Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Home-made Helicopters in Nigeria

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the financed-entirely-by-dead-princes dept.

Toys 319

W33dz writes "A 24-year-old undergraduate from Nigeria is building helicopters out of old car and bike parts. Mubarak Muhammed Abdullahi, a physics student, spent eight months building the yellow model seen on yahoo or on Gizmodo using the money he makes from repairing cell phones and computers. While some of the parts have been sourced from a crashed 747, the chopper contains all sorts of surprises."

cancel ×

319 comments

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

Ay AY yay caramba! (4, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072075)

Knowing a little bit about the many safety and quality control measures required to build a barely acceptable helicopter, I don't think I'd ever ride any home-made one, not for ten seconds.

Certain absolutely mandatory items, like X-ray and ultrasonic parts inspections, are not practical for the home builder and are likely to lead to a very short trip.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (3, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072087)

yeah - one of the 'surprises' it contains will almost certainly be the last for someone on board or in close proximity to the thing.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (3, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072099)

The safety record of air travel in Africa is already so bad that it can't get any worse. But seriously, the first inventors of powered flight fearlessly went up into the air, and nowadays we know so much about flight that it's probably safer than that first generation.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (4, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072941)

the first inventors of powered flight fearlessly went up into the air, and nowadays we know so much about flight that it's probably safer than that first generation.

I don't recall the Wright Brothers' first plane weighing half a ton, and being powered by a 133HP engine...

Experimenting with powerful engines, allowing for heavy construction, means that any small mistake is going to be much, much more disasterous than it would have been in the old days.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (1)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072101)

Don't worry. It has never attained an altitude of more than seven feet. You can jump to safety in case of an Emergency.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (4, Funny)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072181)

A stepladder is provided as part of the safety equipment.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072313)

Yeah; jumping out with a whirling blade turning into shrapnel overhead sounds like loads of fun.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (2, Informative)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072515)

-> Joke -> 747 -> Clouds -> Birds -> Home made helicopter flying slightly over your heads -> YOU

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072357)

You can jump to safety in case of an Emergency.
... only to be shredded to pieces by the blades of your helicopter keeling over.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (2, Funny)

Galaga88 (148206) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072439)

Hell, that's only 1D6 falling damage. I imagine he's at least a second level expert if he can build that thing, so he should have the HP to survive it easily.

Re: D&D Trap worthy of Tomb of Horrors (4, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072847)

Yeah, the fall is only 1D6 damage, but the couple of tons of steel and burning fuel falling on top of you shortly after could be probably modeled like this:

Crashing Home-made Helicopter: CR 10; mechanical; location trigger; no reset; Atk +16 melee (8D6+8, bludgeoning); burning fuel (equivalent to an incendiary cloud spell, 15th-level wizard, 4D6/round for 15 rounds, DC 22 Reflex save half damage); Search DC 20; Disable Device DC 25. Market Price: unknown (unique).

TEH OMG!!! Tell teh CIA!!! (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072453)

Teh OMG!!! This is a guy from a non-American country with a funny name... he HAS to be a terrorist! Why else would he have an interest in technology?

Someone alert teh CIA!!! Don't have a pre-9/11 mindset!! We must live in fear of everything and everyone!!! Call Faux Noise Channel!!!

Re:TEH OMG!!! Tell teh CIA!!! (1)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072723)

I just don't see this thing surviving a crash into a hut, yet alone a building.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072573)

Actually I don't think it's much different of the beginnings of flight in the States and many other countries.

It particularly reminds me of the Argentine inventor Augusto Cicare, who learned aerodynamics and helicopter design by trial and error.

http://www.helis.com/timeline/cicare.php [helis.com]
http://www.cicare.com.ar/index.htm [cicare.com.ar]

In the first link there is a picture and movie of the SVH-3 trainer, which is a grounded helicopter that performs like a real one. Without any sophisticated virtual reality system heo made a exact physical representation of helicopter flight. And it's perfectly safe.

Sure this guy would find helpful to use high-tech methods of fabrication and inspection, but there is a lot of things you can do even with limited resources. Good luck to him.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072609)

Yes, I fully agree: you would not ride in one of these for 10 seconds ;-)

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (1)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072673)

Well he did use a Honda engine. So we know the engine won't die in mid flight.

I can see these guys crashing into the side of an elephant.

Besides the thing don't get very far off the ground , they said about 15 feet, so I don't think they would die in an accident. Probably some really bad cuts and a broken bone or so , unless those blades go wacky and he hits some people with them.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072715)

Turn in your nerd licence, son [slashdot.org] . This is about hacking. Not breaking into computers, but hacking.

You kids today are pussies. You think the Wright brothers had X-rays or modern safety equipment? You have to die from something, it might as well be the same way you lived - as a nerd.

"The brave may die, but the coward never lives."

Fuck you.

-mcgrew [kuro5hin.org]

I walked around the wall, and "click-click"- I was staring into the barrel of a shiny chrome .45 calibre automatic pistol. "Ow alai?" the gun's owner demanded, or "what do you want" in English.

Re:Ay AY yay caramba! (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072739)

Well, that's because of something very much like opportunity cost. If you recall from economics, if you invest your money with a return of X, when you could have invested it with a greater return Y, then you have in effect incurred a cost of Y-X. Let's say the first investment was a socially responsible investment fund that earned you $1000, and the second was in a profitable rape-the-earth-and-the-poor fund that would have earned you $1500. You just spent $500 for the satisfaction of being true to your values.

So, think of your building your own helicopter vs. buying one from somebody in the business. For simplicity's sake, let's say that if you pay yourself a reasonable amount for your time, the cost comes out even. In your homemade helicopter, you have a death risk of 1% per thousand hours of flight. In a "real" helicopter, let's say your risk was 0.001% per thousand hours.

If you go ahead and build your home helicopter, you have just spent 0.999%/hr of "opportunity risk" for the thrill of flying in your own invention.

I can't tell you whether that's a good "investment" or not. Maybe the thrill means a lot more to you than it does to me. Maybe you were on the fence about committing suicide, so the risk doesn't really mean much other than an end to unbearable indecision. It's up to you to make the calculation. I can say this though: if the thrill of flying your own invention has no value to you, you're a fool to try it.

On the other hand, the marginal risk calculation may be utterly meaningless to this guy. If having access to his own helicopter is for practical purposes an impossible dream, it makes no sense to upbraid him for not choosing that instead. His calculation is only based on having his own aircraft versus not having his own aircraft.

Even if it weren't, the project may have utility for him that we can't even imagine. Maybe he'll be the Igor Sikorsky of Africa. Goodness knows small scale aviation innovation is glacially slow in the US because of safety concerns. The cost of Africa developing indigenous technology would seem appalling, but it's up to them to determine if it is worth it.

hummm.. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072103)

It may hover in ground effect but I doubt that it can fly out side of it. 133 HP is way under powered for a four seat helicopter. It is a wonderful attempt but I hope he doesn't kill himself. He has talent that is for sure.

No pitch control (5, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072169)

Looking at the photo it looks like the blade pitch is fixed and the braces look like the hold the shaft at a fixed angle. It is thus hard to figure out how it gets any forward motion, or how he would compensate for a tilt in the aircraft. Not sure how this works.

Re:No pitch control (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072371)

I couldn't tell from the picture if it has any type of flapping hinge or seesaw arrangement of the blades to deal with the advancing blade problem. If not then if it goes more than a few KPH it will start to roll.

Re:No pitch control (1, Funny)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072645)

It works like this: The helecopter approximates a visual representation of helecopters familiar to people in America. People with money. You get those rich, stupid people in America to invest in your helecopter-representation, and their riches become your riches. That's how the helecopter/moneymaker works.

What is it with these Africans and their scams?

Re:No pitch control (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072877)

It is thus hard to figure out how it gets any forward motion, or how he would compensate for a tilt in the aircraft. Not sure how this works.
He probably uses the oral method: "Lean forward please!"

Re:No pitch control (1)

s31523 (926314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073027)

The photo looks like it is missing a tail rotor as well, um, that is sorta critical, unless you just want to spin like a tea-cup ride at the fair...

Indeed (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072183)

It may hover in ground effect but I doubt that it can fly out side of it.

I would bet a large sum of money it could not exceed an altitude ceiling of seven feet (granted, I cheated, see my name). Since it only goes that high, and he recognizes it lacks instruments, I think he's safe for now.

Re:Indeed (3, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072321)

You really don't need any instruments to fly in clear weather. I think the only "required" instruments for VFR flight are an altimeter and airspeed indicator. Lots of hang gliders don't even have those.
In a helicopter seven feet is enough to kill you. Heck you can kill yourself on the ground with just a little bad luck. All it would take is for the transmission to let go and have a 133 HP chain whip through the cabin. Helicopters are complex beasts.

Re:Indeed (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073017)

An airspeed indicator is almost critical on a airplane depending on its stall profile. Meaning, a Cessna 150/2 with a blocked airspeed indicator is a death trap on landing and takeoff.

It looks like from the pictures all this kid did was to get some blades to turn. He did get some national coverage, though... :-)

I think you nailed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072337)

His new machine is intended to fly at fifteen feet. Sounds like ground effect to me.

I don't know about the power though. A Bell 47 had a piston engine that wasn't too big, a couple of hundred HP. OTOH, he's talking about using a motorbike engine for his next try. That's ultralight territory for sure. It can be done though. Here's an example I googled: http://www.innovator.mosquito.net.nz/mbbs2/index.asp [mosquito.net.nz] Also remember that iirc a Bell Jet Ranger only gets about 400 HP on the shaft.

One question: A regular 'copter controls the tail rotor with the pedals. He doesn't mention pedals. How do you think he controls the tail rotor? Does he control the tail rotor?

Re:hummm.. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072459)

I think it might, but it would be tight. I thought that some of the Bell 47 models had around that amount of HP and were used to carry two + those in the litters as medevac choppers.

Re:hummm.. (2, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072607)

According to Wikipedia, the smallest engine ever mounted into a Bell 47 was 200 HP--considerably more than the 133 he's fooling around with.

Chris Mattern

Re:hummm.. (2, Funny)

tom17 (659054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072477)

Nevermind the 4 seats, what about the fact that it's monstrously big according to tfa...

measuring twelve metres (39 feet) long, seven metres high by five wide.
I think someone left their brain off when they wrote that article.

Re:hummm.. (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072923)

Yes I agree... 133HP is ideal for an autogyro, though.. I am sure he could get 120mph+ if he had gone this route instead....

Would you buy one? (5, Funny)

BarneyL (578636) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072119)

Personally if I received an e-mail from Nigeria offering me a cheap helicopter I doubt I'd trust it.
I think I'll keep saving for my skycar [moller.com]

Re:Would you buy one? (3, Funny)

maroberts (15852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072191)

Dear Sir,

You have been recommended to me as astute investor. I expert builder of helicopters in Nigeria. I need £20,000,000 (TWENTY MILLION POUNDS) to....

I WANT ONE! (1)

sproketboy (608031) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072129)

NT required.

I'll buy you one... (2, Funny)

maroberts (15852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072217)

..provided you name me as your sole heir....

Helicopter or Hovercraft? (5, Funny)

maroberts (15852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072141)

it will be able to fly at an altitude of 15 feet for three hours at a stretch...

or until it encounters a tree, telegraph pole, house, giraffe....

Re:Helicopter or Hovercraft? (1)

Tacobowl8 (1175465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072167)

Wouldn't the giraffe get out of the way if it hears a big loud thing coming at it?

Re:Helicopter or Hovercraft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072261)

I have a picture that is related but Slashdot isn't an image board so you can't see it.

Re:Helicopter or Hovercraft? (1)

ArAgost (853804) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072583)

Well, a Giraffe that ends up in Nigeria may be dumb enough not to tell a chopper apart from a tree.

Re:Helicopter or Hovercraft? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072843)

I much prefer the first model... With a maximum altitude of 7 feet, boy will flying over a crowded market make for a great video.

Re:Helicopter or Hovercraft? (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072965)

I dunno. 15' is enough to do useful things you couldn't do with a hovercraft. You could replace the passenger with a pesticide tank and spray crops -- although this is obviously very dangerous

I'd like to know how he arrived at 15' as a service ceiling. How would the aircraft know the difference between 15' on one day and 30' on day with higher air pressure?

I expect that he chose the figure for safety reasons. Perhaps the design cannot autorotate; or maybe it cannot achieve a safe and stable descent. I doubt it is because the helicopter rides on a cushion of air like a hovercraft. If anything, I think it's own turbulence would present a problem for it.

Excellent! (1)

eniac42 (1144799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072151)

I mean, what could possible go wrong..

Seriously good luck to him, the guy has talent, but I wouldnt ride it..

Unusable Prototype But a Promising Individual (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072159)

Although some government officials got very excited when they saw him conduct a demonstration flight in neighbouring Katsina state, Nigeria's Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has so far shown no interest in his aircraft.

"No one from the NCAA has come to see what I've done. We don't reward talent in this country," he lamented.
And here you see the plight of Nigeria and many other countries, they will save money in the short run by buying from a country that already has the infrastructure and expertise to build commodities but they will never take the steps to set that up in their own country. This destroys any chance of the people ever building a stable economy & providing employment for its citizens.

Nigeria would pay a premium to start up a helicopter plant or to start R&D but since the resources are not readily available and there's already another country selling the choppers, this man will most likely partake in the brain drain and go somewhere where his knowledge and resourcefulness are recognized and rewarded.

The government should either change its ways or just deal with being known only for e-mail scams and human suffering from inept governance. That's the problem with inept governance though, it usually persists by definition.

Re:Unusable Prototype But a Promising Individual (-1, Flamebait)

Kerstyun (832278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072255)

the plight of Niggeria is how its runned by nigers.

Re:Unusable Prototype But a Promising Individual (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072943)

Actually it was ruined by the English.

Having worked in Nigeria, I can honestly say that everyone I met there could spell better than you.
So craw back into your cave, troll.

Re:Unusable Prototype But a Promising Individual (3, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072291)

So what are you suggesting? That they take a one-of-a-kind helicopter made from car, bike, and 747 parts seriously? That they should approach him with tons of cash and beg him to start a helicopter manufacturing plant?

I'll admit it's amazing that he managed to build it. I'll admit that he has big dreams. I'm not yet willing to admit he's capable of making a safe helicopter, and I bet they aren't either.

If he really -can- do it, he should be looking for investors, not buyers. He's never going to manage a proper, safe helicopter without a lot more money than he put into his current one. And he's never going to get a buyer until he has a prototype.

It's like saying, "I've got a small garden at my house. Why won't they pay me to grow cabbage for the whole country?"

Re:Unusable Prototype But a Promising Individual (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072411)

No but sending him to college might be a brilliant start.
After he goes to college then maybe building helicopters in country could be an option.
Or crop dusters?
Or UAVs?
Or maybe even just a shop to do helicopter maintenance in country?
The man seems to have lots of raw talent. Now he needs education and opportunity.

Re:Unusable Prototype But a Promising Individual (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072575)

Agreed, but his attitude is not 'teach me' but rather 'nobody wants to pay me.' It's not helping him any.

Re:Unusable Prototype But a Promising Individual (2, Informative)

NorthWestFLNative (973147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072831)

From the article: "Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi, a 24-year-old physics undergraduate in northern Nigeria". Looks like he's already in school.

Re:Unusable Prototype But a Promising Individual (1)

Cosmic AC (1094985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072845)

Well, the article says he's a physics undergraduate...

Re:Unusable Prototype But a Promising Individual (3, Interesting)

werdnapk (706357) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072327)

Here's another amazing example of what you can do with very little. A south african boy makes a homemade paraglider from fertilizer bags...
http://www.wired.com/gadgets/miscellaneous/news/2007/09/paraglider/ [wired.com]

picture here...
http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/multimedia/2007/09/gallery_paraglider?slide=1&slideView=2/ [wired.com]

Re:Unusable Prototype But a Promising Individual (2, Insightful)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072773)

Look, you're promoting protectionism and that will keep them poor.

The Nigerian government should buy the products with the highest value. This will help their neighbors, which will help them. The Nigerian people should do what they do best and what they don't do good, they should import. Pretending there is no world market will kill you.

There is one good thing about this chopper, though. It proves the value of scrap metal. Scrap metal is in my opinion the best way for the poorest countries without valuable natural resources to become rich. Buy scrap metal, recycle and sell steel. Of course, most of them already do this, and not all can get rich, its a matter of competition, but this is one of the more important third world industries.

So Nigeria, export steel and buy the best helicopters you can find. Tell this loon to figure out a more effective way of making steel instead.

Re:Unusable Prototype But a Promising Individual (2, Insightful)

Logic and Reason (952833) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072959)

Why should Nigeria build its own helicopters instead of buying them from a country that's already good at making them? That's like saying I should build my own cars instead of buying them from Toyota.

Nigeria should produce whatever it has a comparative advantage [wikipedia.org] in and trade for the rest, just like the rest of the world does. Attempting to do a little bit of everything would only stunt its economic growth.

Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072161)

That is freakin awesome. More power to him.

Would be interesting to see how it "flies" (5, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072163)

From the picture I am not able to make out how he did the most crucial thing for the helicopter, controlling of the collective pitch (sometimes called total pitch) and the cyclic pitch. Without it, the craft will lift off and "fly" uncontrollably and land. I see two large struts holding up the rotor hub and the hub seems to be a ball. He might have done away with total pitch, relying on throttle ( input power) to self adjust the "lift" and the ball being pivoted to provide just the cyclic pitch control. That will give some rudimentary direction control. Interesting toy. Hope a youtube video appears soon.

Sure I am glad there is atleast one Nigerian working with his hands and brain instead of sening emails about 18 million dollars in a slush fund left over from the coffers of General Abacha.

Re:Would be interesting to see how it "flies" (2, Interesting)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072487)

Here's my take. If I were designing something like this inexpensively, I'd use the two bars shown to adjust the angle of the shaft to lean it forward or backward. The shaft would be connected to the engine output via a universal joint pulled from a car drive shaft. I'd use the tail rotor to adjust the direction the helicopter was pointing. This would be a simple helicopter, so you'd be missing the ability to strafe.

Re:Would be interesting to see how it "flies" (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072691)

Or just build a autogyro, and not worry about individual blade pitch at all... You just rotate the entire set of blades. If you are going for cheap, safe, and low HP the autogyro concept is a considerably better design... It will never beat the dead on target placement that a standard helicopter cycled concept can offer, but it does not look that is what this kid is looking for anyway.. :-)

Sounds like this kids needs to learn one of the best rules of egr of them all, which is do not re-invent the wheel. :-)

ATTENTION PLEASE, (-1, Redundant)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072193)

I got your contact through email business directory
and decided to send my proposal to you. I am the chief
engineer for a project building helicopters for the Nigerian
army, and the first son of the late chief BOLA IGE,the
attorney general of the fedeal republic of Nigeria who
was killed by hired assasin on the 23rd of December
2001 by an unidentified gun men believed to be link to
our government of which it is a daily case going on in
my country;s dailies now.

Two months ago he was attempted to be murdered but
unfortunately God speared his life for us.It was then
he had to reveal some vital informations as regards
his life to me before he was finally killed in
december. All accounts belonging to my father both
local and abroad had been frozen and his investments
seized by the government believing in thier false
allegation that he made away of $2 billion dollars of
(NEPA)national electricity power authority of which i
know is just a ploy to eliminate him by the people in
power that he is fustrating thier evil intentions
through the human right pubic hearing for violation of
right and cruelsome killings during the military
regime to carry out thier traits to suffer the mases
for thier selfish interest instead of the interest of
the nation.We are now in a dileman as ou live are in
danger till after the investigations.

DEAR SIR (5, Funny)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072223)

GOOD DAY TO YOU AND GOD BLESS. I HAVE BEEN MANUFACTURING HELICOPTERS FROM USED CAR SINCE 10 YEARS (AS SEEN ON YAHOO) AND RECENTLY SOLD MY FLEET FOR THE SUM OF $100,000,000. UNFORTUNATELY, THE PAYMENT OF THIS MONEY IS STILL SITTING IN ESCROW IN A NIGERIAN BANK AS THE STATE AIRFORCE WHO BOUGHT THE HELICOPTERS REFUSE TO PAY. I NEED YOUR HELP TO UNLOCK THAT SUM FROM THE ESCROW, FOR THIS SERVICE YOU WILL BE PAID A FULL 5%, THAT IS $5,000,000. IF YOU CAN HELP ME PLEASE FAX ME YOUR PASSPORT.

(hey it's caps-lock day today anyway)

Kit Copters (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072243)

Reminds me of the Kit Copters that came about around 20-30 years ago. Go to Sams or Home Depot or whatever, buy the family kit-copter for what was then a price of 40 dollars, and spend hours of good wholesome fun in the garage with pops perfecting that cox motor that probably will never run more than twice. I give the man props for his ingenuity, but safety may be a tiny bit of an issue. I can only imagine to horror of auto-rotating that out of a stall. Hopefully he won't be sued for pirating and copyright issues for make a mashup of his own favorite parts and then combining them into a usable work that is actually kind of cool. Something people see and say 'ooh' and 'ahh' but doesn't actually cause profit losses to the Motion Picture Ass...I mean the helicopter industry.

Don't worry about autorotating (1)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072293)

He says the next model will be able to fly at an altitude of 15 feet. That implies that the current yellow model flies lower than 15 feet. Even if the rotors suddenly broke off (which might be a likely occurrence) and it lost all lift, you don't have that far to fall. You might get a broken leg or a concussion from falling less than 15 feet, but the main safety issue is probably going to be bystanders hit by flying pieces of rotor.

Good for him. (2, Insightful)

Gibble (514795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072245)

Seriously, I don't care how crude or rudimentary it is, build a helicopter that actually flies, wow. With proper tools, and funding, he could go on to make some great innovations, unfortunately, like he said, his government doesn't recognize achievements, and he'll likely end up going elsewhere.

Re:Good for him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072373)

I agree. While a lot of people are commenting on what it lacks are overlooking the important part: he built this, without any formal aeronautical training, from car parts. That it flies at all is amazing. This man is a genius and should get a scholarship for more training- with that and his ingenuity, he could do wonders.

Re:Good for him. (1)

Gibble (514795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072571)

Exactly, most people feel a sense of accomplishment building a go-cart or some other land or even water craft...but air! Damn...that's crazy.

Come on dude... whiner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072247)

Although some government officials got very excited when they saw him conduct a demonstration flight in neighbouring Katsina state, Nigeria's Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has so far shown no interest in his aircraft.

"No one from the NCAA has come to see what I've done. We don't reward talent in this country," he lamented.
Dude, you're gonna have to fly it for more than a couple seconds and 7 feet off the ground. If you toured around Nigeria in this chopper they might consider it. Though I'm willing to bet if you did that your life is going to be very short.

I wish him better luck than the X-Wing (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072277)

But for his sake and his family's, I hope this is also a remotely controlled helicopter, at least for the crash-er, flight tests. People have enough trouble with machines purpose-built for flight by engineers and tradesmen who know what they're doing. From watching youtube videos, I can easily imagine a dozen failure modes that will send pieces rapidly in multiple directions.

BS (5, Informative)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072287)

I would love to see more photos of this but suspect we wont. His description of the controls doesn't really fit with how rotary wing aircraft operate and there are other reservations.

133 horsepower is very underpowered considering the smallest I work with is the Gazelle with 858shp and the quoted 300 rpm on blades that size is very low to give any kind of lift, in fact it is ridiculous. Car engines are relatively heavy and looking at the welded head and the car seats, I cannot imagine this has the capability to lift off with a person on board.

Looking at the photo, it also appears not to have a swash plate or similar mechanism, so how the rotor disc is positioned to give directional flight I have no idea. On the plus side he does have a big red navigation light on top. Never mind that it's not on the port side as it's supposed to be.

Gazelle != good example (3, Informative)

Steffan (126616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072805)

The Robinson R22 [wikipedia.org] has only 160HP and is a real helicopter in widespread use as a trainer.
Obviously you don't need over 800hp to get a helicopter to work. Granted, I'm sure his aircraft weighs a great deal more than an R22.

Re:Gazelle != good example (1)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073029)

Agreed, like I said the Gazelle is the smallest I've worked on - never touched a Robinson but I suspect its rotorspeed is *significantly* higher than 300 rpm.

heh. (3, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072295)

I dunno, its home made, Heath Robinson, scrapheap challenge and scary as hell ...

... but strangely a lot more plausible then Air Wolf and Blue Thunder.

(I'm informed by a pilot colleague that without squash plates and cyclic controls - whatever the hell they are - its not a true helicopter and hence is uncontrollable. Still we all agreed it was better then we could do.)

Re:heh. (2)

olddotter (638430) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072857)

I'm still more impressed with the home made helicopter than I would be a home made sputnik in the story above. Now if the BBC had a story about a guy who had launched a home made sputnik into orbit for $10,000 then I'd be impressed.

Ballmer says helicopter violates Microsoft IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072301)

In related news, Ballmer now claims this Nigerian helicopter violates Microsoft IP for processes that endlessly spin out of control causing crashes.

Re:Ballmer says helicopter violates Microsoft IP (1)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072379)

...and when the rotors dig in, think how far the chair will get thrown!

Re:Ballmer says helicopter violates Microsoft IP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072851)

oic what you did there

Whoever measured the 'copter... (2, Interesting)

sm284614 (946088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072307)

For a four-seater it is a big aircraft, measuring twelve metres (39 feet) long, seven metres high by five wide. It has never attained an altitude of more than seven feet.
If you look at the picture of said helicopter, something is amiss: seven metres high? The guy standing next to it is as tall as it. Is Nigeria a land of giants, of does sombody need to fix their metric conversion?

Re:Whoever measured the 'copter... (2, Informative)

McWilde (643703) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072483)

I noticed that too. I don't think there actually was any conversion, they just replaced the word "feet" by "metres". It looks about seven feet high, five feet wide, twelve feet long. Why they would include that sentence is beyond me, on the picture it looks quite cramped for a four-seater.

Neat... (2, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072315)

More power to this guy. Any info on its mpg? Safety is a bit of an issue, but that's if he runs into something in front of him - not much will happen by falling from a 7-15 foot height.

Something like that would actually be handy for travelling in many parts of the world where the roads are poor and access is difficult - cheap helicopters would be great for getting around and getting access.

Imagine using these in the aftermath of natural disasters when the roads are washed out and areas are inaccessible in places like the Honduras or New Orleans. In America, we can't/don't build cheap aircraft like this. Heck, an auto mechanic could probably do most of the maintenance on the thing...

Re:Neat... (1)

improfane (855034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072893)

not much will happen by falling from a 7-15 foot height.


Unless it falls ontop of him.

stealthy! (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072345)

flies up to 15 feet? what a perfect altitude for "stealty" missions...I doubt that anyone would notice this thing as it crept up on you...

Used to deliver 419 flyers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072349)

Damn, shouldn't be giving them these ideas..! Sorry guys!

Why shouldn't they buy? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072359)

I don't see why Nigeria wouldn't buy his helicopter, beyond the few problems:
1. Built from random car parts. Parts from broken cars, obviously quality material to start with. Better make sure your junk yard is properly stocked with old buicks.
2. Maximum altitude is 15 feet. But if anything goes wrong, you can just jump to the ground.
3. Carrying capacity. If it can lift one person 15 feet, how high can it lift with 1 ton of cargo?
4. Besides the maker, who are you going to convince to trust their life to this?

Good effort, lots of kits for homebuilding (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072361)

I nice little homemade helicopter. I'd be afraid to be within 100 feet while it's rotors are spinning, but a nice effort.

I was just recently at "Rotorfest" at the helicopter museum in Pennsylvania. There were a few small homemade helicopters on display. There are also more small home-built kiy helicopters available than I realized. An Air Command kit, Benson Sport kit, the Robinson, the Rotorway Scorpion kit...

Some nice kits, as well as the big well-known helicopters, shown here:
http://www.helicoptermuseum.org/Aircraft.asp [helicoptermuseum.org]

Re:Good effort, lots of kits for homebuilding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072617)

I wouldn't want to be anywhere near as close as 100ft to the thing. If a rotor snapped off while it was at full throttle, how far would it fling it? I don't know enough physics to calculate it, but I'm going to go ahead and guess I'd want to be quite a bit more than 100ft away, and probably behind a nice big, thick, concrete wall.

Still, fair play to the guy. He's built more of a helicopter than I ever will, and he did it with mostly scrap. That's what I call a hack!

Shades of B.A. Barracus (2, Funny)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072387)

"I watched action movies a lot and I was fascinated by the way choppers fly. I decided it would be easier to build one than to build a car,"

It's easier to crash one too.

Re:Shades of B.A. Barracus (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072927)

It's easier to crash one too.

Obliviously it was intended to be used in Hollywood movies based upon his impressions of action movies.

Send this kid to the US and offer him a job.... (1)

booleanoperator (1067746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072417)

One would think someone intelligent would offer this kid a job when he graduates.

Well done! (3, Insightful)

maaskaas (1103983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072451)

This is pretty amazing. The technical aspects of how flawed this helicopter is does not really go with the intent of the article. He obviously wanted a challenge, as I can imagine that being a physics student in Nigeria can't be too fulfilling, and building a helicopter and succeeding is a great accomplishment. Just reading what parts he used shows that he made something from nothing.

Give that Kid a Visa!! (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072491)

Pretty sharp kid. Give him a visa and send him to the US where he can better money than he could ever make back home.... Gee, and I wonder why these countries are not able to keep their most talented people? :-)

Re:Give that Kid a Visa!! (-1, Offtopic)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072787)

Dude !
You want him to be detained indefinitely in Guantanamo as soon as he lands?

With our current dubya government and paranoid renditions, and considering he is from a backward country with a predominant moslem majority, plus he has built helicopters (and other WMDs) who knows what such a brilliant guy could do once inside????

In just 8 years, Dubya has undone the 200 years of goodwill USA had accumulated as a haven for refugees.
It is time we returned back the Liberty Statue to France.

all sorts of surprises. (1)

ritalinvillain (780156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072539)

"While some of the parts have been sourced from a crashed 747, the chopper contains all sorts of surprises."

How long is it going to be before he uses parts from a "crashed helicopters [made] out of old car and bike parts." ? That would be all sorts of surprises.

Someone should point him at hovercraft (1)

simong (32944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072543)

Similar principles, similar components, and a whole lot less dangerous when something stops working. Far better at getting across country too.

ah huh! (1)

improfane (855034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072711)

So this is how we get homebrew sputnik into space!

Ninjas (1)

quarrel (194077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072763)

I now know I've been reading /. for too long..

I read that title as "Home-made Helicopters with Ninjas"

--Q

Dear beneficiary (1)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072823)

On behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the estate of Late Engr.John Ferguson who died while flying his home-made helicopter;I wish to notify you that late Engr.John Ferguson made you a beneficiary to his WILL. He left the sum of Seven Million One Hundred Thousand Dollars (USD$7,100.000.00 ) to you in the codicil and last testament to his WILL. Late Engr.John Ferguson died on the 22th day of October, 2007 at the age of 80 years, and his WILL is ready for execution. According tohim this money is to support your humanitarian activities and to help the poor and the needy in our society.I hope to hear from you in no distant time.

Yours in Service,
BARRISTER CHRIS WALLACE.
(Head of Chambers.)

some language translation for you: (3, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072945)

"Mubarak Muhammed Abdullahi" is Nigeriasn for "MacGyver"

Quick! Somebody give that kid a VISA and... (1)

PotatoHead (12771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072951)

...a plane ticket, before he kills himself.

Nice talent and even better, motivation.

If Nigeria doesn't appreciate him, somebody else will.

So, any video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072985)

Has anyone really *seen* this thing fly? Because I doubt it can.
Sorry to sound negative, but from the looks of it, it's much too heavy to lift off with that rather small engine. Also there's the problems with rotor control others mentioned.
So, without any evidence, I'd say this is something *resembling* a real helicopter that may *turn* it's rotor, but won't fly at all. The power should be enough to throw it on it's side however ...

Media hype? (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073015)

It has never attained an altitude of more than seven feet. This story seems overhyped. I wonder if Nigeria is our next gallant ally in the war against terror and drugs.

Sikorsky (5, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073051)

I suggest everyone read up on Igor Sikorskiy, the inventor (more or less) of the helicopter.

"You can't make a helicopter without ultrasonic and x-ray fracture inspection."

Well sure that makes it safer, but Sikorskiy didn't have any of that. Hell, I don't think they did that in the Vietnam era.

"You need 900 horsepower (or some damn thing) to make a working heli."

Sikorskiy's first helicopter ran on a 90-hp piston engine, with a welded steel frame.

It's true that this guy's helicopter is probably overweight, flying on ground-effect only, and it seems to be missing the most important (and complicated) part, the swashplate / cyclic blade control. But give him the resources Sikorkiy had, and I think he could do it.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?