Construction has resumed on project auto launch. The wing pieces have been assembled to put on display at ACG Parnell to motivate the students and staff involved in the planes development. We are looking for more model planes at the moment to continue testing the auto pilot system. The process of testing the auto pilot tends to send a lot of planes to their death, though we have found the Lanyu TW 742-5 very robust, internally spacious(important for electronics) and very cost effective; read cheap. Our current test plane has survived no less than 5 full speed, gut wrenching collisions with the ground and some magnificent cartwheels. It’s been an honour serving with you TW 742-5 version 1, but your time on this planet has come to an end. We want to be absolutely sure our full scale prototype has the most reliable electronics package possible, so we need as many model planes as possible to test with before we finally launch PAL.
With more engineers becoming available this year, we expect to make great progress on our projects, so expect more regular updates on the website.
08/10/2012 – Pipette Robot
Development of the pipette robot has come along very nicely, the robot accepts a program as a string of CNC code, which tells it how to move and trigger the pipette action. The robot can accurately and consistently move in two axis with precision down to half a millimetre. Now that all of the major parts of the robot are complete we will be working on refining the design and developing more user friendly software to program and interact with the robot.
03/08/2012 – Pipette Robot
Ben Himmer (Biology teacher and post graduate student) with the assistance of Sam Crookes are constructing an automatic Pipette robot. The robot will dispense micro-litres of yeast into agar plates, 80-100 droplets per plate.
I will ask Ben to provide a more detailed explanation of the research shortly.
The robot will raise and lower a configurable eletronic Pipette with 10 dispensors.
The robot will also use an old flat bed scanner to position the agar plates on one axis. We are hoping to drive the stepper motor with an Arduino micro controller via a stepper motor driver from Sparkfun.
The whole setup will be mounted and confined in a custom acrylic box.
We will make the controller code and any other useful information available to download once the project is completed.
17/03/2012 – International Young Physicists Tournament – Auckland Regionals
Congratulations to the Auckland regional winners of this years Young Physicists Tournament. This year Tristan O’Hanlon, who currently teaches at ACG Parnell College, and WARP submitted two teams, with one team making it into third place.
Tristan O’Hanlon and Sam Crookes were also judges in this year’s competition.
For more information about ACG Parnell’s success, see the link below.
Sam Connor our Mechnical Engineer, working with Sam Crookes have successfully created an Ethylene sensing device for a horticultural research company. Their purpose is to sense trace amounts of ethylene produced by fruit while ripening. The reason this is important is that when other fruit absorb ethylene, they start to ripen as well. Better detection of ripening fruit will help keep fruit fresh before it is needed for human consumption.
A nano mesh concentrator is used with an ethylene electrochemical sensor, circuit and micro-controller, to allow for readings approximately every 10 minutes.
02/07/2011 – Flight of PAL MKIII
After spending considerable time deciding on a new testing platform for our electronics system, we have purchased and test flown a Phoenix 2000 EPO RC Glider. It has a 2m wingspan and from HobbyStation includes a 5ch transmitter, a 7ch receiver, 6 servos controlling flaps, ailerons an elevator and rudder, battery + charger, motor and ESC.
25/06/2011 – Custom Flight Computer
Once again Jacques has out done himself. By creating custom circuit boards we can make our electronics package more compact and easier to understand by only adding the required components.
Currently our computer consists of a Arduino pro mini and a Sparkfun 6DOF board. Our custom board ties them togther with breakouts for servos and an external power supply.
30/05/2011 – Webcam Laser Rangefinder
Jacques has amazed us all again with his hacking abilities. Instead of studing for exams he built a laser range finder using a $15 webcam and $2 laser pointer. See the Original Website here.
01/05/2011 – Using Google
Using the Google maps API we have been able to create our own custom interface to manage PAL. Using Google maps saves us the task of developing our own mapping software, and provides a powerful library of functions.
Here are the beginings of our interface.
23/04/2011 – New Artwork for Project Ex
We are proud present the new artwork for Project Ex. A big thank you to our designer Christian Burgos.
04/01/2011 – Carbon Fibre Tube
The Carbon fibre tube is ready for the main wing of the PAL MKIII. Pictured here are two 4m lengths of 20mm diameter, 1mm wall thickness Carbon fibre tubing.
12/10/2010 – Mark III Wing
The Mark III wing, designed on SolidWorks by Sam Connor.
Chord Length: 0.88m
Density: 140 kg/m^3
Modulus of rigidity: 3.4 GPa
Modulus of rupture: 21.6 MPa
12/10/2010 – New Workshop
Photos of the new premises. The construction of the Mark III Prototype starts this weekend!
WARP Update – 2/10/2010
We have just signed the lease on our new premises, which we will start to move in to next week. It is a humble abode with 25m^2 of workspace but measures perfectly to fit construction of the MKIII prototype aircraft.
We plan to have construction of the MKIII under-way on the 9th of October, the workshop will be ready by then and we should be able to get the entire crew together for a huge push.
We now also have a dedicated CAD computer with a decent nVidia Quadro graphics card. Sam Connor has proved its performance with a couple of Solid Works simulations and renderings. I have no doubt this computer will be one of our best investments.
Keep checking back with us and thanks for following our progress.
WARP Update – 14/09/2010
Things are moving along nicely here at WARP. We are continuing to develop our PAL MKIII aircraft, the primary wing dimensions are now approximately 4m x 1m. Sam Connor has tested and decided on a glue to hold the components the MKIII together. Jacques has kindly donated his double garage as a construction site for the MKIII, which will be temporary until we can find a suitable premises for all of our requirements. Further inroads are being made in electronics and software development. We are currently developing a flight simulator to test our autopilot system. Jacques has narrowed down a cost effective and extremely accurate way of producing our PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards), allowing us to produce professional, quality electronics systems. Our ground station software is under heavy development, as this will be the interface for our customers using our UAV products, it needs to be user friendly and feature packed.
Keep up to date by checking the site and forums on regular basis.
Thanks for following our progress
Electronics – Digital Camera Controller – 30/08/2010
Jacques has managed to hack our digital camera. Giving us control of Zoom In/Out, Focus, Capture and Power On/Off via a small breakout board and an Arduino micro controller. This means we can take high resolution (8MP) snap shots remotely via the Arduino-XBee ground station. Images are stored locally and recovered from the camera later. We will post some images from the flight of the PAL MKII Refit soon.
Project Auto Launch – MKIII Aerofoil – 05/08/2010
Tristan and Sam Connor have finalised the specifications of the primary wing and Sam has finished modelling the aerofoil shape for the MKIII prototype. We should be able to begin construction very soon
Project Auto Launch – Analysis – 21/07/10
After looking the data from our last flight we have produced a vector diagram to show the MKII’s speed over ground and bearing when it was is flight.
Tristan is writing a function for project EMMA to determine the wind direction and speed from this data. Also we should be able to determine the average air speed of the MKII which will help towards designing the MKIII prototype.
NOTE: Up is true north. The speeds are in knots multiplied by 4.5 to obtain pixels.
Project EMMA Update – 10/07/10
We have been doing some heavy development on Project EMMA, primarily becuase it’s the easiest to do in our spare time. We now have functions for ZFS, Cron, Google Maps, GPS NMEA Data, Serial Interfaces, 3D Visualisation and have made the move to SVG for all of our graphing and image generation. The main reason for switching to SVG, is to move some load off of the server and onto the clients. This will also bypass some issues with browser caching.
I have also made some minor changes to the Project Auto Launch template, on the EMMA GUI. More GPS information is displayed, graphs are generated using SVG, and they are also reversed showing newest data from the left(this feels more natural when reading live telemetry from the plane).
The image shown is the new PAL interface. We reached a top speed of 41.11 kts (76.13kph / 21.15ms-1) that day, total flight time was 15 minutes, the battery was drained almost to half, which is what we expected from the 1350mAh LiPo battery. We should be able to achieve at least an hour of flight time, with our new 2600mAh battery.
Project Auto Launch – Update – 10/05/2010
The new picKit3 programmer has arrived. I will be spending every spare moment testing the UAV board now that we finally have the ability to program it. So far everything looks good.
Help us continue our project research, discovering new and exciting frontiers.