Me and my favourite piDrone

While the real piDrones are intellectually challenging, engaging and satisfying, a happy smile it rare;  this is the antithesis:

LEGO piDrone

LEGO piDrone

Occasionally upgrading this model costs virtually nothing; most parts come from ebay for a pound or two; the rest are mine from 35+ years ago.  Currently she’s fitted out like Hermione: X8 format with ground facing camera and LiDAR, but unlike Hermione, she already has her Sweep lateral object avoidance LiDAR installed!

You’ve probably seen I’ve not been blogging about Hermione for a week or so; she took a crash and I’ve been waiting for parts.  So instead I’ve blogged about a bunch of distractions while in the background, coding a significant rework for GPS waypoint-defined flight plans, compass orientation and yaw-controlled always-point-the-way-your-flying.  Hermione’s replacement parts arrived yesterday and have been installed, so it’s time for me to get back to testing these code changes.  This could take a while so it may be quiet for the next few days.

The end of a project…

The first project I did was a turtle, with a Lego frame, Raspberry Pi plus 74HC595 serial parallel latch, ULN2801A darlington ampplifiers powering two stepper motors, with a Wifi connection to another RPi application where you can type in commands.  It was all powered by a 7.4v  Lithium Ion battery via a LDO Switching regulator.

This was done very much step by step, using much of the same circuitry from 25 years ago when I did one at school driven by a BBC Micro, starting first with driving LEDs, then progressing to steppers and then finally seating it in a Lego Techic body.

My Turtle

My Turtle

The commands are sent over a TCP connection from the control machine to the turtle.  The turtle was powered by a LiPo battery.  If you want more details, click on the TurtlePi category on the right.

I ended up buying lots of little bits of Lego from ebay to get the best combination of gears etc to ensure the large torque needed by the wheels didn’t break the gears or their axles.  But one piece didn’t exist: a flat yellow flat dome to drag on the floor under the batteries.  At some point, I got hold of a clear yellow one which was ‘good enough’ for the moment but my OCD – every programmer must have OCD to some extent – wouldn’t let it go until I had the correct one in the matching opaque yellow as the rest of the Turtle.  One turned up on ebay the other day – I’d kept the watch running – and I couldn’t believe it!

Compromised and Correct Lego domes

Compromised and Correct Lego domes

So now I’m a very happy person, and can concentrate 100% on Phoebe!

P.S. I had intended to show a video here, but as I powered up the Turtle, the circuitry heated up, and I think I’ve just blown the 3 stacked ULN2801 darlington drivers – hopefully the 74HC595 survived .  Definitely the end of the project for the mo’ though! Oops

Phoebe’s new frame

Sorry for the lack of updates recently – I’ve been testing longer term drift suppression primarily through horizontal velocity PID d-gain tuning.  It’s definitely improving but not yet to the extent that it’s worth reporting on.

So instead, I present you with the revised version of Phoebe.  What do you think?

Phoebe's new frame

Phoebe’s new frame