Peter Sripol’s DIY Electric Ultralight MK4

Peter Sripol really likes building gravity defying death traps. He recently flew the fourth ultralight, which he designed and built himself. For a taste of what’s going on here, the wings have aluminum tube spars and are made of hot-wire-cut styrofoam sections.

To keep the plane simple, he got rid of ailerons entirely. For roll stabilization he angled up the wings noticeably, adding dihedral. This gives the aircraft passive stability, because as it rolls to a side, the upper wing’s lift decreases and the lower wing’s lift increases, forcing the plane to correct itself. Interestingly he kept the rudder controls on pedals instead of moving it to the stick, so the stick only controls the elevator.

It is powered by a single large brushless electric motor borrowed from the OpenPPG project. On the first test he used a two-bladed propeller, with a small pitch angle which required full throttle to keep flying. It can be compared to driving a car only in first gear. By moving to a three bladed propeller with a higher pitch angle, and increasing the length of the wings for more lift, [Peter] was able to cruise comfortably at about 30 MPH or 48 km/h.

Although this aircraft definitely performed better than [Peter]’s previous ultralight builds, piloting something like this isn’t for the faint of heart. Although he does extensive weight-loading and thrust testing before taking to the air, adding tail weight to piloted aircraft by simply taping a water bottle to the tail just felt wrong. But we aren’t aviation experts, so we won’t pass final judgement.

On The Right Tracks: Electric Wheelchair Guts Find New Life As Tank

Every hacker has dreamt of building their own tank at some point. Or maybe that’s just us. [Peter Sripol] and [Sam Foskuhl] have built one at a scale which is big enough to be rideable, but small enough that neighbors don’t get concerned.

An electric wheelchair is at the heart of the build. After ripping out its internals, the two motors with gearboxes are directly connected to the two tracks, allowing differential steering. Holding everything together is a solid welded steel frame – essential for years of reliable sieging.

The tracks themselves are simple strips of wood, cut and assembled by hand onto a nylon belt. Meanwhile the track wheels and drive assembly are designed in CAD and cut with a CNC router from some plywood, a great choice for adding some precision to the most mechanically challenging part of the build. As always in [Peter]’s videos, a large portion is dedicated to testing – in this case with a rather large array of fireworks. We certainly wouldn’t want to be in his bad books considering his other souped-up weapons.

A small, hacked, novelty electric vehicle? Sounds like it would find some good friends at EMF Camp, especially at the Hacky Racers event.

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RC Paper Airplane From Guts Of Quadcopter

Mini indoor drones have become an incredibly popular gift in the last few years since they’re both cool and inexpensive. For a while they’re great fun to fly around, until the inevitable collision with a wall, piece of furniture, or family member. Often not the most structurally sound of products, a slightly damaged quad can easily be confined to a cupboard for the rest of its life. But [Peter Sripol] has an idea for re-using the electronics from a mangled quad by building his own RC controlled paper aeroplane.

[Peter] uses the two rear motors from a mini quadcopter to provide the thrust for the aeroplane. The key is to remove the motors from the frame and mount them at 90 degrees to their original orientation so that they’re now facing forwards. This allows the drone’s gyro to remain facing upwards in its usual orientation, and keep the plane pointing forwards.

The reason this works is down to how drones yaw: because half of the motors spin the opposite direction to the other half, yaw is induced by increasing the speed of all motors spinning in one direction, mismatching the aerodynamic torques and rotating the drone. In the case of the mini quadcopter, each of the two rear motors spin in different directions. Therefore, when the paper plane begins to yaw off-centre, the flight controller increases power to the appropriate motor.

Mounting the flight controller and motors to the paper plane can either be achieved using a 3D-printed mount [Peter] created, or small piece of foam. Shown here is the foam design that mounts the propellers at wing level but the 3D printed version has then under the fuselage and flies a bit better.

Making paper planes too much effort? You could always use the one-stroke paper plane folder, or even the paper plane machine gun.

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Nerf Blaster Goes Next-level With Propane Power

There are no shortage of Nerf gun mods out there. From simply upgrading springs to removing air restrictors, the temptation of one-upping your opponents in a Nerf war speaks to many!

Not content with such lowly modifications [Peter Sripol] decided that his blaster needed to see some propane action.

[Peter] completely stripped out the existing firing mechanism before creating a new combustion chamber from some soldered copper pipe. He added a propane tank and valve on some 3D-printed mounts, and replaced the barrel to produce some intense firepower.

To ignite the fuel inside the combustion chamber, some taser circuitry creates the voltage needed to jump the spark gap inside whilst an added switch behind the trigger kicks off the whole process. After experimenting with different ignition methods, [Peter] eventually found that positioning the spark in the center of the chamber provided the best solution for efficient combustion and non-deafening volume.

Though highly dependant on the amount of gas in the chamber during combustion, the speed of the dart was able to reach a maximum of 220 fps – that’s a whopping 150mph!

Next follows the obligatory sequence for all souped-up Nerf guns:  slow motion annihilation of various food items and beverage containers. To obtain some extra punch, some custom Nerf darts were 3D-printed, including one with a fearsome nail spear-head.

We strongly advise against taking up [Peter] on any offer of Nerf based warfare, but you can check out his insane plane adventures or last winter’s air sled.

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Travel In Style On An Electric Air Sled

What do you do during the winter months in Ohio? Sledding of course! Sledding normally takes place on hills, but [Peter Sripol] is no slave to the terrain. He’s built an air sled to conquer the barren wastelands of unplowed parking lots. Air sleds aren’t as outlandish as you might think — the Soviet Union had decades of success with them.

The project starts with toboggan style plastic sled. [Peter] built a frame into the plastic using an aluminum square. The frame is used to support a motor pod at the back of the sled. The motor, of course, comes from his DIY electric plane project. Don’t worry — [Peter] didn’t cannibalize his plane. The plane’s motors are being upgraded, and this is one of the originals.

The motor itself is quite a beast. It’s a 150cc equivalent brushless outrunner motor from HobbyKing. It’s not cheap either at around $450 USD.  The motor is controlled by an equally beefy brushless controller wired into a standard R/C car receiver. A pistol grip transmitter makes a great wireless throttle for the system.

Steering is a much more mechanical affair. The sled’s rudder is controlled much like that of an airplane. A steel cable pull-pull system is connected to a stick mounted in front of the pilot. The unreinforced styrofoam rudder turned out to be a weak point in the build — check out the video after the break to see the full story.

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How To Build An Airplane In A Month And A Half

For the last few weeks, RC pilot extraordinaire [Peter Sripol] has been working on his biggest project to date. It’s effectively a manned RC plane, now legally a Part 103 ultralight. Now all that work is finally bearing fruit. [Peter] is flying this plane on some short hops down a grass runway. He’s flying it, and proving that you can build a plane in a basement, in under two months, constructed almost entirely out of insulation foam.

[Peter] has been documenting this build on his YouTube channel, and although the materials for this plane are mostly sourced from either Home Depot or Lowes, the construction is remarkably similar to what you would expect to find in other homebuilt aircraft. This thing has plywood gussets, the foam is wearing a thin layer of fiberglass, and the fasteners are from Aircraft Spruce.

The power system is another matter entirely. The engines (all two of them!) are electric and are designed for very large RC aircraft. These engines suck down power from a massive battery pack in the nose, and the twin throttles are really just linear potentiometers hacked onto servo testers. There’s a surprising amount of very important equipment on this plane that is just what [Peter] had sitting around the workshop.

As far as the legality of this ultralight experiment is concerned, [Peter] is pretty much above-board. This is a Part 103 ultralight, and legally any moron can jump in an ultralight and fly. There are some highly entertaining YouTube videos attesting this fact. However, in one of [Peter]’s livestreams, he flew well after sunset without any strobes on the plane. We’re going to call this a variant of go-fever, technically illegal, and something that could merit a call from the FAA. We’re going to give him a pass on this, though.

This build still isn’t done, though. The pitot tube is held onto the windshield with duct tape. The plane was slightly nose heavy, but shifting the batteries around helped with that. [Peter] is running the motors on 12S batteries, and the prop/motor combo should be run on 14S batteries — $1200 of batteries are on order. The entire plane needs a paint job, but there’s no indication that will ever be done. With all that said, this is a functional manned aircraft built in a basement in less than two months.

With the plane complete and ground tests quickly moving on to flight tests, it’s only fitting to mention [Peter]’s GoFundMe page for a parachute. [Peter] is going to fly this thing anyway, and this is a great way to deflect Internet concern trolls. [Peter]’s just short of the $2600 needed for a parachute, but if the funds received go over that amount by a few hundred, a ballistic parachute will save [Peter] and the plane.

The Almost Working, DIY Underwater Scooter Pistol Thing

A dive scooter, or a submersible ducted fan used by divers, is not a new invention. They’ve been around for years, used by everyone from the villain of the week on Miami Vice to professional divers. Now that high-capacity Lipos, 3D printers, and powerful brushless motors are cheap, it was only a matter of time before someone built a DIY dive scooter. [Peter Sripol] is the man, and he also built a dive scooter, underwater pistol thing.

[Peter]’s dive scooter is almost entirely 3D printed. That includes the ducted fans/thrusters. The electronics are what you would expect from a grab bag from Hobby King and include two 2530 sized 400Kv motors from Avroto. These are massive motors made for massive quadcopters but they do seem to work just as well pulling a human underwater.

While this dive scooter was a marginal success, there were a few problems [Peter] had to work through. These were the lowest pitch propellers [Peter] has ever printed. To be fair, most of the props [Peter] has printed were used in air, not a fluid that’s hundreds of times denser. The electronics held up very well, considering the bath in salt water.

You can check out [Peter]’s video build and demo below.

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