Weaponized Quadrotor Upgrades

Today we’re looking at a few fun hacks, although they are perhaps a bit ill-advised. What’s the craziest thing you could strap to a quadrotor? Rockets? Lasers? Turns out… they’ve both been done already.

First up is [Ramicaza’s] firework launching quadrotor. The drone is stabilized using the ArduPilot Mega 2.6, and it carries a pair of “rockets” which are ignited by a pair of steel elements. An ATtiny analyzes the auxiliary radio channel’s PWM signal which controls the relays that power the elements. He’s tested it high up in the sky, so he’s actually being pretty safe about it.

Next is [JLaservideo’s] laser quadrotor. He’s taken a RC controller of a cheap toy to add wireless capabilities to his Arduino Uno. He’s re-routed the original RC toy’s motor wires to an input on the Arduino which in turn activates a 5V relay that powers the 1W laser. It looks awesome thanks to the bright beam — we just really hope he’s wearing proper eye protection, as a laser of that power can do some serious damage to your retinas!

Stick around after the break to see both quadrotors in action!

Editor’s Update: I agree with many of the comments that this is both dangerous and irresponsible. But instead of censoring the content (which is posted elsewhere so our taking this post down does little) we should be highlighting the dangers and thinking of ways to accomplish the same shenanigans safely and responsibly. -Mike Szczys


Let us know if you’ve seen anything crazier!

70 thoughts on “Weaponized Quadrotor Upgrades

  1. lol I love the quad fireworks but that guys got to have some serious balls. Firing those things in the land of the terrorists whose government loves throwing people in jail.

    1. Yeah, way cool. They don’t seem to hit anything very accurately, so not a real terrorist weapon.

      Not to be a putz, but quads can only be flowing in nonpopulated areas and no higher than 400 ft. AGL. Make it real for the rest of us.

      1. ” They don’t seem to hit anything very accurately, so not a real terrorist weapon.”

        That makes it sound more like a terrorist weapon surely?
        Accurate weapons are for real army’s – inaccurate rapidly hurled damage is for people wanting to scare.

    1. A laser that powerful causes eye damage before the blink reflex kicks in. Instant, permanent eye damage. And he’s shining it through a window without any concern for where the beam may end up. I know a guy who has eye damage from a laser and it’s not funny. This is the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever seen on hackaday.

    2. It’s just as dangerous for him as it can easily reflect in his direct.

      BTW if laser has other power supply than the rest of the quadrocopter this can lead to it being on while it hits and rolls on the ground… I know, I’m paranoid.

    1. Yeah, I’m all for dangerous hacks. Even those in which the proper safety considerations aren’t made but please, Please, PLEASE Hack-a-Day writers: Don’t try to pass them of as anything remotely responsible.

      1. I’m kinda confused by the outcry for the dinky fireworks he’s launching… People realize fireworks are designed to be shot into the sky — Right? Not to mention the ones on this quad are dinky bottle rockets as far as I can tell…

  2. Oh man, the guy’s a jackass for the laser pointer shenanigans, but it’s still really cool. Like, I kinda want to see him fall down the stairs, but it still makes me smile like an idiot.

    1. It’s not a pointer, it’s 1000 times stronger than a pointer. Since it’s not powerful enough to burn anything, and he couldn’t aim it reliably anyway, the single use that laser has, is to blind people, accidentally or deliberately. Which is against the Geneva convention as well as being illegal generally. It has no use whatever.

      Hopefully the dick will lose some sight himself, and it’ll stop him doing such stupid things. Normally I’m against censorship and prohibiting things, but I really wonder who the Chinese companies think they’re serving, selling ludicrously dangerous lasers for such cheap prices, to any kid who sees “awesome phaser rifle” videos on Youtube.

      Maybe it’s a plot. In 10 years time all the gwailo kids who’re smart enough to wire something up to a battery will be blind, and Chinese science will rule the world!

  3. This guy is a fool for lunching fireworks in town. He could have easily set a house on fire.

    If you want to do something like this then take it out to a place where its safe.

    As I said total fool.

      1. Fireworks can be quite dangerous if they arnt launched correctly.
        I don’t know the physics, but an accidental rocket that fires downwards from the sky is probably quite different from one that fires upwards then explodes.

    1. Completely different case here. Darwin Awards are for people who severely hurt or kill themselves removing them from the gene pool, while this idiot is likely going to hurt other innocent and almost surely more intelligent people. Actually he should be awarded the opposite of the Darwin Award, if such a thing exists.

  4. Ummmm, what exactly was the point of the Arduino in the Laser Quad? He smacked in an entire Arduino just to take the power from the control circuit and run more power to a relay to turn the thing on? The hell? Am I missing something?

  5. The Laser Quadrotor is so dangerous it is not even funny. The specular reflection from a 1W 445 nm laser off of the window ALONE is enough to cause some very serious eye damage. A laser of this power on such an unstable and easily “mis-controlled” platform is serious cause for concern and poses a hazard to all observers. Flown outside, this could flagrantly violate all kinds of FAA airspace+laser rules. Nothing about this build complies with United States 21 CFR 1040.10 in terms of safety.

    1. Yep, his face shows up twice, there’s a look at the city skyline and surrounding houses and streets all in one take. Even (possibly) his real name as contributor. If anybody recognises the city skyline,with any luck it would be a matter of a few minutes with Google Maps to identify his address.
      While he is definitely a hazard to other people, he is also a hazard to himself, therefore a Darwin Awards contender.

      1. Any law enforcement agency that wanted to could just as easily subpoena youtube for his IP and then his ISP for his street address. Even without his face showing they could build a case against him based on computer usage, the quad being in his house and equipment used to build it.

  6. Both ideas may be interesting from an entertainment perspective, but testing them outside, especially in an urban area is potentially dangerous, irresponsible and can land you in trouble with the law. To promote any of this as being ‘safe’ is just wrong. Have you heard of the expression ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’?

  7. Clearly a dumb thing to do and those of us here with double-digit IQs know that; so no shame to HaD for posting a “Here’s someone doing something clearly stupid, we know you know better” kind of post,

    This guy is a FOOL though. Worse than the damage he’s going to do to himself and some poor innocent is the damage that he’s going to do to the reputation of responsible multi-rotor flyers like myself and others that frequent this forum.

    I hope he get busted BIG time and learns a lesson

    1. It does suck that somebody less stupid might do really interesting things with lasers, while idiots just point them at each other and scratch their heads trying to figure out light sabres.

      As ever, the idiots spoil it for everyone else. Maybe we should soak lottery tickets in cyanide.

  8. It feels bizarre to say that the guy shooting rockets all over the place is the more responsible of the two. Fireworks, for all that they can set things on fire or put an eye out if you are unlucky have a fairly short range and are pretty obvious when they’re coming at you. The laser, though…

  9. So what is the max range that the 1W laser will do eye damage? Assuming normal atmospheric dispersion, average blink time, … Just wondering if it’s just the people in his town that are in danger, everyone in the county, …

    1. Someone’s already pointed out that blink time doesn’t matter with this much power. Since he’s flying it in the middle of a town, that’s surely enough people to be able to blind.

  10. i started in lasers about 8 years ago. it was a hobby. now everyone with $100 can own something that can blind you from miles away. not we have improved and put a 445nm +1W laser on a damn quad to roam around and blind as the controller sees fit. great.

    come on natural selection. weed out the moron’s.

    1. Weed out the moron’s what? Don’t leave us hanging like that. The suspense is killing me!

      Once you’ve got your basic grammar above moron level you might consider reading up on natural selection too…

  11. This is why the FFA is trying to ban quads and this does not help, it was stupid at fire a rocket of a quad no one knows where it was going to land or hit , some thing like this ona little bigger scale can bring a plane down

  12. Total violation of the ArduCopter community’s trust. Please don’t do this. The laser thing is just beyond stupid and endangers anyone the quad could end up pointed – which is anywhere in battery flight range.

    1. “calm down”? You obviously don’t care about the future of the multirotor hobby and community. Things like this have devastating effects on the way the public perceives RC aircraft. We are already fighting an uphill battle and the threat of strict regulation is always upon us (to a point where the hobby is no fun anymore) and they cite things like this for their grounds to attempt to ban our hobby. All it takes is one moron to ruin everyone’s day, and the rocket quad’s pilot has all the markings of that one moron. He is obviously obsessed with making weapons if you check out his youtube channel and lord knows where his rich parents are. The laser on the other quad has the markings of being darwinian. I’m not saying not to experiment and push boundaries, but don’t do it where others could get hurt or have their property damaged, and for christ’s sake, don’t plaster it all over youtube, where it seems the nightly news is getting more and more of it’s material. Some network is going to see this and think “This will make people scared and feel threatened, thus it will boost our ratings.” And BAM! The public outcry begins.

    1. Except the cat’s dead, and cats don’t lay eggs anyway. I suppose you could drop the cat itself on someone, and hope for a heart attack, but that’s as dangerous as that one gets.

  13. @Mike Szczys – Your editor’s note is a step in the right direction. Having fun, pushing the boundaries is what we all want to do, but it should be done at least without endangering others who are not involved or even aware of the potentially dangerous activity. Injuring yourself or those who have made a decision to be involved is another thing altogether.
    Awareness of the risks is important for keeping yourself and others safe.
    Anybody experimenting with any laser, even a Class 1 laser pointer, should be aware of the dangers of lasers. This Wikipedia article is a good start – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_Class
    If you’re experimenting with lasers, read it from end to end a couple of times, and use the graphs to know the risks you are facing. Laser damage to the eye can be instant, permanent and incapacitating. Know the risks and avoid a lifetime of regret.

  14. I’m thinking many may need a chill pill. One idiot isn’t going ruin an industry or hobby unless he attaches a NBC payload. There’s plenty of Jackasses out there with other enabling technology like guns, chemicals and cars. So many of these have been awarded the Darwin award by not respecting the tech, and sadly yes, they’ve taken innocents out with them.

    While I’m a huge fan of the Catch-22 aphorism “Anyone actively trying to get you killed is you enemy”… IMHO HAD should consider this one for Fail Of The Week. Great tech, meh implementation, idiocy for architecture=Fail.

    What say you HAD?

    1. “enabling technology like guns, chemicals and cars.”

      With big business or lobby groups behind them.
      The danger here is theres no “NRA” chucking millions of dollars a month to defend it.

  15. When I first read the little update I was all “Come on, fireworks? Are people seriously complaining? Dear golly, what has hackaday come to?” Then I saw the video with the laser. I was gonna joke that it was just some idiot who stuck a 1w laser to a toy drone (Was gonna say AR Drone), then it turned out that it was some idiot who stuck a 1w laser to a toy drone. Shining that shit through a windows is the single most irresponsible dangerous thing I’ve ever seen on this website.
    Now I’ve seen some dangerous shit on this website, thousands of times more dangerous then a bloody 1 watt laser, but never ever used with even a thousandth of the idiocy of this asshole.
    Yes I mad bro

  16. I can’t believe this world is full of so many wusses that think the sky is going to fall every time someone does something dumb or daring. Don’t you think the Feds would ban fireworks first? After all, that’s the dangerous part. Heck they can’t even manage to get AR15’s banned. Launching a rocket off a quad is going to get quads banned? Really? The most popular delivery device for rockets is and will always be pipes and I don’t see the Feds coming down on home depot.
    I mean the old men really need to take a chill pill.

    1. We don’t give a shit about the fireworks, I’ve had them explode next to me and they’re no more dangerous then sparklers.
      The problem is the kid who attached a 1W laser to a cheap, uncontrolled quad and pointed it out an open window.

    2. Fireworks have a long, long history of being enjoyed by millions of people. People would be upset if you banned them. Quadcopters are used mostly by a few dozen geeks. Most people don’t even know what they are. Who’d care if they were reflex-banned for a stupid reason? Nobody who matters to politics.

  17. Crazy?, how bout’ a 10 quadcopter swarm with down pointing home machined .22 caliber guns for a directed hail storm of bullets(laser designated or gps based aiming). The dude named it “Indras net”.

  18. By my humble estimates,
    The Laser drone is more dangerous than the firework drone. From the comments, I suspect that most people agree.

    Ensuring safety in a remote firework ignition system is GENERALLY a simple matter. One simply needs to ensure that the projectile consumes all of it’s fuel/force before reaching any target along it’s potential trajectories. (high altitude, and an appropriate angle of launch covers these safety factors.)

    Safely using high powered lasers outdoors is an entirely different matter. Due to:
    *its range,
    *the geometric principles of displacement over large distances from small changes in vector,
    *and the potential for instant permanent eye damage,

    And yet, the firework drone link has mysteriously been deleted, and the laser drone link is still up and running….
    probably because fireworks are more readily available than high powered lasers. (except, if you are techie enough to have a quadrocopter, and mount a high powered laser with remote trigger mechanism to it, you PROBABLY know where to find high powered lasers…)
    Both VERY awesome. bother VERY irresponsible…

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