Hacking Micro Copters – Flying Dragons

150516 Maker Faire Flying Dragon 1

I guess it isn’t too surprising, but it hadn’t occurred to me how easily cheap off-the-shelf items like micro-copters can be hacked. At the Bay Area Maker Faire, I ran across quite a few of the under USD$100 mini drones that had been modified by replacing their standard frames with custom designed 3D printed bodies.

A good example is the Dragon Drone pictured above. As long as you maintain the basic geometry, keep the body weight to a minimum and keep it balanced, the modified drone should fly almost as well as the original multi-copter.

Birds, eagles, dragons, UFOs… what will you make fly?

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Rethinking Personal Drone Design Yields Awesome Performance (Video)

CyPhy LVL 1 Drone in action YouTube

Drone popularity has skyrocketed. If you don’t already have one, then odds are quite good that you know someone that has a drone. Unfortunately, the low cost entry level drones leave a lot to be desired. It’s very difficult to get acceptable video quality from a low cost drone. Getting stable video typically, at least in the past, required adding a multi-axis gimbal. This is particularly true for the common quadcopter configuration because the drone body has to tilt in order for it to change horizontal direction, like moving forward. Thankfully, all that is about to change radically.

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Chiba University Drone System Used to Monitor Hazardous Volcanic Activity

Chiba university drone

One of the many multicopter drone systems developed by the Autonomous Control System Institute at Chiba University is being used to monitor the recent volcanic activity near Mt. Fuji in Japan.

The Owakudani area near Hakone, a popular resort area close to Mt. Fuji, has been closed to tourist and even local workers, due to increased volcanic tremors indicating the possibility of earth movement or venting. The authorities have issued orders restricting travel into the hazardous area. However, scientist have been able to effectively monitor activity in the area utilizing a multicopter drone system from Chiba University.

The drone, which provides real time video feedback from a multitude of vantage points and angles, can also carry other sensors and instrumentation. The TBS news website report (in Japanese) also includes a short video showing the drone in action as well as a description of its operation. 

Related links: TBS News - Drone Monitoring with video #robotsdreams
More information at Robots Dreams

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Hands-on With The SYMA X5C-1 Explorer Quad-Copter (Video)

 150503 Quadcopter 5

People seriously interested in getting involved with personal drones would be well advised to bring money. To get reasonable performance, quality photos and video, and an easy to use interface, it’s not unusual to spend from USD$700 up to several thousand or more. But, if you just want to dip your toe in the water and get a feel for what the drone craze is all about, Syma X5C-1 Explorer Quad Copter could be an excellent choice. And, typically priced at less than USD$70, the X5C-1 is cheap enough that you won’t be heartbroken if it unexpectedly crashes or drops and sinks into a lake. 

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Autonomous Drone System to Map and Explore Hazardous Disaster Sites (Video)

150428 Chiba Multi copter Drone Event 56

On March 11, 2011 Japan was literally rocked by a massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency that resulted in thousands of lives lost, homes and businesses destroyed, and a crippling of Japan’s critical power generation capacity. It was a wakeup call, clearly showing how unprepared Japan, and other countries that operate nuclear power plants, were when they needed to deal quickly and decisively with a major disaster.

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International Drone Expo Scheduled for May 20-22 at Makuhari Messe

Www jma or jp TF drone common pdf brochure pdf

An International Drone Exposition, featuring seminar sessions from some of the top Japanese and international leaders in the development and application of drone technology, is scheduled for May 20, 21, and 22nd at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center east of Tokyo.

Staged as a part of the larger Techno-Frontier event, the drone exhibitions and seminars will share the facility with other technology based events including Mechatronics, 3D Printing, Battery technology, Wireless, and others.

Related links: International Drone Expo #robotsdreams
More information at Robots Dreams

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PARROT BeBop Drones Take Off in Tokyo (Video)

PARROT, well known for creating unique products incorporating interesting technology at affordable prices with a great deal of flair, held a press event in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, Japan in mid-March to preview the BeBop Drone. Although the drone had previously been released in other countries, it was new to Japan users and the media, and drew lots of attention and questions.

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