One Wheel Is All We Need To Roll Into Better Multirotor Efficiency

Multirotor aircraft enjoy many intrinsic advantages, but as machines that fight gravity with brute force, energy efficiency is not considered among them. In the interest of stretching range, several air-ground hybrid designs have been explored. Flying cars, basically, to run on the ground when it isn’t strictly necessary to be airborne. But they all share the same challenge: components that make a car work well on the ground are range-sapping dead weight while in the air. [Youming Qin et al.] explored cutting that dead weight as much as possible and came up with Hybrid Aerial-Ground Locomotion with a Single Passive Wheel.

As the paper’s title made clear, they went full minimalist with this design. Gone are the driveshaft, brakes, steering, even other wheels. All that remained is a single unpowered wheel bolted to the bottom of their dual-rotor flying machine. Minimizing the impact on flight characteristics is great, but how would that work on the ground? As a tradeoff, these rotors have to keep spinning even while in “ground mode”. They are responsible for keeping the machine upright, and they also have to handle tasks like steering. These and other control algorithm problems had to be sorted out before evaluating whether such a compromised ground vehicle is worth the trouble.

Happily, the result is a resounding “yes”. Even though the rotors have to continue running to do different jobs while on the ground, that was still far less effort than hovering in the air. Power consumption measurements indicate savings of up to 77%, and there are a lot of potential venues for tuning still awaiting future exploration. Among them is to better understand interaction with ground effect, which is something we’ve seen enable novel designs. This isn’t exactly the flying car we were promised, but its development will still be interesting to watch among all the other neat ideas under development to keep multirotors in the air longer.

[IROS 2020 Presentation video (duration 10:49) requires no-cost registration, available until at least Nov. 25th 2020. Forty-two second summary embedded below]

Continue reading “One Wheel Is All We Need To Roll Into Better Multirotor Efficiency”

Homebuilt Onewheel Uses Hoverboard Parts

Since Back To The Future II first screened back in 1989, people have been waiting for hoverboards to become reality. Instead, we got a dangerous two-wheeled contraption going by the same name. Wanting something a little cooler, [Bartek Plonek] decided to convert his to a one-wheel design. (Video, embedded below.)

The hack starts by machining the hub motors of the hoverboard. They’re bolted together, and used as the hub of a single larger wheel. Care is necessary to avoid cracking the motor housing during this process, as [Bartek] found during his first attempt. The wheel is then fitted to the centre of a steel frame, upon which two halves of a skateboard are attached to act as a footplate. The original hoverboard controller is still used; we’d love to know if firmware modification was required to work with the new motor configuration.

It’s a classic garage hack that results in a viable personal electric vehicle. Plus, cornering is far easier, with the DIY onewheel capable of carving back and forth quite well. We’ve seen others aim to commute using similar builds.

Continue reading “Homebuilt Onewheel Uses Hoverboard Parts”

Rideable Tank Tread: It’s A Monotrack Motorcycle That Begs You To Stop Very Slowly

There will always be those of us who yearn for an iron steed and the wind through your hair. (Or over your helmet, if you value the contents of your skull.) If having fun and turning heads is more important to you than speed or practicality, [Make it Extreme] has just the bike for you. Using mostly scrapyard parts, they built a monotrack motorcycle — no wheels, just a single rubber track.

[Make it Extreme] are definitely not newcomers to building crazy contraptions, and as usual the entire design and build is a series of ingenious hacks complimented by some impressive fabrication skills. The track is simply a car tyre with the sidewalls cut away. It fits over a steel frame that can be adjusted to tension the track over a drive wheel and a series of rollers which are all part of the suspension system.

Power is provided by a 2-stroke 100cc scooter engine, and transmitted to the track through a drive wheel made from an old scuba tank. What puts this build over the top is that all of this is neatly located inside the circumference of the track. Only the seat, handlebars and fuel tank are on the outside of the track. The foot pegs are as far forward as possible, which helps keep your center of gravity when stopping. It’s not nearly as bad as those self-balancing electric monocycles, but planning stops well in advance is advisable.

While it’s by no means the fastest bike out there it definitely looks like a ton of fun. Build plans are available to patrons of [Make it Extreme], but good luck licensing one as your daily driver. If that’s your goal, you might want to consider adding a cover over the track between the seat and handlebars to prevent your khakis from getting caught on your way to the cubicle farm.

Continue reading “Rideable Tank Tread: It’s A Monotrack Motorcycle That Begs You To Stop Very Slowly”

This Monowheel Is Bright Orange, And We Want One

Monowheels are a singular form of transport. Like electric scooters and the Segway, they are remarkably impractical for getting from point A to point B, are expensive to build or buy, and make you look faintly silly as you ride them down the street. However, we’d be hard pressed to find a member of the Hackaday team that wouldn’t at least want a go on one for half an hour. [MakeItExtreme] felt the same way, and built one of their own.

The build starts with a tube bender, used to form 40mm tubing into a continuous circle to form the main wheel. Teflon is then turned to produce several rollers that interface the main wheel to the inner frame. Several small motorbike tyres were cut apart to create the tread to provide some decent grip. Power comes courtesy of a 110cc four stroke engine, allowing this thing to go just fast enough to get the rider seriously injured in the event of an accident. The team reports stability is poor at low speed, but remarkably good once above 30 km/h.

The team did a great job, and we particularly enjoy the bright orange paint scheme and fetching decals that really finish it off well. The monowheel concept is remarkably similar to the diwheel, which we’ve seen applied to old Fords with somewhat terrifying results. Video after the break.

Continue reading “This Monowheel Is Bright Orange, And We Want One”

LEGO Monowheel Corners Like It’s On Rails

[Jason]’s at it again. This time the LEGO maestro is working on a LEGO BB-8 droid. As a first step he’s made a motorized monowheel that not only races along hallways and through living rooms at the peril of any passing people, but turns as well.

To drive it forward there’s an axle that runs across the center of the wheel and a motor that rotates that axle. He’s also included some weight bricks. Without the mass of those bricks for the rotation to work against, the motor and axle would just spin in place while the friction of the floor keeps the wheel from rotating. If you’ve seen the DIYer’s guide to making BB-8 drive systems, you’ll know that this is classified as an axle drive system.

LEGO monowheel interior shown while leaning to turn
LEGO monowheel interior shown while leaning to turn

For steering the monowheel left or right he has another mass located just above the axle. Shifting the mass to the left causes the monowheel to lean and move in that direction. Shifting the mass to the right makes the wheel move to the right in the same fashion. Being ever efficient, [Jason] has the motor that shifts the mass doubling as the mass itself.

As with any proof-of-concept, there are still some issues to work out. When turning the wheel left or right it can tip onto its side. Ridges on both sides of the wheel’s circumference reduce the chances of that happening but don’t eliminate it altogether. Also, the steering mass/motor doesn’t yet have a self-centering mechanism; after a turn it’s up to the person holding the remote control to find center. If the mass isn’t correctly centered after a turn, there tends to be some wobble.

As always, we’re looking forward to seeing how [Jason] solves those issues but first he’ll have to put it back together since, as you can see from the video below, it didn’t quite pass the stair test.

Continue reading “LEGO Monowheel Corners Like It’s On Rails”

Hackaday Links: June 13, 2010

Painting with light

[Jo0ngle] wanted a fun toy and an easy conversation piece. He painted a square on the back of his door with some glow-in-the-dark paint. Now he can draw on it using a blu-ray laser or a UV flashlight. Either way, the effect is quite pleasing. [Thanks Justin]

Resistor decoder rings

This resistor reference card allows you to spin a wheel and dial in the resistor color code for easy reading. We know, you have the simple act of reading resistor code down cold by now. This is still a fun idea that you might use if you’re ever helping someone get into electronics. [Thanks Osgeld]

Resistor bending template

Speaking of resistors, [Jerome] helped us out by designing a resistor bending template. He’s actually marketing himself at the same time. His bending template is folded from one of his business cards, which he came up with after being inspired by some of the unique business cards we’ve covered in the past.

Fake stained glass using old PCBs

[Agg] floated some old PCBs to his friend [Dan] the mason. [Dan] proceeded to turn out an amazing looking stained glass window unit using the colorful leftovers. The picture above doesn’t do it justice, you have to click through to see the real art.

Monovelo monowheel

[Ernst] asked if we’d heard of the Monovelo monowheel. Well we hadn’t. It’s a human-powered vehicle where you sit inside of one large wheel. We don’t see ourselves building one or riding one, but we enjoyed watching someone else do so. We’d like to catch somebody commuting to work with one of these. Seeing this in the bike lane will brighten up anyone’s day.

Motorized Unicycles

The Segway may be a technological wonder, but motorized balancing transportation has been around for a while. We’ve gathered up some of our favorite motorized unicycles for your knee scraping enjoyment.

The design above makes us immediately think of the very recent wonder by [Ben Gulak] that earned him the cover of Popular Science. Strangely enough, when reading about [Ben] we didn’t see any mention of Noah. Designed by [Andre Franca] of Brazil, it won 2nd place in the Plascar Automotive Design Contest in 2007. The designs are extremely similar.

Continue reading “Motorized Unicycles”