Archive for the 'TECH' Category

29
May
17

UDI RC repair

Since my previous post https://pmetro.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/the-flying-computer what direction would be next? Since there are a overabundance of drones on the market,  many do not get that great of reviews, or over simplify the ease of flying and have a short flight time due to the size of the battery especially at the lower end price points. Some reviewers simply state that there is a lot of junk out there. If you are not experienced and want to join the ranks of drone operators, note recommendations and reviews of current high end drone operators with experience as to what drone they flew as a starter either as a racer or photographer, in other words what is cost effective for multiple  crashes.

Technology has progressed the drone into basically two types, at the higher end of the consumer market, racing or photography. As with other types of electronics smaller lighter and faster can be the general rule to racing drones and photography, (could also be branched out to heavy lifting) stability, reliability and stunning high definition cameras on remote control gimbals  have captured the market. The new announcements releases from leading drone manufacturers to drone operators is the same furor as  the latest smartphone presentation. Prices are reasonable as with every advance there is more technology for the price. This is a growth area with the application of different technology ever expanding.

Drones have given the radio controlled hobby market a kick in the pants. Certainly a few manufacturers have taken the lead and it reminds me of other breakout tech companies when a market first explodes, such as personal computers and cell phones. Some will be shaken out and others will consolidate. The amount of technology applications involved run from remote telemetry, autonomous control, GPS, vision and remote recognition as just a few before even getting into the array of sensors utilized to give the drones stable flight. Racers have not been left out , first person view, cameras and FPV vision goggles make these people look like Borg wanna be’s. Lipo battery technology give racers crazy amounts of power and brushless motor technology constantly boost the top speeds of these racing demons.

So instead of another complete kit, as of yet, after perusing the many hobby sites and quad copter forums, a new drone was out of the question, and trying to keep the cost low would limit me to an unreliable toy for learning flight. Now many of the online hobby shops  carry repair parts with some low cost consumer drone hobby models having practically all of the parts available to build one from the ground up, this is true with racing drones as they can be built in stages but would add up to a high cost , there would be an alternative to  gaining flight practice and  knowledge.     I decided a repair/modification of a drone would be the best route to become familiar with the types of technology being utilized. So off to the junkyard so to speak in search of a decent learner drone needing to be rescued. (Many first time drone buyers simply trying out the hobby crash and burn so to speak, so postings from Ebay on drones for parts etc. gave some promising results)

 

Note: If you want to repair drones look up replacement parts beforehand,  many models are supported either through the original manufacturer or third party sources, ALi Express, Banggood, Ebay, drone forums Etc. Much information can be obtained from hobby sites , you tube videos, online user manuals.

Lets get to it so we can fly….

 

From the drone bone yard, a UDI RC salvage from E-bay. Model 818A.

Basically bought from E-bay used, listed as one rotor not turning. After arrival and check,  one of the propellers is binding . After further checking the motor is the cause.

Ordered replacement motor and also a remote transmitter control  along with spare propellers as the control transmitter  was not included in the purchase this is another factor since many low priced drones have of their own proprietary remote transmitter. (more on this later)

Previously I had removed the canopy cover and propeller guard, a one piece snap off unit and unplugged the connections to the flight controller. Take pictures of the connections or draw up in a note pad a schematic before disassembly or research pin outs for the motor connections and LEDs of the flight controller board. (google etc.)

To disassemble the faulty propulsion unit , remove screw and disconnect strut from the main chassis. On the strut, carefully pry back the motor cover, slide it back and expose the motor. Remove necessary screws and draw enough wire from the strut to access the soldered connection to the motor. The other pair of wires is for the LED on that pod.

Compare the replacement component with the original, the gear is slightly different from the original. Note: The motors ( these are brushed motors) are highly magnetic keep them a distance from any magnetic sensitive material, keep work area clean from metal particles that would stick to the motor. (especially if you work on brushless out runner motors in the future) Also if you work with circuit boards, most all videos and instructions disregard the use of anti static precautions such as wrist grounding ground straps. Electronic Static Discharge can happen and disrupt sensitive electronics and cause a myriad of undetectable problems from total failure to loss or scrambling of data. If you have problems with circuit boards arriving DOA don’t discard that ESD may be the cause of failure. If you work with large amount of electronics or expensive components ESD precautions is cheap insurance. Once you open up the cover (like a cell phone) you have penetrated any shielding to sensitive devices and components.

Utilizing the insulation tubing from original, cut the conductors and solder in the replacement motor, of course following the original wired colored connections. Slip the insulation tubing over one of the soldered connections.

 

Carefully route the wires by gently pulling the through the strut from the opposite end, toward the flight controller. Double check the connection of the fragile wiring before securing motor cover.

secure cover of assembled unit. (bearing below propeller should be flush to top of strut, in this case the propeller shaft is a press fit to lower gear, align as necessary)

 

Make the PROPER  motor and LED and camera if equipped, connection the the main board of previously disconnected. Improper motor connection order will result in a flipping over or uncontrollable drone taking flight. (How do I know this?) Also if the flight controller board was removed from the chassis insure that the proper orientation of the board is followed, most aftermarket boards are marked with an arrow to indicate front (facing) of drone. Not this one. Accelerometers and gyroscopes have to know which way the are headed ! (in relation to the propulsion units). Troubleshooting skills here learned  for flight problems!

One note here: be extremely careful when pulling delicate connections from sockets, some manufacturers use a sealing or locktite type glue. Small connectors such as 2 conductors plugs, grasp the connector , not the wires to disengage. Some sockets  are surface mount soldered and could be pulled directly from the circuit board necessitating a re soldering of socket to the main board.  If plug does not disconnect readily, be aware and proceed cautiously.

At this point (with propellers removed) you could attach battery, pair up the transmitter  and test the motors.

 REMOVE PROPELLERS BEFORE TESTING

 REMOVE PROPELLERS BEFORE TESTING

Rotors should be removed when you power up drone after modification, some unexpected reactions at times will cause the flight controller to start all propellers when battery is connected, due to an improper wiring or damaged flight controller. Assume that motors may start at any time. Again remove propellers.

Checking connection and LEDS, so far the drone is looking good, battery connection resulted in proper lighting and (not shown) blinking led on flight controller)

Secure cowling by snapping on cover/propeller guard. Mount LED headlight (white single LED). Power down and follow manufacturers direction for pairing transmitter, calibration and flight.

Most all drones have a user manual that can be found online. Some might have different conventions on flight controller and transmitter synchronizing  (pairing).

Progressing up the ladder on Radio Control it’s advantageous to get a transmitter that will support multiple Quadcopters, but this comes at a cost and matching transmitter and receivers  to flight controllers is a later lesson. Most of the low cost hobby drones require each their own radio control transmitter  system. When buying drones less a transmitter (control) research if you can buy a reasonable required replacement transmitter as they more than not will  not work with any other type for drone. Or you could swap out the flight controller with one that you already have a properly matched receiver (and/or flight controller) and transmitter using the frame and motors of the drone you are repairing.

**********************************************************

Will it fly ?  Yes ,I was lucky as the motor was the only problem with the drone.

The firmware of the flight controller was undamaged, there is no USB or software available to re-flash the flight controller as in the case of the MultiWii.

The UDI RC with the propeller shroud can take many crashes and collisions without damage. It’s a good learner drone. I have yet to test the camera out.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<UPDATE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The UDI drone has flown many times and is a learning challenge to pilot just around the house. The propellers are protected by the cover/shroud so they only get slightly chipped in my flights. It’s not ultra stable per say, but after some trimming of the controller pitch, roll, and yaw, easy to get to flight with the limited room indoors available to fly. Probably replacement of all 4 motors and prop balancing would improve stability. A good flyer none the less and time to move on to other repairs and construction. Several high capacity 1s batteries were purchased for increased flight time.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

So could I have bought a complete  used drone instead of a damaged one? Probably so, but missing a education experience and satisfaction of repair, disassembly, motor wiring and how the drone is constructed. Modifiable? Snap off the cover and ditch the camera for weight savings, disconnect the LEDS for power savings, go with slightly larger or smaller props  and  beef up the battery with a higher capacity replacement. Add an FPV camera ? Maybe a trick out paint job or more LEDS?

Drone :  $9.99 Ebay

Controller : $16.65 Ali Express

Motor: $5.31 Ali Express

optional replacement propellers: $2.88 Ali Express

shipping for the drone was about $10.00

shipping for the propellers $2.04

other items shipped free

NEXT : Can a Propel Spyder XL (chromed) be returned to flight status ?

05
Feb
17

the flying computer

Working with open source programming on the hobby level presents it’s own set of problems for the first time user. Setup of hardware and software on some projects assumes not only that the user has basic skills in hardware setup but also programming.

The Sunfounder quadrocopter kit , consist of a microcomputer and hardware not unlike other microcomputer projects with sensors and software. The supplied documentation in book form with the kit  also assumes that the user has the skills and the proper hardware to connect the processor to a computer.  Even before starting programming or modifying the parameters, the correct drivers must be installed for the USB to serial  connections to the microprocessor. The reason for connecting this device to a computer is for calibration and verification that the proper firmware is running on the controller.

Software and documentation for open sourced programming can be fragmented, that is, different developments or versions for the software components can be found on different sources, posted on web pages, FTPs or forums. Since open source programming can be dynamic in the fact it could be either revised to a newer version from what was originally  issued on one website, or loaded on the hardware, it could also be a stalled project, that receives no additional support. Therefore more than one version may be available and as with all revisions, it’s hoped that the latest revision may still be compatible with the current hardware project but remember that it’s  an collaborative project and while some sites ask for a donation, it’s a passion of programmers to share, comment and revise their efforts available for a global audience usually for free.

Having some experience with programming over the years being mostly with the higher level languages, usually it was with one platform and hardware, now utilizing either a windows or mac environment is not foolproof as each may  have it’s own version of software, hardware  and procedures . Even command line processing and writing assumes that files are placed to follow in the correct directory paths in both execution and installation. Error messages may be cryptic at times. But such is the state of collaborative programming today as one might be inclined to write an app for sale , and BASIC still exists in many forms, open source is the current program exchange and with the online internet connections the process is much faster than the shareware years ago where programming was distributed physically on floppy disks. . One of the most popular types of programming microprocessors is the Arduino   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arduino, but don’t stop there, many, many,  other microprocessors and systems are available.   There is also  a ton of programming courses and kits online  so education can be done anywhere, for free.

The main reason for the flying computer (quadrocopter) was for education and to familiarize myself with one the current micro processing platforms  to gain experience with hardware interface and programming. A drone would be a good example of  programming with tangible results, in this case flight of a miniature aircraft. The popularity of drones both by hobbyist and commercial uses abounds. It’s  a quest to understand how they actually fly. The prices run the gamut of range and the Sunfounder is the lower entry range of projects for an open source environment that includes all items needed to program, assemble, and fly. Some of the components could also be used if the person would be interested in building other flying devices.

Having an   Arduino editor installed on your computer and  having the knowledge to open, edit and compile and save  the code, it gets  uploaded  to the flight controller. ( a fancy name for a microprocessor decked out with the supporting chips to run several motors).  Basically your are changing the supplied code by commenting out code you don’t need for your flight controller. The code file is written for many different types of flight controllers and hardware configurations. The Arduino editor is a simple version of a text editor, and I’m going to have to learn the language sooner or later  and more reading to familiarize myself with the syntax. For the first time user it’s build able without programming experience, but that’s not the end result I was looking for, as you know once the system is up and running the user can modify the code and actively see the results. There certainly is a wide variety of subjects to learn. Microcomputers, sensors, GPS, flight dynamics, radio controls, motor controls, electronics speed controllers, propeller pitch Etc. Years ago anyone wanting to break into the field of radio control planes was hampered by cost.

the flight controller

the flight controller

flight controller

flight controller

Notes:

At first my computer didn’t connect and recognize  the USB serial cable to the flight controller board, it didn’t load the USB drivers correctly right away. Finally after restart it showed in the device manager that the driver was installed. This may utilize port settings as necessary. Sometimes Windows will try to look up and install a driver when first connected. Use the USB driver supplied in the download. Again the proper USB to serial driver must be on your base computer connected to flight controller. (DUH)

USB to microcomputer (flight controller) serial interface board

USB to microcomputer (flight controller) serial interface board

The GUI multiwiiconf.exe didn’t work correctly first try, it seems that JAVA had some files misplaced. It was necessary to copy files to correct directory. Researched on the web for correct procedure. involved both the program/java/ and java/program/ directories. (this is common with open sourced projects, so gain experience with forum setups, Q and A’s  and searches to find answers to your particular problems.) Also the GUI Multiwii, different from the text editor version , isn’t well documented as I tied to change some of the values, by typing , it was a matter of using the cursor and sliding small boxes under the values to modify them if necessary.

also some compatibility issues with the type of platform, 64 vs 32 bit for the miltiwiiconfig.exe. Didn’t run consistently on all occasions.

The GUI runs but at this time didn’t properly show the flight controller parameters yet most likely I have a port setting incorrect.

The 32 bit windows version now works fairly well , some times after starting  the GUI several times the program may hang, and going to the Task manager and stopping multiple occurrences of Java running.

This is a learning experience for a first time user trial and error processor with frequent searches on the web for solutions.

There also may be updates and revisions to the programs to download

Finally the Multiwii GUI runs and read the data from the flight controller , the calibration of the accelerometer can be accomplished.

Next. the receiver is connected to the flight controller and the transmitter is activated, and the receiver is synced to the transmitter, now the data from the movement of the remote controller can be read by the GUI.

assembly of the frame and motors.

assembly of the frame and motors.

After the completion of the assembly, the battery can be connected and the drone is ready for flight. After several attempts, the battery life is very limited, the drone was unable to fly. More diagnostics are needed, the power to each of the 4 motors is not balanced and will not propel the multi copter to level flight.

closeup of the flying computer !

closeup of the flying computer !

After loading a different version of the Multiwii and some tweaking, the drone was able to liftoff and I found out more aggressive thrust is needed to launch the drone , several flights upwards could be accomplished by holding the drone and launching it midair but flight control is a problem as it’s more difficult at first to control the direction and height of flight. ( also the drone is operated indoors, and is fast, a very large room would be better.) OUTSIDE? No,  there are restrictions on drones and it would be advisable to read and understand the safety rules and regulations for flying one. (airports are  one restriction)

a bare bones build, less the supplied LED board (lights) for flight testing

a bare bones build, less the supplied LED board (lights), for flight testing, charging the battery.

More study and tweaking  of the software is needed for more stable flights.

All in all the Sunfounder is a complete entry level kit, all parts you need are contained in the kit including  a 4 channel transmitter (remote control). It provides a challenge for the first time microcomputer programmer and an introduction into radio control flying.

https://www.sunfounder.com/drone/multirotors/6d-box/sunfounder-6d-box-mwc-multiwii-drone-quadcopter-diy-starter-kit-for-arduino-with-2-4ghz-rc-6-axis-gyro.html

08
Jan
17

out with old , in with the new

file under keeping up with technology……

a simple upgrade… a gift for the holidays…

Before

img_1515After

img_1516Nothing earth shattering here; finally going LCD 20″monitor vs CRT

22
May
16

Oriental Style egg drop noodle soup.

Most will say it was a gorgeous day to be outside. I tackled a few technical details indoors, finished tranferring some files from an older computer to a new/old replacement. A Windows 7 upgrade for the wife, it was easier and cost effective to purchase a refurb machine than it would be to buy Windows 7 alone and worry about system requirements.  Very satisfied with what was available for the cost. The computer looked like it had not been touched since manufacture. For the techies ,3 gigahertz processor, 4 gig ram , Windows pro 64 bit, optical drive in a small form factor case. I’m not in the habit of dropping names ,HP Compaq. Tiger direct.

While this was going on made some veggie, chicken stock and utilized for soup.

Stock

Chopped carrot

Chopped onion

Chopped celery

Mushrooms

Rice noodles

Chopped chicken livers, gizzards

Slight dried hot red pepper addition

De canting some of the soup, and stirred in a beaten egg.

Plated with additional soup and toasted spent grain bread.

A good finish to the day.

Addendum: Windows 10 installed flawlessly. Also there is no bloat ware on the computer.

19
Mar
16

under cabinet lighting

IMG_9860

It’s been a constant effort to upgrade lighting, step by step, to change lighting to LEDs. Since 2 years ago can lights (recessed lights ) were converted to LEDs in the kitchen/dining area, now that LEDs are now available on adhesive strips by the reel, some are now installed under the cabinets/over the counter tops.

The main advantage is that the reel of LED’s can be cut and configured to about any length, soldered, and a switch added. Buy a plug in transformer (wall wort) and installation is done.  The usual voltage is 12 volts DC so your not running 120 vac wiring. Follow the manufacturing directions on how many strips can run on the 12 DC adapter you selected.

In this application, the strips were cut and wired in triple parallel rows for brightness  into  an L shape to go to the right of the sink where the counter goes out to a 90 degree corner. The configuration was first mounted to thin wood strips to ease in soldering and then mounted under the wall cabinets. Some manufacturers   also offer channeling and lenses to give the product a more finished look.

The prices have dropped on LED’s over the years and if you factor the expected life span and  wattage/lumens output they make sense.

A quick search on any popular on-line retailer will give you ample choice of LED styles and colors for strip lights. If you choose not to solder, connectors, adapters etc. are available.

The lighting I utilized :

LED Strip light, Waterproof LED Flexible Light Strip 12V with 300 SMD LED, 3258 Pure White. 16.4 Foot / 5 Meter (Pure White)

Most components I bought, come direct mail from China.

The LED strip lighting does more than light a shadowed area below your cabinets and above your counter top, but adds a general accent  and brightness especially if you have a white or light colored back splash and can be used as a nightlight in the kitchen area given the low wattage these use.

I’ll post a better picture when the dishes are done! 😎

 

 

06
Feb
15

A Radio Shack is a room or structure used for housing radio equipment.

IMG_7275

Ok !any body over the years who ever has taken on an electronic project, messed with computers back in

the 70’s and forward most likely has crossed the threshold of their local Radio Shack.

They were so a neighborhood icon that most hobbyist would count on the Shack to be their

GPS so to speak, no matter where they lived the Shack could be found within a short

distance to gather parts, or find that last missing cable or component to complete a

audio, video, or digital project.

Can I recall my first visit to the Shack? Possibly I read the catalog first. There were

some competitors (Lafayette, Heathkit) ,but one’s first exposure could be by a snail mail

catalog back then. Radio Shack was also an advertiser in magazines like Popular Mechanics,

Popular Science and such projects in those magazines would also utilize Radio Shack

components. Any maker/hacker back than would quickly become familiar with the numbered

stock system. Hookup wire and tube sockets anyone ? Grab that high wattage Weller soldering gun !

Another brilliant move back than was the free annually catalog. One of The geeksters bibles

the shack catalog covered all current electronic trends from radios (real transmitters,

receivers,stereos, audio, video, (then televisions) and the real meat, electronic

components. Any one knows that a catalog is also an education tool. Perusing the pages

gave a wealth of info on the products. Don’t forget the book section at the Shack too.

The shack itself was an introverts playground as one would feel free to stay and spend an

hour scanning the shelves even though your total purchase might be less than $5.00 dollars.

The sales people would ask if you needed assistance and go about their business if you

responded “NO, just browsing”. Other retailers make you feel as though your are perusing

their store ready to stuff your pockets with their items or pepper you with questions

about what you didn’t want.

When digital started it’s transformation from the analog stream RS already had it’s

distribution in place for home and business computers. Also the shack transformed from the

vacuum tube era to the transistor to the Integrated circuit component supply not to

mention all the bells and whistles needed such as solder soldering irons, breadboards

power supplies etc.

Back then ,The quality of the Shack’s consumer electronics , even though they were from

off shore, tended to be better than other foreign goods as it seemed that the Shack

demanded higher quality. Even if they were at obscene markups, they were good enough at

the time. The other competition was a Kmart or local retailer or department store. Best

Buy, Circuit City, and comp USA didn’t exist yet.

It was the local Radio Shack that started my

education with home computers. A basic entry TRS-80 (affectionately know as the Trash-80) was

purchased and became a fixture on my living room coffee table. The blinking asterisk on the

screen indicated that the program recorder (a cassette recorder) was loading the program. I

learned how to play backgammon and lunar lander that was written in BASIC. With tutorials,

I learned BASIC and how to write save and load programs.

I wondered though as RS sold computers for home and business that the employees still

used the old handwritten pad of tickets for every purchase, That of course changed.

The Shack(s) was at that time a support center for makers as Heathkit, tended to cater to

the higher income hobbyist, closed it doors and later

my interest with the shack grew to a point there I went there once for employment.

Actually it was more of an interest, as a salesman I am not, and as customers entered the

store I would ask if they needed assistance and stumbled if they asked generalized

questions like whats a good calculator for school. Mostly knowing what I was going to buy

when I entered a store, I assumed most people did the same. The pay depended on sales and

the eager beaver salesman vied for the hours on the floor.

Not to sound trite but the rest, as they say is history your familiar with , the progress

of mass communication through the internet added another dimension to shopping and those

late adopters paid the price. Buy some consumer electronic devices on the internet today

and they come to your door directly from the overseas manufacturer.

Need components today and Amazon, and  Ebay, just to name a few will pop up in your search.

.http://recode.net/2015/02/05/the-shack-of-radios-in-the-shadow-of-internet-mansions/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=rc_email_daily&utm_content=the-shack-of-radios-in-the-shadow-of-internet-mansions

http://www.wired.com/2015/02/dear-radioshack-adored-love-wired/

IMG_7435

IMG_7405

24
Jan
15

energy saving refrigerator light bulb

Bought this bulb to check it out and decided to put it in the fridge….

 

http://www.supplyhouse.com/Topaz-79941-LA17-4-827-E26-61-LA17-LED-A-Style-Bulb-120v-4-Watts

IMG_7027

IMG_7025




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