The mowing itself is done by a typical push-along garden mower with a gasoline engine. However, it’s fitted with twin DC gear motors harvested from a mobility scooter. The mowers original front wheels were also removed, replaced with casters from the same mobility scooter that donated the drive train. Off-the-shelf speed controllers were then used to run the motors, and hooked up to an RC receiver. The mower could then be steered via a radio controller set up with mixing to enable the twin-motor setup to steer and drive.
An FPV camera was then fitted on the front of the mower, sitting on a stack of kitchen sponges that act as a isolator to negate the effects of the engine vibrations on the camera. The result is a relatively smooth video feed, allowing the operator to sit at a comfortable distance and control the mower via radio and goggles.
First-person view technology has become hugely popular in the RC community, letting the user get a vantage point as though they were actually within their tiny scale vehicle. It can be difficult to get a good, clean video feed though, particularly in models that have a lot of drivetrain vibration. [Engineering After Hours] decided to tackle this problem with a simple vibration isolator design. (Video, embedded below.)
The first step is to analyse the vibration to get an idea of the frequencies that are most important to target. WIth that done, a simple 3D printed camera mount is designed with three flexible joints between the camera and the base which is rigidly coupled to the RC boat or car’s body. The modal analysis tools in Fusion 360 were used to get a rough idea of the frequency response of the system, helping to get things in the ballpark with a minimum of fuss.
The final design does help cut down on vibrations, though it is unable to counteract heavy vibration from driving on extremely rough surfaces. In these cases, [Engineering After Hours] recommends the use of a gimbal instead. Proper damping can be a godsend in many applications; bricks can make a huge difference for your 3D printer, for example.
Since the pilot is wearing video goggles, aesthetics aren’t the key here. A RC transmitter was gutted for its gimbal and potentiometers. The former fitted with a long stick for aileron and elevator control, and the latter hooked up to pedals for the rudder. There’s even a proper throttle handle. It’s a low-budget build, with PVC pipe and bungee straps doing much of the work, but that doesn’t detract from the fun factor one bit. The team later upped the stakes, flying a faster model with the rig at speeds up to 120 mph.
When somebody builds a quadcopter with the express purpose of flying it as fast and aggressively as possible, it’s not exactly a surprise when they eventually run it into an immovable object hard enough to break something. In fact, it’s more like a rite of passage. Which is why many serious fliers will have a 3D printer at home to rapidly run off replacement parts.
Avid first person view (FPV) flier [David Cledon] has taken this concept to its ultimate extreme by designing a 3D printable quadcopter that’s little more than an 18650 cell with some motors attached. Since the two-piece frame can be produced on a standard desktop 3D printer in a little over two hours with less than $1 USD of filament, crashes promise to be far less stressful. Spend a few hours during the week printing out frames, and you’ll have plenty to destroy for the weekend.
While [David] says the overall performance of this diminutive quadcopter isn’t exactly stellar, we think the 10 minutes of flight time he’s reporting on a single 18650 battery is more than respectable. While there’s still considerable expense in the radio and video gear, this design looks like it could be an exceptionally affordable way to get into FPV flying.
Of course, the argument could be made that such a wispy quadcopter is more likely to be obliterated on impact than something larger and commercially produced. There’s also a decent amount of close-quarters soldering involved given the cramped nature of the frame. So while the total cost of building one of these birds might be appealing to the newbie, it’s probably a project best left to those who’ve clocked a few hours in on the sticks.
We’ve seen quite a few 3D printed quadcopter frames over the years, but certainly none as elegant as what [David] has created here. It’s an experiment in minimalism that really embraces the possibilities afforded by low-cost desktop 3D printing, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it become the standard by which future designs are measured.
One of the major choices a newcomer to the RC flying hobby must make is on the RC link protocol. To add the list of choices (or confusion) there is now a new open-source, low latency, and long-range protocol named ExpressLRS.
ExpressLRS’s claim to fame is high packet rates of up to 500 Hz, with plans for 1000 Hz, and latency as low as 5 ms. Long-range testing has pushed it out to 30 km with a flying wing (video below), but this is not unheard of for other protocols. Most modern RC protocols run either in the 2.4 GHz or 915/868 MHz bands, with the latter having a definite advantage in terms of range.
ExpressLRS has options to run on either band, using Semtech SX127x (915/868 MHz) or SX1280 (2.4 GHz) LoRa transceivers, connected to STM32, ESP32, or ESP8285 microcontrollers. The ESP microcontrollers also allow software updates over Wi-Fi.
We’re excited to see an open-source competitor to the proprietary protocols currently dominating the market, but several open-source protocols have come and gone over the years. Hardware availability and compatibility is a deciding factor for a new protocol’s success, and ExpressLRS already has an advantage in this regard. Existing Frsky R9 transmitters and receivers, and Immersion RC Ghost receivers are compatible with the firmware. There are also DIY options available, and the GitHub page claims that several manufacturers are working on official ExpressLRS hardware.
If you’re already into the RC hobby, and you have compatible hardware lying around, be sure to give it a try and give some feedback to the developers! One scenario we would like to see tested is high interference and congested band conditions, like at RC flying events.
A common complaint we’ve seen on many of the recent cyberdeck builds is that they don’t offer any display technology more advanced than a tablet-sized IPS panel. The argument goes that to be a true deck in the Gibsonian sense, it’s got to have some kind of virtual reality interface or at least a head mounted display. Unfortunately such technology is expensive, and often not particularly hacker friendly.
But assuming you can settle for a somewhat low-tech alternative, the simple head mounted display that [Jordan Brandes] has been fiddling with is certainly a viable option. By mounting a five inch 800×480 TFT LCD to the front of a pair of goggles designed for first person view (FPV) flying, you can throw together a workable rig for around $30 USD. Add in some headphones, and you’ve got a fairly immersive experience for not a lot.
Naturally the display will show whatever HDMI signal you give it, but in his case, [Jordan] has mounted a Raspberry Pi to the back of it to make it a complete wearable computer. With a Bluetooth travel keyboard in the mix, he’s even able to get some legitimate work done with this setup. If he ends up combining this with the ultrasonic keyboard he was working on earlier in the year, he’ll be getting pretty close to jacking into cyberspace for real.
To eliminate pumping, the build instead enlists the services of an electric pump, powered by a 12 V battery. Pushing water through a tube into a 3D printed nozzle, it provides a fat stream of water with around 5 meters range, with little effort from the user. The nozzle is fitted into a NES Zapper, and attached to a servo pan-tilt platform. The camera is mounted on the water gun, and hooked up to a set of Fat Shark FPV goggles with an IMU unit. When the user looks around, the water gun moves in sync with their head movements. This allows for the user to look at targets to hit them with the water stream, a very intuitive method of aiming.
It’s a fun build that’s perfect for the summer, and an easy one to recreate for anyone with some spare servos and FPV gear. Of course, with a little face-tracking software, it would be easy to hit targets automatically. Video after the break.