Thursday, 11 December 2014

Yeah I can't stick to one project.

I have project commitment issues. But hey, whatever, they all need to get done someday! Anyway, with my Camaro sitting outside just waiting and calling to me, I had to caniblize it. Brought it inside and started taking stuff off. I also brought PK, or what was left of him after moving, upstairs and ripped the parts off him too. Ended up with this collection:
The motors are a little different, or rather the gearboxes are. The new ones have different mounting flanges, and the pass thru shaft hole size is slightly smaller in the new ones. But the gearing looks identical and the motors themselves also do. And big bonus, the crazy wavy hexagon that power wheels toys use to transfer power is identical on both, so I can use all four wheels from the Camaro. Also, the snazzy mags just pop out leaving me with some plainer, but honestly more my style wheels. As snazzy as those are, I think I am going to be leaving them behind when I go forward. Ill keep them around and if I ever need to enter a paintball packing autonomus car into a car show or something, I can add them for the extra bling. In addition to being slightly larger diamiter, the other car's axle was also longer than this one. but that is no problem, I shall just cut it down and tap some nice threads on the end like the original car had. Here is a super quick mock up I did to get a generall idea of size:
You can clearly see the legnth difference between the two in this pic tho the angle of the camera does cancel some of it out.

But thats not everything to do with PK yet! I never made a post about this but a few months back I visited princess auto in Kelowna and found these beauties really cheap in the surplus section:
The are HUGE open contact DPDT relays. As I said, got them very cheap, but unfortunately they have a 24v coil. I anticipated being able to drive them at 12v no problem, but I just tried them on a 12v battery and no dice. No problem, I will just make a voltage doubler. It will make things slightly more complicated but not overmuch.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Goodies :)

Over the weekend (yes I am a little late, but life is busy) of the sixth and seventh, I was down in Spokane and I went to the wonderful sketchy terrible store that I love to find great deals at so much. Jeez I love that store. They actually took the piles of junk that are my favourite part out of the normal stores and moved them to one store exclusively full of total junk, and its like paradise in there. Anyway, so I bought a couple things, from least to most impressive here they are:

Two more night vision security cameras, cause I just can't get enough of those :) 
No particular plans for these two little suckers, just put them in stock for next time I need a security camera. Perhaps if I ever find the need I will set them up with a computer and a video capture card and a huge hard drive for some monitoring of my place. 

Two of these LED lightstrips. They are 5 meters long with 27 segments of 6 LEDs each.
They came with the little box you can see in the top right hand corner, its designed to recieve a signal from an IR remote control to control the pattern, but neither of them came with the remote. Anyway, I googled around for a while and found that I could simply control them with my arduino using Adafruit's awesome NeoPixel library.
There is my ugly hacked together setup to see if it actually worked. Which it did :) here is a video of both of them running, the one in the spool is the stock demo mode that it defualts to when its on, and the unrolled one is the one being run by the arduino.
The only thing to note is that on the spooled one, there appears to be a connection break about half way thru, but if you flex it a certain way, it still works as is evident in the video. Because of the way you can chain these things its no big deal, Ill just cut that one segment out and resolder them back together, or use them as smaller strips. I plan on adding these to The Window for a nice light show as well as orientation, as suggested by Duane Degn on The Window's Letsmakerobots page.

And lastly I picked myself up a Chevy Camaro...

 Ok not really:
 A couple of posts back I mentioned I have trouble sticking with one project, and its true. I really do. Anyway, I picked this bad boy up to help totally revamp Project Killzone. Pretty much ever since I picked up the two motors that are in PK now I have wished to have two more so that I could make a nice sturdy 4 wheel drive chassis instead of the 2 wheel drive one I have now. Anyway, the oppertuinity came along finally to get two more at a resonable price and also, I think (think, have not tested this yet) I can use all four wheels that came with the car, cause they don't appear to need the adapter couplings that the other wheels needed.

As you can see, it uses identical wheels on the front and back, excellent for me :) and if the motors are the same then I should be able to just slip the new wheels onto the old motors. If that works, PK will end up looking signifigantly different.

The best part of this all? All of the above was purchased for a grand total of 25 US dollars. Not too freaking shabby considering that is the price for ONE meter of LED strip from and if you want 5 meters? $120. Granted, they have more LEDs and each individual one is addresable, not every 6, but still. Quite the deal I'd say.

Well thats really all for now, once I get something done on my projects, ill post the proof :) Happy Hacking!

Monday, 8 December 2014

A sorely overdue update on The Window

So after I posted about my future plans of mounting a paintball gun to The Window, and making a refrence to the pan/tilt turret I had mounted on it, I realized that I never actually got around to posting that update. All of this was done way back near April sometime, but I never did anything with the pictures. Anyway, to the good stuff.

Before I get into the nitty gritties, here are a few shots of the whole thing from different angles:
As you can see, I added some landing gear to get it up off the ground in order to mount the gimbal below. The landing gear is made from some more 1/2" PVC and 4 1/2" to 3/4" tees that had half of the the T part cut away so they could be screwed to the edges. It was straightforward with two things to note, the dimond shape is due to sloppy work on my part not getting the landing gear tees all mounted at the same angle and thus needing different legnths of pipe to make it sit on all four legs, and the string running around the landing gear is due to the frame flexing a little without the support. When there was no string running around the perimiter, due to the angle, the legs would flex out, causing the 4 center arms to flex and be under stress when it was sitting on the ground and potentially breaking them on a hard landing. My solution was to run a string around all of the legs and so keep them from being able to bend outwards. The string itself is one strand from a DCCB 1800 YG Dacron rope used to Aero tow gliders. There was some short ends left over from making glider tow ropes and I snagged some, one strand from the rope is more than strong enough and has absolutely no stretch at all making it perfect for this.

Using my usual ultra high quality manufacturing methods of zip ties, hot glue, and this time a little aluminum, I cobbled this sucker together:
I originally thought that my ATC mini would output video as it recorded, but it turned out that the video out jack was just to be used for watching the footage afterwards, useless for what I wanted. So after struggling around for a little while and burning out at least one board-level camera I ended up with the ugly-as-all-get-out (whats new eh? It fits with the rest of the build) camera/solder/hot glue job you see there. I think the camera came out of one of those "Spy Gear" kid's toy remote controlled cars with a camera mounted on it that my friend disassembled. I soldered a piece of coax from an old RCA cable to the video out and ground and just used a single strand of hook up wire twisted around the outside for power. It is mounted to a piece of aluminum which also mounts the ATC mini and is connected to the tilt servo, bent so that the two cameras are both looking in the same direction. As for the servos, as you can see they are zip tied to each other and attached to a tee with half cut off of it and the center high point filed away for mounting on the octocopter. The tee is simply hose clamped to the frame for easy removal. In these pictures you can also see the video antenna which is the large PCB with a copper square on it. This brings me to this picture:
You can see in the upper middle of the picture a small proto circuit board, and mounted on it is the module from a 2.4GHz video sender. I purchased the video sender kit a long time ago and used it in various robots and such, and a little while ago I removed the module from it. Basically inside of video senders are small little boxes with pins sticking out that are the actual transmitter and are much much smaller than the whole unit. Mine was about an inch squared and like a quarter of an inch thick. The only snag is that it required a regulated 3.3v supply which I did not have on hand. So I ordered a tiny little module that had everything included and simply in and out leads. I soldered everything onto the proto board and added a few jacks for connections. That explains why the antenna is that plate directonal antenna, it was the stock one from the video sender. You can also see in the picture the RX for the pan/tilt gimbal, just a fairly standard 3 channel 27Mhz hobby set of which this is the TX:
That is about all there is to say about the octocopter itself, but I have one other acessory that I would like to talk about before I go. The idea was for me to fly the octo while someone else has the gimbal controller and a screen showing the video. Well in the intrest of portibility, I decided to make a DIY headset for the cameraperson:
Go ahead and laugh, I admit it looks totally stupid, but hey it works :) its reasonably straightforward, viewfinder hacked out of one of those huge old camcorders, hooked up to a circuit board to regulate the voltage to it and have some nice video connectors, 2 cell LIPO battery and the video reciever all strapped to a baseball cap. Yeah it looks totally stupid, but it was fun to build and it does indeed work. The trickiest part of the whole build was getting the viewfinder positioned correctly in front of the person's eye. I wanted a handsfree solution and this was the best I could come up with with what I had. I think that actually a cowboy hat would be ideal but this is all I had. I played around for a long time trying to get something that would mount on the cap, be reasonably comfortable, and have the viewfinder positioned reasonably well, and that is what ended up working best. Its just a piece of scrap aluminum screwed to the brim in such a way that the bottom is about in line with the top of ones eye, so the viewfinder is in line. There isn't much else to say about that I think.

All ready to fly:
Thats the last picture I promise :) Thats what it looked like with everything needed for a filming outing. The only problem was that the 2.4Ghz signal from my octocopter TX caused huge interference in the video signal back to the base station, making it almost impossible to see what you were filming. But the proof of concept worked decently, it just needed better equiptment. Anyway since then I have disasembled the video part of this thing, and I am working on my paintball gun mount as mentioned in the last window post.

So thats all for tonight, Happy Hacking!

Cause i just cant stick to one project...

So I have been working on Raven recently. You know this. But it is December, in Canada. And you know, its hard to test a UGV when there is two feet of snow on the ground. However, I do have a UAV that I have not worked on much since the last post about it. In fact I haven't so much as changed one thing until last night. So I figured it would be good to give it some love too. If you read my previous posts on the window, you know that my entire purpose of building an octocopter with huge payload capacity was to eventually mount a paintball gun onto it. Heh. I have begun that task. First up was stripping off that pan/tilt camera system. For nemourous reasons, I now have a gopro instead of my cheap ATC mini, the video was blocky due to 2.4 GHz radio interference from the windows TX, the system was not the greatest anyway. And I need that space for my gun mount. So anyway, besides the gun, in the meantime I picked up one of those wireless back up cameras for your car really cheap. It may or may not cause and pick up interference like the old system did, but I gotta try it out. I'll be giving that a try for my FPV, along with a gopro to record the antics. Armament wise, I am again using my POS spyder victor, cause, you know, I'm too cheap to get a better gun, and this one works, kinda... Anyway, couple 1/2" PVC tees, zip ties, and hose clamps later and I've got a decent gun mount. I'll be mounting the air/CO2 bottle in a similar way. At the moment, I have only gotten so far as a mock up, but this is something like what it will look like.

The mounting tees need to be modified a bit, the bottle will be slung below the copter too, and I need to mount the trigger servo yet still, but that's a decent idea of what it should look like, minus legs. 

Anyway that's all I got for now, but I'll update as I get more progress. 

Heh. Weaponized drones. Homemade weaponized  drones. How I love hardware hacking. Have a wonderful day folks, and if you follow in my footsteps, be safe and never point this at any living thing or property not your own.