Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 17

Thread: Project Big Bird

  1. Project Big Bird

    Hi everyone!
    Here's my submission for this contest, a (kind of) autonomous hovercraft. This project was originally for the final project of a mechatronics class, which I did with a group of four other students. We basically designed this to be a platform for further research into holonomic vehichles, artificial intelligence, and developing an algorithm for autonomous navigation. Here is a video of the hovercraft roaming around on our school soccer field:

    This video is of the hovercraft under computer control via an Xbee Pro wireless chip, and a PIC microcontroller. We used the PIC to control one Novak brushless lift fan and two E-Flight Brushless motors with variable pitch propellors. The pitch is controlled by two servos which are also connected to the PIC. Also, sensor data is relayed from the PIC to the Xbee, which then is transmitted to the computer, which allows us to implement a SLAM algorithm, and control the hovercraft simultaneously.

    We have a project website which I encourage you to visit, it has source code (at least the stuff that works well currently), hardware diagrams, design process info, and final specifications.
    The website is: www.bradleyp.com/BigBird

    Also, I have posted an Instructable on how to make the hovercraft, which is at
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Auto...ed-hovercraft/

    Pictures of the craft are located on the project website, as well as in my gallery.

    If you have any questions, feel free to post here or PM me.

    Thank you!
    Bradley Powers
    www.bradleyp.com/BigBird
    Olin College of Engineering
    Class of 2010

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Carol Stream, Illinois
    Posts
    1,695
    Images
    118
    Rep Power
    106

    Re: Project Contest Submission - Project Big Bird

    How easy is this to control? Does BigBird have any ability to carry objects? How much weight?

    Also, sensor data is relayed from the PIC to the Xbee
    What sort of sensors are you using?

    Last question (for now, hehe), are you using a computer to control this, or what?


    Neat project Brad (and cool project name too)! I have your project submitted in our contest.

    �In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed�
    - Charles Darwin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    3,198
    Images
    952
    Rep Power
    139

    Re: Project Contest Submission - Project Big Bird

    Nice team project! Mechatronics is the field of engineering I'll be working towards for my undergraduate.

    Alex- I read through his project page when this was first posted, I believe they're using an ultrasonic sensor. And from the look of the gui, they appear to have some sort of remote control for use as well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Chicago Illinois
    Posts
    682
    Images
    174
    Rep Power
    82

    Re: Project Contest Submission - Project Big Bird

    This is so cool I used to dream of building one of these as a kid, only big enough to ride on. I think there was an ad in the back of boys life magazine or somewhere that was selling directions on how to make one out of a vacuum cleaner. I never got around to it, but that's probably a good thing since I doubt it worked, LOL.

    I still think it would be cool to make though Maybe I can settle for following your project for now and putting a hamster on it.

  5. Re: Project Contest Submission - Project Big Bird

    Alex - Controlling it takes a little getting used to, it's not exactly intuitive to drive a craft that deals with extremely low friction. After about five minutes of screwing around with it though, it's really easy to work. We have a "pocket" located at the front of the craft that is capable of holding objects, and we also have an acrylic plate that we can mount modules on to: for example, we mounted a video camera on there once, And we're working on other modules. I would estimate that the craft can carry five pounds above it's own weight (which is pretty impressive, as it weighs less than 5 pounds!).

    We have code written for a number of sensors, but we didn't have the money to buy anything more than an ultrasonic sensor. I've written up a pretty extensive set of code for the Arduino, so that I could incorporate a GPS module, a 5 DOF IMU, and a few ultrasonic and/or IR sensors. At this point, it's just about being able to pay for those sensors (That's always the case, isn't it?).

    As far as control goes, there are a few options. I can use a Futaba RC controller, with a switch to go between RC control, PC control, or a preprogrammed control. I am working on another program where I can set up waypoints and have the craft navigate to that waypoint.

    Thank you for entering this project into the contest, and thank you for the complement. If you like the project name, check out our website, it's Sesame Street themed!



    Tyberius - You'll love Mechatronics, it's a very exciting field, especially given the recent push toward making mechatronics easier to do for everyone (ie. the Arduino and such). I keep going back and forth between designing my own Mechatronics major and going with a robotics major.



    Matt - I remember those ads in Boy's Life, I used to freak out every time I saw that. I've thought about making a rideable hovercraft, I just have to find the time. I would definitely give it a shot, making a hovercraft isn't so hard, and then you get to make it do stuff, which is the fun part. Ummm, hamster?????

    Thanks everyone for the kind words, I'm glad you enjoy the project.
    Bradley Powers
    www.bradleyp.com/BigBird
    Olin College of Engineering
    Class of 2010

  6. Re: Project Contest Submission - Project Big Bird

    Cool! I read the instructable for this when it was making the rounds on the tech blogs a few weeks ago. Making that autonomous will be a real challenge, from a control perspective. I have a feeling battling inertia is going to be a computational nightmare, and I'm looking forward to seeing how you handle that.

  7. Re: Project Contest Submission - Project Big Bird

    Glad to hear that you saw my Instructable, that was pretty cool when it went around on Engadget and Makezine and Digg.

    I'm worried about inertia too, I'm thinking that moving the thrust systems forward (I'm working on making two custom variable pitch, variable direction ducted fans, and I think if I move them closer to the center of gravity, I'll be able to avoid some of the weird torques and such. This whole project is kind of a computational nightmare, but I think it's doable.
    Bradley Powers
    www.bradleyp.com/BigBird
    Olin College of Engineering
    Class of 2010

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Chicago Illinois
    Posts
    682
    Images
    174
    Rep Power
    82

    Re: Project Contest Submission - Project Big Bird

    >>>I would estimate that the craft can carry five pounds above it's own weight (which is pretty impressive, as it weighs less than 5 pounds!).

    I will second that. 5 pounds IS a big number. I was expecting you to say 1 pound or so.


    >>>Matt - I remember those ads in Boy's Life, I used to freak out every time I saw that.

    You do? That's hilarious! I have a vague recollection of a tiny ad with a picture of a seat on a triangular frame with a black disc at each point. It filled my young head with fantasies of "flying" around the neighborhood with it. I'd love to see the ad again, just for nostalgia.

    >>>Ummm, hamster?????

    well... I was running with the under 5 pounds thing

  9. #9

    Re: Project Contest Submission - Project Big Bird

    Have you considered using some sort of larger rudder to help dampen/straighten movement?
    And have you tried this (trusted this!) over water?

  10. Re: Project Contest Submission - Project Big Bird

    Matt - Yeah, we were really impressed with the amount of lift that we were able to get. It's actually fairly simple though, our first prototype had about a third of the surface area on the bottom of the chassis, and could pick up about two pounds. It's reasonable to assume that increasing the surface area of the craft (to a point) should increase the amount you can lift. Also, the entire thing is made out of extremely lightweight materials.

    kdwyer - Two things about the rudder. Despite how it looks in the video (ie. completely uncontrollable) that is definitely not the case, it is very stable, I was just having a little fun out on the soccer field! Also, we did some research that suggests that rudders are horribly inefficient on hovercraft, for example, to make the thrust be in a direction five degrees of the heading of the craft, you have to turn the rudder to 45 degrees. Because of this, we decided to not use a rudder.

    As for the water thing, well, the pond that we would use to test seaworthiness was frozen over, and the pool staff at the college next door to us wasn't so happy about a hovercraft in their pool. I honestly believe that it would be safe to run on water, as the chassis is made of foam that floats, so if we found a waterproof enclosure for the electronics (the lipo batteries!) we would probably be fine. We shouldn't have any problem getting to hump speed (the speed at which the craft really gets moving over water) with our propulsion fans, they were only running at 10%
    Bradley Powers
    www.bradleyp.com/BigBird
    Olin College of Engineering
    Class of 2010

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Contest Entry Pan&Tilt Bracket
    By CaptKill4Fun in forum Project Showcase
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 04-16-2008, 12:38 AM
  2. New Project parts suggestions needed.
    By misiu in forum Robotics General Discussion
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 02-01-2008, 12:58 PM
  3. Ambitious AI / Autonomouns project
    By Marc-X in forum Robotics General Discussion
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 12-23-2007, 09:24 PM
  4. News/Announcement September '07 WINNERS!
    By Dave in forum Project Showcase
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 10-10-2007, 01:42 PM
  5. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 07-23-2007, 04:40 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •