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Fly An R/C Plane With an iPhone

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  • Oooh (Score:1, Informative)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

    Yes, it's nothing really more than a simple UI feeding pretty basic data to a WLAN router which actually controls the vehicle.

    But what have *you* done lately?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But what have *you* done lately?

      Sat on my ass in my Mom's basement, eating cheetos & trolling slashdot.

      Oh - wait, that's not me - that's you!

  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Friday May 01, 2009 @01:56AM (#27783687)

    Was his server also running on an iPhone?

    • No, that's not it - the combination of the slashdot effect and people looking for naked pictures of his uncle's ex-wife was too much for his hosting account to bear.

    • Youtube Video first: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72V0n1GaMsw [youtube.com]

      Text below from Google Cache.
      Iâ(TM)ve had an iPhone for about a year now, and find it quite indispensable. Itâ(TM)s handy in so many situations, and fits into a lot of nerdy stuff I do. However, it hasnâ(TM)t fit in perfectly to the main nerdy thing that I like to do: Fly radio control airplanes and helicopters. For that, I use a really high quality piece of jrp2915-250hardware from a company called JR, a JR 9303 radio. It works g

  • gahphone! (Score:5, Funny)

    by get quad (917331) on Friday May 01, 2009 @01:59AM (#27783693)
    Upon hearing this news the FAA has now banned iPhones as a kneejerk reaction to potentially taking over commercial flights, especially if you also use said iPhone to herd pigs via the iLivestock app.
  • Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 7602176) (tried to allocate 4864 bytes) in /home/myaunt/public_html/wp-includes/pluggable.php on line 901

    Yeah that's very cool! I'm almoast jealous I don't have an iPhone...or a Linksys AP...or an R/C toy...
    • by Zapotek (1032314)
      Oh nevermind...The website started to work now...
      • by glowworm (880177)
        No, it's down again Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 8388608) (tried to allocate 4864 bytes) in /home/myaunt/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php(1005) : runtime-created function on line 1
    • Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 6291456) (tried to allocate 59 bytes) in /home/myaunt/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 481
  • Presumambly... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LaZZaR (216092) * on Friday May 01, 2009 @02:04AM (#27783723)

    Since you have a linux computer on board, you could extend this beyond just real time control. Programmed flight paths? Use a smaller embedded linux computer and add extra gear, maybe cameras and GPS, you could do all sorts of cool stuff (although, now this is starting to sound like a military spy plane... expect a knock on the door from the FBI)

    • Re:Presumambly... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Friday May 01, 2009 @09:22AM (#27785981) Homepage

      Acually making your own UAV is actually fairly simple.

      http://diydrones.com/ [diydrones.com]

      Using a arduino or a gumstix running linux for a super high power UAV has been happening in the robotics and RC aircraft arena for some time now.

      I guess doing what others have done but adding "with a iphone" is the new "on the internet".

    • You'll probably want more than just GPS and cameras. You can get autopilot/hover stability systems for RC models for a reasonable price (under $5000) that will basically allow you to use the aircraft as a UAV. You can also get much cheaper systems (under $100) that will hold a heli in a stable hover by using the horizon as reference, but they won't keep the aircraft in the intended position as well as the more expensive options.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        If you're going to build a UAV that actually needs to hover it makes probably an order of magnitude more sense to build a quadrocopter, since they are so much more stable.

        • What makes you say that? Many of them have stabilization systems. But from a purely mechanical and aerodynamic point of view, I don't see how they would be so much more stable than a heli of equivalent size.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      You can't fly a helicopter with pre-recording input data. You need full autopilot. You need accelerometers, gyros, some sort of actual altitude sensor, and a GPS to correct the accelometer and gyro data for drift over time.

      Its easier for an airplane, but helicopters are inherently unstable and require constant input to adjust for their instability. Airplanes can fly themselves with only some mechanical governors and stabilizers in good weather, helicopters can never fly themselves without electronic inpu

  • I had no idea R/C was considerred hip these days...
    • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Friday May 01, 2009 @02:09AM (#27783755)

      Ever since battery technology made high performance, high fly time electrics possible, the indoor/outdoor electric RC genre has exploded.

      One of the people who revolutionized this market is a friend of mine who runs wildrc.com. He invented a very durable electric flyer called the IFO. It's made of kite materials - rip stop polyester and carbon fiber rods. Just in the time that the IFO has been in existence, the batteries and motors have evolved so that his original 5 minute flight time has increased to the point where you get bored before the batteries run out - 20 mins to 1/2 hour in some cases.

      Lots of people are experimenting with computer controlled flight, and on the high end you have companies like Aerovironment doing military UAVs and solar aircraft.

      I remember visiting hobby shops in the 1980s and wishing there were more electric RC airplanes and helicopters, there was maybe one at the time and it had a 4 minute flying time. Everything R/C was also ridiculously expensive, especially the radios.

      Now 20+ years later my wishes came true...

  • by deltharius (1451283) on Friday May 01, 2009 @02:09AM (#27783749)
    I RTFA. The guy claims to fly model planes, code in php AND had a *girl* in his bed. While he was coding php?!? It was either his sister, or I call bullshit on the whole story.
  • by syousef (465911) on Friday May 01, 2009 @02:17AM (#27783789) Journal

    Those of you that don't fly should know that even minor glitches can lead to the total loss of your plane. If you do it right - get a simulator, get some training with an instructor, learn to build planes correctly - you minimize your losses but exceedingly few r/c pilots have never lost a plane. (I've lost one in 4 years or so of flying but I don't fly anywhere near as much as I'd like). You can think about where you want to put your plane but you have to get to the point where you can instinctively move the controls to do any maneuver you think of in under a second. If you can't it's called getting "behind the plane" which is bad (ie your thinking and planning to move your plane needs to be ahead). It's not rocket science but it's probably comparable to learning to ride a bike or ski or surf for the first time only if you get it slightly wrong your plane is history.

    The last thing you want to do is risk your plane with an unreliable hack on the plane (or flight surfaces, or anything holding the plane together). It could cost you hundreds of bucks, days of work, and if your plane is gas powered or heavier than a few hundred grams it could hurt someone. (Fatalities are rare with smaller planes but not unheard of).

    Also depending on where you live controlling your r/c plane with a radio that isn't designed and certified for it might not be legal even though the part of the spectrum you're using may be free to use (eg. 2.4GHz).

    Frankly I haven't even gone to 2.4GHz. I know from having other devices on those frequencies that it's a noisy part of the spectrum. At the moment it's still quite new tech which is cool but I don't fully trust it yet for anything critical.

    • by timeOday (582209) on Friday May 01, 2009 @02:23AM (#27783821)

      The last thing you want to do is risk your plane with an unreliable hack on the plane (or flight surfaces, or anything holding the plane together). It could cost you hundreds of bucks, days of work

      When learning to fly gliders, I did a LOT more flying once I ditched a balsa aircraft that had to be re-built after every "landing" in favor of a foam one that could take a lot of abuse.

      • by iphayd (170761)

        Learn to land.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Guysmiley777 (880063)
          From experience, landing an R/C plane is a lot harder than landing a real light aircraft. You rely on your peripheral vision a LOT in a real plane, you don't get the same innate sense of sink rate when looking up at an R/C plane.
          • by iphayd (170761)

            I've landed R/C planes on fences when I thought I was coming down the runway because humans don't have depth perception after 20 or so feet, and rely on visual cues that don't exist in the air. (I've since learned to check the shadow of the plane.) I've also rebuilt the plane and flown it again. I know how tough a R/C landing is, and restate my point above...

            Learn to land.

          • The same thing applies to flight sims--it's harder to make a sucessful landing in a sim than it is in a real small airplane, mainly because you can't turn your head and look out a side window.

            Back when I used to fly, I made hundreds of safe landings but I crash my computer sim one time out of five

            • by syousef (465911)

              I fly the full sized sims and you really want to watch sink rate, speed and front view. It's doable just with that. if you want to be able to turn your head on the sim and look left and right, check out a product called track ir (which tracks head movement so that a small movement left or right changes your visual view left or right - still different to the real thing because your eyeball stays fixed on the same screen) or get a multi screen setup going.

              Landing on a sim and landing in real life are unfortun

            • If your sim lets you view from the control tower, try landing like that.

    • I was flying R/C playes, helicopters and real planes nearly my whole life. I can second what you are saying.

      However, this is a really nice hack! I had a big smile on my face while watching this video. Hacks like these are the things which seperate the real techies from the kids ;)

    • Yeah, there are plenty of really small, toy-level RC aircraft around these days. The kind that are so small you can crash them and just keep flying. This iPhone control sounds fun for something like that. Anything bigger than that (such as the 450 he has) seems a bit risky.

      On the other hand, I've also pondered this idea for a while, and it looks like it works. The transmitters are often bigger than the heli itself at the small end and it would be neat to be able to replace the bulky thing with the iPhone, n

    • by Skater (41976)
      I was in a hobby shop a couple years back looking for parts for an R/C car, and I heard the employees telling a customer about another guy that lost his R/C helicopter. I guess the pilot got distracted for a moment, and when he looked back to the helicopter, the helicopter was nowhere to be found. He was getting friends to help him look for it.
    • Frankly I haven't even gone to 2.4GHz. I know from having other devices on those frequencies that it's a noisy part of the spectrum. At the moment it's still quite new tech which is cool but I don't fully trust it yet for anything critical.

      Get real, this is 2009. Spread-spectrum RC radios have had quite a few years to mature, not to mention that it's simply a better modulation technique than FM. Check out the Spektrum DX7 or the new Futaba stuff. I fly my helicopter setups with a DX7. There are people in my town that fly $15,000 jets them. Oh, and a lot of RC aerial photography in the movies have used the technology for at least a decade now.

      • by syousef (465911)

        The DX7 only hit the mainstream 3 or 4 years ago. The Futaba gear is even newer. That's about the same duration that these radios have been recommended for full range R/C as opposed to smaller electric. I don't like the way it works. The way I've seen it described they lock on to 2 frequencies - the second for redundancy - that are clear when you start then never change. So if you have both stuffed due to interference that's game over. That would still be better than a single channel if not for the fact tha

        • I won't be changing your mind today... But, in practice the systems do work very well. The cool thing about spread-spectrum modulation is its insane ability to track through insane external interference (that's part of my job as a test engineer, to jam radios and see how they behave). And whereas FM uses one frequency per channel, 2.4 can stuff in thousands on the same frequency and still get decent SNR on each one. Spread-spectrum is in almost every way superior to FM. So some kid turns on a 72 MHz rad

          • by syousef (465911)

            I've seen people flying helis worth many thousands with them, so I do understand that they don't have a reputation for being terrible. It's still too new for me to be comfortable changing over all 4 of my receivers and my radio. (My 2 radios are JR by the way). Also I've heard of glitches on the newer systems. I haven't seen this first hand nor do I have a documented case.

            I'd certainly like redundancy on my radio and a second channel would be sweet but not on 2.4GHz thanks. Low power or not I don't like the

  • This seems Horribly familiar.
  • by compumike (454538) on Friday May 01, 2009 @02:23AM (#27783819) Homepage

    Site seems slashdotted, but this might be similar to the DIY iPhone-Controlled R/C Car [slashdot.org] story from October -- links to this video tutorial [nerdkits.com] about the project.

  • by Plazmid (1132467) on Friday May 01, 2009 @02:44AM (#27783917)
    Why not put the iphone on the helicopter and use it to control it. Use the accelerometer data to stabilize the helicopter, the wifi geolocation ability to figure out where it is(for the most part...), and the camera to avoid obstacles using some sort of optic flow algorithm. Maybe even use google maps imagery to figure out where it is even better.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CompMD (522020)

      Because that stuff is really, really hard. I am an aerospace engineer and a pilot. Helicopter controls are HARD. GPS is great, but only accurate to a few feet at best, wifi RSSI measurement and triangulation is atrocious...how do you hover if you don't know where you are? You need a full 6DOF model of the helicopter, 3-axis magnetometers, 3-axis acclerometers, and Kalman filtering to assist with GPS. Photogrammetric navigation is also not trivial and is the stuff of graduate engineering research projec

    • Probably because you can already add an extra two gyros to a heli for cyclic control (they already have a gyro for the tail rotor) which will do the job much better, cheaper, and easier than the same type of sensors in the iPhone. But all that would do is make the aircraft less twitchy. It will still "slide" out of control and the GPS is nowhere near accurate or fast enough to help out in that area. And then there's altitude control...

  • Ever wished... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caitsith01 (606117) on Friday May 01, 2009 @03:13AM (#27784083) Journal

    Ever wished that every tech website and commercial orgnisation didn't assume that you are an Apple drone with an iphone? I refer to the summary, which uses the phrase:

    your iPhone

    Hey! I have an iphone? I didn't know. Could you send it to me? Thanks!

    I have a perfectly good mobile phone which works well with platform independent software and includes accelerometers, touch sensitivity and other amazing innovations. Yet my phone and my custom are of no interest to the majority of tech websites or businesses.

    Similarly, it pisses me off that 90% of music docks are ipod-only, rather than being compatible with something crazy like a standard mini-jack.

    Cue moderation to -1000, mild criticism of something tangentially connected to Apple.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekboy642 (799087)

      Guess why your (not an i-)phone doesn't get featured on the front page of slashdot?
      YOU'RE NOT FLYING A FUCKING HELICOPTER WITH YOUR PHONE.

      • Guess why your (not an i-)phone doesn't get featured on the front page of slashdot?
        YOU'RE NOT FLYING A FUCKING HELICOPTER WITH YOUR PHONE.

        I was not complaining about the story. I was complaining about the implicit assertion that anyone reading it owns an iphone.

        Oh, and this [352media.com].

        • by maxume (22995)

          You have very mild sensibilities.

    • by GF678 (1453005)

      It's peer pressure. We experience it when we're young and told to resist it, that resisting peer pressure would make us stronger, yet as adults it's fostered onto us by the tech community and media because if you don't own one, you're considered not "with it" for some reason.

      The allure of the shiney and the pressure to conform to the expected tech standard is pushed hard against all of us.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Cue moderation to -1000, mild criticism of something tangentially connected to Apple.

      The reason that you should have been downmodded into oblivion is that nobody should care if you don't have an iPhone. Instead, a bunch of jealous mofos who can't afford one modded you up. I don't think you're in this category, mind you...

      If the article says "with your iPhone" and you don't own one, the article is not for you. See, it's not all about you...

      P.S. I don't have an iPhone, and I think they're stupid. But I think complaining about the tone of the headline is even more stupid.

      P.P.S. A megaphone is

      • by paazin (719486)

        Instead, a bunch of jealous mofos who can't afford one modded you up.

        Hardly.

        More likely it's people like me who simply don't care much for whatever happens to be the FOTM, instead only making purchases intelligently

    • I couldn't agree more. I think it's part of the marketing hype that Slashdot and others have fallen to where "On The IpHoNe" - or indeed, "On Your Iphone" makes it newsworthy.

      "Ever wished your iPhone could do more than just play some cool games? How about using a chat client instead of SMS? [slashdot.org]"

      "Ever wished your iPhone could do more than just play some cool games? How about using it to access a website, just like almost every other phone has been doing for years? [slashdot.org]"

      "Ever wished your iPhone could do more than just

    • by beelsebob (529313)

      Oddly, they do the same thing with every other product they talk about... your PC (no, I have a mac thanks); your volvo estate (no, I have a skoda thanks); your wall plug (no, I rent my flat, and own no wall plugs at all).

      Bottom line - you're being nothing more than a picky twat, specifically because this story was apple related.

      It may piss you off that 90% of music docks are iPod only, but then, 80% of music players are iPods, so it makes a decent amount of sense that manufacturers aim at them. This would

      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        Oddly, they do the same thing with every other product they talk about... your PC (no, I have a mac thanks); your volvo estate (no, I have a skoda thanks); your wall plug (no, I rent my flat, and own no wall plugs at all).

        They do it on adverts, sure. I'd rather that Slashdot didn't turn into Slashvertisements - but sadly that does seem the way it's going with the endless Iphone stories...

        • by beelsebob (529313)

          So, slashdot doing a story about some guy doing a cool thing with an RC plane, and a non-standard controller, where that non-standard controller just happens to be a very popular phone/media player/portable computer... That's a slashvertisement, yeh?

          Get over yourself. You may not like the iPhone. You may not like the company behind the iPhone. But that doesn't stop a story about "hey, you can do random cool shit with this device" being entirely legit.

    • by sanyacid (768747)
      It's understandable you're so annoyed with all the buzz and news about iPhone. But surely you can do something about the situation. Why not contribute some news about what exciting stuff you do with your phone? If it's anything related to robotics/controlling your tech with your phone, I will be one to read it.
      Obviously this article is aimed at people who either own iPhone (hence the 'your iPhone') or people who are generally interested in this topic. I don't own iPhone (and I'm not planning to buy one), b
  • IDLE IDLE IDLE! (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by MrMista_B (891430)

    Look. Slashdot, we need an intervention here.

    If we're gonna have a damn 'Idle' topic to begin with, then crap like this should be /kept/ there, and not allowed to spew out onto the main page.

    Alright?

    Alright.

  • there's an app that ssh's into a router and that is what's controlling the plane. it's as advertised, but the summary is wrong. the app makes the router control the plane.

  • Finally, you may ask how the servos are being driven. Well, routers are used to send bits of information down a series of twisted pair wires usually. Guess what it takes to send packeted information? An IC that would work really well as a PWM! I did some haxoring around on this, and read what other nerds had done on the internet, and the next thin[g] you know I have a servo with a Cat5E plug on the end of it.

    Now you're talking. Schematics/code? Hope he'll share them (there's no better backup) before the n

  • How to use an iPhone to Fly R/C Airplanes and Helicopters

    HOW I DID IT: I've had an iPhone for about a year now, and find it quite indispensable. It's handy in so many situations, and fits into a lot of nerdy stuff I do. However, it hasn't fit in perfectly to the main nerdy thing that I like to do: Fly radio control airplanes and helicopters. For that, I use a really high quality piece of hardware from a company called JR, a JR 9303 radio. It works great. However, one day it occurred to me, how cool would
  • This is nothing new. I see people driving cars with cellphones and iphones all the time. One hand on the phone, one on the cigarette, one on the coffee cup. That doesn't leave any for the steering wheel so they must be driving the car with the phone. Get Moose and Squirrel!
  • Fly An R/C Plane With an iPhone

    Why would I want to do that?

    Is it like scratching your balls with a ballpoint pen? Or flipping pancakes with a fork?

    How 'bout this: I'll go mow my lawn with a nail clipper instead.

  • Confused (Score:2, Funny)

    by drinsilence (1019354)
    MyAuntIsHot or MyAuntIShot?
  • to go with the military-version iPod Touch [slashdot.org]. An iPhone-controlled UAV, called the iDrone.

  • He keeps talking about 'girls' in the story, for example that he had a girl in his bed, or he was flying his plane and a girl called him, but what he forgot to mention that the girl he is referring to is his mom, and the party he was invited to was Friday pizza night, with his mom.
  • www.plantraco.com they hail from canada, and you even get 10 pages of customs paperwork every time they ship ya a plane via fedex.. lol these people came up with a battery that has magnets on the connectors, to hold the battery to the reciever on the plane, truly made for us clumsy flyers! their best is the carbon butterfly! for outdoors, the UAV, or avonette are great.. but if you like you planes to have wheels for the challange of touch and go's anywhere you go, then the 'pocket plane' is what you a
  • by redz77 (1545533)
    Now I'm not saying this app is useless, but why would anyone need to fly an RC play with their iphone? Don't the have remotes for that already?
    • by fatalb7 (852308)

      Easy: Because he can.

      And there probably are other guys trying to make phone calls with their remotes.

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