Downloadable 3D Cockpits Enhance FPV Racing

First Person View (or First Person Video) in RC refers to piloting a remote-controlled vehicle or aircraft via a video link, and while serious racers will mount the camera in whatever way offers the best advantage, it’s always fun to mount the camera where a miniature pilot’s head would be, and therefore obtain a more immersive view of the action. [SupermotoXL] is clearly a fan of this approach, and shared downloadable designs for 3D printed cockpit kits for a few models of RC cars, including a more generic assembly for use with other vehicles. The models provide a dash, steering wheel, and even allow for using a small servo to make the steering wheel’s motions match the actual control signals sent. The whole effect is improved further by adding another servo to allow the viewer to pan the camera around.

Check out the video embedded below to see it in action. There are more videos on the project’s page, and check out the project’s photo gallery for more detailed images of the builds.

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Hackaday Podcast Ep6 – Reversing iPod Screens, Hot Isotopes, We <3 Parts, and Biometric Toiletseats

What’s the buzz in the hackersphere this week? Hackaday Editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys recap their favorite hacks and articles from the past seven days. In Episode Six we cover an incredible reverse engineering effort Mike Harrison put in with iPod nano replacement screens. We dip our toes in the radioactive world of deep-space power sources, spend some time adoring parts and partsmakers, and take a very high-brow look at toilet-seat technology. In our quickfire hacks we discuss coherent sound (think of it as akin to laminar flow, but for audio), minimal IDEs for embedded, hand-tools for metalwork, and the little ESP32 bot that could.

Links for all discussed on the show are found below. As always, join in the comments below as we’ll be watching those as we work on next week’s episode!

Direct download (63.5 MB)

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Little FPV Bot Keeps It Simple With An ESP32

When it comes to robots, it seems the trend is to make them as complicated as possible – look at anything from Boston Dynamics if you’ve any doubt of that. But there’s plenty to be said for simple robots too, such as this adorable ESP32-driven live-streaming bot.

Now it’s true that [Max.K]’s creation is more remote controlled car than robot, and comparing it to one of the nightmare-fuelling creations of Boston Dynamics is perhaps unfair. But [Max.K]’s new project is itself a simplification and reimagining of his earlier, larger “ZeroBot“. As the name implies, ZeroBot was controlled by a Raspberry Pi Zero, an obvious choice for a mobile platform designed to stream FPV video. The ESP32 bot eschews the Pi platform in favor of, well, an ESP32. To save as much space as possible, [Max.K] did a custom PCB for the microcontroller and its supporting components. The 3D-printed case is nicely designed to hold the board along with two motors, a small VGA camera, and a battery pack. At 160×120 resolution, the video isn’t amazing, but the fact that it can be streamed from the ESP32 at a decent enough framerate to drive the bot using a simple web interface is impressive.

This was a fun project and a very clean, smooth build. We like the lines of this little bot, and wouldn’t mind building one as a quick weekend project ourselves.

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FPV Antenna Leans Into The Bank

If you’re doing remote controlled flight, odds are you’re also flying FPV. Or you at least have a camera on board. If you’re transmitting to the ground, you may have noticed the antenna on your plane has some weird radiation patterns; bank your plane to the left or right, and your signal gets worse. [Ant0003] over on Thingiverse has a great solution to this problem that’s small, lightweight, and will fit into just about any airframe.

[Ant]’s flying a Mini Talon with FPV, and since planes turn slower than drones, and can fly much further than multicopters, the radiation pattern of the antenna is very important. In this case, [Ant] wants to keep the antenna perpendicular to the ground. This problem was solved with a cheap 9-gram servo and a few 3D printed parts that hold an SMA connector. One end of this wire goes to the video transmitter, and the antenna is screwed into the other end.

A servo alone does not make the antenna point straight up. To do this, [Ant] needed to program his flight controller. He’s using iNav, and a few clicks of the mouse makes one servo channel do whatever the gyroscope isn’t doing. The results (video below) speak for themselves. It’s an antenna that always points straight up, which is exactly what this video transmitter needed.

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Flying Human Head Lands Just in Time for Halloween

We love the fall here at Hackaday. The nights are cooler, the leaves are changing, and our tip line starts lighting up with some of the craziest things we’ve ever seen. Something about terrifying children of all ages just really speaks to the hacker mindset. That sounds bad, but we’re sure there’s a positive message in there someplace if you care to look hard enough.

Today’s abomination is a truly horrifying human head quadcopter, which exists for literally no other reason than to freak people out. We love it. Created by [Josh] and a few friends, the “HeadOCopter” is built around a meticulously detailed 3D print of his own head. This thing is so purpose-built that they didn’t even put landing gear on it: there’s no point sitting on the ground when you’re in the business of terrorizing people from above.

Sure, you could do this project with a cheap plastic skull. But there’s no way it would have the same effect. [Josh] created this monstrosity by scanning his own head with the Microsoft Kinect, cleaning the model up in ZBrush, adding in mounts for hardware, and 3D printing the result. After doing some smoothing and filling, the head got passed off to artist [Lisa Svingos] for the final painting. He even thought to include an FPV camera where one of his eyes should be, giving a whole new meaning to the term.

As for the quadcopter hardware itself, it uses a BrainFPV RADIX flight controller (get it?) and 12×5 props on Sunnysky V3508 motors with 30A BLHELI ESCs. Measuring 1 meter (3.2 feet) from motor to motor, it’s an impressive piece of hardware itself; head or no head.

This project reminds us of the flying ghost we saw years back, but we have to admit, this raises the bar pretty high. We’re almost afraid to see what comes next.

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Cheap FPV Goggles Turned Pocket Sized Display

Thanks to the exploding popularity of First Person View (FPV) RC flying over the last couple of years, the cost of the associated hardware has dropped rapidly. Today you can get entry-level FPV goggles for under $40 USD on various import sites. For the money you’re getting a 5.8 GHz receiver, battery, and an LCD display; even if the components themselves aren’t exactly high end, at that price it’s essentially an impulse buy.

[nomand] didn’t necessarily have a use for a cheap FPV headset, but he did like the idea of having a pocket sized display that he could pass off to others so they could see what he’s seeing during flights. So he harvested the principle components from a Eachine VR006 headset and designed a new 3D printed enclosure for them. The final result looks fantastic, and is much cheaper than commercial alternatives on the market.

He’s created an exceptionally detailed step-by-step guide on how you can perform the conversion yourself in the project’s GitHub repository, and has also put together a video where he goes over the modification and discusses the end result. [nomand] clearly intends for this to be a project for others to duplicate instead of a one-off build, and given the price and final results, we wouldn’t be surprised if this conversion becomes popular in FPV circles.

Perhaps the best part of this project is that it requires almost no modification of the original hardware; just soldering two wires because the original connector is too large. Otherwise just need to take the headset apart carefully, and transplant the components into the 3D-printed case [nomand] has meticulously designed. The case is so well designed it doesn’t even need any fasteners, it slides together and everything is held in with some strategically placed pieces of foam.

Between this modification and the custom built spectator display we covered recently, it looks like there’s a clear demand for sub-$50 portable FPV monitors. Seems odd that no manufacture is trying to fill this niche so far.

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A Custom Built FPV Monitor to Keep the Fans Happy

If you’re going to be flying around a FPV-capable aircraft, be it a quadcopter or a fixed-wing plane, you shouldn’t be surprised if bystanders want to take a turn wearing your googles. Of course we hope that you’re good enough flying line of sight that you don’t need to be wearing the googles to stay airborne, but it does make it harder to pull off the sort of tricks and maneuvers that your audience wants to see. So if you want to put on a good show, the audience really needs their own display.

Unfortunately, as avid FPV flier [Michael Delaney] discovered, even the “cheap” ones will run you at least $100 USD. So he did what any self-respecting hacker would do, he set out to build his own. Using a collection of off the shelf components he was able to build a very impressive monitor that lets the viewer see through the eyes of his quadcopter at less than half the cost of commercially available offerings. Though even if he hadn’t manged to beat the cost of a turn-key monitor, we think it would have been more than worth it for this piece of highly customized gear.

At the heart of the monitor is a Boscam RX5808 5.8 GHz receiver, which is controlled by an Arduino Pro Mini. The video output from the receiver is sent to a 4.2″ TFT screen intended for the Raspberry Pi, and on the backside of the laser-cut wooden enclosure there’s a 128 x 64 I2C OLED to display the currently selected channel and diagnostic information.

An especially nice touch for this project is the custom PCB used to tie all the components together. [Michael] could have taken the easy route and sent the design out for fabrication, but instead went with the traditional method of etching his own board in acid. Though he did modernize the process a bit by using a laser and pre-sensitized copper clad board, a method that seems to be gaining in popularity as laser engravers become a more common component of the hacker’s arsenal.

We’ve previously covered using the RX5808 and Arduino combo to create a spectrum analyzer, in case you want to do more than just watch your friends do powerloops.