Plane | Ground based system all working! [Demonstration]

Pretty big day for me today. Here’s a video:

I’m pretty proud of this one, the only problem of this is that the l298N get’s too hot, you can see in the pictures that I’ve installed a makeshift heatsink but it still get’s really hot:

Motor Driver 1

I also installed the 5v@3a regulator I mentioned in the last post, here are some pictures:


Here’s the vehicle code:

Here’s the controller code:

I’m verrry proud of the progress thus far. As for next steps, I need to lock down the vehicle circuit into a soldered perf-board, and I need to come up with a better power solution for the controller. Thanks for reading!

Plane | Working handshake code demo

First off, here’s a video:

If you’re a long time follower of the blog, than you may notice that it looks like I’m backtracking here. Let me go over the differences between the two systems I’ve developed.

The one I “finished” a few months ago can be found here. While the code is “good” and it works well for what it does, there are a few inherent problems with it. The first being that it has to have a computer to be used. The second being that the computer running the intermediate program has to be extremely fast, so it’s not totally feasible for field use. It would also be very hard for it to go wireless, but I had built that groundwork in so it could happen.

The one I’m working on now doesn’t require a computer as an intermediate, and is going to be totally wireless as from the start.

This morning I finished the handshake data exchange over xbee. Right now it’s just dimming a few LED’s but if you take a peek at the following code, it’s very expandable.

Here’s the working code:


Plane | Corrective Balancing Mechanism

First of all, here’s a video of this device in action.


So things are really starting to take shape with the plane (still unnamed…) and I’ve got a really solid framework for an auto-balancing system. Basically the program below maps the x value given from the ADXL335 to a value from 1-180 on the servo. A lot of this code is for debug, but that portion can be switched off.

Sorry for the lack of comments in this code, it’s pretty intuitive though, at it’s core its all about the map command.

Here’s a picture of what my desk looks like:

Here’s a picture of the fritzing document, which can be found: here

Thanks for reading!

Plane | Final Static Prototype [Documentation]

Let me preface this by saying that I am immensely proud of this work. The work up to here is very special and I can only hope that my work going forward is as good as this.

So I’m calling this the “Final Static Prototype” because it’s pretty damn complete for being prototype and it does not move. I intend on making a moving, non-flying prototype sometime in the future. Let’s start out with the video:

Now an explanation for each of the components starting with the controller.

It’s pretty much the same deal I’ve been using this entire time. The program works as follows.

1. The computer sends a delay value and a cycle number

2. The arduino receives that data

3. The arduino sends the debug switch value, the x and y values of the joystick and the pot value.

4. The program renders that information on the program.

Here’s the controller’s source:

Now for the output simulator (eventually the plane)

This works like the controller with the “handshake” protocol as described above, but it writes to the servos and then sends sensor values. Here’s that source:

The visual basic program which I’m calling “Vehicle Companion” can be found here in all of it’s glory. The picture below also shows the whole system.

Now all I need is the money to make this thing wireless because I’ve got a way to make it into a moving prototype using materials I already have. I’ll put a donate button somewhere on this website eventually if you want to help me out.

Thanks for reading.

Plane | 3 Functional Parts and Other Ideas [Documentation]

I’ve still got no idea what i’m going to name it.  If you’ve got an idea in for the name, feel free to leave it in the comments. Actually on that note, If you’re reading this PLEASE leave a comment. I’ve had A LOT of bot traffic lately so i’m starting to really crack down on who’s a real reader or a bot.

So as you can see in the video above, I’ve gotten all 3 components working. I can use either joystick axis to control either the left or right servo independently. The potentiometer controls the value that is sent to the esc. As you can see by the code the esc signal is just a servo.write command. The controller code is identical to the last “Plane” post with the exception that the code mapped from the pot goes to 170 instead of 225. This is because I switched from a analogWrite() to a servo.write() signal.

Vehicle Code:

I’ve also been starting to think about how i’m going to take this thing to the next stage. The parts list still exists here:  if you want to check out what i’ve done so far. I’m starting to consider materials to make the body out of. Right now the main contendor is making a frame out of aluminum dowels welded together. I’ve got a friend who can weld aluminum so assembling the frame won’t be an issue. If I go with this option, i’ll be able to cleanly mount things to the vehicle itself, and not have to worry about things splitting or cracking. It will also be heavier than if I were to go with an all foam body.

I’ve also been considering what i’m going to get for a camera for this thing. As one of the goals for this was to be able to take really nice areal videos. I’ve tentatively landed on a camera called the HackHD. The thing that’s most attractive about it is that it can do 1080p video capture AND composite video output at the same time. This is great because my original plan was to have 2 cameras – one for HD video capture, and one to transmit back to my computer. The only problem is it’s price. I could easily just hack one of those HD keychain cameras to make it operable via micro controller – but I would need to use two cameras which could be cheaper after all but powering two separate cameras would be pretty difficult.

I need to wirelessly communicate with the vehicle as well. If you look through some of the videos on my old youtube channel you can see a little RC tank that communicated via bluetooth, so I’ve got a shred of experience with homebrew wireless. Again, I’ve tentatively landed on a solution. I’ve concluded that using an Xbee system would be the most flexible while maintaining stability. It can be used as a long-range serial TxRx pipe which is what i’m prototyping with now, so the whole code’s built around that. I’d be using the XBee 1mW Wire Antenna – Series 1 (802.15.4) for the transmitter, as it’s easy to power and has an omnidirectional antenna with a range of 1 mile. While I may not be flying a mile away, I’d like to have the flexibility. I could fly in the woods, in the snow, or in the fog. To connect the xbee to the Arduino I’d probably use the SainSmart XBee USB Adapter because it’s got the UART broken out. I could use the same board to connect it to the pc as well. I could make the whole system work for around 72 dollars, which is a little high but I really want it to work well.

I’ll cover powering it in another post, but I think the next thing I get is going to be the wireless stuff. I’ve been thinking a lot about how i’m going to proto a moving vehicle, I’m thinking of some kind of fan-boat thing. Or a 3 wheeled fan propelled car.