Hackaday Links: March 21, 2012

Don’t get your dirty fingers on the glass

[Poke] sent in a video of him using Android devices with a wiimote and PS3 controller. The build uses the Joystick2Touch and the USB Joystick Center app. Root is required, but this will be very useful when tv-sized Android devices start showing up.

Wonderful restoration work

[John] sent in an Instructable on restoring an ancient typewriter. It’s almost beautiful seeing all those delicate metal parts so finely cleaned and reassembled.

Proof of the Big Bang is in one of these articles

[Paleotechnoligist] has been reading the technical journals from Bell Labs. These people were the Google of the 20th century and did some amazing stuff. Here’s the math for getting to the moon and a thing about “cellular telephony.”

Oooohhh extruded aluminum

[Richard Sum] sent us a pic of his new 3D printer kit he’ll be offering soon. Very professional looking.

Flying like a three dollar bill

[Yannick] and [SaakNeMah] sent in this video of a guy strapping on bird wings, running down a field, and then flying for about 100 meters. The project is Human Birdwings and it’s gotten an amazing amount of press coverage. We’re calling fake on this for three reasons: the wings didn’t produce lift, the camera angles are all wrong (only applicable if there was a single flight), and this guy would be a gazillionaire if his wings actually worked. Argue amongst yourself in the comments; we’d love to be proven wrong.

62 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: March 21, 2012

  1. @BirdWings – One more angle to watch was his landing. There is no way a GoPro camera could get that close a shot of the grass when on top of a 5+ foot human standing up.

    Did anyone read some comments on the blog? I fear for human kind.

  2. Everyone seems to want for the wings to be real so badly…but they don’t make sense. If they were rigid wings and he was running/skiing/rollerblading down a steep hill I could see this being plausible. At that point it would be much like a hang glider.

    As it is now, no amount of flapping your arms would create lift, let alone forward thrust, from wings of that nature. They don’t even seem rigid enough to support his weight and maintain an airfoil shape.

    My guess is a guide wire he is being pulled along, or an out-of-frame crane supporting him. That was always one of Criss Angel’s favorites to fool the camera.

    1. Look at the video, 1:02-1:04, you can clearly see some tyre tracks directly in front of the person filming the video, running in-line with the direction of movement.

      I’d say there’s the source of movement…

    2. @ BirdWings, Clearly fake!

      Look at the video, 1:02-1:04, you can clearly see some tyre tracks directly in front of the person filming the video, running in-line with the direction of movement.

      I’d say there’s the source of force, if that’s the way they are doing this…

      1. I think both GoPro shots(take-off and landing) are an R/C plane. Cheaper and easier than affixing it to the top of a moving vehicle, should produce the appearance seen, and there’s still no real excuse for the fact that his helmet disappears from the bottom of the shot between take-off and landing.

  3. @Birdwings at about 0:50 watch the arms in relation to the wing position when he is gliding. Arms move but wings don’t. Also the wing movement is generated by strings attached to cuffs on his arms which presents two problems:
    1. See how little force you can generate with your arms completely outstretched in that motion.
    2. There is little change in distance caused by his arm movement relative to the wing tips to generate much tension or account for the large motions of the wings.

    1. In the other test video there are clearly strings attached at the wrists to the wing tips. Didn’t look at all the blog posts to see the motor system which makes the whole thing more plausible. The zero wing movement at 0:50 is still suspicious. Also there is zero change in pitch when he lifts his legs. That is a very big change in center of gravity with no change in the flight characteristics.

  4. @everyone doubting. Read his blog. he uses machine to amplify his arm strength. I don’t know. Im looking at the video and it looks pretty darn real.

    I hope its real I will definitely buy one. You have no idea how inspiring this is. As humans we should know that we are capable of achieving almost anything. I hope this one comes true.

    1. and its so funny to read the youtube comments….
      “its legit watch the build videos”… LMAO its almost like no one has heard of faking supporting documentation to make your fraud seem more legit…wth…

  5. He supposedly put motors in there, and lithium-polymer batteries (plural intentional) according to other posts on the blog. There is also a reference to a “haptic” input system (huh?, didn’t investigate). The reference to :50 is completely invalid from my eyes, assuming an incomplete mechanical connection between arms and wings.

    That said, even with the clip of how albatrosses fly, I’m not convinced. The crane idea would be expensive, unless you had a buddy with a crane. The height of the camera during landing is weird, but technically possible with a horizontal torso and severe crouching. I’m still not sure what the take off should look like, but the one in the video looks kinda sudden.

    Oh, and let’s not forget how the Mythbusters ran on water…

    tl;dr, don’t judge until you see it in person.

  6. @Moorbo:

    The wings aren’t human powered, he controls them with the movements of his arms ( with a Wii controller) but there’s a motor powering the flapping.

    i like the idea. My gut feeling: a 1 kW motor and lipo batteries in a backpack, and it’s doable. Batteries at maximum allowable discharge rate, gives you 2 min of flight with a big ornithopter.

    If i would be testing this, i would try a tow as well, that doesn’t make it a hoax;

  7. He doesn’t amplify his arms, he is entirely powered by a pair of motors on his back. The arm flapping just acts as a control. what this is is a wearable ornithopter. if it’s not able to fly, it’s not because of the arm strength.

      1. It’s not CG. I can’t spot any sign of digital alteration on the video(besides the angle changes and PIP).

        If it is fake(I suspect it is, but need to analyze it closer to be sure), all effects are practical(Practical Effects is Hollywood speak for “We show you exactly what the camera sees, but what the camera sees and what was really there may not be the same.” Miniatures and wire-fu are practical effects.). The side-on angle certainly does look like something I’ve seen on a David Copperfield special.

  8. Looks real to me, internet seems to think this is a fake. There is some real engineering here, everything is explained in the other 13 videos in enough detail to believe the whole project. I mean, if you had those same two brushless DC 2000watt motors on a 200lb go kart with me in it as well, it would easily break 50mph in under 5 seconds. Here these motors are also geared down, the torque is obviously enough to push some large wings against air!

  9. Partially fake. He still is flying, but not like a bird – more like a kite on a string. Anyone interested in flying should have look at hanggliding and paragliding.

    @Hackaday: The german flight pioneer Otto Lilienthal is worth looking into. His works and experiments (he did the first successfull human flight) inspired flight pioneers worldwide and made the Wright brothers success in motorized flight possible.

  10. Of course it’s fake. What idiot would use a backpack to go up into the sky? He’d fall out!

    Ok, the physics can’t possibly work either but that’s too much for most people to grasp. Just ask yourself if you’d suspend yourself 60ft (or whatever) into the sky with nothing but a backpack to hold you up. Hell no. You need a parachute harness or something like that. And a bicycle helmet? Give me a break.

    I mean there are so many holes in this story it’s mostly a fascinating study in human behavior. This is why we have people save toast with jesus images, bath in Lourdes, believe in angels and unicorns and all that nonsense.

    People are gullible. Lucky for priests, quacks, charletans and others who prey (phunny!) on that.

  11. FAKE. During the glide portion of his ‘flight’ the fabric of the wings is just trailing behind – like a some clothes hanging on a clothesline in a breeze – NOY like a hang glider’s fabric that is actually taut from holding up some weight.

    1. THANK YOU! Someone said what I was thinking. This had the look of a flag in the wind, i.e. flapping along. Once you attach weight to a piece of fabric and ask it to hold air (i.e. parachute) or deflect air (i.e. hangglider or ultralight) you notice that it gets taut. Look at the wingsuits that are being used by base jumpers. Also notice the sleight of hand in the person running towards the camera right before the takeoff. Usually, that’s when the switchout happens and they take your eyes off the real action.

  12. ok, well the controls dont even make sense. the wii-motes use accelerometers. so every time the whole thing moved the data would get flooded with noise, you would get all sorts of feedback and the whole thing would probably just wiggle uncontrollably.

  13. This COULD work as a human kite, but nothing else. The aerodynamics just aren’t there.

    Source: I’m a commercial pilot, and UAV educator.
    (Also, I read through the whole blog)

  14. Auxiliary power or a tow, sure but not by human power. Compare a chicken’s breast muscles to that of a humans, a chickens breast muscles are like 500% larger proportionally and that’s for a bird that doesn’t fly very well (ignore the genetically modified ones). Even the best trained athletes have a hard time flying using their legs to power a propeller, and the human legs are much much more powerful than the arms.

    1. Here’s the thing though.

      Even if you have less power than necessary to fly a plane, you can still fly it. If you can get an airplane to lift somehow, it will continue gliding under its own momentum, and given the right conditions it turns into a sailplane, giving the illusion that you’re flying it under power when you are not.

      Like for example, launching a glider off with a catapult or letting it slip downhill into the wind, in the morning when the air is cool and dense, and the sun is just heating the ground and making thermal uplifts. Once you get it going, you can keep going for a considerable lenght of time without power because you’re riding a thermal like a sailplane.

      This is also the reason why many people doubt that the Wright brothers were really the first people to do a powered flight, because they had lots of experience in gliders and built their planes as such. They could have easily been fooling themselves with their first attempts as well.

  15. #Birdwings – Here’s some screenshots I made showing an inconsistency in the CG: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/610802/fakewings.jpg

    Also, in video 14/14 you can see the star logo appears white. In video 13/14 you can see the star logo appears black, due to the shadow effect from the sun. However, when the wings go horizontal, the logo stays black instead of shifting to white in the direct sun! Exactly as if they had captured the wing texture from a video frame and used it as the model texture in the CG edit.

    Finally, his LinkedIn profile says he worked at Pailton Steering Systems. Pailton has stated on their Facebook page, Twitter account, and various blog comment areas that they never heard of Jarno Smeets and he never worked for them, and they wish he would stop claiming he did.

    1. Ummm… I suspect the black box you are pointing at is the same on the right side as on the left side…Looks to me like a sillohette of the mechanisms. In one the fabric is away from it on the one side, and in another position, the fabric is pulled against it making it more visible.

      Look, I’m not going to say 100% that this is real, but the reasons so many people are giving for why it is fake are just dumb.

      1. Obviously I thought of it as a possible silhouette too, but you only need to watch the video to be sure. If the fabric is loose enough that it can be pulled away from the block just from wind blowing on it at rest, then it would also be pulled away when it’s supposedly supporting the guy’s entire weight. And it should go in and out of visibility as the wings flap…but it doesn’t.

  16. Also, am I the only one that notices the blue screen halo around the guy at 1:02? When he pumps his arm, it has that characteristic artificially. I can tell from the pixels and from having seen several blue screens in my day. (But seriously.)

  17. I know if I was about to make history, I’d get a few drunken sots to film themselves running around, shots of their feet, stand waaaaaaaay behind the target and let it move away, shake the camera alot, use only one point of view on the ground (when they’re not showing their own feet), have a novice splice the final clip, etc etc.

    If the filming was any worse, you’d swear the subject was a UFO (or Bigfoot).

  18. Is it silly to say that such small wings require much more speed to fly?
    I’d be happy if he had been launched from th top of the moving pickup car or sometting else and just tried to fly around using gorund effect.
    Motors and batteries he used on his small backpack can’t compensate for the small takeoff speed. Sorry. Video is not convincing enough.

  19. @Birdwings There’s absolutely no question that this is fake after watching the other videos that are apart of the series: the hallmark, simulated motion blur of After Effects; the misaligned shadows on the ground; the lack of appropriate camera lens focus on background objects vs. the dude with the wings…

    We should totally go along with the Youtubers and provide supportive evidence that these wings really do work. It would be the troll’ingest action all day.

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