Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tricopters, Birthdays, and Life

Today's my birthday, so I'm blogging. That alone should tell you how well my life's going at this point. The last year has been a little harsh, to be honest. Much of the good stuff turned out to be various kinds of vaporware, but all the bad stuff happened with full inevitability, all the same. You don't want to know.

One of the few things that's been working out is the multirotors. Apparently, I'm quite good at them. My latest one is a little 180mm Tricopter made from a handful of  hobbyking parts and zip-ties in an afternoon, to a plan that existed solely in my head, but based on experience with previous builds. (Especially the David Windestal tricopter)

My little one, called "Fourth"

Putting that in Jedi terms; I now construct my own light-sabers - even if my skill at wielding them could still do with some work.

Yesterday was my first successful FPV session, where 'successful' is defined as "wandering around an empty soccer field for three minutes without crashing". This builds on Tuesday's effort which only managed the first half of that statement, and required a day of CA glue and clamps to fix. Fortunately, crashing upside-down on a soccer goal net is one of the gentlest fails possible, and I feel like, for once, the universe gave me that mistake for free. Thanks, Spidey.

"Dancer", folded up for storage. 

ps. reason for crash? A butcherbird took me down. Damn little dark magpie harried me, made me panic, (via my spotter) and he's been insufferable about it ever since. Keeps turning up to gloat. Bird 1, Tricopter -1. Let's keep it there.

If you want to get into flying robots, I recommend watching Iron Man again, especially the bits where he's still developing the suit and face-plants into the ceiling on his first attempts. He learns via failure, and it's good to have a friend standing by with a fire extinguisher. It's a lot like that, only without JARVIS.

Well, so far. The HUDs are getting cooler. The equivalent of JARVIS is coming. And I'm sure someone's quad is already rocking a sound system capable of playing "Thunderstruck" at 99dB. If they exist, there's a good chance they'll be at the QLD FPV racing competition happening here in town in a couple of weeks, which I hope to attend. I've got my little 5.8Ghz facebox sorted out, so I'll be riding virtual shotgun as the (currently reigning) best in the world hurls his tech-avatar around a converted sheep-shed.

Remember that each multirotor is its own little TV station. (pure analog video, baby!) The pilots stay locked on their own channel, but spectators - if we have the right equipment - can frequency-hop from craft to craft at will. I won't be winning any style competitions with my Borg visor compared to the cool Fat Sharks, but it should get the job done.

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