Controlling a quadcopter with a homebrew remote

When [Matt] started building his multirotor helicopter, he was far too involved with building his craft than worrying about small details like how to actually control his helicopter. Everything worked out in the end, though, thanks to his homebrew RC setup built out of a USB joystick and a few XBees.

After a few initial revisions and a lot of chatting on a multirotor IRC room, [Matt] stumbled across the idea of using pulse-position modulation for his radio control setup.

After a few more revisions, [Matt] settled on using an Arduino Pro Mini for his flight computer, paired with a WiFly module. By putting his multicopter into Ad-hoc mode, he can connect to the copter with his laptop via WiFi and send commands without the need for a second XBee.

Now, whenever [Matt] wants to fly his multicopter, he plugs the WiFly module into his MultiWii board, connects his laptop to the copter, and runs a small Python script. It may not be easier than buying a nice Futaba transmitter, but [Matt] can easily expand his setup as the capabilities of his copter fleet grows.

Video of [Matt]‘s copter in flight after the break.

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Magic clock locates your friends

Just like the clock from Harry Potter, a team of media informatics students at the University of Munich built a grandfather clock that doesn’t keep track of time; instead, it keeps track of where everyone is, whether it be their university, work, or in prison.

The build uses Android and iOS apps on each team member’s cell phone to send their current location to a web server. A circuit built inside an old grandfather clock the team picked up from eBay communicates with the web server through a WiFly Shield to control a quartet of servos and drive the clock hands.

Because the grandfather clock only came with two clock hands, the team used a series of four concentric shafts to move each hand around the dial. With a bit of clever gear fabrication on their laser cutter, they were able to use unmodified servos move the hands all the way around the clock.

The avatars on the tip of each clock hand are the remains of decapitated LEGO minifigs, a choice that makes sense after viewing the build video available after the break.

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Land ROV is Internet connected and packed full of stuff

[Blair Kelly] has always been interesting in the concept of Remote Operated Vehicles. As soon as he got his hands on an Arduino he began his endeavor to turn an RC vehicle into a land-based ROV. What he’s done so far is incredible.

Here he’s showing off features of the build using a PS3 controller. But it can also take commands from an Xbox 360 controller or an arcade-style steering wheel. We like the latter the best, which is shown off at about six and a half minutes into the video (embedded after the break). Since there’s a webcam on board, this ends up being a virtual cockpit for the pint-sized car. But it gets better. That webcam is mounted on a servo motor, and [Blair] included controls that pan the camera. This lets the driver ‘look’ left and right. On the front of the vehicle there’s an accelerometer. Data is collected by the Arduino and sent via the WiFly module. This adds rumble to the controller if you’re using one that has that ability.

It’s a big project already, but it sounds like [Blair] has not end of ideas for future versions. Right now he’s planning to increase the overall size which will let him explore places that aren’t as flat as his livingroom.

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Stream music anywhere in your house with these WiFi speakers

wifi_speakers

[Rui] needed an easy way to play music in several different zones from one centralized location, but he didn’t want to run any new wiring in the process.

He figured that the best way to do this would be to stream his music directly to his speakers over Ethernet. Earlier this year, he put together a handful of Ethernet-connected speaker nodes using a few Arduinos equipped with both Ethernet and MP3 shields. To interface with these speaker nodes, he wrote an application utilizing VLC’s network streaming engine. This software monitors his network for newly attached speakers, adding them to his inventory automatically. He can choose to play music on any set of speakers using a multicast audio stream.

The setup was pretty slick, but what about locations that didn’t already have Ethernet drops? He thought of that too, revising his design just recently. The newest set of speakers he constructed ditches the Ethernet board for a Wifly shield, all of which he crammed inside the speaker cabinets. Now, he has the ability to stream music anywhere he’d like, no matter what sort of infrastructure is in place.

If you have a need to do this in your home, [Rui] has made his software available for free on his site, so be sure to grab a copy.

Continue reading to see a short video of the speakers in action.

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Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring Emotiphone!

emotiphone

Instructables user [zvizvi] was working on putting together a portfolio for his application into Industrial Design school, and thought it would be neat to repurpose an old rotary phone that used to belong to his grandmother.

He originally had pretty lofty goals for the phone, but eventually pared back his vision to include one-way communications to Twitter. After gutting the phone of its unnecessary parts, he got busy installing LEDs behind the dialer’s finger holes. The LEDs were connected to an MCP23017 I/O expander, which takes its direction from an Arduino he crammed into the phone’s shell.

When the receiver is lifted from the cradle, the Arduino initiates a connection to the Internet via the WiFly shield he installed. Once he dials a number, the Arduino translates the digit into a predefined emoticon, posting it to his Twitter page. While the emoticons are not quite as descriptive as the messages from the Tweeting Roomba we featured earlier this week, they relay his mood just fine.

It’s a fun project, and it happened to get [zvizvi] into the design school he was applying at, so we can’t ask for much more than that.

Scoreboard from scratch

[Kenneth] built this scoreboard for use at a ballpark that lacks such luxuries. We think this a phenomenal application for his skill and his pocketbook. He laid out PCBs for each digit in Eagle and etched them himself, then installed the indicators for home score, visitor score, inning, balls, strikes, and outs in a laser cut case. A pretty beefy battery along with the folding stand make this quite portable.

In the demo video after the break he’s connected to the scoreboard via telnet to update the score. This trick is accomplished using SparkFun’s WiFly GSX breakout board to set up an adhoc wireless network. The goal is to write an iPhone app that will be used to control the board in the field (or the outfield as it were).

This could definitely be used for different types of scoring during the off season.

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DPAC put your alarm clock to shame

DPAC, the Dynamically Programmable Alarm Clock, goes far beyond what you would expect an alarm clock to do, yet we find all of its features useful. You can see there are four buttons at the bottom that control the menu scrolling. The second from the left currently reads “Sync”, a feature that the clock uses every 10 minutes but can be forced manually. This will check your Google Calendar, schedule an alarm for the next event while factoring in driving distance, traffic, and weather conditions. It’s got an audio system for radio and iPod operation, but also includes some home automation options. Using the X10 communication protocol it can turn on lights, start the coffee maker, and open the blinds as part of a gentle wake-up cycle. All of this is configurable through the clock itself, or via the web interface. The prototyping was done on an Arduino but the final version uses an AVR ATmega324 along with a Roving Networks RN-134 WiFi module (datasheet) for connectivity. Check out the demonstration video that [Eric Gaertner] and his fellow developers filmed after the break.

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