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TEAM GAMERA!
April 21, 2013 8:46 PM   Subscribe

Gamera II is the University of Maryland's Human-Powered Helicopter. So far it has remained aloft for 65.1 seconds and reached an altitude of 9.4 feet, not quite enough to win the AHS Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter competition.

Last summer, Gamera II hovered for nearly a minute, and later on set a world record. A subsequent altitude test ended in a hard landing, (via).
How Hard Is A Human_Powered Helicopter? Human Powered Helicopters: Straight-Up Difficult
AeroVelo is also working on a human-powered helicopter.
previously
posted by the man of twists and turns (47 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gamera is really neat!
He's powered by human meat!
We all love you Gamera!
posted by eriko at 8:49 PM on April 21, 2013 [21 favorites]


Friend to children my ass. It's all a marketing ploy. If I had a cute theme song, man...
posted by Ghidorah at 8:51 PM on April 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


That's gorgeous. I mean, also an impressive feat of engineering etc etc etc. But... oooh, pretty.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 8:51 PM on April 21, 2013


Hey Hey Hey!
posted by gamera at 9:05 PM on April 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Smells like win.
posted by Goofyy at 9:28 PM on April 21, 2013


Damn it I JUST got that song out of my head yesterday Eriko.......

Shell, Teeth, Eyes, Flames, Claws, Breath, Scales, Fun!
posted by strixus at 9:39 PM on April 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


If I had a cute theme song, man...

Ghidora is really neat!
He's got three heads!
He's got two feet!
Let's all sing to Ghidorahhhhh.
posted by gamera at 9:54 PM on April 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


Gamera only has permission to fly in the various UMD fieldhouses because the University of Maryland is wholly within the DC no fly zone.

Special permits are required for an outdoor flying turtle in these parts.
posted by peeedro at 10:28 PM on April 21, 2013


Wow! I wasn't expecting to see a big ass quadcopter.
posted by stirfry at 10:30 PM on April 21, 2013


Sounds like they'll be winning this Sikorsky prize right after a few small modifications. Congratulations to the UoM helicopter masters!
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:30 PM on April 21, 2013


Gamera only has permission to fly in the various UMD fieldhouses because the University of Maryland is wholly within the DC no fly zone.

I'm sure they also want to keep their craft in a controlled, wind free environment with a clean, flat floor. Wind free is especially important given the drifting problem they are having. Per Wikipedia, a smooth hard surface also produces more ground effect, which is key for them in lift.

Sounds like they'll be winning this Sikorsky prize right after a few small modifications.

Gosh, I hope so; they've done loads of work on this. But if they're working in part out of ground effect, which decreases the further you go from the ground, the difference between 8 and 10 feet may be very significant.

The NPR video from the Straight-Up Difficult link is amazing. The look of joy on the face of the grad student at around 3:30 in, she's the happiest nerd I've seen in some time. Anybody have an idea on why the trusses are filled with pink styrofoam? Is it a turbulence thing?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:42 PM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


But can it dance go-go, do gymnastics and play his own theme song like the original can?

Threads like this I have to stop myself from bringing out my encyclopedic knowledge of MST3K and nearly reciting whole episodes, Bicycle Song to the traditional preschooler lecture to the troops. Oh well, only Z-PLAN can save us now!

BTW... there are more Gamera movies that MST didn't do. Both Gamera Vs. Virus and Gamera Vs. Jiger are great (for what they are) and totally in line with the goofier Gamera films like Zigra and (my favorite) Guiron.
posted by JHarris at 11:32 PM on April 21, 2013


The problem with the Sikorsky Prize is that it's only $250,000. Sure, it's cool to make a human-powered helicopter rise a few feet, but $250,000 isn't enough to attract serious investor interest.

If you really want to get people to rise up, you've got to offer something like $10,000,000 dollars, like the X Prize for launching a commercial spacecraft into space.

That's why I am officially announcing the $100,000,000 Twoleftfeet Prize. Anyone who can build and demonstrate a human-powered space vehicle, capable of orbiting the planet, will earn that prize.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:53 PM on April 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Let us all haikeeba all over the place, and talk of a thousand wonderful days.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:01 AM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never understood how humanity discovered aviation until I learned that Orville and Wilbur Wright were bicycle salesmen. Really, there's something magical about riding a bicycle. How come you don't fall to the left or the right?? If it's possible to travel that way, why can't we fly through the air?
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:21 AM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


If it's possible to travel that way, why can't we fly through the air?

The engine is way too heavy for the horsepower produced. A 150lb human can produce about 1/4 HP whereas the engines used by the Wrights weighed less than 200lbs and produced about 12 HP.
posted by three blind mice at 1:25 AM on April 22, 2013


I have a song now! I'm the happiest kaiju that ever lived!
posted by Ghidorah at 1:32 AM on April 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


My current design involves over 450 slaves who turn a giant propeller against the resistance of a rubber band four meters wide.

On my signal, all the slaves let go, and my spaceship reaches the moon.

I'm not sure I've done the calculations correctly. Physics, anyone?
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:36 AM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Physics, anyone?

In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second.
posted by three blind mice at 1:44 AM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:48 AM on April 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


AIIEEEEEpedalpedalpedalpedalMWAHHAHAAAA
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:15 AM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


There once was a human-powered copter, ah.
Who strove to become a lepidoptera
When the craft didn't rise
there were plenty of "why's"?
But the obvious charge was they dropped her, ah.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:56 AM on April 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gamera only has permission to fly in the various UMD fieldhouses because the University of Maryland is wholly within the DC no fly zone.

That was definitely the weakest of the verses in that MST3K song.
posted by PlusDistance at 4:21 AM on April 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


My history master's thesis was about the Showa Gamera series. Did you know that Gamera v. Gaos is about the construction of Narita Airport?

Maybe I need to do a sequel about the Heisei series.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:07 AM on April 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Last night I showed my daughter this video. So, she's now asking to see more cool stuff (she likes science!).

I'll definitely be showing her this. (Thanks for the post TMTT.)
posted by oddman at 5:07 AM on April 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


To those who might be wondering about the nameā€”the UMD mascot is the terrapin (you can see a tiny stuffed one mounted as a figurehead in front of the pilot). And who's the most famous flying turtle in the world? Why, Gamera of course.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:24 AM on April 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


These students have made another breakthrough - they've discovered something useful and nice Lance Armstrong could do.
posted by malevolent at 5:39 AM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mothra is just a moth
Nothing neat about a moth
We apologize for Mothraaaaaaaaaa
posted by mightygodking at 5:40 AM on April 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not a single member of the Gamera II team named Kenny. That's a bit of letdown.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:15 AM on April 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


When did it become Gam-ER-a, instead of GA-mera?
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:43 AM on April 22, 2013


I'd read about this in the Diamondback (the school paper), but hadn't seen the videos until now. Go Terps!
posted by codacorolla at 6:53 AM on April 22, 2013


When did it become Gam-ER-a, instead of GA-mera?

Never, nor shall it ever. Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:01 AM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very, very cool stuff. Reminded me in a way of this documentary on competitive free-flight duration, where people are trying to keep a small model airplane aloft for 30+ minutes (using just a single rubberband).
posted by avoision at 7:33 AM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cornjob will be blamed.
posted by dr_dank at 8:18 AM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy shit Avoision! I must see that movie. I read somewhere that Paul MacCready (The Gossamer Condor guy) built indoor duration models as a teenager and that experience influenced his human-powered designs.
posted by gamera at 8:25 AM on April 22, 2013


My history master's thesis was about the Showa Gamera series. Did you know that Gamera v. Gaos is about the construction of Narita Airport?

Very cool. You must have had an awesome history department to make your thesis about Japanese monster movies.
posted by JHarris at 8:42 AM on April 22, 2013


Very cool. You must have had an awesome history department to make your thesis about Japanese monster movies.

Yes it was, although in some ways the fact that I was able to do it speaks to some of my criticisms of the modern university. My particular field was postwar Japan, so my job was to make a tie-in between the movies and the historical issues. Gaos being about Narita was the clearest example. I would have to dig up my thesis, but I remember writing that Barugon was about Japanese imperialism. Gamera 2: Attack of Legion was the most recent film at the time I wrote. I think I gave a bit of predictions for the Heisei series but the meat of the paper was the Showa series.

FUN FACT: in the movies that feature the Gamera March, the song's lyrics are about the monster Gamera is fighting in that movie.

At the time I was working on this, I had the chance to meet the MST3K guys at the Fresh Cheese College Tour stop (1994) at U. of Georgia (not my university, but nearby). It was a fortunate stop in that the full cast was there. During the Q&A, someone in the audience asked if they would do future Gamera movies - Trace Beaulieu replied, "Were you wondering how the series ends? It's a rubber turtle". I hope I can find my photos from that event one day. The MST3K guys were cool and Jim Mallon (who portrayed Gypsy) initiated a brief email exchange with me afterward based on later usenet discussion. I was proud to get a spoiler for TV's Frank's departure from the show.

The Internet seems like such a small place then.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:13 AM on April 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sounds like they'll be winning this Sikorsky prize right after a few small modifications. Congratulations to the UoM helicopter masters!
posted by Purposeful Grimace


Well, you are a good sport. No hard feelings?

 
posted by Herodios at 9:48 AM on April 22, 2013


AIIEEEEEpedalpedalpedalpedalMWAHHAHAAAA

My biggest fear would go something like this:
AIIEEEEEpedalpedalpedalpedalAAAAAIEEEEEEEE!

I will feel comfortable flying solo when I start sprouting feathers in my armpits.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:43 AM on April 22, 2013


The engine is way too heavy for the horsepower produced. A 150lb human can produce about 1/4 HP whereas the engines used by the Wrights weighed less than 200lbs and produced about 12 HP.

Well, I mean, we've figured out a solution to that problem. Lighten the plane!
posted by alex_skazat at 11:51 AM on April 22, 2013


I would imagine there is some engineering going on in deciding the lightest human that can still provide the most power. Does Maryland have a wrestling team?
posted by spock at 12:10 PM on April 22, 2013


I'm a bit surprised that the attempts always involve skinny guys. I would have at least guessed that a person with higher proportion of muscle mass could result in improved power/weight ratio.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:44 PM on April 22, 2013


Tanizaki, good story. I saw the MST guys twice at DragonCon when they were promoting Cinematic Titanic, and they're always awesome. Alas, they seem to have stopped going to those conventions, probably because CT didn't turn out as they had hoped. (Mostly, I think, it was the difficulty in getting everyone together to perform and tour. Still though, we got some nice riffing out of it, and RiffTrax is still going. I wish I had gotten to see them perform live on stage while it was happening, for some reason they only showed performance DVDs at Dragon.)

I have endless respect for any fellow Gamera fans. I think I'm almost at the point where I can enjoy them ironically. Even so, it'd be great to see one of the two camps take on Virus or Jiger, or the more recent Gamera movies. I did see one of the more recent films, I think it was the first movie of the revival. When that young girl became like a priestess of Gamera, though, I think I lost interest, it started getting too anime-like for me.
posted by JHarris at 6:23 PM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would have at least guessed that a person with higher proportion of muscle mass could result in improved power/weight ratio.

Unsurprisingly, they've done the math on that.

My non-existent engineering know-how makes me think that, since there's no gearing, there's probably some sort of diminishing return on beefcake. What they really need to get is someone who's body weight is 90% arms and legs. The aerospace engineering team needs to give the marine biology department a call, is what I'm saying, so they can find the right cephalopod for the job.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:27 PM on April 22, 2013


And yes, I know it's supposed to be a human-powered helicopter. Just splice in some genes and call it a win.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:30 PM on April 22, 2013


I think I'm almost at the point where I can enjoy them ironically. -- "ironically" should be unironically. I never fail to leave out the one syllable that changes the entire damn meaning of the sentence.
posted by JHarris at 11:44 PM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


How To Fly A Human-Powered Helicopter
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:00 PM on April 26, 2013


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