Open Source Motion Controller For DIY Drones

DJI recently introduced a slick motion controller that eschews the traditional dual-stick transmitter and allows you to fly their new “FPV Drone” with just one hand. The fact that it looks like it could double as the control stick for an X-Wing is just an added bonus. Unfortunately, that single model is the only thing the $199 USD controller is currently compatible with. Unwilling to get locked into the DJI ecosystem, [Paweł Spychalski] has developed an open source work-alike motion controller that brings gesture flying to home-built quadcopters and airplanes.

Now to be clear, you’ll still need a traditional transmitter to use this device. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, [Paweł] decided to implement his motion controller as an add-on for OpenTX hardware like the RadioMaster TX16S. It simply plugs into the trainer port on the back of the transmitter and acts as a secondary input. This greatly simplifies the design, as it essentially just needs to read angle data from its MPU-6050 gyro/accelerometer and forward it along to OpenTX over the serial port. Plus the fact that it’s connected to the trainer port means you can disable it and return to traditional controls in an instant if anything goes wrong.

Outside of the motion sensing gear, the ESP32-powered peripheral also has a thumb stick and a pair of push buttons nestled into its 3D printed frame. An OLED display provides some user feedback, and a holder for a 18650 cell is mounted to the back side as the controller will need its own power source when [Paweł] gets around to making its connection to the transmitter wireless.

In the video below, [Paweł] takes the motion controller for a test flight and comes away largely satisfied with the results. Some tweaks are in the works as you might expect for a first attempt, but nothing that would prevent you from building your own version today and experiencing what might be the next evolution of RC flying.

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3D Printed Gesture-Controlled Robot Arm Is A Ton Of Tutorials

Ever wanted your own gesture-controlled robot arm? [EbenKouao]’s DIY Arduino Robot Arm project covers all the bases involved, but even if a robot arm isn’t your jam, his project has plenty to learn from. Every part is carefully explained, complete with source code and a list of required hardware. This approach to documenting a project is great because it not only makes it easy to replicate the results, but it makes it simple to remix, modify, and reuse separate pieces as a reference for other work.

[EbenKouao] uses a 3D-printable robotic gripper, base, and arm design as the foundation of his build. Hobby servos and a single NEMA 17 stepper take care of the moving, and the wiring and motor driving is all carefully explained. Gesture control is done by wearing an articulated glove upon which is mounted flex sensors and MPU6050 accelerometers. These sensors detect the wearer’s movements and turn them into motion commands, which in turn get sent wirelessly from the glove to the robotic arm with HC-05 Bluetooth modules. We really dig [EbenKouao]’s idea of mounting the glove sensors to this slick 3D-printed articulated gauntlet frame, but using a regular glove would work, too. The latest version of the Arduino code can be found on the project’s GitHub repository.

Most of the parts can be 3D printed, how every part works together is carefully explained, and all of the hardware is easily sourced online, making this a very accessible project. Check out the full tutorial video and demonstration, embedded below.

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Gesture Controller For Roku And Universal Keyboard Built By UCPLA Dream Team

The coolest part of this year’s Hackaday Prize is teaming up with four nonprofit groups that outlined real-world challenges to tackle as part of the prize. To go along with this, the Dream Team challenge set out a two-month design and build program with small teams whose members each received a $6,000 stipend to work full time on a specific build.

The work of the Dream Team project is in, and today we’re taking a look at United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles (UCPLA) project which not only designed and built a universal remote for those affected with this condition, but also went to great lengths to make sure that “universal” was built into the software and user experience just as much as it was built into the hardware itself. Join us after the break for a closer look a the project, and to see the team’s presentation video.

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Data Glove Gets A Grip On Gesture Input

If we really want wearable computing to take off as a concept, we’re going to need lightweight input devices that can do some heavy lifting. Sure, split ergo keyboards are awesome. But it seems silly to restrict the possibilities of cyberdecks by limiting the horizons to imitations of desk-bound computing concepts.

What we really need are things like [Zach Freedman]’s somatic data glove. This fantastically futuristic finger reader is inspired by DnD spells that have a somatic component to them — a precise hand gesture that must be executed perfectly while the spell is spoken, lest it be miscast. The idea is to convert hand gestures to keyboard presses and mouse clicks using a Teensy that’s housed in the wrist-mounted box. You are of course not limited to computing on the go, but who could resist walking around the danger zone with this on their wrist?

Each finger segment contains a magnet, and there’s a Hall effect sensor in each base knuckle to detect when gesture movement has displaced a magnet. There’s a 9-DoF IMU mounted in the thumb that will eventually allow letters to be typed by drawing them in the air. All of the finger and thumb components are housed in 3D-printed enclosures that are mounted on a cool-looking half glove designed for weightlifters. [Zach] is still working on gesture training, but has full instructions for building the glove up on Instructables.

It’s true: we do love split ergo keyboarded cyberdecks, and this one is out of this world.

Gesture Control The Easy Way

Gesture control is a technology that has floated around for quite a while, but never quite reached mainstream acceptance. Wii Bowling was fun for a while, but we’re not regularly using gestures to open doors or order pizza just yet. Doing it yourself can be quite easy, however, as [RC Lover san] found with a barebones, hacky build.

Typically, when we think of gesture control, we envisage object tracking cameras or MEMS accelerometers. Instead, this build uses simple tilt switches, as you might find in a pinball machine from days of yore. Four of these are placed on a wrist-mounted device, allowing the user to tilt their arm to move an RC car in different directions. The tilt switches are easy to hack into the controller for a toy RC car, as they simply replace the existing buttons on the PCB.

It’s a project that goes to show that not everything has to be done with advanced sensors and complex algorithms. Sometimes, it can all be done with a handful of cheap switches and some ingenuity. Plus, using arm movements to scoot BB-8 around on the floor looks like great fun. We’ve seen other attempts to build simple gesture controls with pots, too. Video after the break.

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Winners Of The Take Flight With Feather Contest

It’s hard to beat the fidelity and durability of printed text on paper. But the e-paper display gets pretty close, and if you couple it will great design and dependable features, you might just prefer an e-reader over a bookshelf full of paperbacks. What if the deal is sweetened by making it Open Hardware? The Open Book Project rises to that challenge and has just been named the winner of the Take Flight with Feather contest.

This e-reader will now find its way into the wild, with a small manufacturing run to be put into stock by Digi-Key who sponsored this contest. Let’s take a closer look at the Open Book, as well as the five other top entries.

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A Different Kind Of Hand Controlled Vehicle

It’s generally understood that most vehicles that humans interact with on a daily basis are used with some kind of hand controlled interface. However, this build from [Avisha Kumar]  and [Leul Tesfaye] showcases a rather different take. A single motion input provides both steer and foward/reverse throttle control.

The hand controller lives on a protoboard for ease of testing.

The project consists of a small car, driven with electric motors at the rear, with a servo-controlled caster at the front for steering. Controlled is provided through PIC32 microcontroller receiving signals via Bluetooth. The car is commanded with a hand controller, quite literally — consisting of an accelerometer measuring pitch and roll position of the user’s hand. By tilting the hand left and right affects steering, while the hand is rotated fore and aft for throttle control. Video after the break.

The project was built for a course at Cornell University, and thus is particularly well documented. It provides a nice example of reading sensor inputs and transmitting/receiving data. The actually microcontroller used is less important than the basic demonstration of “Hello World” with robotics concepts. Keep this one in your back pocket for the next time you want to take a new chip for a spin!

We’ve seen similar work before, with a handmade controller using just potentiometers and weights. Continue reading “A Different Kind Of Hand Controlled Vehicle”