Join 3,411 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Do a Barrel Roll!
January 30, 2011 8:16 PM   Subscribe

An RC Helicopter, a bunch of fireworks, and hydrogen-filled balloons.
posted by empath (46 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
When I was ten years old, I used to dream of technology like this.
posted by ColdChef at 8:32 PM on January 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


I just sent a link to my teenagers. The ending sequence is the best.
posted by AugustWest at 8:36 PM on January 30, 2011


I predict more house fires as kids shoot roman candles in to eaves in an attempt to send a few down the rain gutters.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:41 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS AMAZING.
posted by auto-correct at 8:49 PM on January 30, 2011


If you would like to build your own tricopter, the video author has published instructions.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:55 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know it's winter and all but shooting fireworks randomly into a forest made Smoky Bear shed tears.

A good use of RC otherwise.
posted by dibblda at 8:56 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Coming soon to YouTube: videos just like this one but with patrons outside of Starbucks and fast food restaurants instead of balloons.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:59 PM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's been decades since I've thought about the magazine Boy's Life, but this is pretty much the 21st century version of one of the magazine's articles. This is probably a Metatalk question, but I wonder what percentage of Metafilter's readership is boys. Men. Whatever.
posted by kozad at 9:05 PM on January 30, 2011


I know it's winter and all but shooting fireworks randomly into a forest made Smoky Bear shed tears.

Then Smokey saw the video and said, "Okay, yeah, that shit is pretty cool."
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:26 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


All of the aspirations of my childhood are encapsulated in this video.
posted by vverse23 at 9:30 PM on January 30, 2011


This is what technology was invented for, right? This is the funnest thing I have seen in ages. I want to play this game SO BAD.
posted by not_on_display at 9:53 PM on January 30, 2011


"So, Svend. There used to be a boreal forest here. Now there is just a raging conflagration. I certainly hope this did not involve a firework-spewing tricopter."
posted by bicyclefish at 9:56 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Check out the guy's video of his RC plane flying above the clouds with pan left/right on the on board camera! Astounding.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:15 PM on January 30, 2011


This is so unbelievably awesome I can hardly stand it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:41 PM on January 30, 2011


When I was young we had to attach our firecrackers to hydrogen balloons by hand...AND WE LIKED IT.
posted by Gorgik at 11:14 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder if he put a lot of thought into the name of his production company.
posted by Xoebe at 11:18 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man, it took me forever to place the Gurgu Volcano theme from Final Fantasy. The video was great, but the hunt through various video game music archives was maddening.
posted by darksasami at 11:33 PM on January 30, 2011


I wonder how long it will be before people are mugged or murdered through private remote control vehicles? (I'm not counting military drones.) Like the internet anonymity effect, maybe nice geeks + anonymous RC vehicles that can fire real weapons = death from the sky.
posted by pracowity at 12:59 AM on January 31, 2011


YES
posted by MillMan at 1:21 AM on January 31, 2011


Can anyone explain why electric RC helicopters have suddenly come into ubiquity in the last, say, 5 years, where previously they were impractical/expensive/hard to control? What exactly is it that we didn't have back in the 80s or 90s that we do have now that makes them into cheap toys? My guess is that it has something to do with high energy density of the newest Lithium-ion batteries combined with cheap but sophisticated microcontrollers that have integrated MEMS accelerometers/gyros.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:23 AM on January 31, 2011


Rhomboid, I was under the impression that it was Lipo batteries that made electric RC helicopters more practical but I'm not an authority at all. Hopefully someone will be along to clarify because I'm curious as well.
posted by vapidave at 2:07 AM on January 31, 2011


Rhomboid, you've already got it. It's the gyroscopes plus advances in battery technology. It's a lot easier to get into the hobby these days. There are coaxial helicopters that you can learn to fly in the course of one evening.
posted by smoothvirus at 4:51 AM on January 31, 2011


Make Magazine had an article a year or so ago1 that, IIRC, said some guy in the late 90s/early 00s had figured out some stability thing with micro helis that everyone had previously thought impossible. I had gotten the impression it was a mechanical advance but it could be the tiny ╬╝controllers or even just the batteries.

1That I can't find in the online digital edition, because it inexplicably doesn't let you search through all back issues.
posted by DU at 4:53 AM on January 31, 2011


I know it's winter and all but shooting fireworks randomly into a forest made Smoky Bear shed tears.

Yeah, this was super cool until the last segment... Even when I was a pyro kid (what Boyscout isn't?) I would never, ever have been fired off roman candles in the middle of the woods. I would have been as much of a buzzkill about it at 12 years old as I am now.
posted by usonian at 5:08 AM on January 31, 2011


It's been decades since I've thought about the magazine Boy's Life, but this is pretty much the 21st century version of one of the magazine's articles. This is probably a Metatalk question, but I wonder what percentage of Metafilter's readership is boys. Men. Whatever.

Give them RC copters which can shoot fireworks and all men are boys.
posted by Kickdrum at 5:22 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Give them RC copters which can shoot fireworks and all men are boys.

. . . and all older sisters are targets.
posted by Think_Long at 5:45 AM on January 31, 2011


"Mr. P. Balloon of Homeleigh, The Burrows, Oswestly, has presented us with a poser. We do not know which bush he is behind, but we can soon find out."
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:37 AM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rhomboid, as others have pointed out it's a combination of MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems) gyroscopes (also called "solid state" gyroscopes, but I shy from that name because they still have moving parts even if they're embedded in an integrated circuit) and LiPo batteries.

Cheap gyros let you put a lot of the attitude stabilization on the airframe, with really low latency, and LiPo lets you get a power to weight ratio that lets you do aircraft without the noise and mess of small 2-cycle engines.
posted by straw at 6:54 AM on January 31, 2011



Give them RC copters which can shoot fireworks and all men are boys.

. . . and all older sisters are targets.


While all younger sisters are enthusiastic collaborators...

(Come on Metafilter, bring on the stereotypes...)
posted by chavenet at 8:09 AM on January 31, 2011


"...boys. Men. Whatever."

Exactly.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:18 AM on January 31, 2011


Cheap gyros let you put a lot of the attitude stabilization on the airframe, with really low latency, and LiPo lets you get a power to weight ratio that lets you do aircraft without the noise and mess of small 2-cycle engines.

...which means the whole business has turned into a software problem, and now we're cooking. This pattern shows up over and over. Want to make some field take off? Figure out how to turn it into a programming puzzle, and five years later hobbyists all over the globe will be roaring away at it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:27 AM on January 31, 2011


Rhomboid, the other piece of the puzzle is materials science. The ubiquity of Carbon fiber and Rigidised encapsulated foam have led to stronger, lighter structures for all the monster batteries, micro electronics and rare earth high output electric motors to be velcroed/glued/screwed to.

Guess I'll be working on the AR.Drone tonight...
posted by djrock3k at 9:27 AM on January 31, 2011


... also, the grand finale of William Gibson's "Spook Country" stars this kind of tech.

I couldn't stop laughing.
posted by djrock3k at 9:31 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Same with "Zero History", but this time it's floating metallic penguins.

Which is not a spoiler or anything, I swear.
posted by Chichibio at 9:47 AM on January 31, 2011


How difficult would it be to rig up an induction charging scheme for this thing? I'm thinking of a tiny helipad where it could land and charge up without having to make a hard connection?

Because once you've got that, you can get to work on 24/7 autonomous helicopter patrols.

Would it be trite to point out that we're living in the future?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:48 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you simply ran a strip of foil down each of those arms you could easily land on a cradle (with precision of not a whole lot less than half the arm-span) that'd make contact and let you do your charging conventionally. So, yeah, no need to over-technologize the 24/7 autonomos helicopter drones, citizen. The technology is here today!

(Slightly harder is accurate position measurement with that light weight a drone (carrier-wave measuring differential GPS is still pretty heavy), but there are a few ways to solve that problem if you can constrain the need for real accuracy to within the region of the landing pad.)
posted by straw at 10:13 AM on January 31, 2011


(Slightly harder is accurate position measurement with that light weight a drone (carrier-wave measuring differential GPS is still pretty heavy), but there are a few ways to solve that problem if you can constrain the need for real accuracy to within the region of the landing pad.)

You could always use IR beacons and optical tracking. If your base station can triangulate an IR strobe on the helicopter body, it'd be easier than GPS I'd think.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:40 AM on January 31, 2011


Oops, chichibio is correct. It's "Zero History"

sorry y'all
posted by djrock3k at 12:20 PM on January 31, 2011


I'm pretty sure every single William Gibson book has autonomous killer drones. That is why THEY ARE AWESOME.

and chain guns. And black slabs of tech that don't reflect light. And plucky girl protagonists. And much, much, more.
posted by mecran01 at 12:27 PM on January 31, 2011


thsmchnekllsfascists yeah, I was thinking a couple of webcams and optical targets for the final tracking. At that point you've only got to line this thing up within a foot or so.

Now I'm wondering if I need to preemptively build some open source versions of these things so that we can surveil the state. Or if that just starts the arms race early.
posted by straw at 12:33 PM on January 31, 2011


Now don't get me wrong, this is totally awesome. BUT what this death drone needs is some lasers. Right?

Also a parabolic death ray. Possibly an iron man flamer.

Seriously though, could we put lasers on this? Please?
posted by Telf at 12:35 PM on January 31, 2011


Roman Candles in a dry forest might be better than my last encounter with them. An ongoing disagreement between two fractious roomates peaked with one of them sticking a lit roman candle through the doorknob-hole -- it was a new door, the previous one having been ruined by some sort of fireworks discharge -- of his bedroom while he slept. The bedspread didn't burn very long, but it certainly woke him up.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:59 PM on January 31, 2011


wow thats awesome! I wanna get one of those RC Helicopters
posted by sunshinedust20 at 2:39 PM on January 31, 2011


For anyone else who was late for work trying to figure out where the song came from, it is "Medieval Kaoss" by McVaffe, a remix of Gurgu Volcano from Final Fantasy.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 4:52 PM on January 31, 2011


Rhomboid: I think lightweight kickass brushless DC motors are also part of what made small easy-to-fly copters possible, but I think the LiPolys and cheap small rate-gyros are the main things.

thsmchnekllsfascists/straw: You already have a camera on the copter! Just place some optical targets at known positions relative to the charging cradle, and a vision system (onboard or on the ground) can servo the copter into place visually.
posted by hattifattener at 8:11 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


i cant wait to deploy these machines against people who park their cars in ways i find displeasing.
posted by 3mendo at 2:54 AM on February 1, 2011


« Older The Martello Tower is the definitive 19th century ...  |  ZOMGscience.net. For those wh... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments