Apr 262012

I got a stable flight out of my quadcopter at last.

I played it safe, and took it to the parents’ house seeing as they have a larger garden than I do, and made a few test flights. Only a low level hover, but it was controlled, albeit very roughly. Just goes to show how much practice it is going to take before I can start flying it properly. It wasn’t the most stable of flights I must say, I think amongst other things the propellers and motors all need balancing. It all was going fairly well until I got a bit to cocky and lost control. Only broke a propeller, so not too bad. Since then I’ve also secured the flight controller (an OpenPilot Copter Control) a bit better, which will hopefully keep it level and prevent any major drift and I’m going to make sure the motors are balanced. One recent purchase was a pan/tilt platform so I can put a cheap cam on the front to get a birdseye view of the flight. I’m very tempted to get a full FPV rig too, but I think it’ll be better to walk before I run.

Initial flights were in a + orientation, with one rotor being at the front. I’ve since changed that to an X orientation which means that there are two rotors at the front and the forward direction is in the middle of these. This makes attaching a camera a lot easier, and is the prefered orientation for FPV flying, so might as well get used to it from the start. I could do with some coloured propeller blades so that I can see which way is forward from a distance. Either that, or I may attach some LED strips to the two front arms.

In other news, I’m just building a new hotend for my printer. After the last .5mm one backed up, I tried the .25mm nozzle I got but I think that was a bit too ambitious. After a few hours of tweaking settings, I still couldn’t get a decent reliable print out of it. I’m just waiting for the fire cement to set properly on the new one, and then I just have to solder the wires onto it and mount it. One thing that is being a pain is the thermistor legs are very thin and fragile. I’ve already broken two and they aren’t the cheapest of components. They definitely need to be handled with care and strengthened up.

I also nearly melted another MOSFET buy hooking up the heated bed. Checking afterwards, the bed has a very low resistance (approx 1.5 ohm) which means the MOSFET gets very hot rather quickly. After a bit of digging in the forums, it was suggested that I put a heatsink on it. Nice idea, and easy solution, except the Sanguinololu board that I’m using has very little room to attach one. I’ve got a few different ones to try, and hopefully I can get one fastened on.

So, if the hotend is set by this evening, I may get chance to hook it up and give it a test! I may actually finish this project at some point!

Mar 122012

Well, had an eventful three weeks in the states, but I’m back now and eager to get on with things!

The first two weeks of me being away were taken up with work as part of my regular visits to the states to see everyone in the office. I’m glad I was out there at this particular time thanks to an email received in the early house of Monday morning, informing me that the american arm of 2ergo had been sold to a company called SoundBite. A bit of a shock to say the least! Still, the new company sounds promising and once I have a few HR things sorted out I’m sure things will be fine. As long as I have servers to play with I’m happy!

The last week of stateside was spent with my partner in crime, sightseeing around Washington DC. We both love museums, and these took up the majority of our time, along with a trip to the National Zoo, and a fantastic Segway tour of the city. Many thanks to Carly, our guide from Segs in the City. There ended up only being us two and the tour guide, so we could go at our own pace and managed to get a lot more out of the tour than we would have if we had a bigger group.

Segways are great fun… Hmm, I may have to build one!

Here’s a few photos from our trips.

Was a great week off, and a first for us to both be abroad in the same place at the same time!

But, I’m back home now, and back at work. I’m hoping this weekend I can get my quadcopter flying again if the weather is nice, and to also get a big chunk of my new Prusa based 3d printer built now that I have all the parts.


Jan 152012

There is a 'copter there somewhere.

Well, the quadcopter flew briefly. Twice.

I managed to get a very short flight before a tree jumped in my way and I lost control. Thankfully not much damage, just some smashed blades and a couple of motors had broke free. I quickly repaired it and went out for another try.

Unfortunately, the second flight ended with quite a bit more damage. I think the main frame had been weakened by the first crash, so after a bit of a heavy landing, it totally buckled. Still, the second flight did last a bit longer, and it seemed to fly well. Out of all this I’ve learnt a few things:

  1. Stay out of the way of trees
  2. 10mm dowling is not strong enough to survive a heavy landing
  3. The frame needs to be a lot more robust and accurate to fly steady.

So, with this new knowledge, I’ve ordered a frame kit which will hopefully arrive in a few days and prove to be a bit more reliable. Especially as it has landing gear, which my frame didn’t. This should keep me going until I finish my printer and can design a nice custom printed ‘copter. Might also have a go at balancing my motors and props.

Still waiting for the replacement parts for my printer. Some arrived the other day, but they forgot to include the main circuit board. ie, the part that burst into flames and I can’t progress without. Not impressed.

Nov 282011

OK, I admit it, I’m useless at writing on here. So, now I’ve admitted it, I’m going to try and do something about it. Baby steps at first, but I’m going to attempt to do at least one post or page a week. I’ve plenty of projects going on, and always have an opinion on things, so finding subjects shouldn’t be hard.

Just a few of the things I’ve got on the go at the moment are:

Quad copter – I’m building my first quad copter, and hopefully my next post will be about the first successful flight, and maybe even a video, probably of me crashing it! Just waiting for some replacement parts from eBay. After the first one is built, I’ll be looking at building a bigger and better one, hopefully with a camera on it.

House monitoring – this will be another post, or collection of posts, in my never ending task of proving just how much of a geek I am. I’m aiming to be able to not only monitor the house (and thus make it more efficient),  but also control it remotely. The initial stages can be found at home.22balmoralroad.net. Very much a work in progress.

Electronics – Going pretty much hand in hand with the above two, is my renewed interest in electronics. At the moment I’m very much in the stage of getting the tools together that I need, and learning the cad type software for PCB design. I should have some info to write up on my work area soon.

3d printer – last, but by no means least, I’m awaiting the delivery of my Huxley reprap printer. Have you realised I’m a geek yet?

As well as all this, I’ll no doubt have a rant about various things, including a bit of a write up about my new Nexus Galaxy, when it finally arrives.

Oh, and I’m writing this using the WordPress app on Xoom, which seems quite a nice simple app, and lets me write things whilst I’m in bed without my laptop, because lets face it, everyone thinks best when they’re trying to sleep!

That’s all for now, lets see if I keep my promise!