Roswell Eat Your Heart Out

When [Ian Wood] accidentally broke the camera on his fancy-pants FPV quadrotor he was a little bit upset. But out of all things we break, we hack something new. [Ian] decided to strap on some RGB LEDs to the drone and turn it into a UFO to scare his neighbors!

Now we know what you’re thinking: RGB LEDs? That hardly constitutes a hack! You’re right — but [Ian] didn’t just simply strap some LEDs on and call it a day. Oh no. He’s using a Teensy micro-controller and the NazaCANDecoder to listen to the CAN bus for RC stick positions, flight mode, altitude, battery data, etc. This means the LEDs are actually responding to the way he flies the drone. And since there was a spare channel on his Futaba RX controller, he’s also got an animation mode that can be controlled from the ground to do whatever he wants. He also got rid of the standard indicator LEDs on the quad and wired them into his new setup. They’re all being controlled by a FastLED library on the Teensy. Check it out in the clip after the break.

And if you’re looking for another fun way to spice up an old (or broken) drone, why not turn it into the Milenium Falcon?

21 thoughts on “Roswell Eat Your Heart Out

  1. Fun. Makes me want to get a drone to see what my stoned neighbors would do.

    But that ghost image… friends shouldn’t let friends use cheap UV filters on their video cameras…

  2. Awwwwwwww!
    I’ve been looking for a decently documented example of a CAN bus Naza hack.
    This is just a video, no apparent details anywhere.
    I found a site about Naza CAN bus hacking a while ago but it was a bit thin on physical details.
    Specifically the electronics required to tap into the Naza CAN bus.
    Anybody know where there is anything decent online about it?

    1. Is there anything special about the can bus on the Naza? I know there are several low end micros with built in CAN support, I would think the hard part is the packet structure used by the quad. My two cents.

  3. In the event that thing was flying over or near me often, I’d put the full choke long barrel on the shot gun and buy some goose loads, to get rid of the aggregating nuisance. I’m rural so I can do that. ;) In more populous area it would be a good idea to call dispatch and let them know before the flight. Personally I think it needs a econometric circle arrangement of lights as well.

      1. Isn’t an econometric circle arrangement what you see when observing the tachyon scatter from a flux capacitor?

        Yeah, I’d also guess the auto-correct just went full troll on him, and that he meant concentric.

  4. Excellent work! It would be fun to play with different lighting patterns. I think it would look awesome to light the innermost LEDs in such a way that they resemble thrusters. Kinda the opposite of what your doing with the blue lights. Make the blue lights grow in the opposite direction of acceleration with the intensity of the LEDs increasing with increasing acceleration. Then do some other effects with the outer LEDs.

  5. It may not be obvious how helpful these lights are if you haven’t tried flying a quadcopter to some height beyond where you can see which end is the “front”. This can happen when you spin it around up there and don’t have clear visual feedback (when the height is so great, that the normal led indicators meld into one). A very nice demo.

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