Wednesday, August 7, 2013

NASA final report submitted

The microgravity team just submitted our final report to NASA on the research that we did on the weightless wonder. Here is our team video:

I expected to spend the entire night working on the report. I guess I will work on tuning the tricopter a bit more. I built a new small frame that seems to work well. I just need to get it as stable as the previous two frames.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tricopter Update

A few days ago I destroyed the frame that I have been flying for the past two weeks. I made a nice pile of broken parts:
I'm running a kk2.0 board with 1.6++ firmware. I tried to do a flip with autolevel on. I stood the copter on its tail end and it fell to earth. A couple of days later I put together this thing:

Two dt700s in the front and a dt900 in the back. It flew for 15 minutes or so. The booms are made from ~4'x1.5"x0.5" balsa. After flying it once I have decided to rebuild it into a much smaller and lighter form. I'm going to work on it tonight and hopefully will have a smaller version built by tomorrow. The huge tricopter was a little too intimidating. The balsa arms were far too fragile also and they broke twice before I even got it off of the ground. I will try a version with stubby plywood arms this time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

First Tricopter Video

I flew a record time of twenty minutes on my tricopter today. Here is a video of the craft hovering.

Project Introduction - Tricopter

I was over at Boise State University flying my tricopter when I decided that I need to actually post on my blog if I have one. Since I got back from my Houston trip I have been working on a couple of projects. The tricopter project has the greatest chance of bodily injury with its whirling blades of death and its habit of falling from the sky. So, I figure it is the most interesting one to talk about.

The frame I'm using currently is the second mock-up frame I have built. The first one was much larger and far more fragile. I have crashed this frame a dozen times and have been able to rebuild it in a couple of hours. The frame is built from some scrap plywood that is about 3/8 inch thick. The frame isn't nearly as heavy as I expected it to be and the entire tricopter in flight configuration with a 5800 mah 3s1p battery strapped to it weighs just under 2.4 pounds (1088g.)  The frame is assembled from just four pieces and only the tail boom has more than one fastener. Many tricopter designs allow for the arms to give in the event of a crash. My first frame design had three fasteners holding each boom. I broke both of the booms within the first few flights. I remounted them with nothing but friction holding them in and they lasted through a few more crashes.

The current motor configuration consists of two hexTronic DT900 motors in the front (counter-rotating) and a single hexTronic DT700 on the tail boom. I bought three DT900s and three DT700s. I had DT900s on my first frame and destroyed one of them in what some call a "creative landing." One of my DT700s burnt out while hovering. It looks like it shorted internally. Other than these issues, they seem to be tough little motors. One thing I noticed is that if you just throw a prop on them with a nut the shaft will pull up through the bell housing and put friction on the C-clip and the washer and bearing at the bottom. Currently I have three nuts on each motor. The first prevents the tightening of the upper nuts from pulling and causing binding. The second is a normal nut that holds the prop firmly down onto the first nut. The outer is a lock nut that helps prevent the previous nut from coming loose. I could save a small amount of weight by using a threadlocking compound but I break props so often that it would be a pain.

I will grab some images when I fly it here in a bit.

In other news (pun intended) I was in the paper today.
But they said I went to an entirely different state... Not the best quality article.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

And it begins... Finally.

A few days ago I flew an experiment aboard the Vomit Comet. I'm now on my way back to Boise to start looking at our captured data and possibly relax for a while. I think I will finally be able to work on my tricopter and start on a game project. First lets rewind a bit.

I knew I wanted to get into game development when I was a kid. I remember playing a game called "Privateer" and thinking how awesome it would be to make a game where I could interact with other people in this game world. A few years later I found myself alpha testing Eve with just a few dozen other people. I started school working towards a degree in computer animation. I enjoyed creating models in 3d Studio Max and playing around with effects and particle systems. I got started with graphics programming in the Glide API and C++ around this time. Instead of graduating I joined the Air Force.

I worked in the Air Force as a flying crew chief on KC-10s. I spent hundreds of hours on an airplane working on my personal programming projects. I seemed to be interested in creating terrain engines with dynamics such as erosion and fluid flows. I got a lot of experience in the military and I was able to work all over the world. I completed my four year enlistment and moved to Michigan.

In Michigan I worked towards a degree in computer programming. I completed a few honors projects where the entire class would test small games I was developing. At this time I found out that I am a habitual overachiever. After a few years in Michigan I moved near my family in Idaho.

I started school at Boise State University going for a degree in computer science. I really enjoy learning about programming and I intend to apply what I have learned to creating my own games. My pursuit of programming skill was noticed by an instructor of mine. My instructor introduced me to the microgravity team. The rest, as they say, is history.

I helped create the data capture software that flew on last years experiment. I felt proud that I was able to facilitate this experiment and that my software actually flew on the "Weightless Wonder" and completed NASA research goals. Over the last year we have been working on an improved version of our experiment and these past ten days have been amazing.

I was privileged to be able to present our experiment during the Test Readiness Review. I was able to represent all of the other scientists on our team and explain our apparatus. I have gained a family while working with this team and we have all put thousands of hours into this experiment.

A few days ago I flew with our experiment. We developed our apparatus to be fully autonomous and that allowed me to enjoy this experience. I had been waiting for an "Okay, I made it" moment. More people have climbed to the top of Mt. Everest than have been in zero gravity.

None of this would have happened if I had not wanted to develop my own games.

This project has greatly improved my self-confidence as a programmer. I have been so busy with school and work that I have not been putting time into my own projects. My projects are far more important to me than any of this.

I have been putting it off long enough. I never planned to be a scientist. Today I begin my transition into independent game development.

My name is Daniel Lambert and this blog will be dedicated to keeping track of my personal projects.