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!