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CES 2014: A Powered, Remote Control Paper Airplane (Video)

Roblimo posted about 3 months ago | from the off-we-go-into-the-wild-blue-yonder-with-our-powered-paper-airplane dept.

Toys 28

Shai Goitein started with a powered paper airplane, the PowerUp 1, which was pretty cool. But he didn't stop there. The PowerUp 3 is a powered paper airplane you control with your smartphone. He calls this "a mixture of origami and technology." He also says it's a great toy, class project or whatever for the younger set, since kids start making paper airplanes at the age of six or seven. Adults? Why not? This is obviously a suitable toy for anyone with a two-digit (or three-digit) age number. And PowerUp 3.0 is a Kickstarter-funded project, with (at this writing) $928,091 pledged -- against a $50,000 goal, with another 15 days of Kickstarter funding left to go. There's also a smartphone-controlled PowerUp paper boat kit. Unlike the PowerUp airplane kits, it's not sold out (at this writing). Yet.

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28 comments

Smart phones make poor remote controls (1, Insightful)

Ksevio (865461) | about 3 months ago | (#45911711)

I have one of those $15 remote control helicoptors that uses a smart phone as the control. It's difficult to work because you have to look at the screen to make sure you still have your thumb over the throttle/"joystick" while at the same time looking at the aircraft. It has a motion control mode too, but that only helps with steering and very precise steering is needed.

If it's cheap enough, it might make a cool remote control unit and it'd be great if it has an affordable camera.

Re:Smart phones make poor remote controls (4, Informative)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 months ago | (#45912605)

well, kickstarter says you can get one for $30 -- but if they hit $2m in pledges, they're incorporating a pinhole camera to the design.
Raising $1m (which looks like it'll likely happen) will enable "dogfight" mode where the first person to hit the fire button once two planes are close enough to each other will cause the other plane's engine to stall. They've already passed the multi-control (big plane with multiple engines, or multiple planes flying in tandem) and Android targets.

Re:Smart phones make poor remote controls (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | about 3 months ago | (#45914485)

Well it runs on bluetooth so you could potentially pair it with a PC or other devices and use any input device you want.
I have a Sphero (remote control ball) that uses bluetooth and is meant to be controlled with a smartphone, but I paired it with my PC and use a program that allows me to control it with a wireless Xbox 360 controller. It is much easier to control with a 360 controller and a lot more fun to use.

Waiting for NSA (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about 3 months ago | (#45911911)

Waiting for the NSA and /or CIA to weaponize this paper airplane and make it into a wee little drone.

Bluetooth (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 3 months ago | (#45911953)

How hard would it be to make a basic two or three channel RC controller that can handle bluetooth 4.0?

I'm a long time RC hobbyist and I lament the accelerating trend of using X hundred dollars worth of touchscreen + tilt sensors for the controller.
It's the difference between using a gamepad and a keyboard/mouse.

Re:Bluetooth (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#45911993)

Not hard, but the range would be pretty limited for RC.

Re:Bluetooth (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 3 months ago | (#45912919)

Not hard, but the range would be pretty limited for RC.

Well... the range is mostly limited by the tiny antenna in the cell phone.
You can take a bog standard bluetooth dongle and extend the range over half a mile by focusing its output with some form of waveguide.

With a bluetooth capable rc controller, you can do two things:
1. use a significantly larger antenna than anything you'll find in an iProduct
2. crank up the transmit power higher than any normal phone/computer based bluetooth transmitter.

It's the same reason the range on my 2.4ghz cordless phone doesn't compare to the range on my 2.4 ghz RC transmitter.

Re:Bluetooth (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 months ago | (#45913649)

If you're any good with a small soldering iron, you can take a micro-USB cable and a mini-USB cable, hook up a battery and a AWUS036NH 2W wifi adapter, and have wifi control 1/2 mile away from your cell phone. Maybe farther, depending on conditions. It's small, it's portable, and it' legal.

Re:Bluetooth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912505)

I too dislike the idea of using another device to control the airplane module. As a result I'm working on a transmitter module based on the HM-10 bluetooth board. While I'm still waiting on the Powerup 3.0 control protocol, I have completed the rest of the build (decoding PPM signal and translating it to serial output) using an ATTINY84. I might bug Shai again in hopes he will release the control protocol early to hacker package backers; it would be nice to have it finished before the May launch of the Powerup 3.0.

Re:Bluetooth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912737)

For me I don't own a smart phone. My daughter does. My wife has a dumb phone. I don't want a phone. Having a version that ships with a remote would allow people like myself to purchase the plane. Or what about buying it for kids, neices, nephews and such that are younger and don't have a device?

Re:Bluetooth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45915693)

Do any of these look like a good starting point to you?
http://blog.hodgepig.org/2011/01/17/teensy-mame-controller/
http://dangerousprototypes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=2019
http://www.elenafrancesco.org/arduino/baronpilot/
http://www.pjrc.com/teensy/projects/inductive_joystick.html

what? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#45911977)

"This is obviously a suitable toy for anyone with a two-digit "
Stop underestimating children. My son was flying an RC helicopter at 8.

Android support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912023)

I was on the Kickstarter page ready to pledge when I noticed the supported phones list was simply a list of Apple phones. The FAQ says Android 4.3+ devices are supported though. Which is it? I'll go for it if it will work with my collection of androids.

Re:Android support? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 months ago | (#45912645)

If you were on the Kickstarter page, then you failed to read down far enough.

There is a risk with development of the Android app: It is unclear whether the Android app will perform at the same level as the iOS app. The Android API is still in its early stage and has not been fully tested for maturity and stability. With PowerUp 3.0, we are pushing the limits of Bluetooth Smart technology.

In comparison, our iOS code has been tested and perfected over the past 1.5 years as we have worked with Apple in finding and fixing problems in Apple’s own Bluetooth implementation.

The 50,000 campaign was iOS only. 150,000 was the target for Android, and they're well past that. The range of 180 feet isn't guaranteed on an Android device though, and the software isn't complete yet.

Rudder placement (1)

chispito (1870390) | about 3 months ago | (#45912381)

If you could move the rudder aft of the prop, you'd gain thrust vectoring. I'm not an engineer, but I'm guessing that would mean better low speed control, but it would be dependent on throttle? I'm sure it's designed the way it is for simplicity, but I'd love to tinker with this.

Re:Rudder placement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912521)

you'd gain thrust vectoring

O - Proper thrust vectoring would require that the prop itself can be turned
X - THIS THING TURNS ON A DIME, MACROSS ZERO STYLE!

Re:Rudder placement (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912551)

If you could move the rudder aft of the prop, you'd gain thrust vectoring. I'm not an engineer, but I'm guessing that would mean better low speed control, but it would be dependent on throttle? I'm sure it's designed the way it is for simplicity, but I'd love to tinker with this.

You could, but the corollary is that you need to apply more force to move the rudder and therefore increase the power requirements and weight of components required to move the rudder.

Re:Rudder placement (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 months ago | (#45912677)

The thing is, with a paper airplane, you've pretty much got a fixed-speed device (depending on design) with thrust adjusting the incline more than the speed. I haven't seen too many paper airplane designs with a slow enough glide to really benefit from having the rudder aft of the prop.

But with published APIs and a pretty modular hardware design, you could probably modify it yourself and write your own controller app.

Doesn't look like it can turn (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 3 months ago | (#45913519)

Would be nice if controlling it meant you could direct it.

Re:Doesn't look like it can turn (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 months ago | (#45913869)

Version 1 had no directional control. Version 3 does have a rudder, and I have seen videos of it flying around.

powerup 2.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45914077)

I bought a powerup 2.0 for my brother-in-law (he's 10). Due to the storms we couldn't visit yet so i haven't seen it in action, but I'm looking forward to it :>

Re:powerup 2.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45915663)

Cool story bro.

Yaw is good and all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45929709)

But I want the next one to have pitch and, if possible, roll.

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