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Fly An R/C Plane With an iPhone

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the dive-dive-dive dept.

Hardware Hacking 105

An anonymous reader writes "Ever wished your iPhone could do more than just play some cool games? How about using it as a spread spectrum transmitter to fly your R/C Toys around, complete with using a Linksys router as a receiver?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

fist pr0st! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27783667)

fist pr0st!

Oooh (1, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783679)

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:Oooh (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27783891)

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!

Re:Oooh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27784101)

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

I expect better things from you BadAnalogyGuy. Something along the lines of:

complete with using a Linksys router as a receiver

This is like claiming to be a racecar driver when all you do is drink beer in the stands and scream at your favorite driver to 'go faster'.

Slashdotted already? (4, Funny)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783687)

Was his server also running on an iPhone?

Re:Slashdotted already? (1)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783769)

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.

From Google Cache (1)

mrops (927562) | more than 5 years ago | (#27786321)

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 great. However, one day it occurred to me, how cool would it be to use my iPhone to fly my RC stuff? The answer was âoeSo coolâ obviously. I tossed around the idea for a couple of months and ultimately gave up on it because the iPhone doesnâ(TM)t have a receiver I can put in the airplane to fly it with.

So the idea sat untouched while I learned how to program stuff on the iPhone for other nerdy purposes. My roommate requested I make a chadwick balancer for him using the accelerometers. (For those who donâ(TM)t know, this is a device they use in real and model helicopters to find out if something is not balanced. Main blades, tail blades, shafts, gears etcâ¦) While I was learning about the accelerometer functions in the iPhone, the idea pinged me again, and I thought, How cool would it be to fly an R/C model using the accelerometers inside the iPhone?! Alas, still no receiver.

IMAC Season came and went, and so did indoor season. I was busy practicing for contests I knew Iâ(TM)d be beat at, and building planes I knew were way to good for me. =) Then, one fateful day, I deleted some PHP program I was working on by accident. This was a LOT of work, and I was exceptionally pissed off about it. I was distracted by some girl in my bed (Donâ(TM)t EVAR program PHP with a girl(s) in your bed!) and maybe a beer or six in my blood. I was writing a series of test programs for a SOAP interface, and had named one of them 8.php. (The more seasoned nerds among you can probably see where this is going). The program had turned into a complete disaster and was causing âoeinternal server errorsâ, and I wanted to delete it. While girl was yammering in my ear I typed rm *.php instead of rm 8.php, and hit enter. Deleting every php file in the folder. Hours of hard work gone into the void.

The next day I went and bought a time capsule from Apple so this would never happen again. The side effect of this was that I had a Linksys 54 to play linksys routeraround with. I always had this grandiose idea of building a WIFI sniffer/jammer. I figured there may have been some people playing around with these routers. And gosh, was I right.

The DD-WRT project is a group of people who have reverse engineered many popular brands of routers and have managed to load a small linux distribution. As soon as I saw that they had independent programs running, it hit me like a bolt of lightning: My planes and helis donâ(TM)t need a receiver if they are carrying around the server. If I could carry around the router on board, I could fly my stuff.

So I started scheming. There were a lot of problems to be solved, and I am only just so nerdy. I made a list:

      1. How do I get the router to talk to the servos? How much current can ethernet handle?
      2. How do I control throttle with no stick?
      3. What is the latency going to be like from iPhone->Router->Program->Servo?
      4. What is the range of WiFi? Good enough for RC?
      5. Can I fly with the accelerometers? Iâ(TM)m a stick banger. BIG time. How does one add expo to this?
      6. Whose planes can I test this on? >=)

So I had my basic idea down. iPhone joins the Linksys router network. It gets an IP address. Then, I open up my pilot program. The pilot program interfaces with the router via SSH (I couldnâ(TM)t think of a better way that has redundancy, and speed, and was already buily by someone else). The pilot program interprets what the iphone is doing, and outputs data to one of the ethernet ports of which there are conveniently 4. Rudder, Ailerons, Throttle, Elevator.

Once I had that idea all drawn up, I said âoegreat, Iâ(TM)ll file this in the âprojects Iâ(TM)ll claim to have come up with once someone else does all the workâ(TM)â file. However, my friends and roommates kept egging me on, especially as more and more of them got and loved their phones. They wanted to be able to fly stuff too! Just to say they can.Flight Interface iPhone

So the first order of business was to come up with a user interface for the iPhone to fly things with. I know how my JR Transmitter works, but itâ(TM)s a whole different beast: it has sticks and buttons. So, I came up with a simple âoeflight interfaceâ for the iPhone. Itâ(TM)s sinfully ugly, but brutally functional. It has a couple of things that I felt were important:

      1. Throttle Lock/Cut
      2. Visual Throttle Cue so you can see if the throttle is at full and youâ(TM)re not getting power to the plane. Also, the phone will vibrate depending on different throttle positions. Full throttle gets a hearty shake out of the old girl.
      3. Network status (Based on ping latency)
      4. Really difficult to accidentally quit.
      5. Ability to eventually use more than one engine. (Just in case).
      6. Cool looking throttle levers like the big boys use.

The program itself wasnâ(TM)t too hard to make using Xdev, the iPhone/OS X development suite. The interface was pretty easy, but there was a lot of code behind tapping all the accelerometers at once. To further complicate things, how I tilt the phone may be different from how someone else tilts it.

There were some major hurdles. While range testing one night, I received a call from a girl. She was pretty insistent on me going to a party or something. So now I had two huge problems, incoming calls would kill the link to the craft, and I had to figure out if I had any clean clothes without R/C Logos on them to wear out.

The other problem I ran into was that the Linksys router can actually work on a lot of different voltages. Ironically, itâ(TM)s very happy at nine volts, the max output voltage for the Castle Creations Castle link.

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 think you know I have a servo with a Cat5E plug on the end of it. Below is a small video I made of some of the earlier tests, the first real successful flight test, and an interesting near miss at the very end.

gahphone! (5, Funny)

get quad (917331) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:gahphone! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27783879)

I'd worry more about all of the gay sex which would occur in inflight restrooms. It would be an awkward situation to have to explain to your kids why there are two vibrant, groaning voices coming from the airplane restroom.

Cuz iPhones are gay, you know.

Yeah that's cool! (1)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783721)

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...

Re:Yeah that's cool! (1)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783733)

Oh nevermind...The website started to work now...

Re:Yeah that's cool! (1)

glowworm (880177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783913)

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

Re:Yeah that's cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27785343)

I can use Google(cache) [209.85.229.132] . I learn it from a book.

Re:Yeah that's cool! (1)

samirbenabid (1223166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785603)

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... (3, Interesting)

LaZZaR (216092) | more than 5 years ago | (#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... (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785981)

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".

Re:Presumambly... (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27788909)

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.

Re:Presumambly... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797699)

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.

Re:Presumambly... (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27799387)

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.

Re:Presumambly... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#27791741)

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 input and corrections from external references.

You can get by with prerecorded inputs controlling something on the ground. It doesn't work that way for an aircraft.

That linksys router simply doesn't have the processing power to process all the required inputs and do the math needed to keep it in there air even if you provided it with the inputs. Theres likes of trig involved, far too much for the linksys to handle.

I've been toying with an R/C auto pilot for a couple years now, and there are several existing auto pilot systems for R/C aircraft, only one of which to my knowledge is capable of any sort of useful preprogrammed flight. It was used to fly an R/C airplane across the Atlantic, and took several attempts to get lucky enough to complete the task.

who wudda thunk it (1)

drfool (1535489) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783725)

I had no idea R/C was considerred hip these days...

Re:who wudda thunk it (3, Interesting)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

Re:who wudda thunk it (4, Funny)

rxmd (205533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784885)

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

Nice Sony reference you've snuck in there! :)

Re:who wudda thunk it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27787019)

Dude, WiFi routers have been around for years.
And if you're worries about expense, leave out the iPhone and get yourself one that won't cause your plane to crash if you receive a call or text.

Model plane + php + girl (5, Funny)

deltharius (1451283) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Model plane + php + girl (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27783767)

we all know the girls really go after python programers. php is alright, if you like porking fat chicks.

Re:Model plane + php + girl (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27783985)

Fuck you!

Re:Model plane + php + girl (3, Funny)

W33B (901545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784439)

fat chick alert

Re:Model plane + php + girl (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785047)

Python? Real girls go for perl programmers. And they have beards.

Re:Model plane + php + girl (4, Funny)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785073)

Listen, am I the first person to explain to you that Real girls do not have beards? Have a clue buddy.

Re:Model plane + php + girl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27783777)

The girl could also be his iPhone controlled airship. I named mine after the faithful Santa Maria. She's in my bed right now while I finish my PHP cod.

Re:Model plane + php + girl (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27784539)

reminds me of the old joke

Question How do you circumsize a Tasmanian?

Answer Kick his sister in the mouth.

Re:Model plane + php + girl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27792051)

-1? Come on, that's funny.

Re:Model plane + php + girl (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785953)

The guy claims to fly model planes, code in php AND had a *girl* in his bed.

Yes, but he was using a Mac, not running Linux ;p

Re:Model plane + php + girl (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 5 years ago | (#27787465)

>Yes, but he was using a Mac, not running Linux ;p

So he's gay, and the girl is just his sister or cousin.

Re:Model plane + php + girl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27787265)

It was either his sister

That scenario sounds hot.

Re:Model plane + php + girl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27790633)

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.

Girls like PHP guys. They aren't particularly elegant or cunning but they certainly get the job done.

Besides, I wouldn't put too much stock in this guys abilities, he did type rm *.php after all. Idiot.

I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783789)

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.

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (4, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (1)

iphayd (170761) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785431)

Learn to land.

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (2, Insightful)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785925)

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.

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (1)

iphayd (170761) | more than 5 years ago | (#27788419)

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.

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27791735)

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

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27796935)

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 unfortunately still 2 very different skills. You do get some idea of the real thing on a sim but without the training I'd never want to do it for real with my life at stake.

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27789843)

Slope gliders and PSS planes. No engine fly for hours and they're screaming fast. Plus you can do combat, and alittle bit of dynamic soaring.
Speed record for a glider dynamic soaring is almost 400miles per hour. check out the youtube videos for DS and combat.

I prefer slope gliders. my favourite http://www.leadingedgegliders.com/eppGliders/index.php

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (1)

Spliffster (755587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783849)

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 ;)

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784341)

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, not to mention the nerd points for controlling an RC model with it.

Wonder if there is enough bandwidth to also stream video to the iPhone, too.

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27784719)

get an EPP (Expanded Polyproperlyne) combat glider, i learned how to fly on those, i've taken them nose first into the ground fron ~1000 ft before and they sustained no major damage.
combatwings.com has some

-Si

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785173)

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.

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27785567)

All of that explains why I like foamies better in some regards than "real" R/C planes. You can experiment however you want, and if it breaks (short of messing up the motor/electronics) you end up laughing. This is because the materials and fabrication are cheap. Also the worst hazard might result in nerfing somebody, but in rare instances someone might have had hair tangled or an eye poked out.

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (1)

Neil Jansen (955182) | more than 5 years ago | (#27786423)

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.

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27796963)

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 that 2.4GHz is the most polluted frequency on the planet.

No thanks. At least not yet. Possibly never.

Re:I'll stick to my r/c radio, thanks (1)

Neil Jansen (955182) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798195)

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 radio with your same frequency, and your plane falls out of the sky. That has never, ever happened with a DX7 or FASST system. As for the 2.4 GHz band being polluted, luckily everything on the band is low-power and hopefully you're out in the middle of a big field.

Also, Futaba's FASST technology has been around for 15 years. Like I said, the pros have been using it long before the hobby guys got into it.

Drive something with an iPhone? (2, Funny)

rhathar (1247530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783803)

This seems Horribly familiar.

Re:Drive something with an iPhone? (1)

adona1 (1078711) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784569)

Indeed it does. The spread spectrum transmitter is my penis.

Like the "DIY iPhone-Controlled R/C Car" story? (3, Interesting)

compumike (454538) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783819)

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.

big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27783853)

grow up out of the iphone hysteria guys.
last year i wrote a simple java app for my se w810i to control my rc truck connected with a bluetooth module. the only difference here is that its an airplane and an iphone.

Why not turn it into a UAV? (2, Insightful)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Why not turn it into a UAV? (2, Insightful)

CompMD (522020) | more than 5 years ago | (#27788525)

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 projects. For obstacle avoidance on a small helicopter UAV, sonar and lidar are what you need. Obstacle avoidance and automated landing are similarly difficult tasks. Use a gumstix or PC104 computer, it will do this kind of work, and be easier to program than an iphone.

That could get dangerous... (0, Offtopic)

Laptop Bags (1537765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27783931)

Hm...maybe apps are going too far. www.careerbags.com

Ever wished... (5, Insightful)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784083)

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:Ever wished... (2, Insightful)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784317)

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.

Re:Ever wished... (1)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784345)

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] .

Re:Ever wished... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785795)

You have very mild sensibilities.

Re:Ever wished... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27785803)

I was complaining about the implicit assertion that anyone reading it owns an iphone.

We all make our choices - bitterly snipe about everyone else has all the fun, or jump in and see what's going on. The iPhone is proving itself to be more of a very slick handheld computer than a phone.

Re:Ever wished... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27786155)

The iPhone is proving itself to be more of a very slick handheld computer than a phone.

Welcome at last to the 21st Century.

The transition from phones to handheld computers that have the extra ability to be phones started years ago.

Re:Ever wished... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27787587)

And yet so many of them still fail utterly....

Re:Ever wished... (1)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784837)

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.

Re:Ever wished... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785977)

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 a really stupid weapon.

Re:Ever wished... (1)

paazin (719486) | more than 5 years ago | (#27786439)

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

Re:Ever wished... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27789507)

I think complaining about the tone of the headline is even more stupid.

I think whining about someone complaining about the tone of the headline is the dumbest thing I've seen all day. Well, at least until I submit this comment.

But it's "...On The Iphone"! (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27786025)

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 play some cool games? How about using it to speak into the microphone, and use it as a communication device to talk as if by magic with someone not even in the same room?"

Similarly, it pisses me off that 90% of music docks are ipod-only

Whilst there's no excuse for the lack of standardisation that Apple have encouraged, in this case at least you can't blame the manufacturers as the Ipod is the most popular device. But the Iphone? Sorry, despite the impression one might get from reading Slashdot, it's just one of many phones with much larger companies that have sold billions - and plenty of those phones have for years been doing the "new" things that are advertised, er, reported for the Iphone. That "Ipod" has become synonymous with "mp3 player" is understandable, in the same way it occurred for "Walkman", but trying to do it for the Iphone? That's just annoying.

Re:Ever wished... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27786253)

Welcome to economies of scale as expressed by user communities. You might also notice the following:
* If you have an issue, typing it into google using any phrasing you want and hitting "I'm feeling lucky" might not instantly get you the scoop.
* If you install the top free application in a given category for your phone, it might not work at all for what it's supposed to do. For example, a game might not even be fun.
* If someone has realized they can save people in your position a lot of time and money with a mobile phone app, then they might just go with the hottest mobile app distribution method on the planet, which ain't exactly java applets from web sites. (hint: talking about the app store here).
* No one will ask you how you like your phone, because they're considering buying one. Maybe for you the missed connections aren't worth anything, but for the rest of the human race they sure are.

and so on, and so on. But no you're right -- just because a billion apps have been downloaded for a phone, how is that different from your mobile phone, which, like supports Java?

Re:Ever wished... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27786405)

If someone has realized they can save people in your position a lot of time and money with a mobile phone app, then they might just go with the hottest mobile app distribution method on the planet, which ain't exactly java applets from web sites. (hint: talking about the app store here).

Firstly I'm not sure how this relates to the OP (who said nothing about app stores or other means of distribution). But since you bring it up, plenty of phones have central points of download for applications (often operated by the network providers, for example). The difference is that you aren't forced to use them. And even if they also support native code, they don't shun common platform independent standards such as Java (honestly, any other platform that lacked basic things like Java would be ridiculed, yet for Apple, it's touted as an advantage).

(I'm not sure how the rest of your points relate to his post either, to be honest?)

Re:Ever wished... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27787289)

Look, you don't get it to do you. It doesn't matter whether there are central points of download. What matters is whether the 1 developer who realizes all the time and money they can save YOU specifically (and peopel in YOUR position) will write their app for the iPhone, or for your "common central points of download".

My whole point about "economies of scale" with respect to user communities flew completely over your head (as you admitted).

if you still dont get it why dont you get to apple's site, hit the iphone tab, and look through their app store. then you'll see what I'm talking about.

Re:Ever wished... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27792929)

Why does writing apps for the Iphone save me money? And if you say "or for your "common central points of download".", then there's nothing special about the Iphone is there.

if you still dont get it why dont you get to apple's site, hit the iphone tab, and look through their app store. then you'll see what I'm talking about.

Yes, yet another app store, just like other phones/networks have.

No, I don't get it. Because I have no idea what you're on about.

Re:Ever wished... (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27787241)

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 be like me saying "it pisses me off that all GPSes are aimed at windows PCs"... it does, but the bottom line is that there's a reason they're like that - it's a bigger market than aiming them at macs.

In fact, I would even have more of a case than you - there's only one or two extra OSes to aim at - mac os, and linux. On the other hand, when producing docks, you have to deal with hundreds of low-sales players, all with different shapes, all with ports in different places, etc.

Stop whining and look at this as it is - something really cool, done with a neat bit of tech.

Re:Ever wished... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27793399)

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...

Re:Ever wished... (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27796771)

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.

Re:Ever wished... (1)

sanyacid (768747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27788445)

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), but I find the idea interesting. If it's not for you, what can you do? ;-)

Regarding iPod docks I have to disagree (again, I don't own iPod either). You've got to understand that iPod is the probably the most popular mp3-player out there and with the special dock you can for example control the player remotely - something you cannot do if you only use standard mini-jack. Many people actually want that functionality, and that's not a very good reason to get pissed of. It's like getting pissed that most people listen to pop music and hence shops sell more pop instead of my preferred hard rock (I don't know if that's actually true, but I hope it gets the point across ;-)

IDLE IDLE IDLE! (0, Offtopic)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784209)

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.

the phone is not controlling the plane directly (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784229)

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.

Re:the phone is not controlling the plane directly (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784247)

sorry- should have read the first post from BadAnalogyGuy.

DD-WRT Ethernet ports driving servos (1)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784323)

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 next rm...

I was distracted by some girl in my bed (Don't EVAR program PHP with a girl(s) in your bed!) and maybe a beer or six in my blood. [...] While girl was yammering in my ear I typed rm *.php instead of rm 8.php, and hit enter. [...] There were some major hurdles. While range testing one night, I received a call from a girl. She was pretty insistent on me going to a party or something. So now I had two huge problems, incoming calls would kill the link to the craft, and I had to figure out if I had any clean clothes without R/C Logos on them to wear out.

Ludwig Catta [wikipedia.org] , is that you?! ;-)

Here's the text from the story. (2, Informative)

wlowe84 (614517) | more than 5 years ago | (#27784541)

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 it be to use my iPhone to fly my RC stuff? The answer was "So cool" obviously. I tossed around the idea for a couple of months and ultimately gave up on it because the iPhone doesn't have a receiver I can put in the airplane to fly it with.

So the idea sat untouched while I learned how to program stuff on the iPhone for other nerdy purposes. My roommate requested I make a chadwick balancer for him using the accelerometers. (For those who don't know, this is a device they use in real and model helicopters to find out if something is not balanced. Main blades, tail blades, shafts, gears etc...) While I was learning about the accelerometer functions in the iPhone, the idea pinged me again, and I thought, How cool would it be to fly an R/C model using the accelerometers inside the iPhone?! Alas, still no receiver.

IMAC Season came and went, and so did indoor season. I was busy practicing for contests I knew I'd be beat at, and building planes I knew were way to good for me. =) Then, one fateful day, I deleted some PHP program I was working on by accident. This was a LOT of work, and I was exceptionally pissed off about it. I was distracted by some girl in my bed (Don't EVAR program PHP with a girl(s) in your bed!) and maybe a beer or six in my blood. I was writing a series of test programs for a SOAP interface, and had named one of them 8.php. (The more seasoned nerds among you can probably see where this is going). The program had turned into a complete disaster and was causing "internal server errors", and I wanted to delete it. While girl was yammering in my ear I typed rm *.php instead of rm 8.php, and hit enter. Deleting every php file in the folder. Hours of hard work gone into the void.

The next day I went and bought a time capsule from Apple so this would never happen again. The side effect of this was that I had a Linksys 54 to play around with. I always had this grandiose idea of building a WIFI sniffer/jammer. I figured there may have been some people playing around with these routers. And gosh, was I right.

The DD-WRT project is a group of people who have reverse engineered many popular brands of routers and have managed to load a small linux distribution. As soon as I saw that they had independent programs running, it hit me like a bolt of lightning: My planes and helis don't need a receiver if they are carrying around the server. If I could carry around the router on board, I could fly my stuff.

So I started scheming. There were a lot of problems to be solved, and I am only just so nerdy. I made a list:

1. How do I get the router to talk to the servos? How much current can ethernet handle?

2. How do I control throttle with no stick?

3. What is the latency going to be like from iPhone->Router->Program->Servo?

4. What is the range of WiFi? Good enough for RC?

5. Can I fly with the accelerometers? I'm a stick banger. BIG time. How does one add expo to this?

6. Whose planes can I test this on? >=)

So I had my basic idea down. iPhone joins the Linksys router network. It gets an IP address. Then, I open up my pilot program. The pilot program interfaces with the router via SSH (I couldn't think of a better way that has redundancy, and speed, and was already buily by someone else). The pilot program interprets what the iphone is doing, and outputs data to one of the ethernet ports of which there are conveniently 4. Rudder, Ailerons, Throttle, Elevator.

Once I had that idea all drawn up, I said "great, I'll file this in the 'projects I'll claim to have come up with once someone else does all the work'" file. However, my friends and roommates kept egging me on, especially as more and more of them got and loved their phones. They wanted to be able to fly stuff too! Just to say they can.

So the first order of business was to come up with a user interface for the iPhone to fly things with. I know how my JR Transmitter works, but it's a whole different beast: it has sticks and buttons. So, I came up with a simple "flight interface" for the iPhone. It's sinfully ugly, but brutally functional. It has a couple of things that I felt were important:

1. Throttle Lock/Cut

2. Visual Throttle Cue so you can see if the throttle is at full and you're not getting power to the plane. Also, the phone will vibrate depending on different throttle positions. Full throttle gets a hearty shake out of the old girl.

3. Network status (Based on ping latency)

4. Really difficult to accidentally quit.

5. Ability to eventually use more than one engine. (Just in case).

6. Cool looking throttle levers like the big boys use.

The program itself wasn't too hard to make using Xdev, the iPhone/OS X development suite. The interface was pretty easy, but there was a lot of code behind tapping all the accelerometers at once. To further complicate things, how I tilt the phone may be different from how someone else tilts it.

There were some major hurdles. While range testing one night, I received a call from a girl. She was pretty insistent on me going to a party or something. So now I had two huge problems, incoming calls would kill the link to the craft, and I had to figure out if I had any clean clothes without R/C Logos on them to wear out.

The other problem I ran into was that the Linksys router can actually work on a lot of different voltages. Ironically, it's very happy at nine volts, the max output voltage for the Castle Creations Castle link.

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 think you know I have a servo with a Cat5E plug on the end of it. Below is a small video I made of some of the earlier tests, the first real successful flight test, and an interesting near miss at the very end.

The guys at hardcode.tv did it first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27784993)

This is very cool but, it was done (an RC car - not heli) earlier with a IPhone, a Wii-mote, a Wii-fit board and some other stuff by the guys at hardcode.tv.

Check out their cool demo: http://www.hardcode.tv/

Driving car with cellphone/iphone already (1)

Symnron (1533857) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785137)

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!

This is pure BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27785249)

Network RJ45 to PWM? No wonder he is not telling how he did it - impossible. And the phone call from this girl?? Sooo made up... Wishful thinking from a sad little Jewish boy.

I'm not sure.. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785259)

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 (2, Funny)

drinsilence (1019354) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785423)

MyAuntIsHot or MyAuntIShot?

Re:Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27790509)

MyAuntIsHot or MyAuntIShot?

His Aunt is Hot. Google "Nikki Ziering" ... Doesnt look like his blood aunt though so it's not terribly incestuous.

New product idea for Apple (1)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 5 years ago | (#27785501)

to go with the military-version iPod Touch [slashdot.org] . An iPhone-controlled UAV, called the iDrone.

Other phones have had this for a while already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27786149)

Take something old, put "iPhone" on it, voila, news!

Lame story (1)

Xoltri (1052470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27786549)

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.

receiver (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27788531)

I know I have twistd personality after seeing that site; but word "receiver" brings to my eyes memory of my first visit to goatse :-/

best source of livingroom sized rtf rc planes (1)

MrSaxonite (1521355) | more than 5 years ago | (#27789509)

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 are really after

Friday's Hype story of the day. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27789553)

ok, it's got WiFi (DSSS).

Just because it's an iPhone it's not newsworthy, nor ./ worthy. Even the photo-chopped controls image on the phone indicates FAIL.

And of course it would work for 2 seconds until the iPhone drops connection since the WiFi has always been flaky on that (andother 3G phones) hardware. Also 2 moving access points is not a strength of DSSS WiFi. I believe the JR and R/C radios that use wifi are FHSS or better. Anyway he would have been better off using 2 iPhones and a 3G connection. Better yet, 2 openmoko devices, or even better, a iphone+sun spot. Even a G1 would have been a better phone choice (2 accelos, digi compass).

The again, the article is so ridden with 'nerdy', l33t speak, and WRT that I kept thinking "script-kiddie on 4chan".

Why? (1)

redz77 (1545533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27794375)

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?

Re:Why? (1)

fatalb7 (852308) | more than 5 years ago | (#27795591)

Easy: Because he can.

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

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