DIY Quadcopter Build (MultiWii / NanoWii / Qbrain)

QuadApr14Feb 2014:  If I didn’t have enough hobbies already…  I’ve just gotten myself into the world of quadcopters and flying.  I’ve never flown before.  My RC experience is limited to 4 wheels on the ground.    Navigating with 2 sticks and learning the world of yaw, elevation, pitch and throttle has become my next challenge.  I’ve wanted to learn how to fly for some time, so here we go..

I’m not going to re-create the wheel as credit goes to the folks over at marginallyclever.com for putting together a great build log of the DIY Betamax Quadcopter.  In a nutshell, for less than $300 you can build a very capable quad that should give you plenty of fun and also provide the ability to mount some small and light equipment.  There’s also lots of optional add-ons like GPS that will make the quad smart and more easy to use.  It also uses Arduino-compatible MultiWii which is software that runs on the NanoWii to allow you to control your quad (or other RC machines).





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Fix: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3.0 – “Wont Charge Issue”

Let’s cut to the chase. You have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 and you are tired of  Googling for solutions trying to figure out why your Tab won’t charge.  Hopefully this is the last place you have to look.   My tab is about 2 yrs old and over the past few months I started noticing it would not charge consistently.  I tried all the suggestions; using a different charger, swapping out the cable, disconnecting and re-connecting the battery – none worked.   I had also suspected the USB connector port on the tab itself.  I should have trusted my first instinct, so I decided to take a look at the charge port on the Tab with my 400x USB microscope, and noticed some significant wear on the pads.  Turns out, the fix is ~$5 and less than 10 minutes of effort… Read More >>

Crius I2C GPS Nav Board – Programming via RS232 USB to Serial FTDI Board

Crius I2C Nav Board - Programming By FTDI AdapterI had an Adafruit UP501 GPS module laying around and wanted to get it working on my Quad.  However, my serial connection is being used by a bluetooth module which left me with finding a way to get it working over I2C.   I found the Crius I2C GPS module and this video which provides some great guidance on how to set things up.  However, I was having trouble getting it programmed using the Sparkfun 232RL  FTDI breakout board I had as I had not used it for some time and totally forgot how to make the connections between the two,  so  here you go.

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HC-06 Bluetooth Module – Getting this sucker into AT Command Mode

hc-06After spending nearly 3 hours scouring the Web trying to find a way to configure my JY-MCU HC-06 Bluetooth module.  There are a lot of great tutorials out there.  Many of them refer to setting the key pin HIGH, or a combination of LOW then HIGH while powering on the module.  However, none of these approaches worked for the unit I have.  Read on to see how it can be done.  Oddly, I found the answer in the DX discussion forums related to this module.  Here’s the thread.  Read on for how I managed to get it working.

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WiFi Bot Control & Arduino Bot (Eddie) – Android App to control Arduino Robots

Wifi Bot ControlMasterFeatureGraphic1024x500NewWiFiBotControlLogo_72x72 is an Android app that allows you to remotely control a robot (or other device) via WiFi.  You can also (optional) view a video stream from an IP camera mounted to the robot.  WiFi Bot Control also provides up to 8 additional customizable command buttons that allow you to perform additional tasks on your robot / device.  You could use these commands to initiate other activities such as enabling/disabling sensors, moving other servos / arms / picking something up, turning a LED on/off etc.  With the provided sample sketch, you can customize the robot to do what you want.  WiFi Bot Control can be downloaded on Google Play and is compatible with most versions of Android and most device sizes from phones to tablets.

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Glo Control – Android App & Arduino Controller

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Glow Control is an Android app that couples to an Arduino-based controller over Bluetooth allowing for control of various tasks including Landscape / Patio LED lights.  You can either schedule the zones to turn on / off within a time range, or use a light sensor to trigger them when it gets dark.  It also offers up to 4 additional customizable buttons that allow you to add functionality.  You could use it to control garage doors, sprinklers, etc.  The sky’s the limit since you can customize the controller and Arduino sketch to your needs.  Under the hood Glow Control simply sends commands over Bluetooth to an Arduino controller.  If you are a maker, then you can use this app to control pretty much anything you can imagine.  For my project, I am using it to control 2 LED zones on my new patio.  Glo Control is available on Google Play.

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Easy and Cheap DIY LED RGB Garden Glowies

In a few weeks, we’ll have a new patio.  Like any new project I get into, I have to introduce a flavour of something DIY and electronic into the mix.  Like most guys, I’m planning for sound.  However, I’m also adding custom LED lighting to light up the armour stones, deck and pergola areas.  As part of the patio job, we are also planning on having a variety of plants and shrubs around the patio.  I figured it would be neat, for when we are entertaining, to have LED RGB glowies that I could place in each of the shrubs/plants and have a RGB glowing garden as an entertainment piece. Read More >>

BT Bot Control & IPCam Bot – Android App to control Arduino Robots

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BT Bot Control is an Android application that allows you to remotely control a micro controller-based robot using Bluetooth (i.e. Arduino).  It also allows you to (optionally) view a video stream from an IPCamera mounted to your robot.  This could be any type wireless IP camera or phone that has the ability to broadcast a video stream/images to the web.  Example Foscam, Ai-Cam etc.  If you are looking to control your robot over WiFi, check out WiFi Bot Control.

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Remote Shutdown using a Foscam FI8918W

As a parent of 2 children and an obsession with cramming my hobbies in whenever I can, I decided to devise a means to remotely monitor my CNC (a ShapeOko) and also CNCControl1provide the ability for me to remotely shut it down if things go arwy during a milling session.   I picked up a Foscam FI8918W IPCam at a ‘car boot’ sale (I love that name) when I was visting in England this past summer.  For 5 quid nonetheless!  I don’t think the folks selling it had any idea what it was worth.  When asking the woman the standard “does it work” question, I knew I was going to get it regardless of my knowing that there was a good chance it would not work.  Well, my luck prevailed, as the unit worked flawlessly with the exception that the smell of smoke was embedded in the plastic (would hate to see the previous owners lungs!). Yuk.   Oh, and I also had to pickup a North American plug adapter – for all about$2 from DX.

My original plan was to pickup up an Arduino Network shield and use the camera to watch the CNC via custom webpage using streaming video and then, with some buttons, call the Arduino to trigger a servo to hit the Esc key on the CNC keyboard (which in turn would trigger Mach3 to shut down the CNC).  There were a few problems with this. 1) I have to wait for the Network shield to come from China (about a month or so), and I did not want to run a lengthy network cable from my router in the basement into the garage.  An Arduino WiFi shield was also out of the question as they are costly.

Then it hit me..  The Foscam has the ability to remotely trigger the IR LEDs to go on or off.    I managed to trace the signal wire to a wire on the mainboard that goes HI (1.5V) when the IR LEDs are on, and LOW (0v) when off.  Voila!  Tapping this signal then bringing it out to an ATTiny85 with a bit of simple code, I could control a servo connected to the keyboard..  So, onto the Arduino IDE, and out came the soldering iron.  A few hours later, here we are.

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Juke – Custom Paddle Shifters – Phase 1

Not satisfied leaving well enough alone, I decided to add custom paddle shifters to my 2012 Nissan Juke.  For those that aren’t in the know, the Juke has a sport shift mode where you can ‘bump’ the auto shift unit up or down to up/down shift.  ..but that’s no fun…   I wanted paddle shifters, and since there is no stock option, I decided to go the custom route.  Before jumping into the project, the main hurdle to overcome was to figure out how to add the paddles to the steering wheel.  In this case, the custom milled paddles I’m making would be mounted to the backside of the steering wheel and had to be wireless (for obvious reasons).  I am aware that this is not conventional and that many paddles are mounted to the steering column, but I wanted them on the steering wheel.  A suggestion led me to a RF wireless remote (pic) that fit the ticket.  The plan is to embed the remote into the backside of the steering wheel, mod the buttons for ‘A’ and ‘B’ by adding wires out to the individual custom made paddle units.

Phase 1 – enable functionality for controlling manual mode shifting using an RF remote.  This will be discussed here.

Phase 2 – Custom CNC milled aluminum paddle shifter units mounted to the steering wheel. Stay tuned

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