Toorcamp: Quadcopter Controlled By A TI-84+

What happens when you combine a TI-84+ graphing calculator with an added bluetooth module, a 1 Watt Alfa wifi dongle, and a Parrot Wifi Quadcopter? You get a long range quadcopter that’s controlled from the TI-84+ directional pad.

This TI-84+ looks like a standard issue school calculator, but [Owen] added an ATTiny13 microcontroller and a bluetooth module which sniffs the I/O port of the calculator. This allows for bi-directional communication with a laptop. He wrote a few Python scripts on the laptop to receive data from the calculator and send commands to the Parrot Quadcopter. The high-powered wifi module allowed for pretty good range with the Quadcopter, which was flown across the Toorcamp grounds.

Of course, having an innocent looking calculator with wireless communications has some other uses. Data could be displayed on the calculator from a phone over bluetooth. How about accessing Wikipedia or WolframAlpha from your calculator? Despite the possibilities, [Owen] did say that he’s never used it to cheat on tests.

16 thoughts on “Toorcamp: Quadcopter Controlled By A TI-84+

    1. I made last year during my senior year of high school, while I was taking a calculus course. My class was small and I liked the teacher so I told him about the project and didn’t feel like I would gain anything from using it nefariously. I just surprised him with some ghost typing the first day I had it and we had a laugh.

    1. I hate it when people do stuff like this, it’s really neat, but if there’s a computer somewhere in the system, then that’s no longer a calculator controlled quadcopter. It’s a laptop controlled quadcopter and a calculator input device.

      Wake me up when someone puts a microcontroller and WiFi module in a calculator.

  1. Slightly different subject but on using a calculator to cheat.
    When I was 14 the LCD calculators were just getting cheap enough for kids to have.
    Of course I took mine apart and quickly realized that if you didn’t have the top pice of plexi (actually polarized plastic.) you couldn’t see the display.
    So I found that if you used a pair of polarized filters from a 35mm camera lens you could see the display.
    So I made a pair of glasses from the filters and I just told th teacher that I was using the dead calculator to help me with the formulas.
    She picked it up and inspected it and no matter what she did it wouldn’t work. and handed it back to me. ;-)

  2. This sort of hack is dangerous in education, where some standardized tests allow the use of just such a calculator. Unfortunately, the more sophisticated the students, the more likely they are to find creative ways to cheat. And the more sophisticated they become, the more bullyish the standardized testing bureaus have to become in order to combat it.

    1. The more sophisticated you are, the less you NEED to cheat. Seriously, on all of my standardized tests where a CAS was not allowed, I looked over the questions and couldn’t see a practical use for one anyway. You would need to know how to DO the problem before being able to “cheat” with a fancier calculator. That’s the ACT I’m talking about. Can’t speak for the SAT, but they allow CAS calculators, and mainly restrict methods of typing in characters.

      1. Yeah, some people would be rich if they applied their brains to make a living, but instead they spend so much energy and time “trying to beat the system” that their existence is pitiful.

  3. I’m going to make this too! Thanks Owen, I’ll let you know when I’m done. I have something in mind similar to what you did (I have the TI-83 Plus). Thanks for the inspiration dude!

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