Friday, December 23, 2011

Alien Aircraft "Raven" RC Model Aileron Detail

Here's video of the ailerons in action on the Raven from the Alien Aircraft Corporation. Full wing length controls should provide nice responsive flights.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Star Wars Storm Trooper Snowflake

Anthony Herrera's Design site has some really cool Star Wars snowflake patterns that are really fun to fold and cut. I made the storm trooper flake seen here. Here's his page with free, easily downloadable, and printable PDF's. Link Nice design work Anthony, and Happy Holidays to all my fellow netizens.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Using a Cheap RC Toy as Robotics Platform

A lot of hobby robotic builders spend a lot of time on building the motorized platform before they even get to any of the sensors or programming options that can really help to advance the skillset needed for this genre of experimental electronics. I am definitlely one of those builders who has spent way too much time on several past projects with the mechanism of the bot instead of all the fun sensors and programming, so I thought it would be fun to experiment with salvaging an old cheap toy RC tank for it's motorized chassis, and I'm really glad I did as it was quite simple taking it apart and adding in my Arduino Uno that I got from Element 14. After adding some tip122 power transisitors and modifying the stock LED blink program included in the arduino IDE I had an arduino powered bot ready for sensors and higher level programming. The conversion only took about an hour. Check out the video of it scooting around the shop floor and also take a look at the schematic I used for dead simple on/off motor control just to get started. Later on, I'll add a more sophisticated motor controller and sensors as well.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


The internet is one of the most important communication tools the world has ever known. Its success is directly related to the fact that it is an open platform for anyone who wants to participate. The U.S. Government and its corporate sponsors fear and loathe this freedom and are moving aggressively to censor it. Please call or write your congress person and let them know this aggresion will not stand!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

RC Airplanes: The Prairie Bird 50 Electric Park Flyer

This is the Prairie Bird 50 radio controlled electric powered model airplane built from a kit manufactured by Peck-Polymers. It may have the aesthetics of a school bus, but it flies like you wouldn't believe. Flat and smooth glide, turns on a dime, practically impossible to stall, and climbs close to vertical at full throttle. Specs follow along with a quick video of the maiden flight. It was a gorgeous Minnesota Autumn day:
  • 50" WS
  • 30 Oz. AUW
  • BP A2212 brushless motor
  • 3S 2200 MAH Lipo
  • 10x4.7 APC prop
  • 3 ch. R,E,T

Robotics: Arduino Microcontroller First Thoughts

I finally made the decision to try out the Arduino controller and see what all of the hype is about. I picked mine up from newark electronics's site, and I recommend them as they have a nice web site with a large inventory of everything you'd need for your electronic projects.

I've been using the Parallax BS2 for years; its treated me well and I've certainly not outgrown it yet, as it is a powerful component for hobby robotics. With that said however, I am very impressed with the features of the Arduino Uno in comparison to the BS2, based on some preliminary setup type tests. Here's what I've found so far:

-Right out of the nice, eco-friendly packaging (no blister packs, or unnecessary plastics), the Uno can plug right into my MacBook Pro and communicate with the Arduino development environment without any drivers or special configuration problems. The BS2 does not operate natively on a mac- a special 3rd party IDE is required.

-A separate power supply is not required while the uno is plugged into my Mac. The USB port provides the 5V, 500mah power. The Bs2 needs its own 9 volt connection which is annoying.

-The software that the user creates to run on the uno has extensive libraries to choose from and there is a massive community of experts to help out if you get stuck.

-The last but not least of my initial thoughts on this cool little controller is how I can remove the Atmega chip from the board and integrate it into the project I'm working on and simply buy a new chip instead of an entire controller.

Below is a picture of the Arduino Uno running an LED blink test right out of the box. Took about 5 mins to load the design environment, plug the device in, and load the arduino with the blink sketch. Can't wait to get this into a new robot!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Alise is armed!

I had some fun with an RC tank that has a built in pellet/airsoft cannon by sawing it apart and integrating onto my hexapod. I removed the excess plastic with a dremel and also removed the motor gearbox for the turret and used a modified standard servo for continuous rotation. To fire the airsoft cannon I used a TIP122 transistor to switch it on and off with a high/low command from the BS2. The code and sensors still need a lot of refinement, but it's ready now for experiments with seek and fire programs. Check out the video below and watch her chase me down while randomly firing!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Robots: Al.I.S.E

Here is my latest robot. Al.I.S.E is an Aluminum, Infrared Scanning Entity; or just an old-school style crank arm hexapod :) This project was based on the mechanicals of the "Hexapod Monster" kit I built and reviewed back in 2008. I scaled it up a little, and added 2 super torquey gear head DC motors I found at a surplus store in Minneapolis. Power comes from a 9.6v RC transmitter pack, along with a separate 9v for the BS2 microcontroller. Motor control is handled by a Solarbotics 1198 CMD driver board kit. I used pencil top erasers for her feet, and found that using scrap pieces of solid core cat5e cable came in really handy for sub-board inter-connects. Obstacle avoidance is fairly rudimentary at this point, as I am only using 1 IR sensor along with flanking IR LED's. It still seems to work fairly well though. I definitely need to tweak the coding some more. Check out the movie I made of her backing away from some library books and making a run for the front door!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Re-Use Eyewear Case for Electronics Storage

Hard shell eyewear cases make excellent protective containers for small electronic gear. Below you can see an old case I use to store my ipod shuffle, earbuds, an audio extension cable and various audio plugs and adapters. This case lives in my bag and can be treated like car keys without worry of damaging anything.