Lighting Up The Night Sky With A Flying POV Display

We’ve seen loads of persistence of vision displays before, but this sky-writing POV display seems as though it may be a first. And we have to agree with its creators that it’s pretty cool.

The idea man on this was [Ivan Miranda], who conceived of a flying POV as a twist on his robotic dot-matrix beach printer. But without any experience in RC flight, he turned to fellow YouTuber [Tom Stanton], whose recent aerial builds include this air-powered plane, for a collaboration. [Ivan]’s original concept was a long strip of Neopixels that would be attached to the underside of a wide-wingspread plane. WIthout much regard for the payload limits of most RC planes, he came up with a working display that was 3 meters long. His video below shows it in use in his shop, with some pretty impressive long exposure images.

[Tom]’s part was to make the POV display flyable. He cut the length down to 2 meters and trimmed the weight enough to mount it to a quadcopter. Ungainly as the machine was, he was able to master its control enough to start painting pictures across the twilight sky. The images at the end of his video are actually stunning – we’re especially fond of Thunderbird 2, which takes us back to our childhood.

We’re not sure what the practical uses of this are, but that’s hardly the point. It’s enough that it’s an interesting project from an unlikely duo. Continue reading “Lighting Up The Night Sky With A Flying POV Display”

Firing Bullets Through Propellers

Early airborne combat was more like a drive-by shooting as pilot used handheld firearms to fire upon other aircraft. Whomever could boost firepower and accuracy would have the upper hand and so machine guns were added to planes. But it certainly wasn’t as simple as just bolting one to the chassis.

This was during World War I which spanned 1914 to 1918 and the controllable airplane had been invented a mere eleven years before. Most airplanes still used wooden frames, fabric-covered wings, and external cable bracing. The engineers became pretty inventive, even finding ways to fire bullets through the path of the wooden propeller blades while somehow not tearing them to splinters.

Continue reading “Firing Bullets Through Propellers”

First hovering ornithopter NAV

DARPA has awarded an extension to AeroVironment for their work on the Nano Air Vehicle project.  The prototype seen above, called Mercury, is an ornithopter which means it flaps it’s wings. It is the first to show controlled hovering. Look closely, there’s no rudder or tail. Mercury uses the two wings for both lift and control. Ornithopters themselves aren’t new, we’ve even covered them before. Usually they use the flapping wings for propulson and a tail to steer as they travel like an airplane. We would really love to see some detail shots of Mercury.

[via slashdot]

UAV medical couriers

We’re skeptical about most technology that’s designed to help remote villages (yes, even that one), but these new UAV medical couriers look like a great idea. The turn around time for medical sample analysis in remote South African villages can be excruciating. A team of engineers have attempted to adapt two different unmanned aerial vehicles for transport of medical samples. These could be either blood or saliva that needs testing. Test results would be relayed via phone as they are now, but the initial transport time would be much faster. The larger of the two UAVs can carry up to 500g; that’s enough to haul two units of blood for transfusion. The UAVs can be launched by hand and can survive winds up to 45kph. They fly their preprogrammed routes autonomously and don’t require any operator intervention. The team has flown two successful trials and is waiting for approval from the South African Civil Aviation Authority. For safety, they’re only transporting samples that can be sterilized before flight. New Scientist has a short video after the break. Continue reading “UAV medical couriers”

24C3 Build your own UAV


The 24th annual Chaos Communications Congress in Berlin is already off to a great start. The first talk we attended was [Antoine Drouin] and [Martin Müller] presenting Paparazzi – The Free Autopilot. Paparazzi is an open source hardware and software project for building autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles. The main hardware board has an ARM processor and GPS. It uses inertial and infrared sensors to determine orientation and altitude. The four infrared thermopiles measure the air temperature. The ground is warmer than the sky and if you compare the temperature in the direction of each wing tip your can tell what angle the airplane is at. It’s really that simple.

They did a pretty amazing live demo. Using the network connection they controlled a UAV flying in France and another in Germany. Both planes were streaming live video from belly mounted cameras. One relaying through a home DSL connection and the other through a UMTS cellphone. They were able to change way-points on the fly and issue flight pattern commands. There is a ground crew at each location with a security pilot that will switch the controls to manual if things get out of hand.