Sunday, November 13, 2011

Guardrail Design Video

We built our own foam guardrail for the MikroKopter so it'll be safer to fly indoors.

This is the second version of the design.  Our first was a three inch foam rail, almost the same as the above.  In our current version, we chopped off most of the bottom inch to fix some airflow issues.

We're definitely not done prototyping, but it looks like we can fend off walls now!  Software will have a much harder time than our pilot; as you can tell, there's a decent air backlash after you bump a wall.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Members Flight Video

We had our new members fly for the first time this year!  It was a beautiful sunny day, so of course we took videos.

Even after practicing on the simulator, it takes a few minutes to get the hang of the controls. Once you add moderate wind, it's harder! That said, the flight went great.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shiny MikroKopter Render!

This one thanks to Dan Shope (, who works on the Colony Scout project!

Dan modeled our MikroKopter in Solidworks!  Here's the result:

Pretty cool!  Dan's interested in having Quadrotor and Scout collaborate somehow.  It's a neat idea!  Check out the Scout project at!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Breaking Down the Kinect

Lots of progress on the mechanical design front lately!  The newest development is that we have a new guardrail to protect our rotors when we fly indoor.  It's a huge piece of pink foam, pretty stiff, and though it's bulky it looks pretty neat!  Pictures to follow soon.

We're currently redesigning to cut weight.  But along with cutting weight comes cutting the weight of other parts, like the Xbox Kinect we'll be mounting on.

Turns out a lot of the Kinect is unnecessary, and we'll try to cut it by at least half from its original 1 lb.  Here's some pictures of our progress!

Our Kinect-PandaBoard setup.

Removing the pan-tilt base

Kinect circuitry

Back view

Entirely disconnecting the two boards

We'll cut off as much metal as possible and see if we can balance the weight of the boards across the quadrotor in different places.  Cool stuff!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

MikroKopter First Flight

Check out the video from our first flight outside!

We were happy to test at night, because the lights are awesome and make it fairly easy to fly at night; and because there are far fewer people around to injure.

We were pleased to find that the new quadrotor handles a lot more nicely than our last one!

More videos to come!

Monday, October 24, 2011

MikroKopter Build Photos

We switched from our old AeroQuad-based quadrotor to a new platform using the MikroKopter, a commercial quadrotor which was given to us by the Robotics Institute.  It's a better design, seems a lot more stable, and comes with built-in stabilization and even point-to-point navigation.  We're very lucky to have it, and now that it's finally assembled, here some pictures!

Dry test of wiring; this worked, but we had to re-solder a lot of connections to fit them into the frame. 

Each brushless motor control board, before heat-shrinked

All the control boards fit into the frame, waiting for more testing.

A good view of the flight control board

Dry test of wiring shows pretty lights for the first time.

Holding down the MikroKopter with a utility glove, just in case, to test one motor at a time.

Testing complete; time for heat shrink!

The finished MikroKopter, with navigation and GPS boards added.


A shot of the MikroKopter during our first test outside.

The whole process went very smoothly, though it took a fair amount of time - and we made our first flight outside in the dark!  The lights ended up being awesome, and the MikroKopter handles better than our last prototype.

Thanks to our awesome team and to Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Club!