Hackaday

Syndicate content Hackaday
Fresh hacks every day
ถูกปรับปรุง 3 hours 53 min ก่อน

[Bunnie] Launches the Novena Open Laptop

พฤ, 04/03/2014 - 05:02

Today [Bunnie] is announcing the launch of the Novena Open Laptop. When we first heard he was developing an open source laptop as a hobby project, we hoped we’d see the day where we could have our own. Starting today, you can help crowdfund the project by pre-ordering a Novena.

The Novena is based on the i.MX6Q ARM processor from Freescale, coupled to a Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA. Combined with the open nature of the project, this creates a lot of possibilities for using the laptop as a hacking tool. It has dual ethernet, for routing or sniffing purposes. USB OTG support lets the laptop act as a USB device, for USB fuzzing and spoofing. There’s even a high speed expansion bus to interface with whatever peripheral you’d like to design.

You can pre-order the Novena in four models. The $500 “just the board” release has no case, but includes all the hardware needed to get up and running. The $1,195 ”All-in-One Desktop” model adds a case and screen, and hinges open to reveal the board for easy hacking. Next up is the $1,995 “Laptop” which includes a battery control board and a battery pack. Finally, there’s the $5000 “Heirloom Laptop” featuring a wood and aluminum case and a Thinkpad keyboard.

The hardware design files are already available, so you can drool over them. It will be interesting to see what people start doing with this powerful, open computer once it ships. After the break, check out the launch video.


Filed under: ARM, Crowd Funding, hardware

Boxing + Arduino + Geometry = Awesomeness

พฤ, 04/03/2014 - 03:01

Imagine a machine that [Anderson Silva] could throw a punch at, that would locate his fist in real time and move a punching pad to meet his moving fist. How would you do it? Kinect? Super huge sensor array? Sticking charm? What if we told you it could be done with two electret microphones, an Arduino, and a Gumstix? Yeah, that’s right. You might want to turn your phone off and sit down for this one.

[Benjamin] and his fellow students developed this brilliant proof of concept design that blocks incoming punches for their final project. We’ve seen boxing robots here before, but this one takes the cake. The details are sparse, but we’ve dug into what was made available to us and have a relatively good idea on how they pulled off this awesome piece of electrical engineering.

Consider two microphones fixed to both ends of an axis. Then consider a tone generator that could move back and forth on the same axis. The amplitude of the waveform coming off of each microphone would be inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the microphones and the tone generator. Put more simply – the amplitudes would follow the inverse square law. These value’s, multiplied by a constant, can be used to represent the radius (r) of a circle, from which a circle equation (x2 + y2 = r2) can be derived. Because there are two microphones, there are two circles. Or more specifically, two values of (r), which we will call (r1) and (r2).

 

 

 

[Benjamin's] mission was to pinpoint the exact location of the tone generator source (which is attached to the punching glove) and move a target to intercept it. After amplification, the signals from each microphone are fed into an Arduino, where they are averaged. He then sends the peak data to a Gumstix via I2C. One could probably get a rough idea of where the tone generator was from this data alone. But [Benjamin] and his team wanted an exact location, and used what is known as the Circle-Circle Intersection equation that runs as a algorithm in the Gumstix. This gives him the precise location on the axis where the two circles meet, and thus the location of the tone generator source. From this point, it’s relatively simple to move the guard (part that blocks the punch) to the location. An IR sensor is used to determine the current location of the guard, and the Gumstix moves it to the punch location via PWM and an H bridge. Brilliant!

We’ve stepped through the math to demonstrate exactly how the Circle-Circle Intersection algorithm is solving the location. You can count the squares to represent data. The answer of 2.6 is the distance from the center of the smaller circle to the intersection point. You can get the distance from the larger circle to the intersection point simply by swapping (r) and (R) in the equation. Try it!

 

This technique of determining the location of a moving object along a single axis is bound to come in handy for other hacks.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, ARM, robots hacks

MSP430-Based CTF Hardware Hacking Challenge

พฤ, 04/03/2014 - 00:01

Hacking conferences often feature a Capture the Flag, or CTF event. Typically, this is a software hacking challenge that involves breaking into targets which have been set up for the event, and capturing them. It’s good, legal, hacking fun.

However, some people are starting to build CTFs that involve hardware hacking as well. [Balda]‘s most recent hardware hacking challenge was built for the Insomni’hack 2014 CTF. It uses an MSP430 as the target device, and users are allowed to enter commands to the device over UART via a Bus Pirate. Pull off the exploit, and the wheel rotates to display a flag.

For the first challenge, contestants had to decompile the firmware and find an obfuscated password. The second challenge was a bit more complicated. The password check function used memcpy, which made it vulnerable to a buffer overflow attack. By overwriting the program counter, it was possible to take over control of the program and make the flag turn.

The risk of memcpy reminds us of this set of posters. Only abstaining from memcpy can 100% protect you from overflows and memory disclosures!

 


Filed under: security hacks

Portable SMT Lab for Hacker On The Go

พุธ, 04/02/2014 - 21:00

We admit it, we’re suckers for workbenches and toolboxes. [Jon] must feel the same way, because he built this portable surface mount electronics lab. It’s a beast of a project, which might be why it’s project #666 on Hackaday.io. [Jon] spends a lot of time working off site, and keeps finding himself without proper surface mount soldering tools. Ever tried to stack an 0603 resistor with a 40 watt pistol grip iron? Take our word for it, the results are not pretty.

[Jon] started with two cheap aluminum cases from Harbor Freight. He loaded them up with the typical lab supplies: soldering iron, oscilloscope, multimeter, dual lab supplies, and a good assortment of hand tools. He then added a few choice SMT tools: A hot air tool, a good LED light, and a stereo magnifier. Many of the tools are mounted on DIN rail along the rear of the cases.  All the low voltage equipment runs on  a common 12V bus.

We really like what [Jon] did with the tops of the cases. Each lid contains a plywood sheet. When the cases are opened, the plywood becomes a work surface. As an added bonus, the wood really strengthens the originally flimsy tool cases. The only thing we would add is a good portable anti-static mat.

The final build is really slick. Once the cases are open, four bolts act as feet. The microscope swings out, and the hot air gun hangs on the right side. Plug in power and you’ve gone from zero to SMT hero in under 1 minute.


Filed under: tool hacks

Dispensing Solder Paste With A 3D Printer

พุธ, 04/02/2014 - 18:00

There’s a strange middle ground in PCB production when it comes to making a few boards. Dispensing solder paste onto one board is easy enough with a syringe or toothpick, but when pasting up even a handful of boards, this method gets tiresome. Solder paste stencils speed up the process when you’re doing dozens or hundreds of boards, but making a stencil for just a few boards is a waste. The solution for this strange middle ground is, of course, to retrofit a 3D printer to dispense solder paste.

This project was a collaboration between [Jake] and [hzeller] to transform KiCAD files to G Code for dispensing solder paste directly onto a board. The machine they used was a Type A Machines printer with a solder paste dispenser in place of an extruder. The dispenser is hooked up to the fan output of the controller board, and from the looks of the video, they’re getting pretty good results for something that’s still very experimental.

All the code to turn KiCAD files into G Code are up on [hzeller]‘s github. If you’re wondering, the board they’re pasting up is a stepper driver board for the BeagleBone named Bumps.

Videos below.


Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

Reverse Engineering Programmable Logic

พุธ, 04/02/2014 - 15:00

Despite what the cool kids are doing over on Hackaday Projects, the vast majority of vintage computers used some form of programmable logic for memory control, address decoding, and all that other stuff that can be done with just a few logic chips. It’s a great way to design a product for production, but what happens when the programmable chips go bad after 30 years?

[Clockmeister] got his hands on a Dick Smith VZ300 computer (a clone of the VTech Laser 310) with two broken 40-pin custom chips. After going through the schematics and theory of operation for this compy, he recreated the custom chips in 74 series logic.

The Dick Smith VZ300 is a fairly standard piece of equipment from 1985 – a Z80 CPU, 16k RAM, upgradable to 64k, a tape drive, and 32×16 character, 8 color display. Inside this computer are two 40-pin chips that are responsable for video buffering and VRAM control, keyboard and cassette I/O, video timing, and the monophonic speaker decoding. Both of these chips failed, and spares are unavailable, apart from scavenging them from another working unit.

After careful study, [Clockmeister] recreated the circuits inside these chip with 74 series logic chips. The new circuit was built on a board that plugs directly into the empty 40-pin sockets. Everything in this rehabbed computer works, so we’re just chalking this up as another reason why designing new retrocomputers with programmable logic is a dumb idea. Great for a product, but not for a one-off.

Image source

 


Filed under: classic hacks

Unlocking your Computer with a Leonardo and an NFC Shield

พุธ, 04/02/2014 - 12:01

Manually typing your login password every time you need to login on your computer can get annoying, especially if it is long and complex. To tackle this problem [Lewis] assembled an NFC computer unlocker by using an Arduino Leonardo together with an NFC shield. As the latter doesn’t come with its headers soldered, a little bit of handy work was required.

A custom enclosure was printed in order to house the two boards together and discretely mount them under a desk for easy use. Luckily enough very few code was needed as [Lewis] used the Adafruit NFC library. The main program basically scans for nearby NFC cards, compares their (big-endianned) UIDs against a memory stored-one and enters a stored password upon match. We think it is a nice first project for the new generation of hobbyists out there. This is along the same lines as the project we saw in September.

(You’ll notice I made this post without mentioning the you-know-what project!)


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, radio hacks

AWD Motorcycle Drives Over Anything, Fits into Dufflebag

พุธ, 04/02/2014 - 09:00

This has got to be one of the strangest motorcycles we’ve ever seen. It has huge tires, both wheels are chain driven, and it only weighs 100lbs or so — did we mention it also comes apart and fits into a dufflebag?

It’s what appears to be a home-made Russian bike of some sort, in fact, the YouTube title when translated is “ATV Suitcase” and they aren’t wrong… Anyway, it appears to be designed off of the American-made Rokon Trailbreaker, which is another AWD motorcycle with giant tires, huge ground clearance and extremely versatile — except this one Russian one is either really light, or the rider is ridiculously strong the way he throws the bike around.

In the following video the owner shows off the bike’s prowess climbing stairs, mountains, floating in water, and even uses it as a ladder to climb up a rock face — and then drags the bike up after him.

Plus he can disassemble it in a matter of minutes and fit it in a car smaller than a Fiat.

We’ve actually seen a dirt bike variant of the Rokon Trailbreaker as well, which is quite formidable with its AWD.

[via Jalopnik]


Filed under: transportation hacks

Low-cost Solar Panels are Easy to Make and Reconfigure

พุธ, 04/02/2014 - 06:01

What’s the size of a deck of playing cards and can pump out enough power to charge your cellphone? These awesome little home-made magnetic solar panels!

[Christian Pedersen] has just published a guide on how to make these handy little solar panels, and they only cost about $1.25 each! They are capable of providing between 0 – 0.5V at 400-1000mA depending on the light available and load being driven.

All you need to make them is some multicrystalline solar cells, copper tape, Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA — a film used to protect solar panels) and Polycarbonate sheet for the external hard case. You can then assemble them in a matter of minutes, and laminate for a permanently sealed panel. He’s also added thin neodymium  magnets so the panels stick together when you arrange them in a line! Perhaps a future version could have the copper strips going in both directions to allow for larger arrays to be made.

He also has a complete BOM on his GitHub, and if you happen to be at the Maker Faire in San Mateo in May, he’ll be showing you how — in person!

[via Instructables]

 


Filed under: solar hacks

MC Escher Inspires a Reptilian Floor

พุธ, 04/02/2014 - 00:00

A simple room refinishing project lead [Kris] to his biggest hack yet, a floor inspired by MC Escher’s Reptiles printMaurits Cornelis Escher is well known for his reality defying artwork. His lifelong passion was tessellation, large planes covered identical interlocking shapes. Triangles, squares, hexagons all interlock naturally. Escher discovered that if he cut out part of a shape and replaced it on the opposite side, the new shape will still interlock. In Reptiles, Escher created a lizard shape by modifying a hexagon. One side flipped over to become the nose, 4 others to become the feet, and so on. If the cuts are all made perfectly, the final shape would still interlock.

[Kris] was inspired by a photo of a commercial flooring project using small wooden reptiles as the tiles. He wanted to go with larger wooden tiles for his room. He knew his shapes had to be perfect, so he wrote a computer program to split the hexagon perfectly. Armed with art in DXF format, he went looking for a flooring company to help him. The silence was deafening. Even with artwork ready to go, none of the local custom flooring shops would take his job. Undaunted, [Kris] bought an older CNC machine. The machine was designed to be driven from MS-DOS via the parallel port of a Pentium II era PC. [Kris] substituted an Arduino running GRBL. After some GCode generation, he was cutting tiles.

The real fun started when it was time to glue the tiles down. With all the interlocking parts, it’s impossible to just glue one tile and have it in the perfect position for the next. In [Kris'] own words, “You have to do it all in one go”. Thanks to some family support and muscle, the flooring project was a success.  Great work, [Kris]!


Filed under: home hacks

Editing Circuits With Focused Ion Beams

อังคาร, 04/01/2014 - 21:00

[Andrew] has been busy running a class on hardware reverse engineering this semester, and figured a great end for the class would be something extraordinarily challenging and amazingly powerful. To that end, he’s editing CPLDs in circuit, drilling down to metal layers of a CPLD and probing the signals inside. It’s the ground work for reverse engineering just about every piece of silicon ever made, and a great look into what major research labs and three-letter agencies can actually do.

The chip [Andrew] chose was a Xilinx XC2C32A, a cheap but still modern CPLD. The first step to probing the signals was decapsulating the chip from its plastic prison and finding some interesting signals on the die. After working out a reasonable functional diagram for the chip, he decided to burrow into one of the lines on the ZIA, the bus between the macrocells, GPIO pins, and function blocks.

Actually probing one of these signals first involved milling through 900 nm of silicon nitride to get to a metal layer and one of the signal lines. This hole was then filled with platinum and a large 20 μm square was laid down for a probe needle. It took a few tries, but [Andrew] was able to write a simple ‘blink a LED’ code for the chip and view the s square wave from this test point. not much, but that’s the first step to reverse engineering the crypto on a custom ASIC, reading some undocumented configuration bits, and basically doing anything you want with silicon.

This isn’t the sort of thing anyone could ever do in their home lab. It’s much more than just having an electron microscope on hand; [Andrew] easily used a few million dollars worth of tools to probe the insides of this chip. Still, it’s a very cool look into what the big boys can do with the right equipment.

 


Filed under: hardware

E-Waste Quadcopter Lifts Your Spirits While Keeping Costs Down

อังคาร, 04/01/2014 - 18:01

The advancement of Quadcopters and their capabilities over the last few years has been amazing. Unfortunately, the price point to get into the sport with a decent size, non-toy, vehicle is still several hundred dollars. And what’s the fun with buying one when you can built it?!? Strapped for cash and feeling the same way, [Hans] over at the hackerspace Knackatory decided to build a quadcopter from e-waste.

The + shaped frame is made from lightweight plywood. It’s pretty obvious that the main rotors are PC Fans, 140mm in this case. Normally, these wouldn’t be able to create enough lift to get out of their own way except the on-board 24v Dewalt cordless tool battery bumps up the fan speed to 15,000 rpm. The one orange fan allows the operator to maintain a visual reference to which side of the ‘copter is forward.

An Arduino running MultiWii control software is the brains of this UAV. The MultiWii software uses the sensors from part of a Nintendo Wii remote to sense orientation and movement. While there is no hand held transmitter with this quadcopter per se, communication to the host computer is handled by a wireless router running OpenWRT. The router is the gateway that allows the Arduino and Ethernet Shield combination to communicate through the Hackerspace’s wifi network. Flight plans are pre-programmed. Admittedly, the real time control through computer keyboard commands needs a little work. The team plans on interfacing a regular USB game controller with the software.

Making stuff out of e-waste is a great way to recycle. Remember this e-waste 3D Printer?

 


Filed under: drone hacks

Stretch Bike Hauls All

อังคาร, 04/01/2014 - 15:01

Need to haul some stuff? Got nothing to haul it with? Then fashion yourself a cargo bicycle! We’ve seen cargo bikes before, but none quite like this one. Built from a German “klapprad”, [Morgan] and his father fashioned a well constructed cargo bicycle which is sure to come in handy for many years.

They started by cutting the bike in half and welding in a 1 meter long square tubing extension. The klapprad style bicycle is made from thick metal stock, making it sturdy and easy to weld. This process also make it a true “stretch” vehicle as opposed to one that replaces the front end in order to keep the handle bar assembly near the rider.

Along with some nicely done woodwork and carbon fiber, they used parts from an old mountain bike including a front fork, front bearing and handlebar, tubing from an old steel lamp, a kickstand from a postman motorcycle, and a kitchen sink to complete the build. It should handle well so long as the weight of the cargo is not heavier than the weight of the driver.


Filed under: transportation hacks

Raspberry Pi Quake III Bounty Claimed

อังคาร, 04/01/2014 - 12:00

For the Raspberry Pi’s second birthday, the Raspi foundation gave us all a very cool gift. Broadcom released the full documentation for the graphics on one of their cellphone chips and offered up a $10k prize to the first person to port that code over to the graphics processor on the Pi and run Quake III. The prize has been claimed, forming the foundation for anyone wanting a completely documented video core on the Pi.

The person to claim this prize is one [Simon Hall], author of the DMA module that’s in the current Raspbian release. Even though Quake III already runs on the Pi, it does so with a closed source driver. [Simon]‘s work opens up the VideoCore in the Pi to everyone, especially useful for anyone banging their heads against the limitations of the Pi platform.

You can get your hands on the new video drivers right now, simply by downloading and compiling all the sources. Be warned, though: recompiling everything takes around 12 hours. We’re expecting a Raspbian update soon.

 


Filed under: Raspberry Pi

The Coconut Cruiser Takes Relaxing To The Next Level

อังคาร, 04/01/2014 - 09:01

While you might not be able to tell from the picture, that outdoor love seat has wheels underneath it. And that Coconut — yeah — It controls it.

We’re starting to like this [Rodger Cleye] fellow. First he brings us the awesome [Marty Mcfly] quadcopter-hoverboard — and now this. He had originally converted his old recliner into a RC comfortable transportation chair in attempt to sell it at a garage sale, and after that decided a one-seater was just too boring. It’s much more fun to lounge with a friend while cruising down the street in your love seat.

It runs off of a 24V DC system with two 15aH SLA batteries. This gets it going to about 5mph, and the battery lasts well over 2 hours. The coconut has a straw sticking out of it which is actually the joystick — a very discrete control unit!

Still not satisfied, he decided to throw on a 25W audio system as well, so they can play their Hawaiian music while weirding out the neighbors. Take a look after the break.


Filed under: transportation hacks

Frozen Pi — An Affordable Bullet Time Recorder

อังคาร, 04/01/2014 - 06:01

What happens when you strap 48 Raspberry Pi cameras together with nearly half a kilometer of network cables? You get your own bullet time capture rig.

Originally inspired by the unique film effect of the  Matrix and an old BBC documentary called Supernatural: The Unseen Powers of Animals, the owner of PiFace decided to try re-creating the bullet time effect himself.

To create the rig they’ve taken 48 Raspberry Pis, each with a PiFace controller board and the standard camera. The controller board allows the Raspberry Pi to be used without a keyboard or mouse, so all the network cables have to do is send a simple code to each pi in order to take the pictures. A simple laser cut wood profile is used to snap them all together into a giant ring.

While 48 Raspberry Pis is a lot, they think this is a reasonable project for a classroom environment — besides, how cool would it be to go to school and film your own bullet time stunts?

Of course we have seen lots of bullet time rigs before, but it looks like this one will give a bit better of an effect. If you don’t have the cash for that many cameras — how about a single GoPro and a ceiling fan? Hackaday Alum [Caleb] even managed to do one with a lazy susan!

[Via Adafruit]


Filed under: Raspberry Pi

Frozen Pi — An Affordable Bullet Time Recorder

อังคาร, 04/01/2014 - 06:01

What happens when you strap 48 Raspberry Pi cameras together with nearly half a kilometer of network cables? You get your own bullet time capture rig.

Originally inspired by the unique film effect of the  Matrix and an old BBC documentary called Supernatural: The Unseen Powers of Animals, the owner of PiFace decided to try re-creating the bullet time effect himself.

To create the rig they’ve taken 48 Raspberry Pis, each with a PiFace controller board and the standard camera. The controller board allows the Raspberry Pi to be used without a keyboard or mouse, so all the network cables have to do is send a simple code to each pi in order to take the pictures. A simple laser cut wood profile is used to snap them all together into a giant ring.

While 48 Raspberry Pis is a lot, they think this is a reasonable project for a classroom environment — besides, how cool would it be to go to school and film your own bullet time stunts?

Of course we have seen lots of bullet time rigs before, but it looks like this one will give a bit better of an effect. If you don’t have the cash for that many cameras — how about a single GoPro and a ceiling fan? Hackaday Alum [Caleb] even managed to do one with a lazy susan!

[Via Adafruit]


Filed under: Raspberry Pi

A Real Malware In A Mouse

อังคาร, 04/01/2014 - 03:01

After reading an April Fools joke we fell for, [Mortimer] decided to replicate this project that turns the common USB mouse into a powerful tool that can bring down corporations and governments. Actually, he just gave himself one-click access to Hackaday, but that’s just as good.

The guts of this modified mouse are pretty simple; the left click, right click, and wheel click of the mouse are wired up to three pins on an Arduino Pro Micro. The USB port of the ‘duino is configured as a USB HID device and has the ability to send keyboard commands in response to any input on the mouse.

Right now, [Mortimer] has this mouse configured that when the left click button is pressed, it highlights the address bar of his browser and types in http://www.hackaday.com. Not quite as subversive as reading extremely small codes printed on a mousepad with the optical sensor, but enough to build upon this project and do some serious damage to a computer.

Video of [Mort]‘s mouse below.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, peripherals hacks

A Real Malware In A Mouse

อังคาร, 04/01/2014 - 03:01

After reading an April Fools joke we fell for, [Mortimer] decided to replicate this project that turns the common USB mouse into a powerful tool that can bring down corporations and governments. Actually, he just gave himself one-click access to Hackaday, but that’s just as good.

The guts of this modified mouse are pretty simple; the left click, right click, and wheel click of the mouse are wired up to three pins on an Arduino Pro Micro. The USB port of the ‘duino is configured as a USB HID device and has the ability to send keyboard commands in response to any input on the mouse.

Right now, [Mortimer] has this mouse configured that when the left click button is pressed, it highlights the address bar of his browser and types in http://www.hackaday.com. Not quite as subversive as reading extremely small codes printed on a mousepad with the optical sensor, but enough to build upon this project and do some serious damage to a computer.

Video of [Mort]‘s mouse below.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, peripherals hacks

Droning On: Resources and First Steps

อังคาร, 04/01/2014 - 00:01

It’s been quiet these last few weeks in drone news. Some members of the commercial community are performing missions, while others are waiting on the results of the FAA’s appeal to the NTSB. There is no denying that drones are getting larger as an industry though. Even Facebook has jumped into the fray, not for drones to deliver real world pokes, but to provide internet access in remote areas.

One of the high points in the news was an octocopter operator’s discovery of 2500 year old rock drawings, or petroglyphs in the Utah desert. While exploring a known archeological site, Bill Clary of GotAerial LLC flew his octocopter up to a cliff face. The rock formation would have made rappelling down the face difficult at best. He found an amazing collection of petroglyphs which he documented in this video. While the authenticity of the petroglyphs hasn’t been proven yet, they appear to date back to the Basketmaker people who lived in the area from approximately 500 BC through 860AD.

Maybe you’re asking yourself how you can get in on some of these sweet drone adventures? Whether you’re considering your very first flight, or already own multiple aircraft, you’ll want to read our discussion of getting started (specifically: acquiring your first drone) and discovering drone-related communities. Hit that “read more” link to stay with us.

Drone, Drone of my own: Getting started

Getting started with drones SHOULD be easier than it is. As with any complex endeavor, there are some common pitfalls which often snag enthusiasts.  The biggest one I see is a new pilot buying and building an expensive model – be it for sport, aerial photography, FPV, or fully autonomous – without learning how to fly first. This is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Just about every autonomous model falls back to radio control when problems arise. FPV models can and do have video failures, so knowing how to fly line of sight is essential. Think of it as learning how to drive. You wouldn’t want to learn on Corvette or a Rolls-Royce. The same applies to drones. Don’t learn with an octocopter, or with $2000 USD of camera equipment hanging off your aerial photography rig.

Just choosing a first quad to learn with can be a daunting task. Back in the early 1990’s, I worked in a hobby shop. There were only a handful of large R/C manufacturers back then. Most of them were based in the US, Europe, and Japan. With the rise of China and the global economy, there are now hundreds of manufacturers and distributors of drones and RC models. This leads to the often seen “clone of a clone of a clone” situation we’ve come to recognize with the Arduino and any popular electronic device.  But which models are of decent quality, and which are junk? The easiest way to get a good answer is to seek the advice of others.

From my own experience, I’ve found a specific quad to be pretty good for learning to fly. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also one of the cheapest out there. The Syma X1 is a pretty darn good quad to learn with. The Syma appears to be a copy of the Blade MQX quadcopter – however Syma fixed a few flight issues the MQX suffered from. You can find the Syma at Amazon and other online retailers for around $30 USD.  The X1 is a brushed quad, which means the motors use carbon brushes to transfer power to the coils. Most larger quads are brushless. Don’t let the older technology fool you. Brushed motors are just fine in this application. However, the one part of the X1 I don’t really like is the transmitter. While it does sport an LCD display, the sticks and overall action feel cheap. They had to save money somewhere. Even with that shortcoming, the Syma transmitter is fine to learn with. A real nicety is that the X1 can be paired with the very hackable  Turnigy 9x series transmitters.

Don’t forget to check the mode of the transmitter when ordering. Mode 1/Mode 2 refers to the layout of the controls on the sticks. Asia and Europe tend to use Mode 1, with the throttle and aileron on the right stick. North America uses Mode 2, where throttle and rudder are on the left stick. Since throttle control doesn’t use a centering spring, this is a mechanical change, not just a software remap of functions. One mode isn’t any easier than the other to fly, but flying with friends is more fun when your radio has the same functions as theirs.

While I don’t plan to make Droning On a tutorial on learning to fly – there are plenty of great quality tutorials out there - I do want to help out with a few tips.

  •  If you you’re about to crash, chop the throttle. The X1 is so light that impacts usually result in no damage. Ensuring the motors are off when that impact happens will save your propellers, gears and motors.
  • Try to fly over grass or dirt, not concrete. Some tutorials will tell you to skid the quad around on the ground while learning. The skidding is a throwback to R/C helicopter training. With small quads like the X1, it’s better to get a couple of feet off the ground and out of ground effect turbulence.
  • If you feel like you’re losing control, let the sticks go – the gyroscopes and accelerometers on the X1 will often bring it back to a level hover.
  • Keep the back of the drone facing you. In that orientation the drone will follow the movements of the stick. When you’re comfortable with that try out other orientations.
  • “Nose in” is the hardest orientation to master, as your left is the quadcopter’s right. The quadcopter will mirror your stick movements.
  • Have fun! Seriously – it’s easy to get frustrated and stressed out when learning . If that happens take a breather, and try to remember that even if it were to fly away, the X1 is only $30 to replace.

Drone Resources

One of my favorite aspects of the internet has always been the collaboration. Like ham radio operators, R/C and drone enthusiasts were early adopters of the internet. Where news and information would only come once a month through magazines, it’s now available instantly online. Usenet provided early access through the rec.models.rc newsgroup tree. As the web came of age, much of the conversation moved to forum based websites. Some of the oldest and richest resources are the R/C forums. The best example of this would be RC Groups. Created as part of the Ezone, an electric RC magazine dating back to 1995, RC Groups has sections for just about every aspect of the hobby. The Multirotor, FPV, Aerial Photography, UAV, and DIY Electronics sections will be of interest to Hackaday readers.

Here are a few other RC and drone oriented forums:

  • RC Universe, general RC forum similar to RC Groups.
  • FPV Labs covers first person video enthusiasts.
  • multirotorforums covers all things multirotor – from tricopters to octos and beyond.
  • AP Landing covers the aerial photography folks.

Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list. I tried to cover a few of the big sites. If you know of any that I’ve missed, please throw them into the comments.

The problem with most forums is finding information. Sure they have searches, but they usually leave quite a bit to be desired. As an example the main Syma X1 thread on RC groups is currently over 5200 posts spanning 348 pages. Topics meander, flame wars are waged, and post sizes get out of hand. If statistics are to be believed, RC Groups averages around 20,000 active users at any given time. It’s understandable how even an army of mods would have a hard time keeping up.

There are plenty of non-forum based drone information sites. 3D Robotics maintains a community site at DiyDrones which is chock full of forum and blog information. Instructables has a number of drone entries. The Drone section at Hackaday.io is still looking pretty lean – though we’re hoping you’ll help change that in the near future.

That about wraps it up for this edition of Droning On!


Filed under: Hackaday Columns

Logicthai Shop

LogicStamp8fx ราคา 180 บาท

USB to TTL module ใช้ชิพ PL2303 ราคา 150 บาท

USB Power module พร้อมสาย USB ราคา 70 บาท

ชุดลงปริ้นท์ freeduinomax232ssAtmega168 ราคา 450 บาท

แผ่นปริ้นท์ freeduinomax232ss เกรด A ราคา 70 บาท

ชุดคิท freeduinomax232ssAtmega168 ราคา 320 บาท

สาย RS232 ราคา 70 บาท DC อะแดปเตอร์ 9 volt ราคา 150 บาท

ค่าส่ง EMS 60 บาท

การใช้งานชุด freeduinomax232ss จะต้องประกอบด้วย ตัวบอร์ด, สาย RS232, อะแดปเตอร์ 9 โวลท์ชนิดที่มีขั้วบวกอยู่ตรงกลาง

ผู้สนใจสั่งซื้อสินค้าส่งเมล์มาที่ sales(at)ลอจิกไทยดอทเนท

สมาชิก ส่งรายการสั่งซื้อและที่อยู่โดยเข้าเมนู contact