I expected the page to run badly with all that big content but had no problems.
The images and video add so much and not even a single click required!
Thanks for the kind words! This is primarily a taster article to introduce the UAV project, I intend to write a more technical report and publish the designs/code in due time (and some more videos!).
The presentation uses Story Glass, also a project of mine, which we hope to offer soon as a service. It is an experience, lying in a damp field shooting a video to think about how the text will flow over it!
Ah, looking at it, it appears that these may not have webm variants. You might want to include a static fallback image or something of the sort for videos that you don't have webm variants for; in fact, static fallback images for all of the videos would be good for people who have video disabled, don't have video support, don't have appropriate codec support, or the like.
Anyways, this looks like a really great project and looking forward to re-open over a wired full-speed connection.
The model helicopter guys have been using gyro-stabilized platforms for probably decades. These are cases where the darn thing would be almost impossible to fly without the gyro taking control of various aspects of the aircraft. One of my current helicopters (1.5 meter rotor) can be tuned to go from docile-and-almost-boring to what I would call "tasmanian-devll-mode".
Frankly it's actually more of a proof-of-concept for a highly efficient wing design - one that only recently was discovered within the past five years. Hence, even if everybody nipping at my heels thinks it could have been done already / 10 years ago with "off the shelf" parts and such, well, you're wrong. Like I said, I'm very protective of my IP at this point and don't mind fielding this type of criticism, it's just somewhat laughable to me because there's so many disparate concepts being put together that the only person who could be this crazy and innovative is me, because it's one of those inventions that only comes from a unique mind.
There's a lot of criticism on here for the OP because they aren't going into enough detail. I'm guilty of that too. I really don't care if you feel the same, because I like making connections with other big thinkers and dreamers. Critics are a dime a dozen. Liberal arts majors with a lifetime of aviation industry experience? Much more rare.
> I certainly don't expect most people on here to understand the short, medium, and long-term goals of my concept.
Does not expect to be understood by others.
> Like I said, I'm very protective of my IP at this point
> it's just somewhat laughable to me because there's so many disparate concepts being put together that the only person who could be this crazy and innovative is me, because it's one of those inventions that only comes from a unique mind.
Self describes as having 'a unique mind'
> Professional Writer, Musician and Intellectual
> The innovation is one of physics
Not schooled in the field in which he's making a 'breakthrough invention'
> Liberal arts majors with a lifetime of aviation industry experience? Much more rare.
Well, obviously, yes, liberal arts majors tend not to have lifetimes of aviation industry experience.
Beware, you're sounding suspiciously like the majority of all crackpot 'researchers' and 'inventors' who are coming up with new ways to make energy/spacecraft/airplanes/AI etc in their garages. I've been pretty active on an alternative energy forum and there were quite a few people there that exhibited most or even all of the symptoms above, I never saw them produce anything.
Word to the wise: if you're serious then don't bother commenting on HN teasing the world with your invention without a show and tell, chances are that your breakthrough has been looked at many times before and has been discarded for good reasons. If you have found something original then more power to you, in that case just go out and build it, don't talk about it at all.
But you have full control of the programming and have the communications problem solved as well. It would be great to have open hardware to replace some of these parts in-plane just like OpenTX now replaces the software in the ground transmitters:
I agree that piloting AR plane is quite difficult. I always end up with a crash  and then I spend an hour in repairing it. Keeping it up in the air is doable, landing is just impossible for me ;)
I don't quite understand how stabilisation would allow me a better fight. From what I read in another comment from yours, what you do is "work out the difference between the desired angle (set by the pilot on the ground) and the actual angle (as reported by the IMU algorithm fed by the gyro/accelometer)". Is there anything else involved in the stabilization? I mean, speed is key for maneuvering in air, and moving the flaps is less effective at low speeds, do you take this into account?
Also, why building your own PCB (and having to wait 2 weeks to get it delivered) while there's arduino nano or similars ready to go with in a very small size? I guess you do it just for the hacking fun and learing. BRILLIANT!
Once you feel comfortable in the simulator, start with a big foam flyer like an EasyStar or Bixler. It's easiest if you start with 3 channel (no ailerons) so there's less you have to worry about. Progressively move to smaller and faster planes (first in the simulator, then in the field).
Is this sort of thing usually done with RC planes? I've been watching a few RC plane videos lately - there seem to be a lot of pilots out there who could benefit from electronics to help land their planes - especially those who've spent a ton of money on really nice setups like this guy: 
I just bought a E-Flite Radian UMX, which is a stabilized and miniaturized (29" wingspan) version of a larger model (the 2M wingspan Parkzone Radian). The stabilization makes it much easier for inexperienced users to fly in gusty conditions. Like the OP's home-built system, it has a rate-sensing gyro system that compensates for any uncommanded movement. The plane flies perfectly straight regardless of wind and updrafts unless you give rudder or elevator inputs.
I am still amazed it was only $80.
The OP's DIY approach looks much more fun though!
That said, the availability and usability of these 9 DOF modules has really made this sort of stuff doable for folks. Opens up a lot of possibilities and for me at least I think it is the single biggest reason the quadcopter market exists :-)
Also, do you employ control theory for the stabilization? Predictive filtering and all that?
I plan to write this up more completely, but here are some more technical details:
Most of the bits (the foam plane, servos, speed controller, radio modules, IMU, barometer and GPS) came from eBay or HobbyKing. I started off with a little USB development board with an Atmel SAM7 on it, and then moved to the PCB and a newer Atmel SAM3 (partly after discovering how cheap prototype PCBs are from ITEAD).
I initially wrote the algorithms in python, using pyserial to talk to the built-in bootloader the chips come with, through which you can manipulate registers and control the peripherals. This made writing and debugging the C much easier. The chip runs TNKernel, a little RTOS, which handles the radio and IMU processes (and soon GPS and barometer).
Control is currently simple proportional control based on the IMU output, but I may add integral and differential terms once I'm more comfortable flying it, to see if can improve stability. It is remarkable how happy it is flying with the relatively crude algorithm it currently uses.
Launching it is still slightly nerve-wracking - you have to throw it quite hard and hope that it is going to go up rather than down. There's also the risk that it'll fly out of radio range and keep on going, but if this happens it automatically cuts the throttle, in theory at least!
* How much payload can you put on the vehicle?
* Are you planning on adding some sort of forward scanner / camera to check for safety while flying autonomously? ("Eyes" to accompany the brain)
* How are you using the feedback from the IMU and gyroscope? Does it have a kalman filter? Or are you just looking at the instantaneous IMU data and just reacting to it.
* Where does the stability code reside? You mention a stable platform .. I am curious as to what it is.
But I know nothing about hardware, and very very little about programming a UAV.
If you're interested in planar SLAM, exploration etc, there are loads of simulated and real platforms to experiment with, and lots of ready-to-go scenarios which you can bring up, observe, play with, etc. For example:
1) I started by buying an arduino, a starter kit and some simple sensors and actuators - ultrasonic, gyro, servos, motor driver - on ebay.
2) read Pratt's "Make Electronics" and Wiley's "Electronics for Dummies"
3) started making. Understood theoretical concepts by doing.
4) I regularly watch DIY youtube channels and follow RSS feeds of sites like Instructables and Hackaday.io
5) I'm not yet capable of building a UAV, but I've already built a couple of robots.
It's not really tough, and it's a fantastic side hobby. It's also turned me into a more careful software programmer, constantly double and triple checking everything, because electronic circuits are not as forgiving of mistakes as software.
So I'd say get started right away. It's gonna be fun!
Additionally, I bought a couple of the widely available HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensors, a couple of turnigy small servos, an L293 motor driver, couple of L-shaped BO DC motors, and robot chassis. Just search for those terms on ebay.
Thanks! I'll take a look at those books.
Any good links you could throw my way while we are at it?
For learning, check out :
It seems like a great introduction to embedded systems for programmers without any hardware/electronics experience. The course is being run again in January.
Also, how does the microcontroller pass on the commands to the motors, and how do they carry it out?
I'd love to read this article with x100 details.
At the moment the control is proportional - the microcontroller works out the difference between the desired angle (set by the pilot on the ground) and the actual angle (as reported by the IMU algorithm fed by the gyro/accelometer). This error signal is then scaled and sent to the aileron servos.
The USB flight-controller I am using has a spare knob on it so I can adjust the scaling coefficient in flight. It still isn't perfect (as the video at the bottom demonstrates) - it veers to the right, probably because the IMU isn't held down very well!
Layout didnt work so well on my note 3 with chrome, the image sections were pretty flawless but the text parts were a tad difficult to focus onn at times.
Definatly going to look it up on the pc though :-)
Any advice on finding people to work on projects like this with? I've tried to do electronics projects in the past and get bored when I realize no one cares about it :-(
I'd really appreciate that!
Which shop did you use to print the PCBs and how much did each of them cost?