Shrediquette: an Arduino-based Tri-copter 
Monday, November 30, 2009, 01:02 PM - Flying Contraptions
The Shrediquette is a tri-rotor helicopter built by William Thielike from Germany. William is a PhD student in biology, who seems to have many talents: micro-controller system design, control, mechanical design, flying contraption construction, as well as film making.

His tricopter is built around an Arduino Pro Mini micro-controller. Oddly, William didn't use the Arduino development tool and C/C++ programming language: he wrote his software in Bascom, a dialect of BASIC.

The yaw control is performed by rotating the tail boom with a servo. This very unlike the more conventional servo-less yaw control of quadcopters, but it's practically unavoidable for tricopters.

Much of the material is available for download, including the schematics, the PC board Eagle files, and the Bascom source code.

An awesome video (below) shows the capabilities of the tricopter.
More videos from William are available on Vimeo.

Tricopter - The Movie... from W. Thielicke on Vimeo.

Thanks to Bertrand for the link.

2 comments ( 52 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 4183 )

eRC Micro P-51 Mustang RTF for $99 
Tuesday, November 3, 2009, 12:05 AM - Flying Contraptions
Hobby Lobby has the eRC Micro P-51 Mustang for $99.00. The diminutive ready-to-fly warbird has a 37 cm wingspan, weighs 30 grams, and comes with a 4-channel 2.4GHz radio. The plane has proportional control for the ailerons, elevator, and throttle. It uses a geared brushed motor.

Apparently, there is no rudder control as with the similarly sized Kyosho Minium Piper Cherokee. But the Minium is $180....

They will be rolling out a spitfire in December.
2 comments ( 195 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 2.9 / 3086 )

David Berkman at Smoke 
Sunday, November 1, 2009, 02:43 PM - Jazz
My favorite jazz composer/pianist on the New-York scene David Berkman was playing at the uptown club Smoke yesterday and Friday with Antonio Hart on the sax, Ted Poor on drums, and Ed Howard on bass. I went to the last set on Saturday and it was awesome. David has a new CD out entitled Live at Smoke (also on Amazon MP3 downloads), with live performances of some of his fantastic pieces from earlier records, like Weird Knack, which appeared on his amazing 2000 CD Communication Theory (though it was mispelled "Weird Knock" on that CD). Interestingly, David post the scores of many of his compositions on his website (though the links seem dead right now).

In fact, I first heard of David Berkman while listening to the WBGO radio station back in 2000. They played a piece from Communication Theory. I was hooked.

David played on Joel Frahm's first two CDs ("Sorry, No Decaf", and "The Navigator"), and composed some of the pieces on these CD (like "Interesting perhaps, but hardly a fascinating rythm"). It would be awesome if David and Joel could record together again. It would also be awesome if David played more often in NYC, particularly downtown.
2 comments ( 167 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 2508 )

ttymidi: serial/usb to MIDI for linux 
Saturday, October 17, 2009, 10:26 PM - Electronics
TTYMIDI is a linux hack to allow any serial or serial/USB device (such as the Arduino) to produce MIDI events compatibel with ALSA in Linux. This makes it easy to turn any Arduino-based hack into a MIDI controller.

1 comment ( 82 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 2594 )

Omer Avital with Joel Frahm and Bill Campbell 
Saturday, October 17, 2009, 09:00 PM - Jazz
This week at the Bar Next Door, Joel Frahm and Bill Campbell were accompanied by bassist Omer Avital (instead of Joe Martin). The second set was particualry energetic, with one of Omer's composition called Flow, which is based on the changes of Giant Steps. I had never heard Joel play giant steps. Pianist/Composer David Berkman says in his book that Joel plays a mean Giant Steps. He is right, despite Joel claim that he hadn't played Giant Steps in while and was a bit rusty.

2 comments ( 174 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 2359 )

Joe Martin's latest album 
Monday, October 12, 2009, 05:25 PM - Jazz
Joe Martin's latest album,'Not By Chance', has been out for about a month now. It features Joe at the Bass, Brad Mehldau on Piano, Chris Potter on Sax, and Marcus Gilmore on Drums. What a nice line-up! Go Joe, go.

2 comments ( 186 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 197 )

Gadi Lehavi: 13 year-old Jazz piano prodigy 
Monday, October 12, 2009, 12:29 AM - Jazz
Joel Frahm pointed us to a video of this 13 years old Israeli kid, Gadi Lehavi, who has been playing around several NYC Jazz clubs earlier.

His playing is amazing for a boy this age. Actually, it's amazing, Period. He is classically trained, and has been playing Jazz for about a year and a half.

There are more YouTube videos of Gadi here.

2 comments ( 186 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 184 )

Hydroptere sails at over 100km/h 
Saturday, October 10, 2009, 09:58 PM - Flying Contraptions
On September 4th 2009, L'Hydroptere, a sail-powered hydrofoil beat the speed record for a wind-powered watecraft with an average speed of 51.36 knots over 500 meters. The boat reached peak speeds of 103 km/h. Back in 2008, it briefly reached over 110km/h shortly before it capsized. L'Hydroptere has been in development since the early 90's under the leadership of Alain thebault. This idea was born in the mid 70's following a discussion between a group of aeronautical engineers and French sailing legend Eric Tabarly.

The previous 500 meter record was held by French kitesurfer Alex Caizergues at 50.57 knots.

1 comment ( 98 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 2.8 / 2750 )

Our Experiments with Engine Sound Synthesizer for Electric Airplanes 
Monday, September 14, 2009, 11:55 AM - Flying Contraptions
Back in 2005, my dad Jean-Claude and I set out to build an engine sound generator that could be mounted in an electric model airplane. This would allow scale models to not only look realistic, but also sound realistic, more realistic in fact than gas-powered model airplanes.

Other people have built engine sound generators before, but my dad's idea was to synchronize the pitch of the sound to the speed of the propeller.

After some semi-succesful experimentations with simple eeprom-based circuits, we built a sound synthesizer using a microcontroller module with some custom software. The module was a Tini2138 from New Micros, which has a 60MHz ARM7-TDMI with 512KB or eeprom (plenty of room for sound samples), and a 10-bit DAC.

We succesfully tested out the system in the summer of 2006, but I only got around to writing a page about it just now, though the pics and videos have been available in my gallery since summer 2006.

The system worked quite well, but it's rather bulky and complicated to build for the average hobbyist. We are now developing a new version based on the hugely popular Arduino microcontroller platform. The new system is considerably more simple and lightweight, and will fit into small park-flyers. Stay tuned....
2 comments ( 160 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 205 )

Flymentor3D: Vision-Based Flight Stabilization for R/C Helicopters and Airplanes 
Thursday, September 10, 2009, 02:21 PM - Flying Contraptions
Chinese manufacturer Shenzen KDS Model Technologies proposes a new type of flight stabilization system for model helicopters and airplanes called the Flymentor3D. Instead of the usual separate gyros, the system uses an all-in-one IMU (not clear if it contains a 3-axis accelerometer or just 3 gyros), and a CCD sensor with a vision system. The CCD camera points down and can detect movements relative to the ground, presumably using some sort of optical flow calculation. The processing involved is similar to what takes place in an optical mouse, and in fact, I suspect they use the same chips.

There is a downloadable manual in PDF for more details (in semi-non-broken English). Unfortunately, no price is given on the KDS website.

The nice thing about vision-based stabilization is that there is no drift, unlike with gyros and low-cost IMUs. The helicopter will stay exactly in the same place with the same heading for as long as you want.
3 comments ( 166 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 2228 )

Air Hogs Switchblade 
Thursday, September 10, 2009, 02:12 PM - Flying Contraptions
Air Hogs will be releasing a new R/C flying contraption in the next few days: the Switchblade. It's bi-motor flying wing with no servo. The pitch is controlled by the motor power, and the yaw by the difference between the powers of the two motors. The unusual thing is that the two half wings can be rotated and clicked in place so as to form a large rotor. The plane can then take off vertically as a helicopter (probably without any meaningful control, except altitude). Once in the air, the two half wings can be unclicked into a regular flying wing configuration and the Switchblade can be flown like a regular plane. One problem seems to be that the plane seems prone to get into steep dives right after the transition from helicopter to flying wing. The absence of an elevator control surface makes if difficult to escape the dives.

Amazon has it for pre-order for $70.

There is a test video on YouTube.

3 comments ( 117 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 318 )

A week with the Samsung Galaxy i7500 Android phone 
Monday, September 7, 2009, 01:22 AM - Electronics
About a week ago, I got an imported Samsung Galaxy i7500 Android phone from This is a $600 unlocked import model built for the European market.
T-Mobile isn't schedule to distribute the phone in the US until later this fall, and I use the phone with AT&T anyway (since I don't get any T-Mobile signal at home).

Problem #1: The main issue with using the Galaxy with AT&T (or any existing Android phone for that matter) is that AT&T uses unconventional frequencies for 3G that are not supported by any Android phone. Hence, using an Android phone with AT&T means being restricted to 2G and Wifi. It sucks, but it sucks less than having no signal at home.

Setting up the phone to work with an AT&T SIM card posed no problem. The Settings->APN entries are as follows:

Name: anything_you_want
APN: wap.cingular
Password: cingular1
MMS Proxy:
MMS port: 80
MCC: 310
MNC: 410

Problem #2: the version of the firmware/software installed on the unlocked Samsung phone is essentially unusable in the US. There is no "Market" app to download software from the Android market, no automatic switching of the screen from portrait to landscape, no access to the accelerometer and magnetometer. Fortunately, the fix is easy: you can flash the latest version of the firmware (H7), and everything will work fine. The procedure is quite simple and described here. You will need a Windoze machine to run the MultiOdin ROM flashing utility.

Thank you kam187 from androidforums for the trick.

The phone is simply fantastic.

1 comment ( 113 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 2.9 / 746 )

Another foam cutter CNC kit 
Thursday, August 27, 2009, 03:18 AM - Misc TechnoToys
RCFoamCutter has a number of kits of CNC machines for cutting foam costing $400 for a basic kit to about $1300 for a complete kit (including electronics, hot wire power supply and such).

2 comments ( 121 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 2664 )

mbed: ARM7 microcontroller with online toolchain 
Thursday, August 27, 2009, 03:04 AM - Electronics
The mbed microcontroller uses such a cool new concept that one wonders why we haven't seen this before: an online C++ toolchain/development suite. The mbed microcontroller board uses an open design built around a 60MHz NXP LPC2368 ARM7 CPU (datasheet) with 512KB flash, 32KB RAM, USB 2.0, 10/100 ethernet, SD/MMC interface, 2xSPI, 2xI2C, 3xUART, 1xCAN, GPIO, 6xPWM, 6xADCs, and 1xDAC. The library apparently contains simple Arduino-like functions for I/O and such.

It's still in beta at the moment, and the board is supposed to cost about $65 50 UK Pounds, or about $85.

There is a number of articles on the mbed at Elektor, and at Circuit Cellar (PDF).

3 comments ( 65 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 2646 )

Maple: ARM-based Arduino coming soon 
Saturday, August 22, 2009, 12:46 PM - Electronics
The Leaflabs blog has a post about the prototype of a rather appetizing Arduino-like micro-controller board built around an STM32 ARM Cortex-M3 from ST Micro.

The folks at Leaflabs apparently intend to make the board work with the Arduino software suite, and implement an Arduino compatible library. Many of us are drooling at the prospect of an ARM-based, $40 Arduino-quasi-compatible board. It would enable projects that are out of reach of the current Atmega-based Arduino, such as real-time audio processing. It would certainly help that the STM32 has three super-fast 12-bit ADC, as well as two 12-bit DACs! Hello Arduino-based synthesizer modules!

It's not clear which the 3 zillion versions of the STM32 the board uses.

2 comments ( 59 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 2080 )

Audio D-Touch: Tangible musical interface from EPFL 
Thursday, August 20, 2009, 12:24 PM - Music
Enrico Costanza from EPFL sent us a heads-up about the release of his tangible interface system for musical applications called Audio D-Touch. The site includes instructions for building your own d-touch system, as well as downloadable code for Windoze, Mac, and Linux (registration required).

Applications include a drum machine and a sequencer.

More videos are available here.

1 comment ( 57 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 1808 )

Back Next