UAV Education Program from Parallax - your input please!

DroneSchool.jpg


Parallax Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Educational Program

Will flying robots be a big part of future educational robotics programs?

They're everywhere right now, most recently last weekend on this 60 Minutes "Drones over America" video. Putting the media-loved "drone" terminology aside for a bit, this program was a reminder for me that Parallax should consider doing what we did for robotics with the Boe-Bot for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) with the ELEV-8. After all, microcontroller education is what we do very well and although rolling robots provide a very strong starting point, there's a next step some educators are asking about: flying robots.

We are considering the planning of a UAS educational program.

Education requires a known, finite yet expandable system


Consider where Parallax might fit into the UAS educational market (which I really don't think exists yet) with the ELEV-8 products. First, let's recognize that the Chinese and domestic suppliers like DIY Drones have progressed their capabilities beyond the ELEV-8 so our hardware and software features alone aren't all that impressive from an end-user standpoint. However, most people using these are only assembling them and configuring them with a PC. My guess is that fewer people outside of embedded programming circles (and less in educational environment save MIT) have a real understanding of how they are built, how the subsystems operate, and could actually program them on their own like we show people with our robot kits. And it doesn't take a complex UAS to truly learn how they work - the ELEV-8 with the Hoverfly Open board (and an external add-on accelerometer and GPS board) provides more than enough for a UAS educational program that could be used in community colleges and universities. My point is that I don't think we'd be short on features for an educational UAS platform.

Personal responsibility and safety go together in education


Programming provides more assurance that individuals take real personal responsibility over what they fly. This is particularly true in education - next to safety a first lesson must be that a user take responsibility over everything they put into the sky. UASs in education shouldn't be about cobbling pieces together and attaching more stuff to them, but actually learning how to code the individual sensors and integrate them into a whole system. To take responsibility means you need to build and program it yourself, even if it involves stepwise instructions and debugging examples along the way.

A new economy requires developers, not just users

Economists are also talking about how "drones" represent a totally new economy. To have an economy around UASs we have to know more about how to build and program them. While I understand from my volunteer work in most educational environments [at least in lower levels] that few students will take a real interest in the actual engineering (the mechanical design, software development, fabrication) as a result of what I've shared, the reality of turning their enthusiasm into a career - and growing a new UAS economy - means that students must know how to create drones from the pieces. An educational UAS program could truly foster this kind of innovation. Do you know how many engineers we've met who said their first programming experience was with a BASIC Stamp in What's a Microcontroller?

It takes quality hardware to support an educational program

We've got that part. What we are considering is the creation of a new educational program around our UAS, the ELEV-8. The picture above is a newly designed ELEV-8 v2 (same Hoverfly Open) but with far superior assembly process with minimal soldering, smooth 1100 kV motors with collet-free prop adapters, and a far more stable design. My thoughts are that the ELEV-8 v2 could be combined with an add-on board including GPS and accelerometer to make a very high-quality educational UAS kit. And there's replacement parts - try getting those from a Chinese supplier before they make a revision and obsolete their hardware! We keep customers in the air.

Flying robotic educational program

Think about what we've done for the Boe-Bot and ActivityBot, but put it in the air. Imagine a kit and booklet (yeah, a printed spiral bound one also available on-line) which students step through in 60-minute class sessions. They could learn:
  • The mechanical assembly process, proper soldering techniques, a bit about choice of materials
  • The principle and theory of operation, along with some of the calculations
  • Voltage, current, capacity to properly serve the loads of the system
  • How to configure ESCs from a microcontroller
  • Program and test the sub-systems (gyro, accelerometer, GPS, lighting control)
  • Putting these systems together and flying the UAS for the first time
  • Application of STEM and Common Core standards, so it has a "fit"
  • Learning to fly responsibly and how to use the UAS for some real-world applications
  • Open-source, top to bottom hardware and software
Sure, these pieces are explained throughout the internet. But students and teachers don't have time to scrounge for the curriculum. They need it in a box, with proper support and training. If you've ever worked with our products in a classroom, you know how exciting this could be! There's nothing a teacher loves more than to see students truly engaged in the project.

So I ask you - particularly those involved in education - what would you like to see in a UAS educational program if we were to produce one? Share your honest thoughts because we would like to hear them.

Thanks,

Ken Gracey
800 x 518 - 91K
<br>
«1345

Comments

  • 144 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    The first thing that comes to my mind, involving students, is the high probability of injury with unguarded propellers. I think a prop guard needs to be developed.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 5,649Vote Up0Vote Down
    Agreed, Rich. It'd be critical in fact.
    <br>
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Prop guards!!!!,

    I'd also like to see more emphasis on navigational tasks, sensors and wireless communications as focus areas.

    Thomas Talbot, MD - New Market, Maryland, USA
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    consider a cheaper and easier to assemble basic drone platform (maybe followed by a more advanced one). basically, you have the following:

    Injection molded body w/ integral propeller struts (two parts) (designed w/ cad and 3d printer)
    Easy assembly of propellers, electronics
    SimpleIDE C libraries
    Baseline navigable firmware (multi axis stability, possible integration w/ gps or intertial sensor input) as opposed to just RC radio input with closed stability firmware

    Thomas Talbot, MD - New Market, Maryland, USA
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    A safety net would be an ever safer way to do it. Something like a soccer goal almost entirely removes the risk factor to people. Prop guards are nice too, I think either would be approved by a university.

    I couldn't think of a better company to do this, I just hope the BOE Bots will be cool about it.

    I would also imagine that they will need a simulator to learn how to fly on.
    Signature
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Echo Rich's comments regarding a guard. All the disclaimers in the world won't help for public school ed.

    I think an ed program for UAVs/UASs needs to involve more videos than text, though text is obviously also important. This is a platform that relies heavily on visual control, feedback, and interpretation. Well produced videos, ideally with 3D animated graphics, would be a primary element, IMO. And no, it doesn't have to be as expensive as it sounds. There are existing toolsets that can produce 3D animations from any camera angle. This is something I'm doing more frequently in other projects, in fact, and I'd be happy to help here if you'd like. And as you know quality videos can be produced using standard desktop editing and finishing tools. This no longer requires expensive studio gear.

    The videos could -- without actually wrecking real ELEV-8s -- show the simulated effects of "what happens when..." control of the copter. For example, imagine a split screen where on one side is the remote control, and the other the resulting flight of the copter. There are many ways to show similar non-realtime simulation that cannot be adequately described in text.

    Speaking of simulation, perhaps a separate program of an ELEV-8 flight simulator. I say ELEV-8 rather than a generic quadcopter, because each vehicle has its own flight characteristics. The simulator doesn't need to be graphically rich, with fully-textured buildings and trees. All it needs is to demonstrate what happens when the control sticks are moved in certain positions, given predetermined (and random) environmental conditions. Parallax could provide a kit of analog joysticks connected to a Propeller that in turn is USB connected to a Windows PC or Mac, or else some interface that reads the output of an R/C receiver and correlates that into stick position, for the simulator running on the PC.

    Finally, in addition to the written documentation provided with the ELEV-8, I think an assembly DVD of videos would go a long way to distinguish Parallax an an educational leader in this field. Actually show Steph, Andy, and/or Jessica (all of whom are terrific explainers and have good voices) lay out and assemble an ELEV-8 start to finish. It should be done as a POV, reproducing the exact same perspective that the viewer has during hands-on construction of their ELEV-8. Chapter stops, text blocks, and other standard elements would be included.

    While produced and distributed on DVD, the same introductory and assembly videos -- the chapters now separated into stand-alone videos -- can be uploaded to YouTube, building some viral interest.

    There will be plenty of room for well-written texts, but this is an activity best described in realtime, and to an audience that expects more visual stimulation.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    So I ask you - particularly those involved in education - what would you like to see in a UAS educational program if we were to produce one? Share your honest thoughts because we would like to hear them.

    Along with safety, safety, safety (did I say "safety"?), stress the importance of observing all local and federal laws concerning UAV operation, restricted areas, cargo limits, etc.

    Maybe have the laws on-hand for class discussion.
    Well-written documentation requires no explanation.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Great idea Ken with the proper safeguards in place per the forums page crew. I had a chance to go onto the FAA website for kicks and giggles to get more information because I want to use an Elev-8 for real estate leasing and sales purposes.
    Below is that information: I don't know if this helps with part of the research part of what Parallax wants to do, but it's a good head start.

    Peace & Joy.

    My Inner Lioness.jpg
    342 x 345 - 32K

    ~ Peace & Joy! :)
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    I think creating some sort of competition would help. Competitions not only get the kids interested but they also fire up the crazy parents and the middle-aged coaches and the silver-haired has-beens who can get totally obsessed with their teams winning. School administrators also hate to have their schools on the losing side. It seems the brainstems light up when there's a trophy to be won.

    A competition could be to race the drones around a track, dodge through hoops, or even pick up scoring objects and land them on a target, or locate a "lost" object via airborne sensor technology which you sell as accessories.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    I think to make it fun, have it be like school for real airplanes.

    In other words, have a Ground School and a Flight School segment in the pilot side of training. Maybe have another educational segment for Flight Mechanic School -- assembly and repair.

    If you do it well enough, the industry might want to adopt your program as the 'industry standard'. And the means a lot of the good name of Parallax being mentioned everywhere.

    Of course, somewhere in all the flight school stufy, will be pro forma pre-flight check lists to assure successful flight.

    +++++++++
    Not sure about the pro and con of guarded propellers. Real airplane pilots know that propellers will hurt you and jet engines will too. In SUM, you are learning skill set that requires one to become safety conscious AT ALL TIMES and about several aspects. Let's not kill a good education in safety by trying to build idiot-proof flight.

    It is the lawyers that get pedantic and want everyone to read a label on a hammer that suggests safety googles at all times and so on.
    Hwang Xian Shen, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
    WTF? --- just may mean "Was That Funny?" , or maybe something else.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    My immediate thoughts about this are concerns for Parallax's liability exposure. It only takes ONE careless idiot to change the future of a company with a liability lawsuit. I know you guys frown (rightfully so) on lawyers but this is an area where one honest mistake or act of stupidity by a third party wold have lawyers and the media circling like vultures.

    It's sad to live in a society where everything is tainted by fear of lawsuit but very sadly that's how our culture has developed....and the right an just usually don't win. :frown:
    MOV OUTA, PEACE <div>Rick </div><div>"I've stopped using programming languages with Garbage Collection, they keep deleting my source code!!"</div>
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    mindrobots wrote: »
    My immediate thoughts about this are concerns for Parallax's liability exposure. It only takes ONE careless idiot to change the future of a company with a liability lawsuit. I know you guys frown (rightfully so) on lawyers but this is an area where one honest mistake or act of stupidity by a third party wold have lawyers and the media circling like vultures.
    Yup. Parallax customers are of all ages, backgrounds, and capacity.

    Even with the propellers almost totally enclosed, there is still the possibility of an injury.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Well, the liability paranoia is merited, but can be debilitating.

    What I am trying to get across that Parallax should endorse and participate in an education program for the drone that is intended to develop public awareness and safety consciousness among the users.

    The NRA does this for gun ownership. The FAA does this for regular airplanes, The NTSB does this for other forms of transport.

    The reality is that some career paths require more than a well-developed knowledge of engineering. Having an early start and good record with responsible participation in safe practices could be a real plus on a resume. Being safety aware demonstrates an abilty to be mature and to work well as a team member. There are lots of occupations that demonstrating this ability is of the utmost importnats (like an operating engineer, a vehicle driver, an oil roughneck).

    Drones can't just be about the thrills and spills, safety can and should be a part of the culture as well. We have NASCAR, NHRA, and all sorts of other associations where people come together to do dangerous things for pleasure and sport --- they all seem to survive by developing a culture of safety within their group.

    On the other hand, maybe I should just give up electronics and take of knife throwing and fire eating. I don't think that they have any associations to join.
    Hwang Xian Shen, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
    WTF? --- just may mean "Was That Funny?" , or maybe something else.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Here's a good read on AMA's Advanced Flight System:

    http://www.modelaircraft.org/files/REPORT_ON_REVISED-550-560-OCT-8-2012.pdf
    Infernal Machine
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    I think to make it fun, have it be like school for real airplanes.

    In other words, have a Ground School and a Flight School segment in the pilot side of training. Maybe have another educational segment for Flight Mechanic School -- assembly and repair.

    .

    I like this idea. Primarily because I feel that, inevitably, the government is going to require a "Certificate" to fly UAV's. Of course, this will result in reams of regulations that will have to be learned along with a requirement for instruction - both ground and flight and "certification" of the vehicles.
    Parallax could get a jump on that by offering their training in that format. I don't think it will get that bad right away, but...
    We got by with "Ultralights" and "Kits" (I built and flew two of them) for quite awhile but, eventually, they morphed into much more expensive equipment that requires expensive training and certification to fly. I see "private" UAV's going the same direction eventually - the FAA isn't going to be caught in that "error" again...
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    dmagnus wrote: »
    We got by with "Ultralights" and "Kits" (I built and flew two of them) for quite awhile but, eventually, they morphed into much more expensive equipment that requires expensive training and certification to fly.

    I feel the opposite is true. Ultralights are alive and well. With advances in technology and materials you can get better performance now than you could years ago - while still meeting part 103. Just recently the sport pilot certificate was created making the entry into flying larger (Light Sport Aircraft) craft much easier and less expensive.

    Training, while not technically required by law for part 103, should be considered a requirement. It is not more expensive these days than two decades ago when you account for inflation, I think it is cheaper now.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Well, I still think 'developing a culture of safety' should be a core mission item in such education.

    The thing is that all this is going to require writing and publications. They can be sold for revenue to offset costs, but my overall impression is that Parallax is often very shy of getting into being a publishing house..

    I realize that technology publishing is a very fast changing topic. I have a big bookshelf filled with outdated books. But I don't believe that educational electronics or drone safety change anywhere as fast as product related PDFs. And reading material sustains customers that would otherwise drift away feeling they have to Google for all and everything creative.

    Also I think Parallax owes a great deal of its past success to having the courage to have Andy LIndsay write the BasicStamp manual. So I really wonder if this will be published well or just a stab at the issue. It needs to be done with a long-term commitment.. not a try and see.
    Hwang Xian Shen, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
    WTF? --- just may mean "Was That Funny?" , or maybe something else.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Hey Everyone,

    For education I think you would want to create a microquad like the popular LadyBug controlled with a Propeller chip and the Accel and Gyro Parallax already sells. (I use those same sensors for my own 6DOF IMU.) A microquad's small size makes it inexpensive, safe, resilient, and it could be flown indoors.

    Reasons:
    -UAVs can not be flown outside for commercial or educational purposes with a few exceptions. Regardless of a court case here or there, this is what the FFA thinks and they will tell you to stop.
    Case in point. I was recently speaking at the AUVSI Atlanta Unmanned Systems in Agriculture conference in Tifton Georgia and met a teacher at a large community collage in Mississippi who is in charge of that school's pilot and UAV pilot program. They have to fly their UAVs inside a hanger or at a military base.

    ...so since they can't be flown outside, they have to be flown inside where it's better to be small because it can be flown in more spaces (how many people have a hanger?)

    -Safety
    The big motors are dangerous which can be mitigated using guards, but that adds weight, cost and someone could still stick their hand in it. Using small motors eliminates that issue.

    -Cost
    You can buy four motors and the body from Hobby King for about $25. No ESC, they use MOSFETS.

    -Resilient
    My Ladybug quad has crashed into all kinds of things and still runs. I haven't had to replace anything yet, but if I did, a replacement motor and arm cost ~$5.


    I know that Parallax has put a lot of time and money into the ELEV-8 and I think that it's great for us here on the forums, but I think the educational market would be well served with a "BOE-BOT" of the air. A small, inexpensive (~$150), robot that can be flown indoors and you don't have to worry about the blades. :)

    Dave :)
    My wife is very, very understanding

    Prospero: Robot Farmer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACtihXjq2B0
    www.DorhoutRD.com
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken,
    Your drone education idea seems to have been taken over by safety/regulatory/liability side issues.
    I think a copter drone education program is an excellent idea, and it is your natural way forward.
    You already have a working education structure and captive audience for small parallax wheeled robots - just leverage off your experience in that field.
    I would like to see your drone education program extended to water drones and robotics, in particular underwater robots (they can also use hobby 3 phase motors underwater) and surface robots with environmental sensors (using environmental propulsion like waves, wind and solar).
    Keep up the good work and ideas!
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    See what happens when you use the D word!?

    Anyone that thinks the FAA is the enemy is wrong. Without turning this into a regulatory conversation, I think Parallax is looking for ideas for a curriculum, not legal advice.

    I have three generations of FAA employees in my family. I can tell you right now that nobody is out to get Parallax for trying to educate people. It's the rouge uneducated folks that screw it up. If you think Parallax is either of the two then you must be new here.

    According to the FAA, the PILOT in COMMAND is the person who is responsible for everything related to flight, I don't care if it is a model airplane, Y6, UAS, "drone", or a Gulfstream 6. You can skip right over the manufacturer, recent federal court cases spell this out in plain English.

    There is no reason to bring legalities, or the FAA into this equation. How many manufacturers require a phone briefing before purchasing a copter? Let's see... There's Parallax,,, and.... nobody else. Parallax is setting yet another standard for everyone else to learn from.

    I fly airplanes all day long, big ones, little ones, fast, slow low high off shore. It doesn't matter to me what Parallax does because I know that they bring education, not recklessness and personal endangerment.

    So from one pilot to another, these regs exist for a reason. Nobody here is busting regs. End of story.

    EDIT: While I'm on my soap box, these views directly represent those which the FAA is trying to protect, to include passengers to which include those closest to. There is no risk here.

    I'll qualify Pilot in command under the pretense UAS aircraft are not considered model aircraft and under a few pounds.

    The FAA cares just as much about education as Parallax. Undoubtedly between the two we can positively participate in the bonding. There is no enemy here, it's just a small breakdown in communication! I'd put life and limb on the Propeller microcontroller. I do not often experience the unparalleled quality of the Propeller microcontroller. Thanks to everyone here for affording me that opportunity!
    Signature
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    While I have my doubts about the State of California, the United States government seems to have a history of allowing any budding industry to try for self-regulation if at all possible.

    Institutions such as the ARRL have done very well in evolving into allowing the government to impose control where needed while allowing recreational creativity to continue to flourish.

    The approach allows for economic prosperity to be optimized until such time as self-regulation is abused or no longer feasible.

    So it just seems obvious to me that Parallax should take a look at what aviation already does for ground school and flight school and mechanics training. Then work with that template to publish a program that has an overall vision of creating a culture of safety, and a niche where creative recreation is welcome.

    If Parallax feels it doesn't feel it has all the resources, it should consider collaboration with other leaders in the drone industry so as to remain part of the drone community. (Also, there maybe be an opportunity to seek guidance from the educational publishers in the aviation sector.)

    I personally feel that the Propeller is optimally suited for real-time control of the core motors and sensors. And that this may only get better with the Propeller 2. AVRs with multiple interrupts are more prone to having changes in one aspect or parameter of the programing affecting the whole in unexpected ways.. Where is the safety in that?

    The biggest problems ahead are in terms of getting together the scope of what to write and publish, how to solicit wide spread participation, and how to liason with the FAA.

    It would seem that once committed to developing this educational program, it is going to grow more demanding in monitoring and working with both the FAA and the end-user of drones. And it seems that there is an expectation that all of this will be not-for-profit and driven by volunteer man power. I wonder if that is reasonable, but that seems to be the current situation.

    There may be some endorsement by the insurance industry, but I wonder if they will actually provide funding to help things along, or will just try to put together a way to profit. In other words, the insurance industry may need to be pushed into proactive endorsement of an educational effort.

    Drones of all sorts are here to stay. and they can offer many benevolent benefits to the public. So it is more about figuring out how one wants to shape the future rather than ignore it.
    Hwang Xian Shen, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
    WTF? --- just may mean "Was That Funny?" , or maybe something else.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    With all this talk of safety and regulations it apt to point to this somewhat viral video on the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWRdHXbTmrs
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken Gracey wrote: »

    Parallax Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Educational Program

    So I ask you - particularly those involved in education - what would you like to see in a UAS educational program if we were to produce one? Share your honest thoughts because we would like to hear them.

    Definition of term - make a list of the words that are to be used, which will have a specific and special meaning in this context. Ensure the term used will cause LESS confusion, not more. Ensure "stoopid marketing terms" do not creep in.

    List of minimum requirements. What at minimum, must be present to qualify as X?

    List of basic calculations. For example battery cell size : weight : flight time.
    Also lift : airfoil surface area : air speed
    etc

    Safety standards - from simple (do not operate unit unattended in a crowded theater) to complex (ensure all function have been tested individually and as a system before flight) and (all testing is to proceed form simple to complex, all constituent simple tests must pass before attempting a composite system test)

    Introducing a little quantified common sense can go a long way.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    I teach computer science at a local two year college (Tarrant County College Fort Worth, TX). On campus we have an active aviation program which recently opened a flight school.

    One of the topics of discussion is starting a UAV program. I quickly read through the comments and there are good ideas here.

    I would actively support a Parallax UAV program and work toward integration into a college level Associates degree program. Most likely we would position this under the Aviation program with strong support from computer science.

    I like the idea of a simpler first UAV than the Elev-8 but only if it supports the ideas of safety, controllability, and programming. My thought is a less expensive device that would be in the price range of the typical community college student.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 5,649Vote Up0Vote Down
    Br1wr2el3 wrote: »
    I teach computer science at a local two year college (Tarrant County College Fort Worth, TX). On campus we have an active aviation program which recently opened a flight school.

    Br1wr2eI3 (Bruce, if I'm not mistaken), I am currently at http://www.ecedha.org/home exposition in Napa, California. Today I spoke to several other community college, state and university professors about a drone education program. Seems that many have obtained research money and need some hardware and guidance on the programming, so I also feel there's a fit.

    What surprised me, though, is that a few of them told me that their schools have put restrictions or even bans on flying quadcopters on campus. In some cases they're only allowed inside of the gymnasium and in other cases they can only fly off-campus at AMA-approved fields. This certainly limits their access to making the best of a program we might offer.

    If you could use our program I'd also like to hear more about your needs. Small programmable quadcopters from Parallax are a possibility, but not too likely. The expectation is that small is low-cost, and this isn't always possible with fairly low volume. The Chinese suppliers have set a new low bar that we can't meet. And even though their hardware may not be programmable and include an educational program, it still comes with an expectation "a small quad should only cost this much" for the American consumer.

    Ken Gracey
    <br>
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    I find it interesting that some universities have already adopted 'exclusion zones' in regards to unmanned flight. Respecting such wishes certainly should and could be part of any educational program.

    I am also wonder if Parallax is willing to educationally cover the whole range of unmanned flight -- winged, helicopter, and quadcopter. My personal leanings is that the educational outline should be comprehensive, but different sponsors might work cooperatively and collaboratively on some segments; while sub-groups may actually work together on other segments.

    In other words, 'drones' is a big topic, safety about sharing the airspace has more than a quadcopter culture involved. Also the issue of respecting flight over private and/or public property is a growing issue. Some venues, such as public concerts or sports events raise the stakes for liability from crashes; other venues, such as universities might have additional concerns about interrupting the ambiance or the privacy of individuals.

    So far, just a 'flight school' approach has evolved. But a ground school curriculum needs to be included to make future fliers aware of getting proper permissions, becoming aware that weather is and always will be an issue, and that some sort of keeping up-to-date with what the FAA desires is necessary.

    In other words, you can't just train people to take-off, fly, and land safely. They need to become aware of broader topics.

    Flight school can be 'platform specific', but ground school would be about learning to think and behaving like a responsible pilot.

    It would be quite wonderful if the academic community embraced creating recommended curriculum for each aspect. Then Parallax and other companies could sort out where their specific products fit into the whole.

    This not just neatly slotted into 'computer science' departments in universities.. even a public administration or education department might join in.
    Hwang Xian Shen, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
    WTF? --- just may mean "Was That Funny?" , or maybe something else.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Yup Loopy, extend the platforms. . . and include underwater and surface water drones as well!!
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken - I think it's a great idea, but I also agree that it'd be better / safer / most cost effective if it was scaled down. A microquad like the LadyBug would work, but having the ESCs replaced by MOSFETs would add complexity to the code, and be less scalable to larger projects where ESCs would be required.

    An alternative would be something like the one in the attached picture. It's using the HoverFly board to control it, has power to spare, and cost about $100 in parts, including the motors and the ESCs. It'd be relatively easy to add prop guards to it, flies for over 10 minutes on a 1300mAh battery, and weighs a lot less than an Elev-8, so there's less damage in a crash.

    I think that your idea of using the Prop for the main flight control is ambitious if you're expecting to add an accelerometer, GPS, altimeter, and compass to the existing HoverFly board. While it's possible to add those sensors relatively easily, the math involved in using them is complicated. Authoring the code in Spin makes it slow, and PASM means you'll run out of either code space or cogs quickly. I think you'd need another Prop on board to make it viable, though the Prop 2 should be able to handle it all without much trouble.

    QuadNano.jpg
    720 x 960 - 91K
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    .. a few of them told me that their schools have put restrictions or even bans on flying quadcopters on campus. In some cases they're only allowed inside of the gymnasium and in other cases they can only fly off-campus at AMA-approved fields. This certainly limits their access to making the best of a program we might offer.

    Rules can be worked around. For example, the unit does not have to be 12 kilos of flying death, at least not right away. My "in the house by the kids" rig is basically a micro quad copter stuck on a mylar party balloon. Its not fast, and it can't kill any body (OK, not unless you REALLY try) but is still flies and lets one test all kinds of groovey stuff. When the bugs are worked out, then we can talk about the flying meatgrinder.
    ... "a small quad should only cost this much" for the American consumer.

    Answer: You want cheap, I got cheap. You want fancy, I got upgrades.

    The mylar balloon + any motors + any batteries can be made to fly, cheap. Then they can ask (nicely) for upgrades. When they get jealous enough, they wiill change the rules on their own.
  • edited March 2014 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    Br1wr2eI3 (Bruce, if I'm not mistaken), I am currently at http://www.ecedha.org/home exposition in Napa, California. Today I spoke to several other community college, state and university professors about a drone education program. Seems that many have obtained research money and need some hardware and guidance on the programming, so I also feel there's a fit.

    What surprised me, though, is that a few of them told me that their schools have put restrictions or even bans on flying quadcopters on campus. In some cases they're only allowed inside of the gymnasium and in other cases they can only fly off-campus at AMA-approved fields. This certainly limits their access to making the best of a program we might offer.

    If you could use our program I'd also like to hear more about your needs. Small programmable quadcopters from Parallax are a possibility, but not too likely. The expectation is that small is low-cost, and this isn't always possible with fairly low volume. The Chinese suppliers have set a new low bar that we can't meet. And even though their hardware may not be programmable and include an educational program, it still comes with an expectation "a small quad should only cost this much" for the American consumer.

    Ken Gracey

    Yes, this is Bruce in Fort Worth.

    I passed your proposal to my division dean and was handed a contract with the University of Texas at Arlington for developing a 16 hour course that would introduce UAV to students moving into this future job arena. This uses grant money to do research, course development, and delivery.

    Nice timing.

    Here at TCC we recently held a Saturday activity to introduce the college to high school students. My exhibit demonstrated an ActivityBot doing a line following activity and a BoeBot with IR control. The focus was on programming the robots. This lead my boss to offer me the task of developing (or looking at developing) our part of this grant.

    The entry price of your quad-copter is not a significant barrier to being included in any proposal we may make.

    I quickly confirmed that we would want actual flight time as part of the intro course. We discussed where we could fly and I was informed that we probably can not do it on campus even though we have a lot of open space. Reasons: a high school across the street and close proximity to two airports.

    Any information you might be able to pass along will be appreciated.
Sign In or Register to comment.