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Making a Real Batcopter, With Parts From the Hardware Store 50

garymortimer writes with an excerpt from a story loaded with eye-popping pictures and video on how to create — with some bamboo and mesh lashed on — a UAV to fly through and learn from swarms of bats in rural Texas. "Brazilian Free-tailed bats (also called Tadarida) come together in the millions in caves all over Texas, leaving every night in swarms so big they can be detected by doppler radar. Somehow, they manage to fly through this dense self-clutter without major collisions, and so our goal is to better understand this behavior. For the AIRFOILS project, the IML team created the previously mentioned Batcopter. The goal was to fly a UAV through the dense clutter, and record the bats' response with three ground-based high-speed FLIR cameras and an airborne 3D HD GoPro camera. The hope is to extract fundamental control laws of flying behavior in order to achieve better autonomous UAV flight."
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Making a Real Batcopter, With Parts From the Hardware Store

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  • by otter42 ( 190544 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:15PM (#36393670) Homepage Journal

    I realize that most of the comments here will probably be poking fun at the batcopter, and I can't wait to read what the /. audience is going to come up with. I guess I underestimated the coolness factor of flying towel racks. However, if you want to discuss the science behind it, I'll be more than happy.

    It was a neat project, and we're only just starting, although that's probably the first and the last time that I'll go into the field. Apparently, we have some 30TB of data to wade through, so there's enough there for any dozen PhDs. The next task is to figure out what we actually recorded and to see what we can do with it.

    Dr. Kenneth Sebesta

  • by otter42 ( 190544 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @05:38PM (#36393906) Homepage Journal

    The carbon fiber parts where from hobby-lobby [hobby-lobby.com]. Although we'll be getting them from HobbyKing in the future because it's something like $5/rod.

    The only specialty part was the OpenPilot CopterControl module [coptercontrol.org]. That was indeed all of $100. Appropriately sized BLDCs can be bought for $7/ea., a radio is $50, the props are $1.50/ea., the battery was $20, the charger was not high output, and there are a few other components that you didn't list which I won't either in the interests of conciseness. Suffice to say that you can build a complete, functioning quadcopter with a CopterControl for all of $250, incl. the transmitter/receiver combo.

You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.