• News 22.02.2013 No Comments

    The Atlantic just published a pretty interesting photo essay on improvised/DIY weapons being used by the Syrian rebels. It looks like their main goal is making munitions (shells, mortar rounds, rockets and IED’s). There were some remote controlled stuff and some downright medieval stuff (catapults and slingshots). Very interesting all in all. The last article they did had a lot more improvised robotics. It looks like they have found that these are not as effective as dumb munitions for their needs.


  • News 03.01.2013 No Comments

    A fascinating talk on a project to make a usable hand held software defined radio. These kinds of projects will hopefully lay the groundwork for free uncensored communication for the masses.

    Check out his blog here:

  • Legal, News, Video 30.12.2012 No Comments

    It’s been a while since I have posted. I’ve been busy at work…blah blah blah. Given the current assault on the 2nd Amendment in my country and the apparent trajectory of our society nationally and globally I believe that this site could become increasingly important. Hopefully I’ll be able to start more regular updates and work on projects.

  • News 01.02.2012 No Comments

    This video is particularly impressive. It has been fun to watch the progress of this project. They have definitely entered creepy territory. The formation transitions were neat, it reminded me of that old Sierra game Homeworld. I LOVE the figure 8 demo, it really highlighted the possibilities of what connected machines can do. That was the first drone demo I have seen that had drones doing something that simply could not be done by human operators.

  • PID (Proportional, Integral and Derivative) is used in everything from autopilots to stoves. Any time you want to manipulate an input to achieve a steady output state a PID probably could come in handy. It basically looks at the error between the desired output state and the current state and changes the input to best achieve the desired output quickly and with little error or oscillation. There is my bad dime-store description. Now go read this excellent explanation. I’ve read a few different things on PID and this is by far the most understandable and well laid out explanation.


  • ArduCopter with Mouse for Pos Hold (day 2) from Randy Mackay on Vimeo.

    I’m not sure how I missed this. A while ago I posted an article from DIYDrones about a guy who was working on an optic flow sensor based on a cheap mouse sensor. It looks like the fine folks over at DIY Drones productized it and now sell it at their store. Awesome! There are some setup instructions available also. Developers also might find these papers on obstacle avoidance and position hold. As they outline in the instructions this sensor has a few limitations but I think some could be overcome with some clever sensor fusion techniques and the application of multiple optic and IMU sensors.

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  • Roboat is a dandy little boat autopilot . It is currently driving a little RC boat and doing depth surveys but could do a number of missions. The code is available here. Sadly it requires Google Earth but that could be easily remedied. A nice build all in all.

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  • A great example of the kind of military grade capabilities that are now in hands of civilians. This is a fairly innocuous example but it is also just the beginning. A flash mob armed with a few of these streaming raw footage and a command and control system would pose serious challenges to the police. Very exciting!

    Via Reddit

  • News 31.10.2011 No Comments

    Wow. Boston Dynamics never ceases to amaze me. I suppose this is the natural progression of their technology but seeing this thing in action is awesome…and a little creepy. There was an earlier video posted in 2010 of a significantly clunkier PETMAN prototype. It obviously has comes leaps and bounds (no pun intended). I’d love to see this bad boy in action some day.

  • News 16.10.2011 No Comments

    Drag around on the schematic above to see the whole thing!

    I’ve been playing around with Upverter for a few days now. I wanted to really use it before I wrote something up about it. It’s a web based Electronics design suite. You can create parts or use existing ones to wire up a schematic which will (in the future) be able to be turned into a PCB design. A Bill Of Materials is also created so you can view the data sheets for the different parts and order them. Over all it’s EagleCAD or KiCAD on the web. The big potential win is the ability to leverage the parts database as it grows and to share your designs with others quickly and easily. I ended up making a schematic for the Sparkfun Mini-Bully PIC24H breakout board which I am using in a project at the moment. All in all it was pretty nice. It took 2-3 hours to copy the design over. Much of that time was spent labeling and creating new parts that were needed. It’s still a very GUI UI which is cumbersome for rapid entry and rigging of nets but that aside it’s a really impressive web based tool. Sadly the API is not open and I could not find a way to export the data from the UI. Being the curious sort I did some poking around in firebug and found the POST that pulls the JSON data for a schematic. It’s pretty simple.

    Look at the url for the design id (http://upverter.com/afosterw/6815/Sparkfun-Bully-Board/) In my case it is 6815.

    Do a HTTP POST with a application/x-www-form-urlencoded body containing {“design_id”:} to http://api.upverter.com/rpc/DesignLoad and blammo! JSON encoded schematic data.

    In linux the one liner is:

    wget http://api.upverter.com/rpc/DesignLoad --post-data "{\"design_id\":6815}"

    I’m hoping to get a chance to build an SVG export and maybe an maybe an EagleCAD and/or a KiCAD converter in Python but I’ve been pretty busy so we shall see. So overall I like Upverter. It’s still pretty useless if you want an actual PCB at the end of the day but they are working on a PCB Editor. Once they have that it’s a great solution for the hobby hacker.

    Update: I’m not sure if I missed it before or if they just added the feature but now you can download the raw JSON of a schematic directly from Upverter using their handy dandy Download button! Awesome!