot. This bot decodes the key tones, similar to the automated phone systems we’ve all experienced. It uses a chip called a MT8870 DTMF decoder to translate the signal for the Atmega 16 controller. The circuit diagram is pretty hard to read, maybe we missed a downloadable one somewhere. The source code is available.

It would be nice to get some feedback from the robot, so you aren’t driving it completely blind. This is similar to the Lego cell phone rover that we showed you before.  Next, he should make it recognize voice commands.

Cambridge Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

The Cambridge Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, built for the SAUC-E Challenge, is a fantastic example of UAV construction. The competition is to build a UAV that can complete an underwater assault course. This baby has a full computer inside it, based off of the worlds smallest full featured x86 motherboard, the Pico-Itx.  It has a 1GHz EPIA PX 1000 Board, 1 GB of RAM, Wireless Network capabilities and runs Ubuntu server 8.04.

The CUAV suffered from leaks which ultimately cost it the competition, but the information on the build is fantastic. They have detailed pages upon pages of information about the Mechanical, Electronic, and Software aspects of the design.  They even went back in and added notes from what they learned during the competition.  The project is also outlined in much shorter form on the mini-itx website.

[thanks Vesaines]

Inexpensive powerful router based robot

[Andrey Mikhalchuk] Has posted some great instructions on how to build an inexpensive router based robot. Starting with a Linksys WRT54GL, he takes us through the process of disassembling and modifying it to directly control servos.  He has put together a custom version of OpenWRT Linux that you can download from his site.  After testing to make sure everything is functional, he goes through a quick and dirty chassis build.  As you can see from the picture above, there are lot of household items thrown in there such as rubber bands and zip ties.  After adding a camera mounted on two servos for x y movement, he fine tunes it and lets it go.

This project looks fairly simple, cheap, and fun.  It may look familiar as it is very similar to our Wifi Robot post from August.

[thanks Matt]