Building things that fly is hard. The constraints on small, battery powered, radio-operated gear already presents a challenge, but adding weight, balance, and aerodynamic constraints takes it to a whole new level. Sophi Kravitz rises to the occasion and discusses each challenge of building a blimp from start to finish in her presentation at the 2018 Hackaday Belgrade conference.
One of the pleasures of writing for Hackaday comes through the incredible array of talent and experience to be found among our colleagues. We all do our own work, but one is humbled by that which flows from the benches of those one works alongside. Just such a project is the Remote Control Mini Blimp from our colleague Sophi Kravitz. It’s a game involving an obstacle course and a set of remote-controlled blimps. The challenges in such an endeavour have been pushing the limits of what is possible with off-the-shelf components.
So after a series of versions, she had a PCB with left and right motors on two arms and a lift motor pointing downwards, which she suspended beneath the helium bag. Her controllers are simple enough 3D-printed joystick housings, with another ESP8266 within. The blimp ESP8266 forms a wireless network to which the controller connects.
The goal of this project was to build an analog gauge to display computer CPU utilization. I’ve always been fond of classic analog gauges. Most CPU Gauges are either digital on screen displays, or implemented with an LCD mounted in a drive bay
The goal of this project was to build an analog gauge to display computer CPU utilization. I’ve always been fond of classic analog gauges. Most CPU Gauges are either digital on screen displays, or implemented with an LCD mounted in a drive bay.
I’d always wanted a CPU gauge for my computer. Ok, and a bandwidth gauge for my router. You name it, I want a nice analog gauge for it. It always seemed a bit silly to use an true galvanometer based analog gauge for signals that are inherently digital.
I’ve always loved solenoid engines. The first one I built was many,many years ago out of Mechano. Many others have followed since, But they always ran badly and only for a short while as the accuracy of the construction medium was poor. I am not a metal worker, making a “proper” engine out of cast pieces is out of my (and many other peoples) capabilities.
With modern laser cutting it is easy to make accurate components, it is relatively cheap and fairly quick.
So the Acrylic Solenoid Engine came into being
The initial driver is using a small PIC 12F675 and and an IR detector to give me pulse timing information from the solenoid. I went the IR sensor route rather than a mechanical switch so there was no rubbing parts that could wear as acrylic is rather soft. To get a good timing signal aluminum foil is placed on one side of the flywheel to give a good reflection back to the IR emitter receiver pair on the PCB.