USB Digital Oscilloscope w Open Source Software 
Thursday, January 25, 2007, 01:46 AM - Electronics
SyscompDesign is selling a USB digital storage oscilloscope for $190, which comes with open protocol specs and open source software on Linux and Windoze. It has 2 channels and can go up to 20 million samples per second.

Finally, someone has realized that hardware hackers are also likely to be Linux/open source freaks. It took a while.

2 comments ( 242 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 6027 )

Electric Helicopter Beginner's Guide 
Saturday, January 20, 2007, 02:46 PM - Flying Contraptions
This UK site has an excellent tutorial on electric helicopters by Toshiyasu Morita. The tutorial is available in English and French.

1 comment ( 147 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 359 )

Excellent Article Series on DIY Brushless Motors 
Friday, January 19, 2007, 07:08 PM - Flying Contraptions
There is an excellent series of tutorial articles on the design and performance of brushless outrunner motors at site of the Southern Soaring Club. The articles give all kinds of details on how to morph CD-ROM and hard-drive motors into airplane motors (click on "articles from Southeasters, and look for the article series by Brian Mulder).

1 comment ( 17 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3.1 / 380 )

Reasonnably Competent Pilot flying an SU-30 
Tuesday, January 16, 2007, 11:36 PM - Flying Contraptions
My friend Steve Crandall pointed me to this video of a Sukhoi 30 being flown by (according to Steve) a "reasonably competent pilot". I didn't realize they could put those SU-30 in reverse.

UPDATE: IraqiGeek tells us this is actually an SU-35, and points us to another nice SU-35 video]here[/url].

1 comment ( 36 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 5423 )

Rubber Toughened CA glue R0ckz 
Tuesday, January 16, 2007, 10:42 PM - Flying Contraptions
I have become very fond of a new type of high-viscosity cyanoacrylate glue that contains what the manufacturer calls rubber (not sure it is rubber). It bonds in 15-30 seconds, has ultra gap filling capabilities, and works very well with carbon fiber, and extruded polystyrene (Depron and such).

One is the Flash Black Rubber-Toughened CA made by NHP ($5.75 at BP Hobbies), another one is the IC-2000 made by BSI Adhesives. They are both foam friendly and respond to foam-friendly accelerator.

1 comment ( 33 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 351 )

Powerful/lightweight speaker 
Tuesday, January 16, 2007, 12:07 AM - Electronics
Several people (my dad and I among others) have been experimenting with engine sound generators for electric R/C airplanes. Those generators make the plane produce the sound of the real plane. With all the chatter about this topic, there is a need for a compact, lightweight, but powerful loudspeaker that can be mounted in an airplane. It needs to be powerful enough to be heard from the ground. The necessary power seems to be around 40 Watts.

Some of us have so far been using cheap 10cm speakers, such as the Visaton R10S-4 (4 Ohms, 20 Watts, 10cm diameter, 150 grams).

Interestingly, Blaupunkt seems to have a range of powerful and lightweight speakers, such as the THx 402: 10cm diameter, 40W continuous (120W peak), 4 Ohms. The magnet weight is 30 grams (not sure about the total weight).

The only problem is that it retails for $55 to $90 (compared to about $10 for the Visaton).

2 comments ( 51 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 383 )

United Hobbies: Real Cheap R/C Stuff direct from Hong-Kong 
Saturday, January 13, 2007, 02:49 PM - Flying Contraptions
United Hobbies is an on-line hobby store located in Hong-Kong that sells direct to customers around the world. They have all kinds of Chinese-made R/C stuff at unbelievably low prices. For example a complete helicopter with collective pitch is $101 (ready-to-fly, with radio). They have ultra-low price brushless outrunner motors, and LiPo batteries, e.g. a 3S 4100mAh pack for $52.

2 comments ( 91 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 4312 )

ThrustPac: propeller-powered bike 
Friday, January 12, 2007, 11:13 PM - Misc TechnoToys
The ThrustPac is a backpack with a 4-stroke engine powering a ducted fan. The mid-range model features a 1.5HP, 35cc engine, can propel a bike at 40km/h, and costs about $900. The only problem is the loud noise, kinda like flying a 1/4 scale model airplane in the street....

Modern outrunner brushless electric motors are powerful enough to replace those noisy gas engines, and way more quiet. It should be possible to have a decent range with LiPo batteries.

1 comment ( 31 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 375 )

Foldable Indoor 3D biplane 
Friday, January 12, 2007, 12:14 AM - Flying Contraptions
This nice (but expensive) biplane kit is not made of Depron or any other kind of extruded closed-cell styrofoam, it's made entirely of carbon fiber rods and plastic foil. The plane can be taken apart and folded flat.

There is no aileron: the whole wing pivots. My experience with flat pivoting wings for small gliders has been a disaster. I suppose having a propeler blowing on the wings solves the brutal stalling behavior I have observed.

1 comment ( 102 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 2.9 / 404 )

Amazing Lego Car Factory 
Wednesday, January 10, 2007, 07:19 PM - Robotics
There is an amazing video of an automated car factory built with Lego Mindstorms on YouTube. The whole setup is huge. I couldn't count how many RCX bricks are used, but it seems like a lot. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any other web site that describes the system.

1 comment ( 15 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 5253 )

High Power LEDs for cheap 
Tuesday, January 9, 2007, 12:41 AM - Electronics
High-power LEDs have been available for some time, but most web stores have huge markups on the price. Lumiled Future Electronics sells them for (relatively) cheap. For example, their 3 Watt Luxeon III Stars are $3.50 to $4.50 depending on color.

Instructables has a tutorial on an RGB light controller that uses them.

1 comment ( 262 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 2.9 / 5430 )

Buy a CNC machine from Sears 
Tuesday, January 9, 2007, 12:00 AM - Robotics
Are CNC machines becoming a consumer item? Sears now sells consumer-grade 3D CNC machine called the CompuCarve computer controlled- woodworking machine under its Craftsman brand. The machine sells for $1800. It looks more appropriate for shallow carving, engraving, and cutting thin sheets (the cutting depth is limited to 25mm). It can handle pieces up to 36cm wide, 12.5 cm thick, and almost any length.

Pretty soon, we are going to see low-price consumer-grade CNC machines coming out of the .... woodwork ;-)

1 comment ( 124 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 5346 )

Programmable Roombas 
Monday, January 8, 2007, 09:06 PM - Robotics
Irobot announced the Irobot Create Programmable Roomba. It a version of the Roomba without the vacuum cleaner parts, with a payload bay, a "real" serial port, and an optional Atmel-based programmable micro-controller module that includes external sensor interfaces. The best thing: its' dirt cheap: $130 for the basic robot, $180 with the controller module, and $1000 for a 10-pack. There is an article about it at Robot Magazine.

1 comment ( 200 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 2496 )

Cool VTOL concepts from WWII 
Sunday, January 7, 2007, 01:51 AM - Flying Contraptions
During WWII, German engineers came up with a bunch of interesting concepts for Vertical Takeoff and Landing aircrafts. They were never built, but they look pretty interesting.

The first one, proposed by Focke-Wulf, is another one of those flying pancakes with a circular wing and co-axial contra-rotating rotors in the middle of the wing. There is a description (in French) here, and a few pictures of 3D models here.

The second plane called the Triebflugel, was also proposed by Focke-Wulf. It's a sort of helicopter/plane hybrid, with three ¨wings¨ that rotate around the fuselage, serving as a rotor. The rotor is powered by ramjets placed at the tips. A description (in French), with pictures (worth 1000 words in any language you like) is available here.

The idea of ramjets-powered rotors was used in various helicopters, such as that one at the Seattle Museum of Flight. A similar concept (with rockets instead of ramjets) was revived in the late 90´s by the Roton corporation as a way to launch payload into space. A prototype was built and flown, but the company folded in 2001.

While those ideas have largely been abandoned for full-size airplanes, it might be possible to build R/C models of those things.

1 comment ( 76 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 2182 )

Kyosho Manoi Robot Competition 
Saturday, January 6, 2007, 11:40 PM - Robotics
There is astory at Robot Magazine on the recent Kyosho Athlete Humanoid Cup. Most competitors use the Kyosho Manoi humanoid robot. The article has lots of pictures and a nice video.

1 comment ( 113 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 4782 )

More Flying Pancakes 
Saturday, January 6, 2007, 03:44 PM - Flying Contraptions
Speaking of flying pancakes, this reminds me of the Chance-Vought V-173 / XF5U-1 "Flying Flapjack". The plane was was proposed in the mid-30's and first flown in 1942. It featured two large contra-rotating props, which allowed to fly at very low speed and very high angle of attack, very much like our radio-controled Drenalyns. Low-aspect ratio wings are generally inefficient, because of the drag induced by the vortex at the tip, but the props turn in the opposite direction, thereby reducing the effect of the vortex.

More details and pictures are available here, here, and here.

3 comments ( 206 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3.1 / 4198 )

Back Next