Saturday, June 28, 2008

Firday at the Square

Just a standard night out at the square... few beers...

Bazza (ME)

Stew and James

Friday, June 27, 2008

New Live WebCam

I have added a live webcam to my Blog... Check it out on the right...

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Hey Hey.... The first electronic components arrived today at stews office, all the way from Hong Kong... Take a look... next parts should be here soon...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

No don't worry we have not given up on the project.... We have just been doing loads of research into all the electronic components that we will be using and placing orders for them from the US..

If you take a look on and look at the parts list it will show you all the parts we have decided on so far and what we have ordered.

Will be adding some tech notes to the website soon as well and will post a few pics as soon as the mail man arrives with the first components.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday Night At My Place

Had a braai at my place on Friday, was good fun. The normal crowed was mostly present.
Its getting very cold up here now days so thought it would be a good idea to dig a whole in the garden to have a bit of a wood fire to keep us warm. This went down very well with everyone, so was deff a good idea....

Just setting up Friday afternoon.

Ty also having a good time...

Mariska keeping warm..

James doing the same...



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sunday... Build Day

So on Sunday morning we got working on the first electronic parts of the quadcopter. The plan for the day was to get the motor control operational from the microprocessor with an input coming for a serial port.

We started off by getting the oscilloscope up and running so that we could check the signal we were generating, this came in very handy as we would soon see.

We then started off building the prototype board with the atmel mega 8 as the main control chip for generating the PWM signal.... we hit 2 problems that we never thought we would have ever done.

First time we hock the board up with everything connected, we connected the wrong power source wire's, so we were pumping 12v into the board instead of 5v... with a quick rip out of the wire's after seeing this on the multimeter we were hoping that we did not blow the ISP programmer, but we would only know this once we got it all up and running.

After changing the wire's to the power supply and making sure we had the right voltage we thought it was time to try again. so we plugged it all in again and crossed fingers, after such a stupid mistake surly we would not do something like that again... NOTHING.... Stew trys thinks we might have blowen the atmel chip with the 12v we were feeding it. He touched the chip... "aaaaaaaahhhhhhh" screams Stew, "The chip is F****ing hot" so we turn it all off again and check the wiring. Turns out we had connected the 5v power into the analogue to digital converter pin instead of the vcc pin.

We changed the wiring and checked it 100% as we did not want to make a stupid mistake again. NOTHING..... but this was not a surprise as we were almost sure by this stage we had blown the atmel, so with a quick swap out of the chip finally everything was running 100%

We weird up an LED to the board and wrote some code to make it blink. Yay it was working now we could get to work on the code to generate the PWM signal to control the Motor.

We had some problems at first with generating the signal as we were still getting our heads around the atmels data sheet. Finally we figured out the right equations to use to get the numbers for the right pulse width. we thought it would be best to get a servo moving first as this uses the same signal as the motor controller. Now with the right signal being generated it was not hard to get the servo moving and we had that done in no time.

Time to move to the motor controller... we first got this running as normal and just made the motor speed up and slow down but itself. we then programmed in a serial controller so that we could start getting so debug info out the system. this turned out to be way way easier than we thought, and in a short time we were getting info out of what our program was doing. we moved on to start making the speed of the motor controllable from the serial console, with a few tweaks of the code we got this done.

By this stage we thought we should call it a night, So we shot a video of what we had done and posted to You Tube.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

ISP Programer

Well Stew was busy on Saturday so i thought that I would jump right in and build my Atmel programmer. Was really easy to do and worked first time. Soon after that i was programing my first chip with it and got it blinking an LED in no time...

Cleaned out the work bench and setup for electronic work

This is my programer... Populated with the Atmel microprocesor ready for programing.....

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday was Puzzle day...

Well after about 2 years of having this 3D puzzle that i got from Dubai, I thought it was time to build it and put it on my desk in my office...

Here a few pics of the build. Sorry there is no final pic from when i finished, but i forgot to take one :P but i will take one on Tuesday and post it up.

Build Day 2

Well we bought a few right angle clamps to keep the frame square, but after attaching the first one to the frame and then checking the other side with a tri square we bought.... things were not aligning. It turns out the expensive tri square we bought is not quite square....

We then cut the the 4 strengthening bars, drilled the holes for them and attached them to the frame.

We were going to rivet the bars to the frame but thought it would be best to bolt them on as we might want to use the same bolts for the landing gear or camera mount at a later stage.

Well now with the frame pretty much done and only weighing 296g things are looking good in the weight department. We hoping for a weight of not too much more that 1kg as we would like to hover at about half throttle. We have done some testing and it seems with the 4 motors we should get about 2.4kgs of thrust.

Mock up with right angle clamps.

Mock up of strengthening bars.

Mock up with holes drilled.

Final outcome after it had all been bolted together.

Just a pic to for us to keep track of weights...

Well now that most of the frame is done, we need to start working on some of the electronics. First thing we will be doing is getting the electronic speed controlers that power the 3 phaze motors, to run off our microcontrolers (Atmel Mega8's) we will be generating a PWM signal that will tell the speed controler at what speed to run the motor at...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 Project

Well myself and a mate stew have started work on a new project

The aim is to build a 4 rotor helicopter with a autopilot system that we will write.
The Quadcopter will contain a few custom built components eg. computer controlled speed controllers, electronic compass, accelerometers, gyros, GPS, GSM module for long distance controling over the cellular network and a wifi module for the closer range controling.

It will also carry a long range camera so we can navigate or just look while the auto pilot is flying....

You can follow the build at or here on my blog..

Here are a few pics from the first build night... we had a few planning nights befor this but this is the first "Build night"

Stew filing down edges after first frame cut.

Measurements with our new R200 steel rule for the first notch cut.

The plan is to make the frame as light as possible, so we used aluminium
for the bace of our frame.

My new work bench in my now very clean garage.
The door we using as the table top is a bit narrow so as soon
as we can get a new door we will replace it.

Filing down the noches in the 2 main struts to make them fit just right.

Well this is as far as we got the first night, reason being, as i was cutting the next bit i bumped our work light and blew the bulb so we had to call it quits for the night as we could not see a thing :(