It was recorded, which is how I know this, I honestly wouldn't suggest looking for it as it's pretty horrific. It's sad that such a smart person didn't apply the most basic of safety protocol though.
Problem is that we do not have many tools, indian made tools cost 3-4x of Chinese tools and have 2x worse quality on average
80% things which exist in West (made in China) does not exist in India on top India doesn't make many things.
Plus we suffer from too many middlemen problem, where the end product is inflated away beyond the affordability of masses.
Not everything is available in India, when I lived in US and Germany, I felt as if I was living in heaven I could order any part and it will be at my desk within a day or two but here in India you can have money yet you'll not find what you need.
India doesn't have any marketplace for makers like Ebay or even McMasterCar.
In small cities getting even the right size bolt, nut and screws is damnn too difficult let alone compression fittings etc.. which are more involved.
Surprisingly no startup has taken this issue seriously.
As the inflation has increased, labor cost has also significantly increased and more Indians are forced to take DIY approach thanks to abundant wealth of knowledge available from youtube and reddit experts (now even homeless people on streets can be seen chatting on WhatsApp with their friends, data has got so cheap)
Material availability still a major problem outside of the big cities with 10 million+ population. Most startup founders (people with resources, knowledge, network) also live in big cities so they don't really know what problems 70% of Indians face who are still living in villages, towns and small cities.
It sucks India does not have a hardware ecosystem similar to Shenzhen. There is no capital available for independent innovators who want to build hardware products. There are few skilled engineers who can develop the tooling required to make parts like screws, fittings etc. at a scale and price that makes sense for the market. Import duties to encourage import substitution have only made parts more expensive and made logistics more complex.
I think the attention given to IT services and software companies and startups has left the hardware industry without talent or capital. If you can make 5-10x as a software engineer than a tooling engineer, it makes zero sense to study mechanical engineering.
All the cars have seat belts, so it would’ve been pretty easy to obtain one compared to the rest of the parts involved here.
None of the auto rickshaws have seat belts, for example, and lots of construction workers forgo helmets. No one cares, and furthermore people exacerbate the issue by trying to fit as many people as possible into these vehicles.
It’s a miracle that people wear helmets from time to time, though it’s still quite rare for pillion riders and whole families try to sit on two wheelers.
Human life is cheap in India.
Who doesn't want to live longer? I even know a local welder who went to local welding supply store and all they had was shade 11 lens, through which he couldn't see a damn thing and now he welds without any shade. That's the state of affair in India.
Sure in factories, boss doesn't pay for protective gears so the people who need the job have to do without it.
Most autorikshaws are not driver owned, they are owned by some guy who probably owns a bunch of them and rents it out to drivers. Drivers get penalty left right on road from traffic police and lose a lot of money to repairs, rickshaw owner, fuel theft etc. At the end not much is left for the driver let alone for safety installs.
As people become richer they stop using rickshaw and drive their own cars.
Lot of people don't wear helmet because it's hot and humid in India and its really hard to wear it in 38*C in bright sun on 70% RH.
An average person in India has so many problems, the general mood is agitated and forgetful as a result. Most look for escapes and might not even be paying attention to things on road.
You answer your own question here:
> Lot of people don't wear helmet because it's hot and humid in India and its really hard to wear it in 38*C in bright sun on 70% RH.
> Most look for escapes and might not even be paying attention to things on road.
This culture is not amenable to valuing lives very highly.
I've noticed that a lot of comments here echo the sentiment above and you're the only person defending this attitude as being borne out of the lack of convenience (which no one is arguing with, however, that's no excuse in places where human life is actually valued).
I wonder if this overall difficulty shapes a person's attitude to be more risk-tolerant?
Like, "I haven't died yet from XYZ, and I might die from ABC tomorrow, so therefore I am comfortable participating in risky behavior PQR today!"
It’s definitely sad to see genius wasted because the tools just sometimes aren’t available in places like India.
Thanks for this information, it’s easy living in the US to forget just how easy our lives are in so many different ways.
This remind me of the time when some local makers were ordering parts from aliexpress it was talking on average 30-40 days to arrive at their door and they were only ordering the parts that could not be substituted easily.
Then one day government of India decided to ban aliexpress.
Moreover, India as a country has a lax attitude towards safety. When you are fighting to get the basic stuff, the safety aspect does not even cross most people's minds. This can be observed pretty much everywhere. In most construction sites here we don't see the workers wearing hard hats, which are seen as a bare necessity in developed countries.
As someone pointed out, in this case the accident could have been prevented by forming a makeshift seat-belt out of cloth, but the inventor probably wasn't thinking about safety at all.
Well they do it mostly because laws are not strict in India even if they are its easy to bribe off the enforcer and this saves the contractor money while he maximize the profit.
It's not that average Indian is more greedy than average European it's just the enforcement system in India is easy to bribe away, so risk for not following proper safety guidelines is less in India and an open opportunity to save money on protective gears.
The true failure comes from average Indian not being able to demand better standards from those in power like Europeans have managed to.
Not trying to diminish the magnitude of the disaster, but I think your argument does not apply in this case
I cannot fathom that a person with the skills, resources, and tenacity to DIY a helicopter could not lay their hands on at least a car seatbelt and a scooter helmet during the course of the project. I wouldn’t be surprised if the crash scene was within sight of both of those items.
“Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.”
Which isn't a lot and I think this is an unfortunate oversight, but I can see it being a bit difficult to do properly.
Of course, doing it improperly with a rope would probably have been better than not at all.
During a business trip to Berlin I visited a typical departmental store and was absolutely blown away by all sorts of tools being sold. I was like a kid in a candy store. I mean it wasn’t even a specialized store but a Walmart kind of generic store. Imagine how it’d be in a dedicated hardware store!
There are few tiny startups catering to small niche e.g. https://diy-india.com sells tiny screws, shafts etc. for reasonable price. But they hardly get the support needed to scale up to something like McMaster-Carr, Which the startups emulating western startups or EdTech startups get in India.
With Chinese eCommerce sites banned, The time for entering this market has never been more lucrative.
P.S. I run a validation platform and I have started to track this need-gap - https://needgap.com/problems/284-online-marketplace-for-hard...
Never going to forgive flipkart for killing ebay india, it was a heaven for tinkereres.
Similarly, are there groups where people with these interests communicate about how frustrated they are?
But I guess it is time for us to have stores like the ones in US, large hardware stores.
I have to source various hardware for building projects and with five big box stores within a few minutes of my house it is always an absolute pain, if not impossible, to find what I need. I walked into Menards the other day and couldn't get 2" cabinetry screws...a commonly stocked basic fastener. Our big box hardware stores have turned into seasonal home goods stores.
I work in Ag-Tech and I've got some interest in India, seems like a growing country (though still with a lot of issues as you point out...)
Would love to hear about what you do.
The helicopter was completely uncontrollable without the control system. In the simulator you'd just end up spinning around or something, but that was only because it held you at a fixed height for demonstration purposes.
Seeing that demo made me realize how incredible it is that people have made helicopters work to begin with. They really don't seem to be very cooperative without a lot of work in controlling them.
I know it's just a videogame, but it gave me a deep respect for helicopters, in a way that normal flight sims didn't give me for jet planes.
In the process, I've also learned a bit about the mechanics surrounding the drive train and the main rotor blade, and to this day I'm impressed by how it was made to work. You have a couple tons of metal, + fuel and people, hanging from the sky off a spinning rod with lots of tiny, rotating parts. The more I think about it, the more I realize I still don't have a good intuition for strength and wear-resistance of materials involved.
I wish I could fly one for real. Maybe in another life, when I'm someone with more time, money and risk tolerance. For now, I'll just wait for someone to build a nice VR simulator, and maybe my friend and I can resume our high-school competition in autorotating after simulated engine failure in bad weather.
That dream is much more attainable than you might realize. "Discovery flights" are pretty cheap, and of course you're going up with a seasoned instructor who guides you through a few maneuvers. Highly recommend it!
You should check out Felix Baumgartner and Fred North on Instagram.
(login required, unfortunately, or you can get Barinsta from F-Droid)
Flying helicopters is pretty difficult (I've only done it in sims, and I'm moderately good at it after a lot of hours), but most of them are not like unstable jet fighters that can't fly without computer control.
That said, autopilots and gyro stabilization are pretty common in modern helicopters.
I give credit to him that he is intelligent, dedicated, hard working, etc.
But smart? If he was smart, he would know that a helicopter is one of the most complex flying machines ever designed. Everything is so critical, from design of the mechanical system, right down to quality of welds and quality of material used.
I have seen pics and video of the copter. Its a frame, and some blades, welded in some shop. Not safe.
Also, there is a reason individual components are extensively tested before final assembly. He should individually have spun the rotors and blades in a separate fixture, beyond their design limits to assess quality. Looks like he made some designs, built them, and directly assembled them, without any plan or purpose. That is appalling.
I feel sorry for his loss of life, his efforts could have been used somewhere else. There are many people cheering him on. But I strongly believe, being an Indian and living in India and being in an engineering industry, this sets a very bad example. How long before students and amateurs see the amount of media attention he is getting and try to emulate him, hurting / killing themselves and others in the process?
Not only that, but how well did he really know how to fly a helicopter or any other aircraft? It's pretty bold to be your own test pilot when you haven't had instruction in the first place.
Here's why you don't try to fly an unfamiliar aircraft without instruction, even if you have a pilot's license: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAwwKoz8Diw
Years ago, when I was taking sailplane lessons*, someone brought his brand-new autogyro to the airport. For all practical purposes, it was just a frame with a pilot's seat and a column for the main rotor. He fired it up, started down the runway, pulled back on the stick too soon and too far, and went tumbling when the main rotor contacted the ground. He was securely belted in and didn't get hurt, but his brand-new toy was a total loss.
* I got cold feet after a scary but harmless crosswind landing.
> his efforts could have been used somewhere else.
I take your sentiment to be heartfelt, but putting one's competitive advantage to the collective above one's dreams sounds rather joyless. Anyway, the Market provides ample incentive to abandon dreams and chase one's maximum value; perhaps it just wasn't offering enough in this man's case.
India is not known for looking at what can go wrong. There are many YouTube videos out there showing you how to make things with electricity which can kill you dead instantly. What’s worse is they never discuss safety and you only get to see the survivors.
My favourite is the (now removed) video of repairing a switch more power supply. The guy has a mains lead made up for his oscilloscope with no earth and is handling the probes and casing on live mains connected SMPS with no isolation transformer. One slip and he’s dead. I did wonder how many people he’d killed who watched it and did the same.
All those masks, gloves, helmets are not cheap in India. Saddest thing is even if it's being made in India the raw material for making this comes from China and taxed by Indian customs.
If you've choice between buying yourself protective gears vs a new welder to weld the rotor which one do you think will be take him one step closer to his dream?
Sure protective gear can give him more time but most have choices to make, if he could fly this helicopter off the ground, highly likely he also knew about the protective gears yet he choose to not have any maybe because he didn't have much money.
That's not to say that personal restraint system isn't a critical component of safety equipment. Just that its role in this specific mortality mode would be negligible.
Helicoptors are complex. There are many ways they can kill you (or those around you).
Anything could have happened. But for what did happen, a 4 point belt would have sufficed.
Very sad accident indeed. It makes one think that maybe the ”hero inventor” stereotype does not lend itself well to our current level of technology: it’s too easy to fatally overlook something vitally important.
I'm sure if you look at the history of inventors there are many people who were killed along the way. The Wright brothers were heavily inspired by Otto Lilienthal, who was killed in an accident flying one of his gliders.
Of course this doesn't make this any less tragic, my prayers go out to this man's family and friends.
From the description, the man wasnt killed by one mistake but at least a dozen at the same time, and all of them avoidable by a one man operation.
You don’t design an aircraft to fly, you design it to fail in ways and for reasons that are very well understood, then you design several ways for each impossible failure to happen gracefully.
When I built that windmill I spent hours planning individual welds, ensuring no inclusions, grinding the mating surfaces to get a perfect fit before welding, annealing them properly, magnafluxing them afterwards to make sure that it wouldn't come apart due to some weld inclusion. It had a safety factor of four because there was a house within throwing range of the blades, and a variable pitch windmill is essentially a helicopter in a different plane. Design speed was 600 RPM, the hub was spun to double that with some weights attached and the plane of rotation angled such that even if it came apart the debris would not cause any damage.
As soon as you start spinning large things fast you need to be really careful.
A windgust managed to overspeed it (it is very impressive to see your homemade windmill break the sound barrier at the tips) and the machine survived without any damage at all.
That was very briefly the most power that it ever made. When the storm died down we pulled it down and modified the governor to ensure that that would never happen again, better safe than sorry.
In fact seatbelts can kill you. I have a friend that went out with his has car and a friend 20 years ago, they did drink too much and had an accident. He was expelled by the acceleration the car had(because he used no seatbelt) while his friend burned alive inside the car.
What makes seatbelts generally safer is that it is a single point of failure, you leave only one possibility for the position of occupants, so you could put a team of engineers working around this single point of failure and develop solutions for that, like now that you know all your occupants remain inside you can make the deposit to absorb impacts, or you can use airbags, that are useless or even dangerous without using seatbelts.
Without seatbelts , there is almost infinite possibilities and combinations of failure, and you can not design against that.
But a solo enthusiast in India has not this luxury.
When assessing safety we can’t argue from anecdote like this. Getting ejected from a car is almost always fatal. Accidents involving fire are pretty rare. Your anecdote is so far from a norm as to be a ridiculous example to assess the safety of seat belts.
I'm also curious how one builds up strong manufacturing skills safely? I thought high school shop class no longer exists. Makerspaces sometimes have kind souls willing to help but I have seen people do dangerous things happen.
 just to be clear, the channel's author does talk about the importance of safety and doesn't promote recklessness. It is just me getting tempted to replicate.
I graduated high school in 2015 and had woodshop, auto shop, and metal shop classes. Also welding, and, for what it is worth, cosmetology. This was at a public school in Houston. We had wood and metal shop in middle school, as well.
These classes are still offered at my school according to my relative who still works there.
Teachers are generally well paid, though.
Sometimes the requirements are and/or, and sometimes they let you slide if you're "working on the masters".
The biggest restriction is lack of decent pay relative to the quality of life and liabilities of the job.
Doing a trade apprenticeship is the common way to do it, but not an option for people looking to get in as a hobby. But even as a hobbyist, an "apprenticeship" is helpful if you can make friends who already have the experience you're after and are willing to hang out and build things with you.
You can learn a lot on your own, but you will miss some important safety and productivity tips that just aren't obvious except through experience.
And slightly off topic, but power tools are honestly not what frighten me - it's dust and chemical exposure that keeps me awake at night.
There's a lot of edge cases where you can get away with it but it's a bad habit to get into.
That said, the people who complain that literally every bit of content with a power tool doesn't start with the introductory lecture about safety need to go stick their hand in a wood chipper. That's like asking for every math class to start by reiterating basic arithmetic. It's an unnecessary drag on everyone for nothing. The people who need to be told to wear safety glasses aren't watching a youtube video on how to build a race car cage, they're not at that level, and the people who are watching it don't need to be told.
Not surprisingly the second workshop was not used at all, which is somewhat of an antithesis to being an open workshop in the first place ...
While getting mentored at jobs that takes OSHA violations seriously? Most youtube maker channels are full of comments complaining about how lacking the hosts are in their safety.
> I'm also curious how one builds up strong manufacturing skills safely?
A lot of technical colleges/polytechnics offer short courses for skills like welding or cabinetmaking, often during the evening.
If you make something fool-proof, the universe will invent a better fool.
Imagining every possible failure mode is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Some modes aren't obvious until you begin using the device. Some modes aren't obvious until they happen.
I do see what you mean, but you can still get hurt even if you do everything "right". Angle grinders, for example, can shatter even if you don't break any safety rules. Hopefully your safety equipment works, but really hard shards flying around at 10,000 rpm are unpredictable.
Although the only carpenter I’ve worked with that had a missing digit had ground his thumb off with a belt sander. He didn’t speak English, and mimed the accident to me with our belt sander. I felt a bit sick.
Which reminds me I used to play with my father’s power tools on my own when I was 8-10 years old. Good times.
When nothing had warnings unless it needed it you took the warnings seriously. When a screwdriver comes with a warning and internet commenters get whipped into a frenzy because some youtuber didn't preface an advanced topic with an introductory safety lecture you don't know what to take seriously and you are effectively on your own. It's the same old information overload problem we've seen in other areas.
Education does not neccesarily prevent accidents. Even spacecraft, built by the best engineers in the world, with the best materials, tested for years, routinely fail and sometimes get people killed after spending 100s of millions of dollars.
Among the first things we learn from the media about people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg is that they dropped out of college, and Albert Einstein did badly at school -- doesn't even matter if it's true or not! I don't know where this silliness comes from, but it's not usually intended to be derogatory or have any real relationship to the story being reported at all.
And you're right, you don't need to have graduated highschool to know this was stupid and dangerous.
Being a high school drop-out is the reason he was killed. If he had been to a 4 year course in Mechanical engineering, he would be exposed to a lot of knowledge about the complexities of building machines
The reason he was killed was because the main rotor hit his head. It did so because it wasn't following safety precautions. None of that has anything to do with his formal education.
The worlds best engineers with Billions of dollars in multi-year budgets, who know about and exposed to a lot of knowledge about "complexities of building machines"...even they fall short.
[Space Shuttle Columbia disaster](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Columbia_disas...)
Spot the difference?
The engineers of Columbia are probably still alive after that monumental fuck up. Did anyone question their credentials? Education? What high school they went to? What modules they took on their mech engineering classes?
The hypocrisy of attributing a failure to a lack of education is morally inept at best, and disingenuos at worst.
But my fear is more base. My fear is that the man is from a third world country and that your answer might be drawing an already unfair conclusion from that fact. I hope my fears are wrong and you are just being objectively pessimistic.
EDIT> I mean, before he got himself killed.
I am speaking without enough knowledge. But I have to wonder if this serves as a harsh criticism of Youtube. I do understand Youtube is a mixed bag of resources. More structured learning might have resulted in better understanding of material strengths, testing, and safety.
Inspite of the failure, I admire his pursuit and find the article inspirational.
YouTube should warn people that its content shouldn't be mistaken for a comprehensive education on a dangerous topic.
You mean like those hundreds of safety warnings even for trivial appliances like smartphone chargers, which nobody ever reads? Do you think someone who builds a helicopter in their garage will be deterred by a warning "This video doesn't teach everything there is to know about mechanical engineering"? Come on.
But no, I was referring to the more general problem: how to keep people safe without withholding educational information.
Also I have no idea what warnings you're talking about. I've watched hundreds of YT videos on topics like chemistry experiments, woodworking, etc. A very small fraction of videos have warnings, and none are provided by YouTube.
The inventor noted above didn't have much of a choice - or indeed even a sequence of books he could work through.
In a professional setting, you have at least two forces ensuring your safety. Your own survival instinct is one. The other one is your boss being liable for accidents at work. Even if you feel super comfortable with your practice, there are other people who'll try to prevent you from doing something stupid - and they have power over you, because as your bosses, they can deny you the access to the workshop.
With a solo op, that second force is missing.
Simply because after working for 10 hours straight he was tired as hell. But life doesn't pause because you're tired.
Probably the number 1 accident maker - tiredness, both mental and physical. Reduces your cognition and reflexes, which results in injuries and death.
YouTube does occasionally take some of it down, but typically not until it's popular enough that it gets flagged by somebody that cares.
That's not how I see it at all. The guy built a working helicopter from scratch watching YouTube; That's crazy (good). Even with structured learning he made the helicopter from scraps so it would have never been "safe" by modern standards. Plenty of other people died trying to fly their own device.
Here is the video its worth a watch from the start
A helicopter is an inherently unstable machine that wants to crash.
Back in the 70's people would design and build radio controlled helicopters. They'd wreck them constantly while trying to learn to fly them. Being able to hover one was quite an accomplishment.
Same with the electric Tuk Tuk earlier, the line between re-implementation and invention is apparently blurring, personally I feel that the term 'invention' should be saved for things that were not done before.
Tuk Tuk didn't show anything extra other than having solar panels on the sides. Simply, slapping several panels to a solar charger for lithium battery pack to operate an ebike-ish drive is not an invention in my opinion.
Homemade Electric Paramotor
Did he spend any time modeling the physics of a helicopter control system? It would have to be of the most complex control systems to model. You don't just build a helicopter. Maybe he should have begun by building a scaled-down version instead. Maybe he did all of this due diligence, and just overlooked some unfortunate minor detail. Some of the comments here are blaming materials failure.
So I have lot of respect for the people who worked out the math on that.
It's like building an E-Bike, drone, car, boat, anything else - people will say "that's nice, but you can just buy a better one cheaper". And if your design has some good ideas, a big factory will just copy them.
Slightly inaccurate. If you watch the video you clearly see the blade tore off before it lifted at all.
Who knows what the world has lost. Obviously a very accomplished inventor, he may have brought us great things.
Stand back, I built this sh*t myself!
It sounds like he was using the "tie it to the ground with a rope" technique, which most of the pioneers used, so credit for that.
I'd probably go further than just a rope (a telescoping ground mounting with pipes), but note that ground resonance can still destroy a helicopter and kill you.
Building personal full-size airplane models is common across India and China, but this is the first time I heard of one with an engine and that was flyable. (In the US, most people can afford to be involved in aviation, but it's 10x outside the affordability of the average person in the developing world.)
Hanna Reitsch, the famous woman Nazi test pilot, actually became famous for demoing the first production helicopter, the Fa 61, daily at a "fair" inside a building (!), so some people are just really talented at flying.
Ironically, after being captured by the British, she was released because although she was a great test pilot at manipulating the controls, she knew nothing about aeronautical engineering beyond subjective descriptions like, "the controls were too heavy", etc.