New Quadcopter Speed World Record Set At Nearly 500 Km/h

Making a quadcopter go fast would seem to be quite simple: just strap on powerful motors, aim the quadcopter roughly at where you want it to go fast, and let ‘er rip. Because of aerodynamics and other pesky physical laws there are a few complications to this, of course, but this didn’t deter [Luke Bell] and his father [Mike Bell] from nailing the Guinness World Record for remote-controlled quadcopters on April 21, 2024. During the official run, a top speed of 480.23 km/h was recorded, making it considerably faster than the first version they made, which hit a measly 400 km/h.

For this second iteration of the ‘got to go fast’ quadcopter, the design was scaled up, with more powerful motors and associated electronics added. Naturally, when you’re pushing brushless motors and their ESCs to their limits, stuff can get a bit hot due to the immense currents flowing through the system. This resulted in a number of battery, wire and other fires. Fortunately, the worrying aspect of in-flight stability got addressed pretty well courtesy of a professional drone trainer, and ultimately the world record attempt went off without a hitch.

An endurance test was also attempted, which reached 7.5 km at 180 km/h, and with the clear canopy in from of the camera removed, visual performance was pretty stunning, while still easily reaching 400 km/h. This might make it the perfect high-speed chase camera system.

Thanks to [Craig] for the tip.

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Fastest FPV drone, pending official confirmation. (Credit: Luke Maximo Bell)

Got To Go Fast: The Rise Of Super-Fast FPV Drones

Generally when one considers quadcopter drones, the term ‘fast’ doesn’t come to mind, but with the rise of FPV  (First Person View) drones, they have increasingly been designed to go as fast as possible. This can be for competitive reasons, to dodge enemy fire on a battlefield, or in the case of [Luke Maximo Bell] to break the world speed record. Over the course of months he set out to design the fastest FPV drone, involving multiple prototypes, many test runs and one failed official speed run.

The components of the third FPV drone attempt, as used with the world record attempt. (Credit: Luke Maximo Bell)
The components of the third FPV drone attempt, as used with the world record attempt. (Credit: Luke Maximo Bell)

The basic design of these designed-for-speed FPV drones is more reminiscent of a rocket than a quadcopter, with the upside-down propellers  requiring the operator first lifting the drone into the air from an elevated position. After this the drone transitions into a level flight profile by rotating with the propellers pointing to the back. This gives the maximum thrust, while the body provides lift.

Although this seems simple, flying this type of drone is very hard, as it’s hard to tell what is happening, even when landing. [Luke] ended up installing a camera in the nose which can rotate to provide him with different angles. Tweaking the flight computer to deal with the control issues that occur at speeds above 300 km/h.

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We Like Big Keyboards And We Cannot Lie

So, let’s say you’re good at DOTA. Like, world-class good. How good do you think you’d be on a keyboard that’s 16 feet long, with a space bar the size of a person? Well, you’d need the rest of your team, that’s for sure.

Alienware have created the world’s largest mechanical keyboard and mouse, which are working, 14:1 scale representations of their AW420K keyboard and AW720M mouse. And they got Team Liquid to try it out.

While this may be a marketing ploy, it took quite a lot of work and weeks of 3D printing to faithfully reproduce those peripherals on that scale.

What’s really impressive are the custom key switches, which are described early on in the video after the break. They are nearly a foot wide with the keycap on, and they have an incredible four inches of travel.

Each of the 87 key switches is made with two snugly-fitting pieces of PVC, a thick rubber band, and of course, an actual, regular-size key switch to register the presses. Not satisfied with that, the team added a small piece of measuring tape to produce a nice clicky, tactile feedback. And, oh yeah, that space bar? The stabilizer is made from a 1″ copper pipe. Be sure to check it out in action after the break.

This just so happens to be the same size as the last keyboard we saw claiming to be the world’s largest, which was rejected from the Guinness Book because it’s not an exact replica of an existing keyboard. So, somebody call Guinness, we suppose.

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A black race car with white text of sponsors moves across an asphalt surface. There is a blue wall and a green, grassy field in the background. The car has white and red stripes as well.

Students Set EV Acceleration World Record

Humans have a need for speed, and students from the Academic Motorsports Club Zurich (AMZ) have set a new acceleration record for an electric vehicle with a 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) time of 0.956 seconds.

The mythen features four custom electric hub motors with a total output of 240 kW and a vehicle weight of 140 kg (309 lb) thanks to the use of carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb. The car was able to get up to speed over only 12.3 m (40 ft)! As with many student design team projects, every component was hand built and designed to optimize the power to weight ratio of the vehicle.

The students from ETH Zurich and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts were excited to regain the record from the team at the University of Stuttgart, having previously held the title in 2014 and 2016. We suspect that they will find any European EV maker’s engineering department excited for the chance to hire them come graduation.

If you want to go fast at a smaller scale, checkout 3D printing RC car wheels for speed, and if you’d rather ride the rails at an accelerated rate, here’s an article on high speed rail.

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TeraByte InfraRed Delivery (TBIRD)

NASA Team Sets New Space-to-Ground Laser Communication Record

[NASA] and a team of partners has demonstrated a space-to-ground laser communication system operating at a record breaking 200 gigabit per second (Gbps) data rate. The TeraByte InfraRed Delivery (TBIRD) satellite payload was designed and built by [MIT Lincoln Laboratory]. The record of the highest data rate ever achieved by a space-to-Earth optical communication link surpasses the 100 Gbps record set by the same team in June 2022.

TBIRD makes passes over an ground station having a duration of about six-minutes. During that period, multiple terabytes of data can be downlinked. Each terabyte contains the equivalent of about 500 hours of high-definition video. The TBIRD communication system transmits information using modulated laser light waves. Traditionally, radio waves have been the medium of choice for space communications. Radio waves transmit data through space using similar circuits and systems to those employed by terrestrial radio systems such as WiFi, broadcast radio, and cellular telephony. Optical communication systems can generally achieve higher data rates, lower loses, and operate with higher efficiency than radio frequency systems. Continue reading “NASA Team Sets New Space-to-Ground Laser Communication Record”

The Longest Ever Flight Was Over 64 Days In A Cessna 172

Often, when we think of long-endurance flights, our first thoughts jump to military operations. Big planes with highly-trained crew will fly for long periods, using air-to-air refuelling to stay aloft for extended periods.

However, many of the longest duration flights have been undertaken as entirely civilian operations. The longest of all happened to be undertaken by that most humble of aircraft, the Cessna 172. From December 1958 to February 1959, Bob Timm and John Cook set out to make history. The duo remained aloft for a full 64 days, 22 hours and 19 minutes, setting a record that stands to this day.

A Test of Endurance

One might expect that such an effort was undertaken to push the envelope or to strike new ground in the world of aerospace engineering. However, the real truth is that Bob Timm was a slot machine mechanic and former bomber pilot who worked at the Hacienda casino in Las Vegas. Proprietor Doc Bailey was always on the hunt for promotional ideas, and Timm pitched his boss that a record attempt in a plane bearing the casino’s branding would be a good way to go. Bailey agreed, and committed $100,000 to the effort. 

Modifications to prepare the aircraft for the stunt took the best part of a year. The pint-sized Cessna was fitted with a 95-gallon belly tank, paired with a electric pump that could transfer fuel to the main wing tanks as needed. Special plumbing was also added that would allow the engine oil and filters to be changed while the engine was still running.

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Fidget Spinner Gigantor

Had enough of fidget spinners yet? If you haven’t heard, a toy that consists of a bearing in the center of a multi-lobed flat structure that’s designed to spin around the bearing’s axis with little force has taken the world by storm. Usually, these devices are about 10cm in diameter or less. But, everything is bigger in Texas. So, naturally, students from the University of Texas at Dallas got to work making the largest fidget spinner in the world.

Clocking in at 150 pounds and 45 inches in diameter, this thing is undeniably huge. The structure is made out of what looks to be veneered plywood glued together to make a ~2.5in thick structure to put their bearings in. And, after washing their bearings with soapy water, the students get to work press fitting their 2.2in by 10.5in ball bearings into their painted wooden structure. Their video embedded below is an entertaining watch, it starts with a gag, but moves on the project afterwards.

Haven’t gotten enough fidget spinner news? Fear not, we’ve got you. [MakerStorage] has a fidget spinner designed to teach STEAM. Just in case manually spinning a fidget spinner is above you, we’ve got robots on the job. Want to see something more vibrant? How about POV on a fidget spinner?And if you’ll never get tired of fidget spinners, we’ve got a fidget spinner for that too.

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