Amazing Advances in Remote Control Models

I bought a couple of drone (Quadcopters) models, and of course, being the tinkerer I am, bought them as kits, and built them myself. I’ve always been a “gas/nitro fuel” guy, but new technology and power sources are now cheap and easily available, so I went with all new electric-power technologies.  LIPO batteries, Electronic Speed Controllers…wow, easy-peasy, and no mess, no gas, no smoke, etc.

So I come to find out that the controller boards for these drones are pretty complex, using Arduino processors, and sensors to monitor the speed of each motor, the orientation of the craft, GPS coordinates, etc. which means this thing can be programmed to fly itself and even follow a route and perform actions. WOW!

I built the drones, bought some HD cameras, and had fun with it for a little bit, but my heart has always been with scale airplanes, aerobatics, etc., so I decided to get online and see what there is to see with fixed wing so I bought a small jet (electric!!!) with a ducted fan in the middle as the power system.

Well, now I’m going to need a hi-tech radio, so I can do all the necessary programming and mixing for flaps, landing gear, and different flight situations.  Enter the Turnigy 10i radio (in the picture) that I just purchased. As you can see, it looks like there’s an Android Phone buried in the middle, and although not confirmed, I think it is.

You navigate through 4 screens of icons that allow me to setup a plane or heli or multi-copter (drone) quite easily. In the case of my jet, I’ve added mixing to the flaps function, which puts a drop of down-elevator in as the flaps deploy, to stop the jet from tilting upwards when the flaps go down.  I also found that I needed to make adjustments to the throttle, so that when I have the stick at 50% (centered), I have about 60% of the throttle.  This is called throttle curve, and it’s allowing me to have more than 50% power when the left stick is in the middle of it’s travel. Finally, I used another function to limit the amount of throw on the ailerons to small deflection amounts, because the jet flies fast, and becomes easier to tame the 2-rolls-per-second turning rate – I simply used the touch-screen to limit the throws to 40%.

What’s nice about all of this is that it is now all visual, using line charts, as opposed to setting percentages in a text-based display.  Times have changed!

In every aspect of our lives, we are using computers more and more to enhance, speed up, and to eliminate human error.  Without the radio functions I’ve described above, my jet would be in a million pieces within seconds of the first flight!

This technology has moved to smaller and smaller devices, and the prices have been dropping as the technology increases. 6 years ago, that transmitter you see above would cost close to $1000. I bought it brand new for only $170 !!

With improved mobile technologies and programming languages, life becomes richer and easier.  At Palm Beach Software Design, Inc., we develop software applications for web, desktop, and mobile devices using mainstream technologies such as Microsoft Visual Studio, C#, SQL Server, Java and Google’s Android Development Tools and API.

I would love to hear about your next project, or your experiences with new and cool technology.

Until next week…goodbye from sunny South Florida!

Palm Beach Software Design, Inc.