Cool Engineering

Info on some cool engineering projects

Thursday, March 30, 2006

More Video, altitude measurements, GPS header plug?

In terms of project work this week I have been mainly working with using a small AVR based 'Bilby' board. This is an Australian version of the popular Rabbit board. At the moment I have been doing some fairly routine stuff, flashing LEDs on and off writing out to the serial port, reading in from the serial port - so not too exciting. Hopefully in a day or two I will be able to configure the wireless serial transmitter I have purchased with the GPS. This way we could stick the GPS in the plane and record GPS data on the ground. This will answer (to some degree of accuracy) an important question that I have been asking myself - how high does my plane actually go?
I'm guessing about 70m above ground level, but with no point of reference in the sky this may well just be speculation. In the vertical axis the GPS receiver we are using is only accurate to about 15m (due to vertical dilution - but this should give us some idea of the actual height. Maybe you could post your guesses as comments with the grand prize being the satisfaction of winning the guessing competition.
One other problem I have identified is the connector on the GPS. It is a tiny 2 x 6 way IDC connector with 1.5mm pitch. These seem almost impossible to find as I have already tried DSE, Jaycar, Mouser, Digikey, Altronics and Farnell. I might just need to make a PCB to fit over the header and convert it to a more standard size like 0.1" or 1.27mm. If anyone has any ideas on this I'd love to hear them.
Oh one other thing I have posted a new video at my website ( feel free to check it out and make comments.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Welcome and greetings

Hello everyone.
The purpose of this online journal is not to provide some deep and personal account of my life and neither is it designed to embarrass my friends or stuff like that. Really the main purpose is to document some engineering projects that I work on. Before all the non-nerdy types decide to not visit this site again - well this is a kind of really cool and interesting project.
Some introduction is needed:
For my final project in my CS/EE double degree I'm looking at constructing an Autonomous UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) aka a drone. Hopefully now I have your attention. The project will be a little scaled back (it won't land or take off by itself, and has a relatively short range), but it should be a really cool proof-of-concept project which should provide some cool results. Most of my friends know that I like working with various gadgets and this project has wide scope for that including GPS, magnetometers, gyros, servos and of course my wonderful plane which will hopefully make it through intact. Together with Wade (another student with whom I'm working) we plan fit out the plane with some sensors and video equipment to provide some really cool effects, along with data logging capabilities for temperature and battery levels and the like.
For some preliminary info check out my (very plain website with cool photos) at:
At the very bottom of the page (yes probably not the best place for it) is the most exciting part - video footage from onboard the plane.
Well I'd be happy to hear your comment and possibly even suggestions - maybe you could find your way into my acknowledgements section in the final thesis. Now there’s some incentive if you needed some.