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Another Pixhawk-powered glider drop from a high-altitude balloon

Via Hackster.io. From the YouTube description:

The goal of this project was to drop a glider from the edge of space using a high altitude weather balloon. The glider is entirely homemade and uses the opensource Pixhawk flight controller + a Raspberry Pi Zero to disconnect at the desired altitude and fly to a predetermined landing location. There is no direct radio contact with the aircraft, but we included a GPS tracker made for cars in case the glider didn’t make it to the landing site. We tested the glider by first dropping it from a homemade quadcopter. This took 6 test-flights.

Satisfied that everything was working properly, we prepared to launch the glider from the balloon. Although our target was 30km, we only had a few free days to launch, and on every day predictions showed that strong stratospheric winds would blow the glider hundreds of miles into the ocean if we launched from that height. We settled for a 10km launch altitude, and set the Pixhawk to land at a location within 20km of where the predictions estimated it would end up if it simply free-fell from the balloon.

We inflated the balloon, tied the glider to a long string to minimize swinging, and let it go. It was a two hour drive from the launch site to the landing location, and when we got there the glider was sitting on the ground roughly 10m from the target! Max Altitude: 10.048km, 6.243mi Max Speed: 95.5m/s, 212.5mph Time Aloft: 2hrs 8min 18s Dist Traveled: 195.95km, 121.76mi

THE GLIDER: The glider is built from foamcore with coroplast for winglets and control surfaces, and laminated with colored tape for water-proofing. It carries two mobius cameras, two servos, a pixhawk flight controller with GPS, and a separate GPS/GSM tracker. Critically, all the electronics are inside the fuselage, which we packed with handwarmers and sealed shut before the flight to keep anything from freezing. Two 5200mAh 3s batteries provided more than enough power for a two hour flight (we were hoping to fly longer and higher). The takeoff weight was ~1300g.

THE FLIGHT CONTROL: We used a Pixhawk for flight control. A Raspberry pi zero is connected to the pixhawk via USB and communicates with the Pixhawk using the Mavlink protocol. A simple python script on the Pi sets the flight mode on the Pixhawk to MANUAL on startup to prevent the servos from moving and wasting the battery during ascent. The script continuously checks the altitude, and when it reaches the target, triggers a solid state relay to burn a short piece of nickel-chromium wire, disconnecting the glider from the balloon. The script then sets the flight mode to AUTO, so the Pixhawk will direct the glider to a single target waypoint. Source code: https://github.com/IzzyBrand/spaceplane

THE BALLOON: The ballon is an old military surplus balloon I bought off ebay for $60. Not sure what the actual size was, there was little documentation. It came with a skirt which we cut off to save weight. We inflated it with half a K-tank of helium, though we probably could have gotten by with an S-tank. At launch, the balloon was generating a lift force of ~3000g. We used the http://habhub.org/ predictor to estimate the flight path and select a disconnect altitude of 10000m.

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ZTW Flash Series ESC for PFV Racing Drone

ZTW Flash Series ESC for PFV Racing Drone

source from h


Using BLHELI-S firmware.
Super smooth and accurate throttle linearity.
Support high RPM motors, can be matched with most of the motors in the RC market.
Use new generation of the MOSFETs to make the ESC low heating and high reliability.
Capable of ONESHOT42/ ONESHOT125O/MULTISHOT feature to work better with your flight controllers.
Fast response to throttle.
No settings needed, just plug and play.

Constant Current: 30A
Peak Current: 40A(10s)
Voltage: 2-4S
Software: BLHELI-S
Color: black
Net Weight: 8.7g

Package Information:
Package size: 12.5 * 12.5 * 0.5cm / 4.9 * 2.2 * 0.2in
Package weight: 21g / 0.7oz
Poly bag package

Package List: RM7207
1 * ZTW Flash 30A Brushless ESC

1 * Manual Instruction

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DIY Drones now at 88,000+ members

It's customary and traditional that we celebrate the addition of every 1,000 new members here and share the traffic stats. We've now passed 88,000 members!

Thanks as always to all the community members who make this growth possible, and especially to the administrators and moderators who approve new members, blog posts and otherwise respond to questions and keep the website running smoothly.

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First DIY Zoom Gimbal

Interested in a adding optical zooming to your DIY UAV systems? It is now possible to build a field tested zoom gimbal by yourself. Vertigo DIY kit gives you an opportunity to enter the specific fields of drone services such as emergency, surveillance, monitoring, agriculture or computer vision development. 

We prepared 3 buying options: Full kit + .STL’s files, Electronics kit, and .STL files only.

This is the best price solution on the market right now, and it will bring you most of the functionality that is brought by professional UAV systems on the market in any drone capable of lifting 398g | 0.87 lbs of payload, and it will work fine in most diy multirotors and some larger airplane frames.

If you have an access to 3D printer you will be able to produce several pieces for yourself, and start some larger scaled missions quite fast. 

We are excited to see what upgrades are introduced in your versions of the gimbal, so please share your builds with us. We hope it will help to develop better solutions in future for all of us in DIY community.

We recorded a full assembly tutorial, so the build should go very smooth. If you need more assistance please feel free to contact us directly (via diykit@vertigofpv.com) as well.

First 4 sets sold to diydrones.com users will also include parts already printed for your convenience.  

Hope you will have a great time building your own zoom gimbal. 

More information:




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Quick overview comparing multispectral sensors for plant mapping with drones

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