Quadcopter parts are milled!

Thanks to Ryan Nolin at Skyview Images I could mill my quadcopter parts. Below a snapshot of the parts. I’m anxiously awaiting the parts so I can finish my build.

[caption id=”” align=”alignnone” width=”640”] CNC milled carbon fibre parts, thanks to Ryan.[/caption]


Final quadcopter layout

I finalized the layout of my drone design. It now includes a top and bottom plate, a canopy to protect the autopilot and a platform for a GPS (if needed). It also includes legs to be attached to the current 3DR arms.

In detail, the bottom plate includes 3M hole pinouts for the old and new arducopter power distribution boards. The bottom plate also has holes to attach the ESCs with zip ties, and this at three locations depending on ESC size etc.The top plate includes an extension and holes to hold a standard XBee module. There is also room and holes for the standard 3DR GPS stand. Holes in the canopy allow for access to analogue inputs and to check autopilot warning lights.

The model accepts the Xaircraft F4005 arms, and the current 3DR aluminium arms. I’m willing to adapt the model to the more common flamewheel plastic arms but I lack the measurements. If someone could provide them I can adjust the design.

The current design is drawn in FreeCAD and can easily be exported DXF format for compatibility with other CAD software or laser cutting, cnc milling.

The FreeCAD model can be downloaded using this dropbox link.

All feedback is appreciated!


Quadcopter frame build

I dusted of some old quadcopter hardware and have begun rebuilding my beloved ‘drone’. My last platform was a bit crowded as I crammed everything in an old CD spindle on top of the original top plate. However, this added weight and the internal layout was rather messy making maintenance difficult. On top of that I want to keep the centre of mass as low and central as possible, not stacking things up high.

So, I decided to redo the bottom and top plate to accommodate all the electronics in a nice and orderly fashion. After some initial fighting with FreeCAD I managed to get some drawings out.

[caption id=”” align=”alignnone” width=”640”] FreeCAD drawings of quadcopter parts[/caption]

I have access to the Harvard engineering facilities (thanks Don) where they have a high powered CO2 laser cutter. So today I made the first prototypes of the top and bottom frame plates out of cardboard. Below you see the laser cutter at work.

The cardboard is amazingly stiff so this allowed me not only to check the location of all the mounting holes but actually build the frame. Although it is not flight ready it does give me a far better idea what the final result will be and where I can improve upon it. Go go for cardboard prototying I would say.

[caption id=”” align=”alignnone” width=”640”] Assembled cardboard quadcopter centre plates[/caption]

Rosetta reaches comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Today the Rosetta satellite reached comet 67P. It’s the first time in history a space probe made such a close approach to a comet. In the coming weeks the current distance to the comet of ~100 km will be lowered to ~30 km bringing the probe in orbit. Once this orbit is established a robotic lander “Philae” will be dropped along a ballistic orbit onto the comet itself.

Below you find one of the latest images taken by the Rosetta satellite. Considering that the satellite has travelled 6 billion kilometres, taking 10 years to do so, I consider this a major scientific and technological feat.

[caption id=”” align=”alignnone” width=”480”] Comet 67P close-up - OSIRIS, Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA[/caption]

I commend ESA for supporting such long term / high risk missions. I hope such wonderful pictures, after this amazing journey, can inspire future engineers and scientists all over the world.

Space programs and science funding in general has seen some serious budget cuts but results such as these should inspire policy makers that good science sometimes takes considerable time and money. My congratulations go out to Rosetta team!

For last minute updates on the project, more images and videos I refer to the Rosetta ESA website.


IMS / CMC snow product code on bitbucket

In a previous post I mentioned my efforts to standardize and consolidate the IMS and CMC snow products. In order to keep the ball rolling on development of the code I created a new bitbucket project.

You can find the link to the project on my software page. I will add new functions to process the data on a later date. If I find the space I will also upload the consolidated data, if not ask them to be hosted by NSIDC. As of now the code will allow you to compile the data in stacked geotiffs yourself. Happy hacking everyone.


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