Stick Balances Itself With Reaction Wheels

The inverted pendulum is a pretty classic dynamics problem and reaction wheels are cool. That’s why we like [Mike Rouleau]’s self-balancing stick.

The video, viewable after the break, was fairly sparse on details, but he furnished some in the comments. The little black box on the top is a GY-521 Gyroscope module. It sends its data to an Arduino attached to the black cord which trails off the screen. The Arduino does its mathemagic and then uses a motor controller to drive the reaction wheels at the correct speeds.

[Mike] mentions that he didn’t do anything too fancy with the dynamic model of the demonstration. He even hand-tuned the PID values rather than resorting to fancier training methods. The Arduino simply runs a bit of code, and, optionally, streams some data back to the computer for visualization.

The stick can stay up until the power goes out, and is a pretty cool demonstration. As some mentioned in the comments; this would make a fetching desk ornament.

32 thoughts on “Stick Balances Itself With Reaction Wheels

    1. Think you could get enough juice through an induction charger to have it charge up some batteries and keep the reaction wheels going?

      Put a wireless charging pad on the floor near your favorite seats and charge it up wirelessly while it’s standing.

      1. I’ve got a “zap cane” that charges through a simple 1/8″ headphone jack. That’s a good way to avoid the losses of an induction charger, though keeping it topped off without having to plug in might be nice for a self-stabilizing cane, as it would be in use much of the time.
        I’m imagining a cane hook with a charging coil built in, or even just a pair of contacts.
        I’m sure someone smarter than me (almost everyone) will figure this out someday.

  1. In college we had exercise similar to this, little less complicated. It was a stick balancing on single motor. Is this device purely for education purposes or there is practical use for this ?

  2. The funny thing about demos is that people (even people who know better) are going to get hung up on that wire. In my opinion, the next step would be to untether it and run it entirely off batteries and put the Arduino on board. It would get a bit bigger, but the effect would be so much more impressive (even if it really shouldn’t be).

  3. I want to do two things.

    i) Turn it into a trojan for segways so they’re balancing on their handlebars when the owners com back to them, much lolz very amuse.

    ii) try it on a really really tall stick.

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